Things to do in Waterton Lakes National Park

Written By: The Planet D

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

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. Read more about Alberta: The 52 Best Things to do in Alberta, Canada – The Ultimate Guide

The Prince of Wales Hotel

prince of wales
A closer view of the luxury 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

waterton lakes national park red rocks canyon
Red Rock Canyon, Alberta

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. Check out: 14 Best Hikes in Jasper National Park – Alberta Canada

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. Read more: Best Canada National Parks – That We’ve Seen

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.

Bear’s Hump

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

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

park view
Incredible lake views

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! Check out United States National Parks in Photos

Waterton Village

wales hotel in Waterton Lakes National park
Prince of Wales Hotel stands proudly

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 are some shops to pick up souvenirs and supplies too!

Buffalo Reserve

buffalo reserve
The Buffalo Reserve just outside Waterton National Park

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

waterton lakes national park prairies
Where the prairies meet the Rockies

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 intact 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 nearby.

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About The Planet D

Dave Bouskill and Debra Corbeil are the owners and founders of The Planet D. After traveling to 115 countries, on all 7 continents over the past 13 years they have become one of the foremost experts in travel. Being recognized as top travel bloggers and influencers by the likes of Forbes Magazine, the Society of American Travel Writers and USA Today has allowed them to become leaders in their field.

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22 thoughts on “Things to do in Waterton Lakes National Park”

  1. Very nicely written, and the photos, well let just say I may have to give my camera away now. Wow. Keep up the great posts.

    • Thank you Nicole, Yes, the water is so blue and Waterton has magnificent views. We have to agree with you, Canada is quite beautiful. (not that we’re bias at all ;-)

    • That makes me feel so much better. I was thinking to myself “What kind of Canadian am I that I didn’t know about this National Park?” I think it is lacking in publicity and we intend to change that. haha.

  2. Stunning photos! What a beautiful place. We just bought an annual pass for all the parks in the USA because we’ve been enjoying them so much. We didn’t realise how beautiful the US (and Canada for that matter) is until we started exploring them. The obvious parks are places like Yellowstone (which was amazing!) but we’ve loved exploring the lesser known ones like Olympic National Park.

  3. I would love to go there someday! The view is astonishing. I do hope I can have that kind of view when I open my window at my room! ๐Ÿ˜€

  4. Waterton looks amazing! I’m right there with ya. Everyone talks about Glacier National Park but I’d never heard of this one until now. It looks like a beautiful place to do some exploring. Thanks for sharing ๐Ÿ™‚

    • That is wonderful. Lucky you living in such a beautiful part of Canada. I was born in High River and was very happy to go back and revisit my roots. We’ll definitely be visiting more often. Southern Alberta is amazing!

    • Yeah, I’d love to stay at this hotel. I was so grand and had that old Royal Feel. I can only imagine what it was like in the early 1900s.

    • You are so right Quyen. Banff is beautiful too! We’re so glad that we’ve been able to explore a good portion of the province. We look forward to seeing more in the near future for sure. I think it’s Canada’s most picturesque province for sure.