Waterton Lakes National Park Will Blow Your Mind

Last Updated on October 16, 2021

Waterton Lakes National Park

Waterton Lakes National Park is located in the southwest corner of Alberta, Canada.  It borders Glacier National Park in Montana, United States. Waterton Lakes National Park is part of the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, which was designated as a World Heritage Site in 1995 for its distinctive climate, physiographic setting, mountain-prairie interface, and tri-ocean hydrographical divide. Within the park, there are areas of significant scenic values with abundant, impressive, and diverse flora and fauna. Waterton is wild, pure, and completely unforgettable.

The beauty of Waterton Lakes National Park is sure to blow your mind. It instantly became one of our most favorite places on earth. The scenery is absolutely breathtaking, the residents were friendly and we loved the relaxed atmosphere.

The drives out to Cameron Lake and Red Rock Parkways were both closed to vehicles from the damage caused by the wildfire that happened at the end of last summer. Even though we were bummed that we would not be able to do those drives where wildlife was said to be abundant, we sure did not have any trouble finding some great wildlife – deer, a moose with her calf, and plenty of bears! If we had another day I would have loved to go on a hike. Even though you couldn’t access those parts of the park by vehicle because of closures, you could still go on foot.

Abundant Animal Sightings

It was wonderful to see so many animal sightings, many of them right from the comfort of our vehicle. Rangers are extremely strict (thankfully so!) about hanging around to see the wildlife, and you are not permitted to have any music or noise on inside your car while you are viewing. They do not want the wildlife to get used to human noise.

It sure was impressive to see a Mama bear and her cubs playing in the wildflowers, though even the more common sightings such a deer we find just as exciting. What is it about the wildlife that leaves us so in awe?

We spotted a Mama Moose and this babe enjoying some water — it was such a sweet sight! We were hoping to see a bull Moose to see the massive antlers, but the bull eluded us. One day! We will happily take this precious sight too; it was one of our favorite sightings.

Iconic Prince Of Wales Hotel

Prince of Wales Hotel — Built back in 1927, this historical hotel sits high on a bluff overlooking the Waterton Village and Valley. You can even have high tea at the hotel — not something you’d think of when considering a National Park!

If you like a bit of luxury, The Prince Of Wales has been on a bluff overlooking Waterton Village and Valley since 1927. Enjoy meals surrounded by a stunning vista. You can even enjoy a high tea experience that would even impress royalty. If luxury accommodations are not what you are looking for, there are also several campsites in town for you to sleep under the stars.

The hotel is one of the largest all-wood buildings in Alberta. It has survived wind, fire, and even the Depression of the 1930s, making it recognized as a National Historic site.

Breathtaking Scenery

Even though Waterton Lakes National Park is only has a 505 square km footprint, it sure does not lack in its ability to take your breath away. You are sure to lose count of how many times you exclaim “WOW” as you explore this beautiful National Park. Even the kids were recognizing the beauty!

Waterton Lakes National Park

Waterton Lakes National Park
Not even a fence can hide the beauty

Endless Adventure

There is so much to do, discover and explore in Waterton and the breathtaking surrounding area where the Alberta prairies meet the majestic Canadian Rockies. It is a fabulous destination for families, hikers, people seeking some peace in nature, or those in search of a thrilling adventure. At Waterton National Park, there is something for everyone. There are water activities, nature exploring, hiking, cycling, scenic drives, and golfing.

A Charming Waterfront Town

Waterton National Park also has a charming Waterfront town to explore that is lines with great shops and restaurants. We loved that as we wandered the town we could run into deer and bighorn sheep. The kids also loved the easy access to treats, something that you do not usually easily find in a National Park!

It was a common sight to see deer wandering the streets of the town. We heard that it is also common to see some big horned sheep, but we did not happen upon any of those. It is important to remember that though they are common and cute, the deer are wild animals and should be treated as such by you respectfully keeping your distance.

Waterton Lakes National Park
You have to love the cute and effective signage. Keep your distance from the deer and you’ll be fine.

Camping At Waterton Lakes National Park

Camping at Waterton Lakes National Park was also beautiful. There was quite a bit of light from the washrooms that were nearby us (bonus with having three kids under five at the time!), but the night sky still lit up enough to blow our minds. I’m fascinated by the sky and what is beyond our planet; I could have gazed up at the sky all night.

There are several campsite options within Waterton Lakes National Park: Waterton Townsite (where we camped), Crandell Mountain, Pass Creek Winter Camp, Wilderness Camping, and Crooked Creek Campground.

We loved ending each day with a peaceful walk to the lake. It was a short walk from the campsite to watch the sunset. The water was completely clear and the rocks were so colorful!

When To Visit Waterton Lakes National Park

You’ll want to plan your visit according to what you want to see. Summer is the most popular time to visit the park, making it the busiest time. If you’re in search of wildflowers, visit in Spring. Fall is the best time for wildlife viewing. You can also have some epic snowshoeing and ski adventures during the winter months when the park is covered in a blanket of snow.

How To Get There

By Air

The two closest international airports are Calgary International, a three-hour drive away from Waterton, or Kalispell, Montana which is 3.5 hours away. The closest regional airport is Lethbridge County Airpot, a 1.5 hour drive away from Waterton.

By Car 

From Calgary

The Fastest Route
Take highway south 2 to Fort MacLeod. From Fort MacLeod, go West on Highway 3. Head south through Pincher Creek on Highway 6.

The Scenic Route
Take highway 2 south and go West on highway 7. Take highway 7 to Black Diamond and head south on highway 22. Head east on highway 3 until Pincher Creek and go south on Highway 6 for 56 km.

Coming from Glacier National Park

From Kalispell

Take Highway 2 through Flathead National Forest to East Glacier Village. Head north on Highway 49 to highway 89. Take highway 89 to Carway border. From the Carway border, head north on Alberta highway 2 to Cardston. Head West on Highway 5 to Waterton.

Daily Admission Fees

Adult – Person 18 to 64 years of age – $10
Senior – Person 65 years of age or over – $8.40
Youth – Person 6 to 17 years of age – Free
Family/Group – Up to seven people arriving in a single-vehicle in a national park- $20
Commercial Group – Per person – $6.90

Some Parks Canada fees will be changing beginning in January 2023.


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