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Wildlife Viewing Tips

  • Dawn and dusk are the best times, but always keep your eyes open. 
  • Be quiet and keep pets under control or ideally leave them at home. Wildlife consider dogs predators and quickly disappear.
  • Stand quietly in one place where you might expect to see wildlife. Close your eyes and listen. Then watch and observe.
  • Give wildlife space. Keep your distance so that adults are not scared away from maternal care leaving young vulnerable to predators. Instead, use binoculars or spotting scope to get a closer look.
  • Be wildlife aware. Use appropriate caution and learn about avoiding conflicts before you venture into wildlife areas. For more information visit

Discover Wildlife in Fernie

Birding & Wildlife Viewing in Fernie Brochure

The diversity of ecosystems in Fernie provide unrivalled wildlife viewing opportunities:

  • Riparian areas transition from the Elk River to drier uplands. Look for: Great Blue Herons, Common Grackle, Osprey, Northern Flicker, Moose, Amphibians
  • Wetlands store water with adapted plants and animals. Look for: Red-Winged Blackbirds, Beaver, Long-toed Salamanders, Western Painted Turtles
  • Montane forests are located in the drier valley bottom with mixed deciduous and coniferous trees and open meadows. Look for: Varied Thrush, Columbia Ground Squirrel, Mule Deer, Rocky Mountain Elk, Coyotes
  • Subalpine forests cover the slopes leading to mountain top Alpine. Look for: Red Squirrels, Steller’s Jay, Pika (rocky slopes), American Pine Marten
  • To the west of Fernie is the Cedar Valley Old Growth Reserve enroute to Island Lake, one of the last remaining stands of ancient temperate rainforests in BC’s Interior. Look for: Townsend’s Warbler, Pacific Wren, Black and Grizzly Bears, Mountain Goats

The variety and quality of ecosystems near Fernie make an ideal area for wildlife viewing. Some animals are common, while others such as Bear, Beaver and Moose are more recluse and less likely to be seen.

Each of these unique ecosystems provide distinctive food, shelter and characteristics for wildlife habitat amidst humans living, recreating and working. Explore each area and discover the variety of wildlife rarely found elsewhere in the world.

Explore These Ecosystems

  1. Montane Forest: Fairy Creek Falls Trail & Montane Trails Start at the Fernie Visitor Centre on Hwy 3 east of town and follow the hiking trail signs to Fairy Creek Falls. For Montane Trails, take Pine Avenue past the Aquatic Centre then take Coal Creek Road. Start from the first bridge on your right near the old barn, and follow the trail signs.
  2. Riparian Forest: Along the Elk River, around Maiden Lake and McDougall wetland Start at Maiden Lake on 9th Avenue and 19th Street, located behind Canadian Tire and Independent Grocer’s. If you have time include Annex Park and more of the Community Trail network along the Elk River.
  3. Wetland: West Fernie Take McDonald Avenue east of Highway 3 on the west side of town and turn south on to Eckersley Street. Take the trail west along the Elk River.
  4. Subalpine Forest: Mount Fernie Provincial Park, Fernie Alpine Resort Explore the trails at Mt Fernie Provincial Park or at Fernie Alpine Resort (FAR).
  5. Old Growth Forest: Island Lake Lodge Follow Mt Fernie Provincial Park Road past the campground to the Old Growth Trail head parking area (approximately 6km west of Highway 3) and hike through these rare giants to Island Lake Lodge. Pick up an Island Lake Trail Map for more trail options.

Spot these iconic species in the Elk Valley:


Common Merganser
Ruffed Grouse
Great Blue Heron
Red-tailed Hawk
Spotted Sandpiper
Great Horned Owl
Northern Pygmy-Owl
Rufous Hummingbird
Calliope Hummingbird
Belted Kingfisher
Northern Flicker
Pileated Woodpecker
Steller’s Jay
Common Raven
Violet-green Swallow
Red-breasted Nuthatch
Pacific Wren
American Dipper
Mountain Bluebird
Varied Thrush
Cedar Waxwing
Yellow Warbler
Townsend’s Warbler
Dark-eyed Junco
Western Tanager
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle


Rocky Mountain Elk
Mule Deer
White-tailed Deer
Red Fox
North American
River Otter
American Pine Marten
American Black Bear
Grizzly Bear
Mountain Goat
Bighorn Sheep
Grey Wolf
Little Brown Bat
Snowshoe Hare
Common Pika
Meadow Vole
Deer Mice
Red Squirrel
Least Chipmunk
Columbian Ground Squirrel
Dusky Shrew

Fish, Amphibians & Reptiles

Westslope Cutthroat Trout
Long-toed Salamander
Bull Trout
Western Toad
Western Painted Turtle
Common Garter Snake

Recommended Books & Apps

Elk River Map Guide
Handbook of the Canadian Rockies by Ben Gadd
Plants of Southern Interior British Columbia & Inland Northwest by Lloyd, Antos, Coupe & Parish
Backroad Mapbook, Kootenay Rockies BC
iBird Pro App: North America - Available for Apple and Android devices

Guided Hikes and Nature Tours

Scheduled and custom guided interpretive hikes, tours and float trips are available with:

Wild Nature Tours & Workshops | 250-423-3322

Island Lake Lodge | 250-423-3700

Fernie Alpine Resort | 250-423-4655

Canyon Raft Company | 250-423-7226

Mountain High River Adventures | 250-423-5008

Fernie Wilderness Adventures | 250-423-6704

  • Contact Information
  • 877-423-2037 (Toll Free)
  • 250-423-2037
  • Contact By Email
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  • 542b - 2nd Avenue, Fernie, BC V0B 1M0
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