The area that is now Mount Assiniboine Park was well known to the Indigenous Peoples of the foothill and mountain country. Occasionally interrupted by wars, there was much trading between groups from the different sides of the Rockies. The Peigans, the Assiniboines, the Blackfoot, and the Kootenai travelled the routes over many mountain passes through the Rockies.
Mount Assiniboine Park lies within the traditional territory of the Ktunaxa or Kootenai First Nations.
G.M. Dawson, of the Geological Survey of Canada, named Mount Assiniboine in honour of the Assiniboine people when he visited the area during the summer of 1899. Assiniboine means ‘stone boiler’, a name that comes from the practice of putting hot rocks into animal paunches or holes filled with water in order to cook food.
Mt. Assiniboine is the seventh tallest mountain in the Canadian Rockies and its massive covers 80 square kilometres. Because of its classic triangular shape and size, it was considered a great prize among early mountaineers. After a number of legendary attempts, Mount Assiniboine was first ascended by James Outram and Swiss guides Christian Hasler and Christian Bohren in the late summer of 1901.
Upon the urging of the Alpine Club of Canada, British Columbia set aside 5,120 hectares of the area on February 6, 1922 as Mount Assiniboine Park, the seventh in a fledgling park system. In 1973, the park area was increased sevenfold to its present size of 39,050 hectares.
Boreal forests of spruce, mixed with stands of alpine fir and lodgepole pine, cover the lower elevations. In more open areas, scattered patches of false azalea, buffalo berries, twin berries, white rhododendrons, and, occasionally, red elder may be found. Between the elevations of 2,100 m and 2,400 m, open stands of alpine larch occur alongside alpine fir and Engelmann spruce, with a ground cover of red and white heather and grouse berries. Dense thickets of various species of low-growing willows associated with bog birch can be found along mountain streams and in boggy areas.
Large areas of rocky slopes and ridges are covered by stonecrop, white flowering avens, moss campion, cinquefoil, arctic willows and several species of saxifrage. Alpine meadows blaze with colour thanks to an abundance of western anemones, alpine arnica, columbine, paintbrush, spring beauty, alpine fleabane, mountain daisies, and hundreds of other species of wildflowers during the midsummer blossoming period.
Do not pick wildflowers as flowers contain the seed pods necessary for the proliferation of wildflowers. It is an offence under the Park Act and Regulations to destroy wildflowers.
Wildlife species such as elk, black and grizzly bears, mule deer, moose, mountain goats, and bighorn sheep live in the park. The chattering of Columbian and mantled ground squirrels and chipmunks or the call of the hoary marmot and pika are often heard. Wolverines, badgers, wolves, martens, and coyotes also inhabit the park but are seldom seen.
Ninety-three species of birds have been sighted in the park, with the most common being northern harrier, grey jay, Clark's nutcracker, white-tailed ptarmigan, pine grosbeak, rosy finch, pine siskin, boreal chickadee, chipping sparrow, and white-crowned sparrow.