The Getaway
Waterton Lakes: The Canadian Side of Glacier National Park

Nestled in the Canadian Rockies, Waterton Lakes National Park offers a truly unique blend of breathtaking landscapes, rich biodiversity, and cultural heritage. The park is designated as part of the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site that symbolizes peace and cooperation between Canada and the United States.

There are a wide array of activities that you can enjoy during your visit to Waterton Lakes. Whether you prefer hiking, wildlife viewing, cultural experiences, or relaxation in nature's lap, there's something for everyone. The beauty of the park is that it appeals to travelers of all kinds, no matter what you're looking for.

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01 Exploring the Iconic Prince of Wales Hotel

Prince of Wales Hotel in Waterton lakes National park, Alberta, Canada

If you're looking to capture some of the most magnificent scenery in Waterton Lakes, the Prince of Wales Hotel is a must-see destination. This hotel affords guests unmatched views of Upper Waterton Lake and the surrounding mountains. However, you don't need to stay at the hotel to access some of its amenities. Visitors are welcome to enjoy high tea against the backdrop of breathtaking lake views or take a ride in one of North America's oldest working elevators! It's the perfect opportunity to unwind and take a break from sightseeing.

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02 Hiking the Bear's Hump Trail

If you're looking to fit a hike into your journey, the Bear's Hump Trail is a scenic route for hikers of all skill levels. The trail isn't too challenging, so you can safely try it out even if you don't have a lot of experience hiking. If this is your first time exploring the trail, be sure to pack any essentials you need ahead of time and bring a trusted hiking partner with you. Bear's Hump Trail is also famous for its panoramic views, which will take your breath away as you make your way across the route.

03 Discovering the Thrill of Crypt Lake Trail

Crypt Lake Hike Loop Trail. Waterton, Alberta.

If you've caught the hiking bug and want to discover some more trails, we've got you covered. Crypt Lake Trail is a unique Canadian gem known as one of the country's most thrilling hikes. If you're truly up for a challenge, you'll love uncovering everything that Crypt Lake has to offer. There are also various features that help distinguish this trail from the others, like a scenic boat ride to the trailhead. You can also hike right through a tunnel that goes through the mountain for a truly unforgettable experience.

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04 Strolling Through Waterton's Vibrant Downtown

Although Waterton is primarily known for its sweeping views and scenic hiking trails, many visitors also admire its small-town charm. The best way to immerse yourself in Waterton's cozy small-town atmosphere is to spend time downtown. In downtown Waterton, you'll find dozens of dining options that will give you a taste of local cuisine. There's also a healthy selection of shops where you can find a keepsake that will always remind you of your trip. Overall, the downtown area of Waterton is a wonderful reflection of the town's local culture.

05 Going on Wildlife Watching Adventures

Black bear (ursus americanus) cubs crossing the road, waterton lakes national park, alberta, canada, north america

Waterton Lakes is home to various types of wildlife. Whether you're admiring the views from the Prince of Wales Hotel or exploring one of the many hiking trails, you're sure to see a wide array of fascinating species during your time in Waterton. Some of the most commonly spotted animals in the park include bighorn sheep, white-tailed deer, elks, mountain goats, black bears, moose, bison, mule deer, Columbian ground squirrels, and American dippers. Feathered creatures also abound in Waterton Lakes, which is home to over 250 bird species.

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06 Cruising on Upper Waterton Lake

If you want to soak in the sights and sounds of Waterton while gliding on the water, a cruise on Upper Waterton Lake may be just what you need. The park offers boat tours to give you a fully immersive experience exploring all that the park has to offer. Waterton Shoreline Cruise Co. stands out as an excellent choice for those looking to enjoy a quality and instructive boat tour. It's also worth noting that while traveling across the lake, you'll have the opportunity to cross the international border. This is a truly unique experience that you'll only be able to enjoy while enjoying the sights on Upper Waterton Lake.

07 Kayaking and Paddleboarding on the Lake

For those who are looking for the opportunity to engage directly with the water, Waterton Lake gives you the chance to enjoy the beauty of the lake firsthand. Two of the most popular water activities that visitors like to try are kayaking and paddleboarding. These activities promise a thrill like no other, and you can experience all of the excitement while marveling at the breathtaking views of Waterton. If you're interested in any of these activities, you can rent a paddle board, canoe, kayak, rowboat, or peddle boat on Waterton Lake's official website.

08 Admire the Beauty of Red Rock Canyon

Red Rock creek With Vimy Peak and woodlands in background in Waterton Lakes National park, alberta, canada

Your trip to Waterton Lakes wouldn't be complete without stopping to admire Red Rock Canyon, one of the park's most iconic landmarks. The canyon boasts stunning geographical features and unfiltered scenic beauty. There are also plenty of activities you can take part in to get the most out of exploring the canyon. If you want to get your blood flowing, you can go for a hike to take in the magnificent scenery, or on a hot day, bring water shoes and hike in the water! Red Rock Canyon is also a very photogenic landmark, so be sure to grab your phone or your favorite old-school camera to snap some photos to show all your friends.

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09 Golfing With a View

If you're looking to get some sunshine while admiring the scenery of Waterton Lakes, be sure to stop by the Waterton Lakes Golf Course. The views that you'll enjoy on the greens, which are located right in the midst of the Canadian Rockies, are simply unparalleled. While you play with your friends or family, you'll have the chance to marvel at an unencumbered view of the striking mountains. Whether you win or lose, playing golf in Waterton is an experience that will stay with you forever.

