Waterton Lakes National Park - Hiking Alberta

 

Waterton Lakes National Park is the world's first International Peace Park.

 

 

At 505 square kilometers (195 sq. miles), Waterton Lakes National Park is much smaller than its southern neighbor, Glacier National Park in Montana, USA

Waterton Lakes and surrounding mountains were designated as Canada's third National Park in 1895.  In 1932, Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta, Canada and Glacier National Park in Montana, USA became the world's first International Peace Park

Waterton Lakes National Park has two points of entry and exit.  One is from the north in Canada and the other is from the south in the USA.  Past Maskinonge Lake, the Park Gate and Lower Waterton Lake, the Visitor Information Center occupies roadside beneath 7,802 ft (2,378 m) Mount Crandell just prior to entering the Town of Waterton.

 

 

The Town of Waterton is bordered by a small marina on the shore of Emerald Bay, the shoreline of Upper Waterton Lake and surrounding mountains.  Accommodation for this hiking adventure is conveniently located at Bear Mountain Motel.

 

Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada Entrance to Bear Mountain Motel on Mount View Road with Vimy Peak on the other side of Upper Waterton Lake

 

Bear Mountain Motel is a 1960's style motel with compact rooms and fundamental amenities by today's standards.

 

Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada Deer are plentiful and graze throughout the Town of Waterton

 

Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada

 

Accommodation provides two separate bedrooms, an integrated kitchenette and a tiny bathroom.  The small stand up shower requires delicate yoga-like movements for complete lathering.  Navigation from the shower stall to the sink demands a carefully calculated maneuver between the toilet and the paper dispenser. 

The rooms are clean and comfortable.  The only time spent in the motel is spent sleeping on comfortable beds after a day of hiking.  The rustic character and the fundamental ambiance suits the needs of the mission.

 

Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada The tiny washroom and the second bedroom are through the tiny hallway

 

Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada Space is tight but basic accommodation works well.

 

Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada Behind Bear Mountain Motel, the First Anglican Church stands closed and badly in need of repair.

 

Sunrise over Middle Waterton Lake and Emerald Bay is spectacular and the sun peeking over the horizon turns surrounding mountains a brilliant orange.

 

Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada

Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada The sun rising over Emerald Bay frames the hilltop Prince of Wales Hotel

 

Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada The rising sun profiles the small marina in Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada

 

Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada New day sun lights up Bear's Hump and Mount Crandell

 

Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada Across Emerald Bay the rising sun bathes Mount Crandell in fantastic hues of red and orange

 

Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada

Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada Historic building mix with new, modern structures in the Town of Waterton

 

There are a number of key features in the small and compact Town of Waterton.

 

Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada  A herd of mountain sheep passing through town

 

Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada The Park Administration Building hosts the fenced-in Native Plant Garden on Mountain View Drive in the Town of Waterton

 

Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada The RCMP Station is adjacent to the shore of Upper Waterton Lake on Waterton Avenue across from Zum's Eatery

 

Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada Vimy Peak is ever prominent across Upper Waterton Lake from the marina in Emerald Bay

 

Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada Mount Crandell and Bear's Hump in early morning across Emerald Bay from the pier near Peace Park Pavilion

 

The Prince of Wales Hotel stands prominent above the Town of Waterton with awesome views of pristine alpine lakes surrounded by majestic mountains.

Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada Historic Prince of Wales Hotel atop the grassy hill across Emerald Bay from the marina

 

Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada The Peace Park Pavilion between the John George 'Kootenai' Brown Marker and the shore of Upper Waterton Lake

 

Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada The view south down Upper Waterton Lake in the evening

 

Deer are present throughout the Town of Waterton all the time but they are more active and numerous in early morning and late evening.  The deer are not tame.  They are wild, but comfortable in an urban surrounding.  As long as everyone keeps their distance, there will be no problem.

 

Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada Bear Mountain Motel with deer in the foreground and Bear's Hump and Mount Crandell behind.

 

Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada Mom and fawn graze in Waterton Townsite with early morning sun igniting shrubbery along Emerald Bay.

 

Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada Here a deer; there a deer; everywhere a deer, dear. Abundant wildlife in the Town of Waterton

 

Waterton Lakes National Park has, in the past, been an out-of-the-way, unspoiled orphan.  Quite frankly, it is not that easy to get to. 

The magnificent park is a three-hour drive south from a flight into Calgary, Alberta.  Otherwise, it is remote. 

The Town of Waterton is small and can accommodate only a limited number of guests.  Reservations must be made well in advance.  There is a large campground. The summer season is short and winter brings heavy snow.  There are camping facilities and a very well-appointed trailer park.  In the past couple of years this tiny and incredibly beautiful park has begun to gain notoriety.  My advice would be to take advantage of Waterton Lakes National Park sooner than later.  The park has a charm about it that will eventually fade into the ambiguity of expanding attendance.  

The park is an important part of the Crown Jewel of the Continent and you would be fortunate to experience Waterton Lakes National Park at its current state of development. 

This post is a prelude to hiking experiences gained over the next several days.  Miscellaneous photos in this post would not fit in well elsewhere and are meant to provide a feel for this fabulous park.

 

 

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Comments

Thanks Barry. I am sure your site will be very helpful :)

Thank you for your comment, Charlie. There are many beautiful places in Thunder Bay, Ontario near the top of Lake Superior. One of my best hiking partners lives in Edmonton and I always enjoy hiking in the river valley. I enjoyed the photographs on your site. You have done excellent work there. Perhaps my work will lead you to some interesting places where you can practise your craft.

Thanks for all your great articles :) I find them very resourceful. I am still amazed at all the hidden places that look so cool in Alberta.

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