Waterton Lakes National Park is a more relaxed, scaled-down version of Glacier National Park, with lovely lakes, rough mountains, exhilarating hiking paths, and a tiny town to discover.
Here, you may go riding and hiking as well as have other experiences you wouldn’t anticipate having in a national park. Take your pick from one of the town’s many excellent restaurants, enjoy afternoon tea just at the Prince of Wales Hotel, or browse the boutique shops in Waterton.
Beautiful and amazing things can be found in Waterton Lakes National Park. It’s the only park in Canada with international borders. The scenery is varied and includes rolling plains and lakes in Waterton. It truly is an adventure for all seasons, what with the lush wetlands, soaring mountains, and deep gorges. Here are the top activities in Waterton Lakes National Park!
Waterton Lakes National Park
The Park shared borders with the United States and British Columbia are on the south and west, respectively.
A wildfire that raged through the park in September 2017 came dangerously close to destroying the village of Waterton. To save the city as well as the Prince of Wales Hotel, firefighters put in nonstop work. But in and around Waterton, more than 47,000 acres of property were burned, drastically altering the terrain.
There were still no open hiking trails or beautiful drives. The hillsides were covered in the burned-out remains of the trees, but there were several signs of life. In between the burned-out trees, wildflowers were in bloom and saplings were emerging.
Accommodations in Waterton Townsite
In contrast to Banff and Jasper National Parks, where you can choose from a wide range of lodging alternatives, including opulent Fairmont lodges, moderately priced hotels, lodges, & motels, Waterton offers very few choices.
Here are a few hotels in Waterton, including the Prince of Wales Hotel: This establishment has origins in Waterton Townsite as The famous lodging. You can eat in the Royal Stewart Dining Room, have a drink in the Windsor Lounge, or enjoy excellent dining there. In this location overlooking the lakes, afternoon tea also is offered.
The magnificent Waterton Glacier Suites Hotel is surrounded by mountains of National Park and is ideally situated close to Cameron Falls, the Shoreline Cruises, and the Waterton Lakes Golf Course. Another hotel featuring a spa, gift store, and restaurant is close by and is called The Bayshore Inn.
Crandell Mountain Lodge is a modest hotel with reasonable rates that is situated in Waterton. There are facilities for visitors, including a BBQ area, a terrace, and kayak and canoe rentals close by.
Things to Do
1. The campground at Waterton Townsite
You can stay at a few campgrounds in and around Waterton. The preferred campground is the Waterton Townsite Campground, which is located inside the park’s boundaries and is close to local lakes and eateries.
2. Waterton Lakes National Park’s Past
The smallest of the Canadian Rockies at 505 square kilometres, Waterton was Canada’s fourth national park when it was established in the early 1900s (195 sq. miles). The Waterton Lakes area is where the park gets its name. Lieutenant Blakiston gave this network of lakes its name.
John George “Kootenai” Brown was the area’s first settler, and the historic Prince of Wales Hotel initially opened its doors in 1927. Modern facilities like buses and other forms of transit between the US & Canada started to emerge in the ensuing decades. About 100 people now live in the park. To honour the harmony, cooperation, and goodwill between Canada and the United States, this international peace park was established in 1932. UNESCO designated both sites as Biosphere Reserves.
Waterton National Park is home to hundreds of square miles of mountains, grasslands, waterfalls, and lakes, offering countless options for adventure. There are activities for everyone, whether you want to go camping, hike on one of the many paths, or enjoy a picturesque drive through the park.
3. Hike to Bears Hump
One of the well-known routes in Waterton Lakes National Park is the relatively simple hike known as Bears Hump. It is a 2.8-kilometre (1.8 miles) roundtrip hike that takes an hour or so to complete.
You are greeted at the start of the Bears Hump trek by a picture-perfect view of the Prince of Wales Hotel, the town, and the Waterton lakes.
You can ascend the wooden stairs from the trailhead to the top. Mule deer and glimpses of the Waterton Lakes can be seen along the way.
Keep in mind that this trail sees high traffic, especially from May through October during the summer. The trail can be dangerous to hike on in the winter because it is coated in snow. As you ascend, the wind picks up.
4. Hike to Crypt Lake
You must go because it is one of the “World’s 20 Most Thrilling Trails,” according to National Geographic. A loop path with a distance of 20.4 km (12.7 miles) and a 700 m elevation rise is called the Crypt Lake Trail (2,297 ft). The hike up there takes at least three hours and is challenging. To finish the hike, you must be in decent physical shape.
Take a 15-minute river cruise across Upper Waterton Lake to get to the trailhead at Crypt Landing. There are four magnificent waterfalls along the trail: Hell Roaring Falls at one kilometre, Twin Falls at three kilometres, Burnt Rock Falls at five kilometres, and Crypt Falls at six kilometres (at 8 km).
The breathtaking Crypt Lake is seen in the distance, surrounded by high cliffs on all sides.
