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Backcountry Camping

Cardinal Divide

Whitehorse Wildland Provincial Park is located in the northern front ranges of the Rocky Mountains. There are spectacular mountain views from the auto-accessible Cardinal Divide Viewpoint

From Whitehorse Creek Provincial Recreation Area, Grave Flats Road passes the ghost town of Mountain Park. It then continues for 6 another kilometres, up a rough and very steep hill.  The road emerges quite suddenly at the top of Cardinal Divide, with splendid views to the south and west.  Although the road is accessible for vehicles, it is not regularly maintained -caution (and a spare tire) is essential.

Cardinal Divide is located at 2,025 metres.  This ridge is the divide between two major watersheds

The trails at Cardinal Divide have been badly eroded by OHV use in the past.  Some reclamation has been carried out by stewards – the Alberta Native Plant Council and the Edmonton Section of the Alpine Club of Canada.  However, it takes many years to re-establish vegetation in the alpine zone climate once disturbed. 


Hunting is prohibited in the Cadomin Cave and Cardinal Divide special management zones.


Wildlife Viewing, Birding & Plants

Whitehorse Wildland Provincial Park's many wildlife species include elk, moose, mule deer, bighorn sheep,  grizzly bear, wolves, cougar, hoary marmot and pika. The park is especially important for conservation of the grizzly bears that traverse the mountain ranges between Whitehorse and Jasper National Park.

The park is home to several varieties of high mountain birds. Studies of the region have recorded 128 bird species - 70 breed in the area and 28 are permanent residents. Bird species in the alpine and subalpine areas include mountain bluebird, horned lark, American dipper, Townsend’s solitaire, varied thrush, Townsend’s warbler, golden-crowned sparrow and American pipit.

The park provides breeding habitat for harlequin ducks, whose range in Alberta is restricted to the Rocky Mountain Natural Region. Harlequin ducks are dependent on fast flowing mountain streams for nesting and rearing their young. They are listed as a species at risk in Alberta.

The majority of Whitehorse Wildland Provincial Park is above tree line.  Its extensive alpine meadows are home to numerous plant species. More than 270 plant species have been documented, including 37 considered rare or having unusual distribution.

At lower elevations, there are forests of lodgepole pine, Engelmann spruce and subalpine fir. At higher elevations, alpine meadows contain hardy plant species such as willow shrubs, lichens and small alpine flowers. These plants survive in an extremely harsh environment where it can take centurie to recover from human disturbance. 

Bear & Backcountry Safety

Whitehorse Wildland is prime grizzly bear habitat. Minimize your risk of a negative encounter with a bear.

Be bear smart.

Stewardship Notes

Alberta Northern Rockies

Updated: Jun 19, 2017