Waterton Lakes National Park is where the Rocky Mountains meet the prairies of Alberta. Crystal-clear lakes, colorful rocks, and rainbow-colored waterfalls will be a real treat to every nature lover. With rich wildlife, a little cozy waterfront town, and spectacular nature, Watertown packs all you need in a relatively small area.
Waterton Lakes National Park is located in the southwest corner of Alberta, Canada.
From Calgary – Take Highway 2 south to Fort Macleod, then west on Highway 3 to Pincher Creek, and later south on Highway 6 to the park. The whole route will take approximately 3 hours.
From Banff National Park – This scenic, 380-kilometer route starts along Highway 1 east. Then, turn south at Highway 40 and take this route over the Highwood Pass to Highway 22. The alternative is to travel further east and turn directly onto Highway 22 south. You will pass the Bar U Ranch National Historic Site just south of Longview. Highway 22 connects with Highway 3. Continue east on Highway 3 to Pincher Creek and then south on Highway 6 to the park.
From Lethbridge – Drive south to Cardston on Highway 5, then west to the park on Highway 5. The route will take approximately 1 hour and 40 minutes.
From British Columbia – Travel by way of the Crowsnest Pass on Highway 3 to Pincher Creek, and then turn south on Highway 6. The whole route from Fernie, BC, will take approximately 2 hours.
From Glacier National Park in Montana – Take Chief Mountain International Highway or go north through Cardston on Montana Highway 89 to Highway 2. Then, go west on Highway 5. The whole route from St. Mary, Montana, will take approximately 1 hour.
Waterton Lakes National Park was the fourth national park in Canada. Established in 1895, it was named after Waterton Lake. It is a 505 square kilometer territory of mountains and wilderness between the Rocky Mountains and prairies.
This park’s elevation ranges from 1290 m (4232 ft) at the townsite to 2910 m (9547 ft) at Mount Blakiston. The park is full of many scenic trails, with Crypt Lake trail being one of them.
The area was first protected in 1895 under the Dominion Forest Park name. Its status and name varied over the years, but today it is known as Waterton Lakes National Park. The park’s name comes from Waterton Lakes – a chain of lakes which honors a British naturalist Squire Charles Waterton.
With all the important natural sights packed close to each other, Waterton has a lot to offer when it comes to keeping its visitors busy. Enjoy the scenic roadways or keep an eye on the incredible wildlife. Explore the natural attractions, from misty waterfalls to vivid, red canyons.
Whether you are hiking, driving on the roads, or relaxing in town, always watch out for wild animals, as there are many of them in Waterton. The most seen mammals are deer, sheep, and ground squirrels. Small mammals, such as bighorn sheep, birds, and deer, can be encountered on mountain trails, while grasslands are the best place to look for elks, white-tailed deer, or mule deer.
Waterton Lakes National Park has 200 kilometers (120 miles) of hiking trails, ranging from easy strolls in nature to challenging hikes through the wilderness. The park is especially popular for short hiking trails that can be completed in just a few hours or a day.
The best season for hiking is from July to mid-September. Until late June, most trails are still covered in snow with a high possibility of avalanche hazard. Trails also tend to be muddier at the beginning of the season due to ice melting, so it is best to hike at lower elevations or choose drier slopes.
Waterton Lakes National Park is a true photographer’s paradise, with almost every location offering perfect photography opportunities. The best time to take pictures of the park is usually early or late in the day.
Make sure to keep a considerate distance from wildlife when taking pictures. Stay on established trails to avoid trampling vegetation.
Waterton is open all year round, but the main tourist season is during July and August. If you are planning your trip during these months, make sure to book your accommodation in advance.
During the fall, the days are still quite warm and long. It is the perfect time for bird-watching, wildlife-viewing, hiking, and/or golfing. Keep in mind that most services close in mid-October, but accommodation at Waterton Glacier Suites is available year-round.
Winter is the quietest season at Waterton Lakes National Park. Snow and ice cover the landscape, leaving lots of opportunities for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, ice climbing, and wildlife-viewing.
When the melting water retreats to Waterton’s lakes and creeks, the wonderful flora flourishes. Waterton is home to 50% of Alberta’s plant species and holds some of the rarest species in the world.
Also, the park becomes more alive in spring, starting with outdoor activities like camping, golfing, and water sports. Most park services are fully operational by mid-May.
If you are looking for a romantic suite or if you prefer to sleep beneath the stars, Waterton Lakes National Park has a wide variety of accommodation options.
Pass Creek Day-Use Area, situated on the Entrance Parkway, offers a sheltered winter campground for free.
The Alpine Club of Canada (ACC) operates a Cameron Lake Cabin in a backcountry, providing accommodation during winter.
Front Country Camping
Hotels, B&Bs, and Spas