10 Horseback Riding Through Scenic Trails

In addition to golf, there are plenty of other fun ways to soak up the gorgeous views in this national park. Another popular activity among park visitors is horseback riding. If you're new to riding horses, you have the option to sign up for guided horseback tours. One highly recommended provider is Alpine Stables Ltd. Not only will this company help teach you the ropes of the sport, but they'll also let you get the most out of your time in Waterton Lakes. Just like the golf courses, horseback riding also offers amazing views to complete the experience.

11 Gaining Cultural Insights at the Paahtómahksikimi Cultural Centre

Like many other parts of Canada, Waterton Lakes has roots that are deeply embedded in indigenous culture. Visitors can better understand and appreciate the extent of this cultural influence by visiting the Paahtómahksikimi Cultural Centre. The word "Paahtómahksikimi" means "Inner Sacred Lake" in the Blackfoot Language, which translates to Waterton. If you're interested in how indigenous peoples helped shape Waterton Lakes, you'll be fascinated by the information you learn at this cultural center. The space also includes a wide range of exhibits to help deepen your understanding of the origins of Waterton.

12 Enjoying Winter in Waterton

If you want to get the full Waterton experience, we highly recommend paying a visit in the winter. The cold winter months are when the park truly comes to life. There are also a wide range of activities that you can participate in, such as cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, cycling, winter walking, backcountry ski touring, sledding, and more. If you're into wildlife viewing, there are countless types of animal species you can observe as well. Regardless of which activity you choose, there's no denying the serene beauty of Waterton draped in freshly fallen snow in the winter. Keep in mind that there are limited gas options available, so make sure to fuel up in Pincher Creek or Cardston.

13 Stargazing in a Dark Sky Preserve

Once nighttime comes around and you're ready to unwind, stargazing is the perfect way to relax while taking in the beauty of the night sky. Waterton is designated as a dark sky preserve, making it the perfect site for admiring the stars. Remember to find a good spot that gives you a full view of the cosmos. For optimal viewing, try not to look at any bright screens like your smartphone or tablet. It's also a good idea to bring a trusted pair of binoculars to get the most out of the experience.

14 Attending Local Festivals and Events

To get a feel for the culture of Waterton, there are various festivals and events in the area that you can attend. One of the most popular events is the Waterton Wildflower Festival, which takes place in mid-June. This event features gorgeous flower walks, interactive art workshops, and more. You also won't want to miss the Wildlife Festival in mid-September, which celebrates the wildlife diversity that Waterton Lakes is famous for. If you happen to be in town during one of these events, be sure to attend to get the full Waterton experience.

15 Snap Photos of Cameron Falls

 Waterfall Cameron Falls Waterton National Park Alberta Canada

Cameron Falls waterfall is one of Waterton’s beloved sights! The falls are easily accessible for all and is a short walk from town. If you’d prefer to drive, don’t worry - there’s lots of parking in the area as well. The waterfall showcases thousands of years of water flowing down from Cameron Lake — when you take the paved path just off the falls, you can see the geological record in the layers of rock. Plus, on a hot day, standing in the mist is a great way to cool off.

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16 See Some Prairie Giants at the Bison Paddock

Plains Bison (Bison bison) - Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta

Driving on Bison Paddock Loop Road just off Highway 6 could lead to the viewing of a once critically endangered species. Bison roam free in the paddock and feed on the grasslands all summer long. They tend to frequent the various natural springs, but sometimes, they will come right up to the fence! Make sure you stay in your vehicle, as Bison can be dangerous.

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17 Paddling on Cameron Lake

Nestled in a glacial basin, Cameron Lake is a hidden jewel high in the Canadian Rockies. Part of Waterton Lakes National Park, Cameron Lake offers fishing, boating and breathtaking views.

Cameron Lake, located about ten miles from the town on Akamina Parkway, is an experience you won’t want to miss. The lake is as beautiful as Lake Louise, minus the crowds. This spring-fed mountain lake has lots of wildlife to be seen. You might even get lucky and see a moose! Cameron Lake Boat Rentals is open in the summer to assist with any rental needs.

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18 Visit the International Peace Park Sign

In 1932, the Canadian and American Governments created the world’s first International Peace Park. The intention was to help instill goodwill, cooperation, and peace between the nations. It’s a great spot to see the Prince of Wales from below or even sit in the iconic Canadian Adirondack chairs and think about the shared history between Canada and the USA.

Sign for the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, with Canada and America flags blowing in the wind melissamn / Shutterstock.com

19 Camping in Waterton National Park

If camping is more your style, there’s a campground located on the south side of Waterton. The campground provides amenities ranging from full-service RV sites to unserviced tent sites. This campground fills up fast, so make sure you reserve your spot on the Government of Canada website right when the portal opens.

20 Planning Your Visit to Waterton

Waterton Lakes National Park lakeshore at dawn in autumn foliage season. Blue sky, beautiful fiery clouds reflect on lake water surface like a mirror in sunrise time. Landmarks in Alberta, Canada.

The best way to get the most out of your visit to Waterton is to plan it out ahead of time. Depending on your interests and goals for your trip, be sure to research the optimal times for visiting. It's also well worth your time to look up accommodations and navigation before your trip to ensure that you know what to expect during your visit. A final tip: the general store tends to be pricey, so consider stocking up on essentials to make the most of your trip to Waterton!

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