5. Other well-liked hikes in Waterton Park
The climb to Bertha Falls from Bertha Lake offers a stunning, straightforward journey that is ideal for novices. Which involves some hard rising but also allows you the chance to experience Waterton’s breathtaking views without having to travel on long paths or traverse mountainsides.
Lower Bertha Falls, This beautiful walk offers picture-perfect vistas! Since it is rated as mild, if your dog will be accompanying you, make sure.
6. The campground in Waterton village provides access to the Trailhead
The Carthew Trail is a point-to-point journey that passes via both noteworthy locations, including Carthew Summit & Alderson Lakes. The 20 km (12.4 miles) lengthy trekking path gains 650 metres in height over its course!
Kootenai Brown Trail: The 14.6 km (9.1 mi) out-and-back Kootenai Brown Trail is located in Waterton. All ability levels can enjoy the track, which is best utilised from April to October. It has a tonne of things to do, such as lake views!
7. Take a trip to Red Rock Canyon Waterton
Visit Waterton Park’s Red Rock Canyon. Visitors to this canyon love it for its vibrant colours. You’ll want to return again because the vivid red and green boulders contrast so nicely with the luxuriant vegetation, wildflowers sprouting around them, and mountain peaks in the backdrop!
8. Trail in Red Rock Canyon
The Red Rock Canyon Trail offers a short, easy circle that is 1 km (.62 miles) long, but the best time to see this natural marvel is before it gets crowded in the morning. You can marvel at the magnificent red rocks, breathtaking canyon vistas, and lush surroundings!
9. Travel by foot to Blakiston Falls
One of the simplest hikes, this one is ideal. For the breathtaking vista of Blakiston Falls, the climb is worthwhile.
10. Red Rock Parkway to Red Rock Canyon Bike Path
Red Rock Parkway’s breathtaking ride through Red Rock Canyon will leave you with wonderful memories. Starting at Waterton is a simple day excursion that allows you access to some required amenities on the way back if you need them.
Since there aren’t enough options for shooting, the vistas throughout this 9 km (5.5 miles) excursion are well worth the effort because flowers cover the countryside at their peak season.
11. The Akamina Parkway for a Ride
The 16-kilometre Akamina Parkway is a beautiful road that starts in Waterton and passes through the Cameron Valley. Numerous historical landmarks, including First Oil Well – Western Canada’s National Historic Site, can be found along this path.
12. Dive underwater at the Waterton Lakes
One of the well-liked Waterton attractions is scuba diving. Scuba divers like it here despite the extremely frigid seas.
The sternwheeler riverboat named “Gertrude,” which gained notoriety in 1912 when it ran aground on rocks near these lakes is now one of the primary attractions.
A line of immaculate alpine lakes, which provide fantastic chances for exploration by both water enthusiasts and landlubbers alike, is one of Waterton Park’s standout characteristics. You have a variety of options, including diving and boating for sightseeing!
In the city, Upper and Middle Waterton Lake offer well-liked locations with consistent breezes, making it the ideal location for windsurfers and sailors on their own boats.
There can be both powered and non-motorised watercraft. You can go out on canoes, kayaks, SUPs, paddle boats and sailboats. Before using non-motorised ones in park waterways, Parks Canada employees must examine them.
13. Hang out and indulge in all the food you want at Waterton Town
You won’t have any trouble discovering something to suit your taste in the many excellent restaurants in the region, which provide everything from pizza to seafood burgers. The town itself is bustling all day (and night) with tourists.
There are outdoor cafés, historic restaurants that provide afternoon tea, grab-and-go coffee shops, and snack shops. Oh, and there is a great selection of shakes and ice cream!
14. The lake at Waterton
Swim in Waterton Lake during the month of July. Emerald Bay is the swimming hotspot of choice. Additionally, there is a windy beach close to the Townsite campground that you can utilise when it’s not too hot outside. Otherwise, you risk developing tight muscles from all the laps!
There are plenty of additional locations to cool off and divert your attention, in addition to the Marquis Hole picnic area along the river. There you have it, then! You could spend months visiting every inch of Waterton Lakes National Park because there is so much to see and do there.
From its suites or restaurant, this historic hotel, which has been entertaining guests since 1927, provides breathtaking views of Upper Waterton Lake.
It’s simple to explore different parts of the Waterton Lakes National Park because so many breathtaking sites are close to the hotel!
Peak season in Waterton Lakes occurs in the summer. The days are typically sunny and mild, with chilly nights. Expect large crowds just on hiking trails and boat cruises on weekends because they may get very busy. Make your hotel bookings in advance and endeavour to begin your day early. Waterton Lakes seemed incredibly deserted in comparison to Glacier National Park, but perhaps we just went there on a day with less traffic than usual.
The park’s wildflowers bloom at their peak in the spring. The ideal season to see wildlife is in the fall. The time whenever birds migrate through the park coincides with the breeding season for elk and bighorn sheep.