Waterton National Park sits tucked away in the southwestern corner of Alberta, Canada and is often overlooked. Waterton is a UNESCO site also known as Waterton Glacier International Peace park and shares its land with the neighbouring Glacier National Park in Montana, United States as well as portions of Akamina-Kishena Provincial Park in British Columbia.
Waterton is a place where I have arguably spent the most time over the last few years completing dozens of hikes including the infamous “Triple Crown” which features Watertons three best day hikes: Carthew Alderson, Akamina Ridge and Crypt Lake!
I have experienced Waterton in each and every season and feel that this beautiful national park was the launching pad to my love of hiking and the outdoors. Waterton is Albertas hidden gem and is one that should be placed on your bucket list.
1. Waterton Is Open Year Round
Can’t get to Waterton in the summer? No problem! Waterton offers an abundance activities all year long. If crowds aren’t your thing the shoulder and off season from September until April are most likely your best bet!
Autumn in Waterton is worthy of a trip just to sight-see the landscape change before your eyes. If you are into hiking all trails remain open and with little to no crowds – meaning you may enjoy the trail all to yourself! All stores, hotels and amenities remain open typically until late October.
Expect cold weather, wind and perhaps the chance of snow if you are hiking, be sure to be prepared for all weather conditions as conditions can and will change quickly in the mountains.
Winter in Waterton is cold and blustery, but don’t let that sway you from coming here and seeing a dramatic difference to Watertons population and landscape. Waterton covered in snow is a magical experience. Some lodging options are available in Waterton during the winter as well as one restaurant. Almost everything is closed down for the Winter and remains closed until the Spring.
Treat yourself to snowshoeing, cross country skiing with little to nobody around and enjoy the pure solitude that Waterton can bring in the winter.
Spring in Waterton is all about new life and is a magical time for Waterton! Newborn wildlife is making its way down to feed, wild flowers are beginning to blossom and colour Waterton in a spectacular fashion, Watertons townsite is beginning to come back to life after a long winter and tourists start to appear once again to ramp up for the busy summer season.
2. A Gateway Destination to Nearby Alberta Parks
Thinking of a road trip around arguably some of the best parks in Canada? Waterton is a great start to a weekend, week, or month long family, couple or solo adventure.
Make Waterton a must-do stop on a road trip to or from Glacier National Park, or if you are heading north to Banff it is worth the stop in to see a remarkably unique, cozy national park nestled away in the mountains. Waterton can be enjoyed as simply a day trip or a pit stop for some wonderful views and bragging rights that you have been to Waterton!
3. Various Options For Any Type of Hiker
Not experienced? No problem! Hiking with kids? Easy! Have dogs? They can come too!
There is options for every type of hiker out there in Waterton.
With varying distances there is always something for each and every person to experience the wilderness in Waterton!
Overnight hikes include the Tamarack Trail, day hikes such as Avion Ridge, Goat Lake, Bertha Lake* or short half day hikes / hikes with children such as Bears Hump, Crandell Lake, or Cameron Lakeshore* are all great options for those who have limited time, with kids or those who want to experience hiking for the first time.
* I will discuss these hikes in depth in a future post
4. Great Food, Drink and Treats
Not a hiker? Not a problem! With dozens of options for dining and shopping you can never be bored in Waterton. Waterton has many options on sit down restaurants, from five star, bar and grill, coffee shops to ice cream and candy stores there is a little bit of everything for everyone! Between these establishments includes many gift stores where you can purchase t shirts, souvenirs, and unique gift options for loved ones!
4. Unlimited Options on What To do
Not wanting to shop? Take a boat ride over to Goat Haunt Montana in Glacier National
Park from the docks of Waterton National Park! Not only does this cruise take you to a different country, but many hikes can be accessed from Goat Haunt if you wish. This two hour cruise is an exceptional treat. How often can you say you took a boat from one country to another in under an hour?
If you are the camping type there are dozens of campsites both serviced and unserviced seconds away from Waterton’s townsite (which holds all the necessary amenities of a small town – including a police station, post office, grocery store, laundromat and a small gym!) the campsites include a public washroom and showers free of charge.
If you want to explore the backcountry camping scene, Waterton offers nine campsites in their backcountry, two of which I have personally stayed at and can attest for their cleanliness as well as quality of the site.
Waterton also offers paddleboard and kayak rentals for those who want to get on the lake and explore Waterton in a different way! Blakiston Rentals is extremely professional, affordable with wonderful, knowledgeable staff in which I have rented from several times when I have forgotten my own paddleboard or kayak!
If you are wanting a day to relax, a day at the shores of Waterton Lake will not disappoint and make a wonderful way to start or end the day.
Thank you for reading!
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