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Waterton Lakes National Park

Nestled among stunning mountain peaks in southwestern Alberta, Waterton Lakes National Park should be on your travel bucket list. This park makes up half of the Glacier-Waterton International Peace Park, which was the first of its kind when it was established in 1932.

Small, but mighty, Waterton Lakes is the smallest national park in the Rockies, but that just means more awesome per square kilometre. The prairies of Alberta meet the peaks of the Rocky Mountains in Waterton Lakes National Park. Clear lakes, thundering waterfalls, rainbow-coloured streams, colourful rocks and mountain vistas await hikers and sightseers. Waterton packs a big natural punch into a relatively small area.

Waterton Lakes National Park offers plenty to keep visitors busy. Sightsee on scenic roadways, watching for abundant wildlife. Explore natural attractions, from a vivid red canyon to mist-cloaked waterfalls. Visit the postcard-perfect Waterton community for day hikes, and take part in a range of water activities.

Watertons Wildlife

Whether you plan to drive the roads, hike the trails, or relax in town, there are many opportunities to observe wildlife in Waterton Lakes National Park. Wildlife can be spotted year round, so keep a look out for the park’s 60-plus species of mammals.

Bighorn sheep, deer and ground squirrels are commonly seen in the community of Waterton. Small mammals, birds, deer and bighorn sheep are often seen along mountain trails, and the park’s grasslands provide important range for elk, mule deer and white-tailed deer. Black bears are occasionally seen on open slopes, in forested areas, along roadsides, in campgrounds and feeding in berry patches in the lower valleys in late summer. Late summer and fall are particularly good wildlife viewing times. The grasslands covering the lower mountain sides provide important food sources which attract wildlife; as well as open views which make them more visible. Ungulates such as deer, elk and bighorn sheep mate in the fall, so they are looking their best at this time; with antlers at peak growth and thick, shiny coats. This is the time of year when you can experience bugling elk and their large harems, or head-butting tests of strength by bighorn sheep.

Watertons Scenic Parkways

If spectacular scenery appeals to you, drive one of the scenic parkways. All have pulloffs and viewpoints for safe viewing opportunities, and offer the chance to discover more about this special place.

  • The Entrance Parkway runs from the park gate to Waterton townsite and provides scenic views overlooking the Waterton Valley. It starts out on the prairie and follows the Waterton Lakes chain past the Prince of Wales Hotel National Historic Site to the townsite. It is one of the best roads in the park for viewing wildlife.
  • The Red Rock Parkway travels 15 km up the Blakiston Valley through rolling grasslands and ends at Red Rock Canyon. It is the best place to experience Waterton’s classic prairie meeting mountain landscape.
  • The Chief Mountain Highway is the primary route between Waterton Lakes National Park and Glacier National Park (U.S). The highway climbs from the grasslands near Maskinonge Lake to a viewpoint which offers a magnificent panorama of the Waterton and Blakiston valleys (Chief Mountain lookout).
  • Located just inside the park’s north boundary, off Highway 6, the Bison Paddock Loop Road provides an opportunity to see plains bison in their natural grassland habitat. In spring, summer and fall, you can drive the road and view the bison. This short, scenic route passes through fescue grasslands inside the park’s summer paddock. The bison are free to roam the enclosure.

Waterton town

The sweet little village known as the “Waterton townsite” is located on the shores of majestic Upper Waterton Lake, just across the water from the United States border. If the heart of Waterton Lakes National Park is its rugged natural beauty, then Waterton Village is its pulse. This tiny, vibrant town is an epicenter of activity, full of fun possibilities and dining experiences from fine to casual.

Waterton is decidedly low key – and despite the park’s popularity, you’ll never have to fight crowds while wandering the streets. Somehow or other, Waterton has managed to maintain its authenticity. This is a truly natural mountain town – the very kind of place you envision when conjuring up ideas of an unspoiled natural paradise. It’s rusticbut hugely friendly, and will welcome you with open arms.

Suggested Itineraries

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