Canmore & Kananaskis Wildlife Guide

One of the most exciting things about spending time in the great outdoors is the chance of seeing wildlife. The Canadian Rockies are home to a wide variety of different wildlife including large and small mammals, and a diverse range of bird species. In this Canmore & Kananaskis Wildlife Guide, we’ll provide some insights on what to expect and how to identify different mammals.

River rafting is a unique way to potentially view wildlife. It allows both guests and wildlife to remain safe with little to no impact. White Wolf Rafting offers two thrilling white water rafting tours in Kananaskis, the Kananaskis River Rafter Tour and the Horseshoe Canyon Raft Tour. We also offer the relaxing Bow River Float tour. And, each of our river raft tours offers different wildlife viewing opportunities.

On our Bow River Float tour, guides sometimes spot beaver, deer and elk, as well as lots of chances to see birds of prey like osprey, golden eagles and bald eagles. On the Horseshoe Canyon tour, we almost always see at least one bird of prey, because there’s an osprey nest there and they hunt on the river. A few times our River Manager, Will Harrison, has seen osprey dive into the river, catch a fish and fly away with it.

Canmore & Kananaskis Wildlife Guide


Often considered an iconic Canadian animal, the humble beaver is also Canada’s largest rodent. This semiaquatic mammal plays an important role in maintaining our ecology and waterways by building dams that provide habitats for other wildlife. An important part of Canada’s heritage, seeing a beaver is always a treat.


Several different types of deer call Canmore and Kananaskis home, including the white-tailed deer and mule deer. White-tailed deer are named for the white under their tail. They are the most common deer in Alberta and outnumber the mule deer. White-tailed deer are very agile and can travel up to 58 km p/h. Mule deer have bigger ears and a white rump with a small white tail with a black tip.


Canada’s second-largest deer, after the moose, elk are one of the most commonly spotted wildlife around Canmore and the Bow Valley. Several herds of elk call Canmore home and are often sighted at the town parks, or up in the Three Sisters, looking for grass to eat. It’s not uncommon for Canmore residents to find elk in the backyards! Also known as wapiti, elk are nocturnal mammals who sleep on south-facing slopes.

White Wolf Rafting, Canmore - Kananaskis - Osprey - Keith Luke - Unsplash


This large bird of prey is known for its wide wingspan. As the only raptor that plunges and dives into the water to hunt fish, often submerge themselves feet first. Osprey are a treat to watch from a raft on the river. Male osprey eats an average of 10 fish a day, so there’s plenty of opportunities to watch them hunt. Osprey are light in colour with unique black stripes. These large birds can be seen flying with their wings in an M shape.

Gold Eagles

The most common species of eagle in North America, golden eagles are also the largest bird of prey. With a wingspan of 6-7 feet. Extremely swift, golden eagles can travel at speeds of 300+ km p/h making them the second fastest bird in the world.

White Wolf Rafting, Canmore - Kananaskis - Bald Eagle - Photo by Richard Lee - Unsplash

Bald Eagles

One of the easiest birds to recognize in the wild due to their distinctive white heads, bald eagles are often spotted near water as they primarily eat fish. With vision eight times better than ours, bald eagles can hunt from 10,000 feet! Bald eagles build the largest nests in the world, adding new layers each year.

Other mammals in this south-western region of Alberta include grizzly and black bears, cougar, wolves, coyotes, foxes, wolverine, moose, bighorn sheep, and mountain goats.


Of course, there’s never any guarantee you’ll see wildlife, so when you do it’s extra special! If you’d like the chance to see wildlife on your river raft tour we suggest booking an early morning or evening tour for your best chance. Touring with a smaller company like White Wolf Rafting also means smaller groups with more space. Remember, the more time you spend outdoors, the greater chance you’ll see wildlife. View our River Raft Tours.