Waterton Lakes National Park may be the smallest mountain park in the Canadian Rockies, but there is nowhere else in the world where a World Heritage Site, biosphere reserve, and international peace park are all found at one location! Further, the park is home to flora and fauna not found anywhere else in Alberta.
Nestled in the southwestern part of the province and joining with Glacier National Park south of the US border, Waterton Lakes National Park is a favourite destination for hikers, photographers, birdwatchers, and botanists. However, you can also simply enjoy it for the spectacular scenery.
We visited Waterton Lakes National Park for the first time in May of 2017. It’s always a great thrill driving west through Alberta to finally see the mountain peaks in the distance, a sharp contrast to the Prairie landscape that dominates along the way.
We stayed at Waterton Glacier Suites in Waterton village, a charming resort town with lovely restaurants, and gift shops packed to the rafters with interesting and unique mementoes of your stay. The village is small enough that you can pretty well walk anywhere easily, and includes paths to stroll right along the water’s edge. This is one of the photos I took from the path.
One of the first things we did was to book a boat cruise that took us past the US border into Glacier National Park in Montana. We weren’t able to disembark because it was pre-peak season, but if you want to take the cruise in the summer and get out and explore, you must have your passport with you.
The park’s most recognized landmark is arguably the Prince of Wales Hotel located on a bluff above Waterton Lake; about a five minute drive from the village. It wasn’t open when we visited mid-May, but we were allowed to walk around on the grounds and take in the spectacular lake view. Over the summer, it is a favourite spot to have high tea.
Waterton Lakes National Park has some lovely driving routes. One must-see location is Red Rock Canyon. You can go right down to the floor of the valley along the river if you want, but we opted out of that because of the cold weather.
Another must-do activity is to drive the Akamina Parkway. We were pleasantly surprised by the gorgeousness of the scenery along this route!
Don’t forget about hiking! Be aware that some of the trails can be quite challenging physically. Plus on some trails you risk coming across wildlife such as bears, wolves, and coyotes. Be smart, and get the information you need at the Park Entrance to hike safely!
Waterton is known for its numerous waterfalls. There is even one right in the village! But there are many more in and around the park. See how many you can spot as you are driving or hiking around!
There are many opportunities to photograph mountain peaks within the park. Here’s a photo tip: your photo will be more dramatic if you frame the peak with natural elements such as branches and trees.
Here are some more shots that merely hint at the beauty and majesty of the mountains in Waterton Lakes National Park!
Do you have a favourite place at, or story about, Waterton Lakes National Park? Please comment below!
Coming soon: Top 17 Wildlife Photos At Waterton Lakes National Park