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Guide to Waterton Lakes in Canada – Seven Fun Things To Do

In Canada, the Waterton Lakes is officially recognized as one of the best places in the world to go on a holiday. 

In North America, it is the undisputed best place for tourists to go and have the time of their lives. If you had to compare the various provinces of Canada, then Alberta is the land of too many amazing tourist attractions. 

The Waterton Lakes National Park, the Banff National Park, the Jasper National Park, Abraham Lake, the list goes on and on.

In the southwest corner of the beautiful province of Alberta, you will come across the Waterton Lakes National Park. 

Here, you will find every little detail that you need to know about the national park. Here is Your Best Guide to Waterton Lakes in Canada:

History of the Waterton Lakes National Park

The park was named after the Victorian conservationist and naturalist Charles Waterton, after whom the lake is named. 

The first person to suggest a park be constructed around Waterton Lake was a Dominion Land Surveyor named William Pearce. His suggestion was made in the year 1886.

This was followed up by a rancher, Frederick William Godsal, who wrote to Pearce about the report he published in 1886 about converting the surrounding area into a park.

As the first proposal was rejected, Pearce gave the idea another shot in 1893 and forwarded the report, further emphasizing that the land around the lake was not fit for cultivation of any kind.

It also did not have a lot of scopes to be a grazing ground for cattle either. Thomas Mayne Daly, the then Minister of the Interior of Canada, decided to act upon the proposal and instructed that the park be constructed around the lake.

In 1905, Frederick William Godsal made another set of changes in his writing. This time, he wrote to the Secretary of the Interior requesting that the park be expanded in size so that it could be used for scenic recreation and that it could be visited by people from all across the country, and later, all across the world.

The Waterton Lakes National Park was declared a biosphere reserve. This was done to preserve the vast ecosystem present in the confines of the National Park so that the natural beauty would not be spoiled by human interference.

The type of habitats found within the national park includes:

  • Deciduous and coniferous forests.
  • Lower subalpine forests.
  • Prairie grasslands.
  • The alpine tundra or the high meadows.
  • Aspen grove forests.
Waterton Lakes
source: Shutterstock

Along with the Glacier National Park, which is in Montana in the United States of America, the Waterton Lakes National Park is a part of the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, which was recognized as a World Heritage Site in 1995.

September 2017 brought dark times for the Waterton Lakes National Park. A large forest fire broke out in the area, which caused a mass evacuation of the nearby town and the park itself. 

The large fire scorched many establishments, including many park and visitor center stables, among other buildings.

The fallout from the fires was pretty massive as well, and the majority of the hiking trails and facilities of the park remained closed for the 2018 season to make repairs and renovations to the areas affected.

The Waterton Lakes

As mentioned above, named after Charles Waterton, Waterton Lake is the highlight of the Waterton Lakes National Park. 

The lake comprises two separate water bodies connected by a channel the locals know as the Bosporus.

Middle Waterton Lake and Upper Waterton Lake are two separate parts. About a third of the Upper Waterton Lake falls in the United States of America because the lake spreads across the two countries borders, with Canada having the majority of the upper area.

Things come in threes, and the Waterton Lakes also come in threes. Aside from the Middle and Upper parts of the lake, a third member of the trio is known as Lower Waterton Lake.

It is located to the north of the Middle lake, which gives rise to the trend of Lower-Middle-Upper from north to south. 

The Lower Waterton Lake is separated from the Middle lake by another similar shallow channel like the Bosporus; only this one goes by Dardanelles.

The northern part of the lake resides in the Waterton Lakes National Park in Canada. In contrast, the southern part (Upper) is found in Glacier National Park in the American state of Montana.

The lakes flow into the Waterton River, which is their primary outflow. They are located at an elevation of 4,200 feet above sea level, above many mountain ranges of the world, albeit the smaller ones. The lake is rather a depth, having a measured average depth of about 260 feet and the deepest at about 500 feet.

Waterton Lakes
source: Shutterstock

Fauna Found at the Lakes

The area around the lake is recognized for having a diverse variety of fauna. 

Some fauna found at the Waterton Lakes National Park includes coyotes, beavers, river otters, hoary marmots, grizzly bears, black bears, white-tailed deer, mule deer, mountain goats, and wolverines.

Things to Do:

Waterton Lakes National Park has a huge amount of things that you can do, and some of the popular leisure activities are listed down below:

1. Mountain Biking

If you can load up your bike in the trunk of your car, then power to you. However, there are facilities for tourists to rent bikes for themselves here, 

so you don’t need to worry because the people there have covered you. Pat’s Gas Station is a popular place where you can rent bikes and refuel your vehicle. They also have a mini store if you need to stock up on essential supplies.

There are many different types of bikes that they offer for rent, despite the small stature of the shop. Besides mountain bikes, they offer e-bikes and special bikes for kids equipped with training wheels.

There are as many as five different bike trails. Don’t worry if you don’t know the trials by heart when you get there. 

The great people at Pat’s will help you with the bikes and their technicalities and explain the biking trial to you in detail so that you can find your way around without hassle.

They’ll also give you a map so you don’t get utterly lost if technology picks a very bad time to fail you. 

You would be wise to look up the internet or a trusty guide on reading a map because it can initially be a little overwhelming.

Source: Shutterstock

2. The Red Rock Parkway

If you’re someone who loves cycling, then the Waterton Lakes National Park is practically what you would call paradise. 

Why? That’s why! You can check the whole place on a bike and enjoy the scenery. if you don’t have a bike with you, you can always rent it from the Waterton lakes lodge resort.

Red Rock Parkway is about 14 kilometres long and starts as a plain grassland that later transitions into a passage through a valley. 

You don’t have to worry about the mechanical monsters (cars!) honking you to get out of the way because they aren’t allowed on the Parkway.

The only way you can check this place out is by walking or by bicycle. I would recommend the latter a hundred times out of a hundred.

Animals like the black bear, bighorn sheep, elk, and whitetail deer can be found while pedalling through the trial. 

The Red Rock Parkway ends up in the Red Rock Canyon, where you can head over for a dip after a long bicycle ride in the summer.

The entire Parkway takes about two to four hours to ride through, depending on how fast you can ride. 

A great way to spend the day around the area is to set aside an entire day for hiking and biking—Group the Red Rock Parkway along with the Snowshoe Trail and the Blakiston Valley Trail nearby.

Blakiston Falls and Crandell Lake are the other places of prominence along the road.

3. Visit Cameron Falls

Cameron Falls is not like every other waterfall you might encounter. What makes Cameron Falls special is that under the right conditions, the entirety of the waterfall turns a beautiful shade of pink. However, the natural phenomenon is really rare.

This was discovered by Rochelle and Brian Coffey about a decade ago. According to the Coffey couple, they saw the waterfall turn a shade of pink right after a rainstorm.

They proposed that argillite somehow found its way into the waterfall, most likely through a landslide. The couple were shocked at their discovery and submitted their photos to National Geographic.

The location is very accessible, and it is located right in the town. There’s also a parking lot to drive next to the waterfall.

Gros Morne National Park
Source: Shutterstock

4. Cruises Around Waterton Lake

Boat rides are a thrilling experience, no matter how old you are. If you’re someone who feels at peace among water, then you should consider taking a boat ride when you’re at the Waterton Lakes.

The cruises are scheduled, so you can’t have them at your convenience, but it’s great to plan your days out on vacation to make the most of your time—the boat ride clocks in at a couple of hours. 

And, it would be best if you got your camera for some amazing shots of yourself and nature’s beauty.

The cruise is only offered in the summer months of July to August, and different times of the day offer different experiences to the people aboard the ferry.

The sun shining on the waters does make for some stunning shots. For example, people on the cruise themselves recommend the morning ride that leaves at about 10 in the morning for the best photographic experience. 

It’s a win-win scenario if you’re a morning person.

If you manage to get on the evening cruise that leaves at around 7, you’ll come across the most wildlife the area has to offer. 

Bald Eagles and black bears are some common sightings during the cruise.

The guides are thorough with the facts about the place, and the cruise crosses the Canada-USA border into the Glacier National Park right around the corner.

5. A Hike Over the Bears Hump

Many people in the town will recommend you spend an hour of your time hiking along with the Bears Hump. You get a clear view of Waterton’s town and the adjoining lakes. 

The view is just too good to miss. Kids can also come up on the hike due to the simplicity of the path.

6. Hike Over To Crypt Lake

National Geographic has recognized the trail of Crypt Lake as one of the best trails to go on. The trip takes an entire day to enjoy thoroughly and consists of a boat ride on Upper Waterton Lake. 

You’ll also pass through tunnels, hike along cliffs, and enjoy a great view of Crypt Lake.

There’s a significant amount of elevation involved, so give it your best shot!

killarney provicial park
Source: Depositphotos

7. Boating on the Waterton Lakes

You can go canoeing or kayaking or take a paddleboat and chill out on the Waterton Lakes. This is a great idea on summer days, after lunch, when you feel like things should start moving a little slower.

Small restaurants are scattered all over the city because of its popularity as a tourist location. 

The Prince of Wales Hotel deserves a special mention because of its elegance and amazing view of Upper Waterton Lake. 

Having a cup of tea and snacks is a must for tourists here! The summer season is when the park enjoys its highest number of tourists in the calendar year; however, autumn is a good time to spot the wildlife in the park.

Closing Thoughts

Waterton park welcomes visitors all year round, but the park’s hours vary.

There are numerous ways to reach Waterton. The Canadian Rocky Mountains’ narrowest section is found in the southwest part of Alberta, where Waterton Lakes National Park is situated. Glacier National Park and It share a border and an international distinction.

When you decide to visit, the Waterton national park has all the things necessary for you to have an extraordinary, memorable experience.

We recommend that you take advantage of the mountain lodge instead of the Waterton camping sites as it will you get a better more stunning view of the mountain vistas.

Last Updated on by Priyanshi Sharma


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