The home I always return to.
Upper Waterton Lake on a calm winter day.
The view from the town site.
The Prince of Wales Hotel
Mt. Custer and frozen Cameron Lake
An epic summer playground.
The vibrant colour of Red Rock Canyon
A place for childhood memories
Pets have a place here too.
Life is lush and abundant.
Where the prairie meets the mountains.
The iconic Prince of Wales Hotel.
After a day of adventuring the family can catch a movie at the Waterton Lakes Opera House.
Open year round, Vimy’s Lounge and Grill is one of the best menus in town.
Waterton Lakes National Park
Near Pincher Creek, AB
Waterton. Where epic prairie skies meet majestic mountain grandeur. Nestled in the corner of southwest Alberta lies 505 square kilometres of rugged windswept beauty. Chinook country. The Crown of the Continent. Some of the oldest sedimentary rock in Canada forms the shining mountains that pierce the clouds in variegated red and green, surrounding deep glacier sculpted lakes and hanging valleys, where life exists as it has since the days of the Assiniboine. Their ancient hunting trails and trade routes still in use by the 400, 000 visitors Waterton attracts every year from all over the world.
There is something for everybody, and Waterton Lakes National Park serves Canadians and the world by providing a place where one can experience, remember, and appreciate the world as it one was… rich in biodiversity, abundant in life.
The townsite of Waterton is home to hotels, restaurants, and shops that help support the local economy by providing many jobs in the service industry and an outlet for Canadians to enjoy awesomeness of their backyard. Hiking, canoeing, trail running, ice climbing, photography, wildlife watching, birding, and eating ice cream by the water. You do not need to be an extreme adventurer to appreciate Waterton’s beauty.
This biodiversity, unparalleled in the mountain parks is what makes Waterton such a valuable public space for its size. Over half of Alberta's plants are found within these park boundaries and Waterton's four eco regions: foothills/parkland, montane, subalpine, and alpine, support 45 vegetation communities. The mountains funnel in warm Pacific winds bringing costal weather conditions and seeds, making Waterton a botanist's heaven and unique among Canada’s mountain parks. Of the plant species in Waterton, 175 are considered provincially rare and 50 species are rare in Canada. Among these rare species is the Bolander's quillwort, a plant with ancient origins that has existed for at least 22 million years. Waterton Park is the only place where this species may be found in Canada.
Prairie grassland spills into mountain valleys making wildlife watching in Waterton remarkably easy. Sixty species of mammals, 250 species of birds, 24 species of fish, and 10 species of reptiles and amphibians make the 505 square km their home.
In the space of one spring day in 2009, I saw everything from ruffed grouse chicks, fox kits, adorable spotted fawns, elk, moose and bison calves, and bighorn sheep lambs and bear cubs. All from my car window. Two roads, the Akamina Parkway and the Red Rock Canyon Road, roll out from the Waterton townsite, and tourists are practically guaranteed a wildlife sighting.
Or you can rent a canoe and paddle down Cameron Lake to watch grizzly bear picnic on the mountain side. Waterton is one of the few paces I know if where one can view Grizzly in the wild with such ease.
Geologists too can revel in Waterton’s ancient glacier sculpted rock, rippled with the marks of an ancient sea bed, formed long before complex life on earth existed. Impressive beds of red argillite form the bottom and side of “Red Rock Canyon” a place once frequented by First Nations to acquire rock for pipe bowls. Today families can traverse these canyon walls, enjoying a respite from the summer heat.
The winter here is a magical time where you can lose yourself to deep silent snowbound forests on snowshoes or skis. Frozen waterfalls flash turquoise on the mountainsides and are a Mecca for ice climbers. Several hotels and one restaurant remain open year round and are perfect for a romantic getaway far from your buzzing Blackberry. The cozy Crandell Mountain Lodge and Waterton Lakes Lodge provide everything necessary for a relaxing weekend get-away with a loved one.
It was an Alberta rancher, Frank W. Godsel, who recognized the ecological significance of this area and recommended Ottawa take steps to protect Waterton for future generations to enjoy. This was back in 1893, and in 1895, Waterton Lakes National Park was founded with John George Kootenai Brown as its first superintendent in 1911.
In 1932, together with Glacier National Park in Montana, Waterton was named The Waterton - Glacier International Peace Park, a symbol of peace and good will between the U.S. and Canada.
In 1995 The Waterton Lakes International Peace Park was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Canada’s glory is in its wild places. What we lack in cultural monuments and architecture, our landscape more than makes up for. Our wilderness is the envy of Europe, and Waterton is but one small example of a public space that Canadians can proudly call their own.
We need places like Waterton to remind us of our place in nature. We came from the earth and will return to it. Waterton reminds us of our place on this planet and the sacred obligation we have to defend it. Waterton Lakes National Park allows us access to pristine mountains, meadows, wetlands, rivers and lakes. One can get equally close to a grizzly or glacier lily. It’s a privilege we Canadians enjoy.
The turn of the century was a heyday for North America’s National parks. In 1910, a man named James Hill, the president of the Great Northern Railway of the United States had a vision of a “great northwest playground” and designed and built a chain of hotels, camps, chalets, several boats, roads and trails to attract tourists to the area of Waterton-Glacier. Back then, tourists could enjoy an epic journey by train through Glacier National Park, ending the trip with a boat cruise on the MV International, where they would stay in the iconic Prince of Wales Hotel perched on a hill overlooking the lake.
Built in 1927, The Prince of Wales Hotel is still in use today and its dining room boosts perhaps the best views of any mountain park. Visitors can still enjoy a cruise on the historic MV International as it sails daily down the lake from Waterton to Goat Haunt Montana.
The town of Waterton was first surveyed in 1910 and by the 30s enjoyed most of the amenities of the day. Today, Waterton’s visitors and residents can make use of a swimming pool, tennis courts, a movie theatre, numerous restaurants, coffee shops, and ice cream parlours. Three churches and the RCMP’s services are available during the summer months.