Once a month, we’ll feature a wildlife hotspot. We want to aid you with getting ‘the shot’ in order to help rekindle your love for nature, to enable you to become inspired by wildlife and to equip you to become an advocate for a wilder world at home.
This month’s focus:
Long time readers will know that Jill and I experienced a prolonged beaver drought. It is a drought that never would have occurred if we had discovered Hinton’s beaver boardwalk earlier.
Most of the beaver images on our site were taken in Grand Teton and Riding Mountain National Parks, or in downtown Toronto (seriously) – all excellent locations for beavers.
But if you want a sure-fire, oddly bug-free, eye-level beaver photography location, look no further than this remarkable wetland in the heart of Hinton, Alberta.
Roughly an hour and a half east of the Jasper townsite, this national park border town is primarily a resource community. But the community and resource companies worked hard to reclaim an area that backs onto a local housing development, five minutes from Highway 16.
The extensive boardwalk and trail system is surprisingly popular (by which I mean we saw five or six small groups of people over several hours) and navigates its way around – and through – beaver dams, with great views of the primary lodge.
With some areas located below dammed water level, you can easily reach eye level with these busy, large rodents. And in other spots where the boardwalk is used by the beavers to create actual dams, you have the chance to see the beavers in action and at a range I’ve never seen anywhere else.
Over several hours, we watched over a dozen beavers, of all sizes, at work.
We watched them build and repair dams. Cut trees. Move logs. Play. You name it.
Like many areas, mornings and evenings are best, but the light is not always great in this location during those windows. But given how close you can get to the action, major glass isn’t a requirement.
Of every hotspot we’ve documented, this might be one of my all time favorites. Nothing beats eye-level photography and it’s hard to top up close viewings of an often skittish, nocturnal animal such as the beaver.
Though these beavers are the main attraction, you’re not far from the wilds of Jasper. That means running into a bear or cougar isn’t out of the question. And the entire habitat is an excellent sanctuary for owls, amphibians and reptiles, making this a truly year-round, diverse wildlife hotspot.
I would be remiss if I didn’t tip the old cap to our friends, Clair and Sue, who first stumbled across this hidden oasis and encouraged us to visit. We’re glad we did, and you will be as well.
Location: Hinton, Alberta
Accessibility: Parking is just off of Collinge Rd, west of Mountain St, which can be accessed from Hwy 16
Photographic Focus: Beavers
Best Time: Dawn & Dusk
Season: Year Round
– Be sure to explore the entire boardwalk complex for recent signs of beavers – some areas are more active than others.
– Lighting can be quite poor when beavers are the most active, but the good news is you can get quite close to the best action. We mainly used the Nikon 70-200mm wide open at 2.8 for this shoot. Auto-ISO can be a blessing.
– Though beavers are the star attraction, the area is a diverse habitat home to many animals big and small. Check in with the visitor centre to learn about what has been recently seen.
– There are many locations that enable you to get on eye level with the beavers – just make sure to share the boardwalk, as it can get busy.