Waterton Park Highlights
Waterton Lakes National Park:
Designated a UNESCO
World Heritrage Site
The world's first
International Peace Park
A scenic townsite, with
fine places to stay
Lots of wildlife and
Several park drives
& excellent hiking
International Biosphere Reserve
Waterton: Next to Glacier National Park and just as
the real secrets among the Rocky Mountain parks, Waterton
Lakes National Park is not only a northern counterpart to
the adjacent Glacier National Park in Montana, but has a
spectacular beauty and atmosphere all its own. The two
parks are joined in the Waterton/Glacier International
Turn-of-the-century nature writer George Grinell named
Waterton the "Crown of the Continent." Originally named
Kootenay Lakes Forest Park, it became Waterton Lakes
National Park in 1911. Like its southern neighbor,
Waterton has an abundance of wildlife, and sparkling
lakes, and like its more northerly national park cousins
(Banff and Kootenay), the mountains rise directly out of
the vast Canadian prairie in dramatic fashion.
The Park Today
The park is managed from a small townsite located at
the base of the mountains. Here is everything you will
need for a fine vacation, whether you're staying in a
distinctive lodge, or camping in the park or townsite.
Visitors often get an orientation by driving the several
scenic roads that lead through the incredible scenery.
Hiker find trails of every length and level of
difficulty. Backcountry hiking is a real adventure. Lakes
provide fishing and other water recreation.
Waterton Lakes National Park is open year-round. The
prime season for visitors is July and August. Winter
services are quite limited. The main park information
centre, located on the main road into the townsite, is
open from mid-May to mid-November, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
For information, call (403) 859-2445. In the off-season,
call (403) 859-2224.
The daily park entrance fee for adults is $4.00, with
a season pass costing $ 28.00. If you're going to visit
more than one Canadian national park, getting a $35 Great
Western Annual Pass makes sense. This pass gets you into
11 national parks including Banff, Kootenay, Jasper, and
others, as well as Waterton Lakes. Children and senior
receive discounts on daily and annual fees.
to See & Do
The park access road and highway 5 and 6 provide great
views of the mountains from the prairie flatlands.
Red Rock Parkway leads 16 km (10 miles, about
25 minutes) from the visitor center to Red Rock Canyon.
This drive offers wonderful scenery -- prairie and then
mountains -- with wildlife to be found along the way.
You'll also find a Native history display.
Chief Mountain Highway takes you to the border
at the Chief Mountain Customs station. This is a 30 km
drive from the visitor center, and offers a fine view
from the Chief Mountain Overlook.
Akamina Parkway runs 16 km from the visitor
center to Cameron Lake. Climbing 400 feet to the lake,
the tour passes Discovery Well, the first producing oil
well in western Canada, at the 6 km point.
191 kms (191 miles) of trails are found in the
national park. Some are flat, short trails, in the
townsite and in some of the most scenic areas, beside
lakes, and from Red Rock Canyon. Others lead into the
park's backcountry and for for the more adventurous.
The shorter trails include:
Townsite Trail -- a 1-hour walk on a 3.2 km (2
Prince of Wales Trail -- at Emerald Bay. This i a
2 km (1.2 mile) loop that takes 45 minutes.
Akamina Lake Trail -- a loop of 0.5 km (0.3 mile)
that takes about 20 minutes.
Red Rock Canyon Trail -- a loop of 0.7 km (0.4
mile) a 20-minute walk.
Blakiston Falls Trail -- from Red Rock Canyon (1
km, 0.6 mile), 30 minutes.
Linnet lake Trail -- a 1 km (0.6 mile) loop that
takes 30 minutes
Cameron Lakeshore Trail -- 1.6 km (1 mile), a
Backpacking hikes are taken with permits
available at the Visitor Centre. 12 backcountry
campgrounds are located within the park, and a map is
available at the Visitor Centre.
Horseback riding is permitted on several trails
-- in the park and in the surrounding area -- and horse
camps are located at Snowshoe Lake, Lone Lake, and
Alderson Lake. A park use permit is required for all
camping. Horses must be kept in the corrals overnight,
and grazing is not permitted.
Cycling is growing in popularity and several
trails are available for cyclists, including the Akamina
Pass, Snowshoe, Wishbone, and Crandell Loop trails.
The park is on a major flyway for waterfowl, and
visitors in the fall and spring have a great opportunity
to see waterfowl at the Maskinonge/Park Entrance kiosk
area. Linnet and Cameron lakes are favorite locations for
birding, to see the birds that spend the summer in the
park. Steller's jays, mergansers, spotted sandpipers, and
various thrushes are found around Cameron Lake. Linnet
Lake is home to warblers, kingfishers, red-naped
sapsuckers, and white-crowned sparrows, among others.
Black bears and grizzlys are park inhabitants. You
might see a grizzly from the end of the Cameron Lakeshore
Trail. Black bears are often seen along Red Rock Parkway.
Mule Deer are common, and are usually seen around
Waterton village and in the campgrounds. White-tailed
deer are more common on the prairie lands and in aspen
Elk are usually at higher elevations during summer
months. They descend to the village during the fall, and
are seen here from late August to early October -- the
mating season. You may see a moose or two (if you're
lucky) in or near the ponds along the Red Rock Parkway,
and at Akamina Lake - mostly at before dawn and at dusk.
Bighorn Sheep are often seen in the village, and at
Red Rock Canyon. You have to climb up a mountain to get a
glimpse of the park's elusive mountain goats. Smaller
mammals include red squirrels, ground squirrels, and
three species of chipmunks.
Three campgrounds with services are located in the
Townsite Campground is located in the village,
and is open from mid-April to mid-October. The grassy
campground has 238 sites, 95 with full hookups.
Crandell Campground is found along the Red Rock
Parkway, in the Blakiston Valley. The campground has 129
semi-serviced sites. Crandell lake is 2 km from the
Belly River campground is located along the Chief
Mountain Highway, 26 km (16 miles) from the Waterton
townsite. This is a smaller campground with 24 primitive
Two commercial campgrounds -- Homestead Campground and
Waterton Riverside -- are located next to the park.
Backcountry sites are found at Wishbone, Bertha
Bay, Boundary Bay, Crypt Landing, Crandall Lake,
Snowshoe, Goat Lake, Twin Lakes, Lone Lake, Alderson
Lake, Bertha Lake, and Crypt Lake. Permits are payment of
fees are required. The nightly fee is $6.00.
Where to Stay