Should You Visit the Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary in Cochrane?

The Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary, home to more than 35 wonderous wolfdogs, sits in the foothills of the Canadian Rocky Mountains in Cochrane and is just a quick drive from Banff National Park.

This sanctuary allows you to learn about and observe these beautiful wolfdogs and even interact with them by sharing treats and pats.

The Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary goes beyond providing a safe haven for displaced wolfdogs, with a focus on spreading awareness and knowledge about these majestic pups. Enjoy a sanctuary walk or interactive tour to learn all you need to know about wolfdogs in Canada, all while watching impressive dog tricks and meeting furry friends!

Loki, a low-content wolfdog at Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary
Up close and personal with Loki, a low-content wolfdog, during the “Interactive Tour.”

Whether you are visiting Banff or enjoying the nearby city of Calgary, the interactive learning experience offered by the Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary should be added to every animal lover’s bucket list. Here’s all you need to know about visiting.

Visiting the Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary

Getting There

Visiting the Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary

The Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary sits on 160 acres of land near Cochrane, Alberta. This must-see sanctuary is a quick drive from many Canadian Rockies hotspots, so there is no reason to miss out on a wolfdog experience during your Rocky Mountain visit. If you’re driving from Calgary to Banff, it’s one of the best stops you can make.

If visiting the Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary from Banff National Park, the drive is as scenic as it is simple. The Trans-Canada Highway winds you through the mountains of Banff and Canmore and into the foothills of Kananaskis Country. Once you exit the highway, the Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary is just one turn away (GPS point). This direct route to the Sanctuary from Banff makes navigating the mountains in your rental car easy!

The Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary has ample parking on site. Even if you take your 30-foot RV for a Rocky Mountains road trip, you will easily find a parking space for your rig in their parking lot.  

The Tour Offerings

Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary tours
Meeting the Sanctuary’s ambassador before starting our tour.

The Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary is not only a permanent home for 35 wolfdogs and a foster home for many more, but it also provides visitors the chance to learn about and interact with these impressive animals. This sanctuary offers three different experiences: sanctuary walks, introductory tours, and interactive tours. Read on to find out which experience is right for you!

The Sanctuary Walk Tour

  • Admission Cost:
    • General: $29 per person
    • Youth (6-11yrs): $18 per person
  • Availability: Thursday – Monday, all year round
  • Age Requirement: 6 years and up

The Sanctuary Walk is a self-guided walk through the Wolfdog Sanctuary where you can observe and admire the wolfdogs at your own pace. Using the gravel path that winds through the sanctuary, you can see all of the different enclosures and learn about each dog from the interpretive signage placed throughout the walk. This experience is the least interactive of the three tours offered by the Yamuska Wolfdog Sanctuary.

This walk is not only the cheapest option, but it is also the most convenient if you’re visiting the sanctuary at the last minute! No reservation is required for the sanctuary walk; you can simply show up and purchase your tickets on-site. This walk does not have a capacity limit, so you are always guaranteed a spot upon arrival.

The main perk of this walk is that there is no time limit – you can enjoy the sanctuary and the wolfdogs for as long as you please. With this being the least interactive tour, this is an excellent option for anyone feeling hesitant about meeting the wolfdogs up close and personal. Simply enjoy the dogs from behind the fence, and use the interpretive signage to learn about each one.

One thing to keep in mind about this experience is that not all of the wolfdogs enjoy being in the spotlight. Some wolfdogs are timid and hide amongst the trees and long grass, making it tough to spot them. Though many dogs don’t mind the attention from visitors, there is no guarantee that you’ll be able to spot them all!

If you are eager to learn all, there is to know about wolfdogs from a knowledgeable guide, or you want the chance to get closer to the wolfdogs, one of the more interactive tours might be for you!

The Intro Tour

Three of the high-content wolfdogs in their enclosure
Three of the high-content wolfdogs in their enclosure
  • Admission Cost: $43 per person
  • Tour Times: Saturdays & Sundays at 10:45am, 12:15pm, 2:15pm, 3:45pm
  • Age Requirement: 10 years and up

The Intro Tour is a guided experience that takes you inside a wolfdog enclosure, where you can get a close-up view of the wolfdogs from a viewing platform! This tour gives you an introduction to wolfdogs through a 30-minute presentation, as well as time to ask your guide, a wolfdog expert, any questions you may have.

Not only is this tour more informative than the sanctuary walk, but the viewing platform gives you an unobstructed view of the pack.

Seeing the dogs up close is a significant perk of the Intro Tour, and you are even given a chance to toss treats to them. This is an exciting way to interact with the wolfdogs, and it guarantees the dogs come out of the tree shadows to socialize.

Once your time inside the enclosure and with your guide is done, you are welcome to enjoy the Sanctuary Walk to check out other enclosures and see the other wolfdogs who live here.

This is an excellent tour if you are eager to get an uninterrupted view of the wolfdogs and talk wolfdog facts with an expert. Please book this tour in advance – though they do accept walk-ins, the tour sizes are limited. Book your tour before arrival to ensure a space on this exciting and educational tour.

The Interactive Tour

Feeding some of the low-content wolfdogs, Loki and Rocky
Feeding some of the low-content wolfdogs, Loki and Rocky
  • Admission Cost: $73 per person
  • Tour Times: Thursday – Monday: 10:30am, 12 noon, 2pm & 3:30pm
  • Age Requirement: 15 years and up
  • Reservations Mandatory

The Interactive Tour is a guided experience that takes you inside two wolfdog enclosures – nothing is separating you from the wolfdogs on this tour! This is the most informative and most interactive tour, allowing you to sit with the wolves in their home while an expert teaches you the most essential facts about wolfdogs.

The first enclosure you will visit is home to a high-content wolfdog pack, meaning these animals are almost all wolves with minimal dog in them. The guide will teach you the pack’s history and about each wolf’s role within their pack, while you test your luck in sharing treats with them.

With high-content wolfdogs, it can be tough to gain their trust, but it sure is rewarding when these timid animals curiously approach you. If you’re lucky, some of these intelligent wolfdogs will do a few tricks for you to earn treats.

Nova, a high-content wolfdog, lifting her paw to "wave" for a treat
Nova, a high-content wolfdog, lifting her paw to “wave” for a treat

The second enclosure you will visit is home to low-content wolfdogs, meaning these animals are almost all dog with only some wolf content. Again, the guide will teach you about each dog and what it means to own a low-content wolfdog. With these low-content pups, you can feed and pet them all you want. These friendly dogs love the spotlight.

Considering just how interactive this tour is, strict guidelines need to be followed for the safety of visitors and the wolfdogs. Be sure to read the Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary website rules, listen carefully during the pre-tour briefing, and always respect the guide and the wolfdogs.

Once your time inside the enclosures and with your guide is done, you are welcome to enjoy the Sanctuary Walk to check out other enclosures and see the other wolfdogs who live here.

If you are eager to get face-to-face with wolfdogs and, this is the tour for you! Just be sure to book this tour in advance – they do not accept walk-ins for this tour, and the tour sizes are limited. Book your tour prior to arrival to ensure a space on this exciting and educational tour.

About the Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary

wolfdog at the sanctuary

This non-profit wolfdog sanctuary was founded in 2011 to provide a safe haven for displaced wolfdogs. The sanctuary focuses on the rehabilitation and rehoming of wolfdogs across Canada. They are currently home to 35 permanent wolfdogs of varying wolf content (high, medium, and low content).

Luckily for us, the sanctuary also welcomes visitors to educate them on wolfdogs’ unique nature and raise awareness about wolfdog ownership.

By visiting the Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary, you are not only learning valuable information about these displaced animals, but you are supporting the cause of this hardworking company. The sanctuary runs entirely on donations, and purchasing a tour ticket is a small contribution that goes a long way.

Visiting the Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary is a feel-good, fun experience that both you and the wolfdogs benefit from!

Plan Your Visit to Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary

Is There a Best Time to Visit Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary?

Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary

The Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary is open all year round, but they don’t operate tours every day, so it’s best to confirm their hours beforehand. There isn’t really a best time for visiting the sanctuary, but there are a few things you may want to consider:

  • Temperature: If it’s too hot or too cold, the wolfdogs may be finding shelter from the weather deep in the trees of their enclosures. You may want to plan your trip with the temperature in mind to ensure you see as much as the wolfdogs as possible. In the Rockies, the hottest months are typically July and August and the coldest months are December to February – if possible, try to visit outside of these months.
  • Peak Season: Just like any visit to the Rockies, it is always smart to visit outside of peak season to avoid crowds. The busiest months are typically late June to September, and again around Christmas time. We visited the Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary at the end of May and had no problem booking the tour we wanted, and we nearly had the sanctuary to ourselves!
  • Best Time to Visit Banff: If visiting the Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary is a part of your Banff vacation, then you should also decide on the best time to visit Banff. Check out our article on the best time to visit Banff National Park.

Choosing the Right Tour for You

Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary

The three tours offered by the Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary each have their own perks and provide varying levels of interaction with the wolfdogs. If you have young kids (6 – 10 years old), are feeling nervous or hesitant about getting too close to the dogs, or simply want to enjoy a quiet, unguided walk through the sanctuary, the Sanctuary Walk is for you! This tour is also the most cost-friendly.

For anyone feeling eager to get closer to the wolfdogs and learn about them from an expert, but you are still a bit nervous about the dogs, consider the Intro Tour. In this tour, you can learn about the animals while feeding them treats, but you still have the comfort of being separated from the wolfdogs by the viewing deck.

If you are a fearless dog lover who is ready to meet wolfdogs up close and personal, the Interactive Tour is right up your alley. This is not only the most informative tour thanks to the hour spent with an expert, but you also get to be face-to-face with these majestic animals.

Is Booking in Advance Necessary?

Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary

Whether or not you need to book in advance depends on which of the three tours you want to participate in:

  • The Sanctuary Walk: Walk-in’s welcome – tickets guaranteed upon arrival. Please check their hours beforehand.
  • The Intro Tour: Walk-in’s welcome depending on availability. Booking in advance is recommended as tour sizes are limited.
  • The Interactive Tour: Reservation is required – walk-ins are not available.

What to Bring

When visiting the Wolfdog Sanctuary, the less you bring with you, the better. You should not bring any food or drinks inside the sanctuary with you, and if you are participating in the Interactive Tour, you will be asked to leave all bags or loose articles at the gate. The only thing you can carry with you is your phone or camera, so you should leave any additional items in the car.

If you plan to enjoy lunch at the Sanctuary after your tour, they offer picnic tables at the parking lot. This is the only place at the sanctuary that you are permitted to have food, as it is well distanced from the wolfdogs. Be sure to leave all food and drinks in the car during your tour.

What to Wear for the Intro and Interactive Tour

Shaking the paw of a low-content wolfdog before giving him a treat
Shaking the paw of a low-content wolfdog before giving him a treat
  • Close-toed shoes are mandatory: Sandals and flip-flops are not allowed. If your shoes have laces, the laces must be tucked in.
  • Any fur or faux fur clothing and accessories are not allowed: This rule is in place for the safety of both you and the wolfdogs.
  • Clothing cannot have pompoms or other loose, dangling lures: This rule also applies to accessories – if you plan on bringing a camera, be mindful of how you plan to carry it and always get the OK from the employees.
  • Something comfy: As educational as the sanctuary is, it is a laid-back and relaxed experience. Whether you are walking around the sanctuary or sitting inside an enclosure for an hour, you will want to dress for comfort.
  • Always dress for the weather: The sanctuary is entirely outdoors, with the gift shop being the only indoor portion.

Other Must Knows About The Tour

Other Must Knows About The Tour

When visiting the Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary, you are entering the home of 35+ wolfdogs, each with a different history and different experiences with humans – many of which are negative experiences. It is vital that you respect their home by following the guidelines set out by the sanctuary.

  • Leave your dog and any other animals at home: No dogs are permitted at the sanctuary – not even in the parking lot/your car. Check out these pet friendly hotels if you do plan to bring your furry friend on your Banff vacay.
  • There are age limits for each tour that must be respected for the safety of your kids and of the wolfdogs. If your child reaches the age requirement, they must still be monitored at all times.
  • Creating a stress-free environment for these wolfdogs is essential – all guests must behave calmly, quietly, and respectfully to ensure the well-being of the dogs.
  • The staff here are friendly, knowledgeable, and professional. They are a great resource for any wolfdog questions you may have, so be sure to take advantage of your time with a guide if doing the Intro or Interactive Tours.

Is Visiting the Wolfdog Sanctuary Really Worth It?

Wolfdog Sanctuary

If you are an animal lover, visiting the Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary is definitely worth the time and small entry fee. Seeing these unique wolfdogs in person and learning about their history from an expert is eye-opening and humbling.

Each tour is informative, allowing you to learn about the wolfdogs in the sanctuary and the common issues associated with wolfdog ownership. Not only do you get to observe these beautiful animals, but you also leave feeling more aware and knowledgeable of wolfdogs in Canada.

I participated in the Interactive Tour, which was definitely worth the additional fee. Being face-to-face with the high-content wolfpack was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Even though these high-content wolfdogs seem similar to wild wolves, I felt safe and comfortable the whole time we were inside their enclosure. If you want to make the most out of your sanctuary visit, I recommend this exciting tour.

The Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary offers an exciting, interactive, and informative experience with these majestic animals. If you are an animal lover or someone considering ever adopting a wolfdog, then a trip to this sanctuary is really worth it. Not to mention, a visit to the sanctuary is a contribution to their cause.

Plan Your Trip to the Canadian Rockies

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About Regan

Hey, I’m Regan – an outdoor enthusiast living in the beautiful Bow Valley! I have always been eager to make the most of nature’s playground, mainly through hiking, skiing, and camping, and feel lucky to now be doing so in one of the most beautiful places on this planet. I believe that the Canadian Rockies have something to offer everyone, and I want to do my part in helping you explore the area and all its beauty!

Follow my adventures: @regan.mahoney

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