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Nightfall At Elk Island Retreat

Updated on September 17, 2013

Nightfall At Elk Island Retreat

We have been meaning to stay at Elk Island Retreat for years now, since we met the owner/operators while on vacation at Black Cat Ranch. We shared a wonderful weekend and they left us with a standing invitation to visit them at Elk Island Retreat. Wouldn't you know that the one time we finally made it out for a weekend of camping and relaxing out in the fresh air, they were away.

So we set off to experience what the campground had to offer. The first night I knew we were in deep.

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Elk Island Retreat

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The First Night At Elk Island Retreat

Like many camp grounds there are different ammenities and areas. There are the rows of slots set aside for the big RV's and campers. Fully serviced lots with water and electrcity are typical but not for me. We wanted a rustic well treed site away from the crowds. I go tent camping mostly so I have all the gear to be self contained. We were shown a tent spot that would have been great for a small bus load of people, hidden deep in the woods. Perfect.

If we were using a tent we would have had about 4 or 5 good spots to choose from but this summer I acquired a 5x10 foot utility trailer and we have been slowly converting it to use as a camper.

The first thing I did to our "redneck RV" was to put on a set of roofracks for our canoe and a vent fan. Then I setup a sleeping platform high enough to slide our gear boxes underneath. Now all we do when its time to go camping is hook up the trailer and go. No more messing around as all the gear is already in the trailer.

As Elk Island Retreat is 45 minutes east of Edmonton we were at the sites and setup and having supper less than two hours from leaving my jobsite on Friday afternoon. If we had to setup a tent and tarps it would have been more work. We had them, but after all we were out there to relax.

But I digress. Besides the RV sites and the tent sites there are a couple of group camping areas, a covered picnic shelter with a propane BBQ and 6 large picnic tables shelter by a roof. One of the unique features of this campground are the tipee shelters. There are 3 tipees that are available to rent, they sleep 6 and have a wooden floor. Just a fun sort of family treat.

There are a few hiking trails that meander around a wild section of the grounds around a small pond full of wildlife. We heard some of it when we were setting up camp.

So far we've seen or heard a wide selection of creatures. Our nearest and noisiest being the red squirrels. They left us no chance of knowing who owns these woods and that taxes will be "owing" if we leave anything out and available. I think these ones were trained by Robin Hood himself. Besides the red squirrels we have the song birds of which I have seen the chickdees up close and a few warblers and sparows as well.

When darkness was falling were were suprised and serenaded by no less than three large owls, I believe them to be great horned owls but I didn't see them only heard them. We also heard a family of Canada Geese come flying in formation as they practice and strengthen their wings for the fall migration. We heard them landing on the pond a short distance down the slope.

Next we go walking the trails.

Olive Drab Warm Winter Blanket, 62" x 80" (70% Virgin Wool)
Olive Drab Warm Winter Blanket, 62" x 80" (70% Virgin Wool)

We are starting a memento blanket. Sewing a patch or embroider a date on the blanket for each camping trip we go on. It is great to stay warm around the campfire at nightfall.


Listen careful you may hear an owl in the distance, the fire crackling and the wind in the trees.

Things to Do Around Elk Island Retreat.

Elk Island Resort sits minutes from the west gate of Elk Island National Park. This wilderness park supports herds of both plains bison and wood bison. The park is reported to have the most hoofed animals within its borders than any other park in the world second only to the Serengeti of Africa.

The Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village. is another living museum showcasing the early settlers of the area. Comer by and see how things were and how they are now. The Ukrainian culture is alive and well.

Cooking Lake-Blackfoot Provincial Recreation Area combined with Elk Island National Park is a Dark Sky preserve. Enjoy the night sky when you are in the area.

Creatures Found At Nightfall

We were expecting the coyotes. They are pretty plentiful in these parts. The mournful sounds of the coyotes in the evening makes for a great experience around the campfire.

What we didn't expect was the trio of Great Horned owls hooting at three different points around our campsite. The area that makes for a great campground also proves to be great habitat for owls. We tried going for a night walk in hopes of meeting one but settled for hearing them. Awesome.

We also kept an eye open for little brown bats which are more common in our area than people realize. On our hike around the slough, or pond, we saw quite a few bat house installed quite awhile ago. I assume they were put up as part of a Scout project as the lower field had a posted sign saying it was a Boy Scout camping area.

Another Purple Star Award. Thanks for the blessings. Enjoy!

Tell Me Some Nighttime Camping Stories

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    • Northerntrials profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      @KathyZ1: Thanks for visiting.

    • Northerntrials profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      @ecogranny: Everything tastes better cooked over a fire and being out in the fresh air.

    • Northerntrials profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      @ecogranny: Some of my best camping memories was when weather was involved. Like the night that hit -58C when we were winter camping with no tent, just a lean-to with a roaring fire... trees exploding all around us from the cold but we were too hot to sleep because the fire was too big. :)

    • ecogranny profile image

      Kathryn Grace 

      5 years ago from San Francisco

      Lightning. One weekend, we were tent camping with friends who had a trailer. Turned out to be a rainy weekend, complete with howling winds, nearly constant thunder and forked lightning hitting the ground again and again and again. When it struck right outside our tent for the third time, we grabbed the kids and stormed the trailer. Somehow, it felt safer with all of us crammed inside that trailer than lying on the flooded ground with only a thin Goretex shield between us and the traveling lightning.

    • KathyZ1 profile image


      5 years ago

      Thanks for your sharing.

    • Northerntrials profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      @NatureFan LM: It is amazing when you stop and listen, just how many animals are out at night that we don't see during the day. Once you can identify the sounds though, it's like seeing them. I count that.

    • Northerntrials profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      @Redneck Lady Luck: Sadly , light pollution abounds and the stars are not as visible today as I remember them. I remember sitting out and watching the stars and seeing the satellites flying by as well as comets and meteors. Of course there is the Northern Lights up here as well, I am still blessed to see those in varying degrees year round.

    • NatureFan LM profile image

      NatureFan LM 

      5 years ago

      Every Fall my daughter and I go out camping at the same State Park. We love to listen to all of the nighttime sounds as we drift off to sleep. One of our favorites is the occasional calls of saw-whet owls that fly along the Atlantic coast this time each year.

    • Redneck Lady Luck profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 

      5 years ago from Canada

      I so used to love sitting around the campfire watching the stars move by overhead. Very relaxing.

    • Northerntrials profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      @Mary Stephenson: I think so... sprinkled with cinnamon and brown sugar.

    • Northerntrials profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      @Diaper Bag Blog: They work too. Enjoy...

    • Mary Stephenson profile image

      Mary Stephenson 

      5 years ago from California

      We used to hold sticks with apples on them over a burning fire. Really like those when I was a kid, I wonder if they still would taste as good.

    • Diaper Bag Blog profile image

      Stanley Green 

      5 years ago from Czech Republic

      Well..I don't like scarry stories .... I prefer those about brave knights and pirate treasures :)

    • Northerntrials profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      @Meganhere: Awesome memory. I remember those potatoes myself. They are the best tasting spuds ever ( as long as you get ones that didn't burn) :)

    • Meganhere profile image


      5 years ago

      Sitting around a fire telling ghost stories and baking potatoes wrapped in foil in the coals.

    • Northerntrials profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      @favored: I hear yah. I could write a book about them... maybe one day I will.

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 

      5 years ago from USA

      There were some good times for my family around a campfire. I do have a few, but they would take too long. Some include singing, animals, a madman with a gun and my mom. Congratulations on your purple star and kindling some good memories.


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