Waterton Lakes National Park

I wanted to update this post with some new information since the wildfires that raged through this area in the summer of 2017. Much of the scenery has changed and some trails and campgrounds are still closed. Road work continues to be improved and there is a temporary visitor centre. Despite the work going on, I would still recommend a visit if you are driving in this area. The views of the glass-like lakes, with the mountains rising up beside them, are truly awe-inspiring.

6464D916-6BCA-464A-B581-863097C49CF4
Middle Waterton Lake and Upper Waterton Lake

Waterton Lakes National Park, along with Glacier National Park, forms part of the International Peace Park. These parks came together in 1932 with Waterton Lakes National Park being in Alberta, Canada and Glacier National Park being in Montana, USA. The two parks, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, work together to help manage and sustain the plants and animals on both sides of the border. While we were there we camped in Crandell Mountain Campground, which unfortunately will be closed next summer because of the fire devastation.

7C69EEEE-9F46-48CB-8EED-D29CAF137CFF
Morning mist rises from the mountain

Waterton Lakes Park is filled with hiking opportunities for people of all abilities. I would make your first stop the Visitor Centre to pick up some brochures and find out which trails are open. There are also group hikes with park rangers, which is a great way to learn about the area while you are on the trail.

BF0833C0-0766-445A-8849-9B81A9D2E437
A meadow of wildflowers

We were only in Waterton Park for two days, but here are some highlights of what we did while we were there.

Our first day we hiked up Bear’s Hump Trail. Unfortunately this trail remains closed at this time. Hopefully it will be opened in the near future as the views from the top are spectacular.

Prince of Wales framed
Peek-a-boo view of the Prince of Wales Hotel on the way up the Bear’s Hump Trail

From the top you can see for miles. Upper Waterton Lake is directly in front of you, which is 13km in length and stretches into Glacier National Park in Montana. You can also see the small town of Waterton on the lakeshore below.

982EEAA7-811E-4A4D-BB6D-BFD097F9AD99
View of Waterton townsite and Upper Waterton Lake

Make sure and check out the Prince of Wales Hotel. Built in 1927 by the Great Northern Railway of the U.S., this hotel, now a National Historic Site, was originally used by wealthy visitors travelling on horseback from Glacier National Park. You can stay at the hotel, visit for high tea, or enjoy the view of the townsite from the back lawn area.

69CFAA0F-48F2-4866-99CB-F7FBE97BD15E
View of Waterton from Prince of Wales Hotel

While you are in the park, try and visit Cameron Lake. This area was heavily affected by the wildfires and at this time the only way to reach this beautiful lake is by biking or hiking along the roadway. There are lots of picnic areas here and you can also enjoy the water by canoeing, kayaking, and paddle-boating.

5FF4BF28-DE4D-44C2-B6C6-1999637D6689
Cameron Lake

Make sure and visit the townsite where you will find cute cafes and a variety of souvenir stores to wander through. Cameron Falls is also a short distance from the townsite.

DD4D98FB-859F-4EAA-AD56-14DA1C00518C
Cameron Falls

The rock exposed by these falls is some of the oldest in the Canadian Rocky Mountain range dating back 1.5 billion years.

5B045C40-63CA-4726-985F-8EF0C561801A
Evening light

The next morning we got up early and headed to the trailhead for the Upper Waterton Lake trail.

IMG_3428
Sign at a junction along the Waterton Lake trail

This group hike was led by a Glacier Park Ranger and a Waterton Park Interpreter. The trail would take us along the 14 km lakeshore where we got to cross the Canada/U.S. border and continue into Montana.

9E54EE1C-A814-4888-89B5-17DC9BF543B4

The interpreter pointed out different fauna, as well as some different animal tracks including both bear and cougar.

IMG_3408
View along the hike

We crossed a few bridges over creeks running into the lake…

EFDFE5C5-F93C-41A3-BA6C-B3BC8DD3A26A
81D6B49B-E06E-4C54-87F7-A34550DE77AB

…and then finished at the Goat Haunt Ranger Station where we were able to get our passports stamped before catching a boat back to the marina at the Waterton townsite.

C77E08F6-EBB9-4D27-8E4D-70235AA6FD99

This hike was definitely an amazing experience and it made me appreciate what these two countries, working together, have been able to do to preserve and maintain this unique area. 

Waterton Lakes National Park has a lot to offer. Not only are there numerous hikes, but you can also enjoy fishing, biking, canoeing, and horseback riding in the summer. The park is also open in the winter where visitors can bundle up and be active snow-shoeing or cross-country skiing. Even if you don’t have time for any of the activities I’ve mentioned, the scenery alone is worth the visit!

3 thoughts on “Waterton Lakes National Park

Add yours

Leave a Reply to Linda K Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: