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Waterton Lakes National Park - Alberta

Waterton Park Highlights

Rocky Mountain Majesty
Quiet, uncrowded 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 rare flowers
Several park drives & excellent hiking
Designated a International Biosphere Reserve

 Waterton: Next to Glacier National Park and just as impressive

One of 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 Peace Park.

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.

What to See & Do

Scenic Drives

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 mile) loop.
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 30-minute stroll.

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.

Wildlife Viewing

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 groves.

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 park.

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 campground.
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 sites.

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


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Bradenton Beach, Florida

The Lodge at Waterton Lakes
Waterton Lakes Alberta
(403) 859-2151 or (toll free) 888-985-6343
Located in the Waterton Lakes townsite, at the edge of the national park, this new lodge offers nine accommodation houses, situated in a four-acre site. Each house is themed to reflect the unique environment of the area -- geology, the forest, mountains, lakes, and cultural aspects. The 80 rooms include 54 standard units, nine with kitchenettes, and deluxe units with fireplaces and 2-person jetted tubs. The Beargrass Lodge features the Windflower Dining Room, and the cozy Wolf's Den lounge. Each room features complimentary coffee and tea, colour TV, VCR, data port hookup, ceiling fan, and hair dryer. Guests have free access to the Waterton Health Club & Recreation Center -- with an indoor swimming pool and workout facilities.

Also located in the townsite is the historic Kilmorey Lodge. This was one of the original buildings in the townsite, now offering 23 rooms. (403) 859-2334.

Where to Eat

The Windflower Dining Room is located in The Lodge at Waterton Lakes (see above). Open for three meals each day, the restaurant offers a varied menu.

The Lamp Post Dining Room is a long-time dining place in Waterton village, located in the historic Kilmorey Lodge. The menu ranges from wild boar pate (an appetizer) to meat, seafood, and game entrees.



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