Have you ever heard of Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta? How about Glacier National Park in Montana? These two parks are unique and amazing places to visit. Together, they are known as the International Peace Park and when visiting Southern Alberta, Waterton NP should be high on the list.
With beautiful hiking trails, glacier lakes, a famous hotel and cute little town, there are plenty of things to do in Waterton Lakes National Park to keep you busy for a few days.
About Waterton Lakes National Park
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Waterton Lakes National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, an International Peace Park, and a Biosphere Reserved rolled all in one. It’s the only one of its kind in the world.
The Prince of Wales Hotel
The Prince of Wales hotel stands in the centre of the park overlooking a beautiful lake in a mountainous setting.
The Prince of Wales used to live in Alberta and was so taken with the land he actually bought a ranch right next door to the famous Bar U Ranch. His legacy remains with this historic landmark.
There is a small village in the park with some other hotel options and a chance to rent mini motorbikes and motorboats. There are general stores and a beach.
It’s a place that feels like cottage country and we certainly would love to spend a few more days here in the park exploring.
Hikes of Waterton Lakes National Park
One of the best things to do in Waterton Lakes National Park is to go hiking.
You can make your home base in town and then do day trip hikes into the mountains. There are trails to suit everyone’s needs and if you only have a short time, there are a few short trails that will give you a taste of Waterton National Park.
Red Rocks Canyon
There is a lovely loop trail that goes around Red Rocks Canyon. The Blackiston Valley Trail and Snowshoe Trail make for a great full-day hike.
Canyoning in Red Rocks
You can go canyoning and wade through the river taking in the scope of the canyon walls from below while staying refreshed in the hot summer heat.
Lower Bertha Falls
Lower Bertha Falls is another quick loop that is 5.2 km long. If you want to go further (which we didn’t have time for) you can do a full day hike out to Bertha Lake. It’s a 10km hike and is a bit more of an elevation gain.
If you are looking for a hike that offers some stunning views, Bear’s hump is a steep, yet short climb taking up to an elevation of 1500 meters for a beautiful morning view of Waterton Village.
Crypt Lake Trail is one of the most popular hikes in Waterton Lakes NP and at 17 km long, it’s a full day.
You must plan ahead for this hike as it starts with a boat shuttle across the lake from the Waterton Village Marina to Upper Waterton Lake.
It has an elevation gain of 695 meters showcasing views of Burnt Rock Falls, Crypt Falls and Mount Boswell.
Boat Tour of Waterton Lake
I love hopping on a boat any chance I get. And if you want a different perspective of Waterton Lakes, hop on a boat tour. A fun little thing is that you get to cross the border into the United State for a view of Glacier National Park too!
There is a town in the middle of Waterton Lakes National Park and it is a spot where many people make their home base.
There are plenty of things to do in Waterton Village from renting bicycles and kayaks, to booking guided hikes and eating at one of the restaurants.
There’s are some shops to pick up souvenirs and supplies too!
On our way out, we also made sure to stop and see the buffalo reserve that is located just on the outskirts of the park.
You can drive your car slowly through the enclosed reserve, but make sure you don’t get out.
Buffalo can be dangerous. Although the buffalo were so far away, I don’t think we were in any danger whatsoever.
It was still cool to see them live as they did hundreds of years ago.
Waterton Park Front
On our way back to our hotel in Pincher Creek, we stopped at the ‘Waterton Park Front’ one of the largest land conservation initiatives in Canada.
An agreement with private landowners has made this 30,000 acre area a place to help prevent the loss of Canada’s most magnificent ranches, to keep the landscape in tact and to maintain sustainable agriculture production.
I’m glad that the Weston family decided to start this initiative in the 90’s because this region is beautiful and it’s a wonderful thing to know that it will not be destroyed.
Now generations will be able to not only view the beauty of Waterton National Park, but also the surrounding area and ranch lands near by.