A Guide to Waterton Lakes National Park
Waterton Lakes is a beautiful national park nestled in the lower corner of Alberta on the border with Montana, where it shares the designation of International Peace Park with Glacier National Park. Home to fantastic camping, kayaking, hiking and exploring, this place is an oasis of adventure.
How to Get to Waterton Lakes National Park
After exploring Glacier National Park, we crossed the Montana-Alberta border at Chief Mountain, the only border crossing near the park. From there, follow the road straight into the heart of Waterton Lakes National Park. If you’re driving down from Calgary, it takes about 2.5 hours straight down Highway 2.
Camping in Waterton Lakes National Park
There are two main campsites available in Waterton Lakes, one right in the centre of town and one further out. The benefit of the one in town is that it is in walking distance of everything you could need in terms of shops and supplies and is on the shores of Waterton Lakes. However, if you can get a spot at Crandell Mountain Campground instead, I highly recommend you go there. The town site is bare and there is no privacy, in comparison to Crandell where each site is surrounded in trees and is tucked into the mountains along a quiet, winding road. The turn off for Crandell is to the right just across from the iconic Prince of Wales hotel.
Things to Do in Waterton Lakes National Park
Go kayaking on Cameron Lake. One of the most famous backdrops in the entire park is the gorgeous setting of Cameron Lake, where you can rent kayaks for $40 per hour to paddle around and take in the stunning views.
Hike around Akamina Lake. Just behind the outhouses of Cameron Lake is a small trail to Akamina Lake where you can wander through groves of trees to a green and serene lake.
Hike Bear’s Hump. The most famous short hike in Waterton starts just behind the visitor’s centre (since writing this blog post, the centre burned down in the forest fires of early September 2017). The trail winds about 1/2 hour up a steep mountain to an epic view over the town and the Waterton Lakes.
Scramble through Red Rock Canyon. There is a very short walk to a lookout point, but disregard this one and instead traipse your way over rock falls and sparkling pools through the most incredible canyon of bright red colours.
Take in the beauty from the shores of Waterton Lakes. The park is named after these two lakes and the town of Waterton is right on the shore. Boat tours depart frequently.
Rent a 3-seater, 4-wheeled covered bike from Pat’s in the centre of town. Ride it as you would a regular bicycle, and then challenge your friends to a race down the side streets. Be warned, they’re not as easy to control as it looks!
Where to Eat in Waterton Lakes National Park
As we were camping we brought a lot of our own food with us in our cooler, but there was one food we had to try while in Waterton (so good we went twice): the famous Wieners of Waterton! Get their local smokie with all the toppings and be prepared to be blown away.