Last June (2015) we took our first trip to Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta, Canada. We loved it so much we ended up going back again this summer. Here’s what brought us back a second time, and why we are sure to return again in the near future:
1. The Views from the Townsite:
The town of Waterton itself is uniquely beautiful, the way it is nestled into the mountains that have been sculpted by years of ice, wind, and water. It is a small townsite and is easy to walk the entire town to catch the views from every angle.
2. The Campsites
Our first time here, we stay right in the Park, at the beautiful Crandell Mountain Campground. It is a beautiful campsite, and since we were there in early June, we had it almost to ourselves. The downside would be that there are no showers at this campground, but you can drive the 5 minutes into the townsite and use the showers at the Townsite Campground.
We went in July (busy season) this summer, and because camping at Crandell cannot be booked ahead of time, when we arrived there later at night, they were full. We were very lucky to find a campsite at Waterton Springs Campground, which is just a five minute drive outside the park. We had opportunities to camp inside the park after our first night, but we were very happy with what Waterton Springs Campground had to offer, so we decided to stay there for all five nights.
I am not sure how many trips to Waterton Lakes National Park it would take to accomplish even half of the hikes that they have to offer. Here are a few of the highlights of the ones we have enjoyed:
Crypt Lake Trail-
This is a day hike (6 hours). You have to take a boat to the trail head, and wait for the boat return once you have finished. It is 17 km long and is considered a Double Black Diamond trail. We would definitely agree that it is a difficult hike- lots of elevation gain, but mostly the intense travers along the narrow ledge had are hearts seriously pounding.
Red Rock Canyon Parkway-
This is a short 20 minute hike that allows for views of this beautiful red rock canyon (just like the name says)!
Another gentle hike, this one is 2 km and takes about 45 minutes. It offers several lookout points to admire the Blakiston Falls.
The Bear’s Hump-
A short, but strenuous, climb that offers beautiful views of the Waterton Townsite.
4. It’s an International Peace Park
We were able to cross International Waters upon the M.V. International, which is the oldest boat still operating in Canada. Waterton Shoreline Cruise Company offers a 2 hour scenic tour. You are able to disembark the M.V. International when it arrives at the Ghost Haunt port. If you do disembark, you will find yourself in Glacier National Park, Montana. Here you have several options for hiking. After passing through border customs (and receiving an awesome stamp in our passports!) we chose to take the Ghost Haunt Overlook Trail. It was a fairly intense climb, but not overly difficult. Unfortunately, the weather turned on us and rather than enjoying a second hike, we huddled into a gazebo to hide from the hail storm.
5. Other Activities
And Watching the Buffalo Roam
6. It can be a Starting Point for Continued Adventures
We had our motorcycles with us and it was just a few hours drive down into Montana and the Eastern entrance of Glacier National Park. There, we experienced the gorgeous Going to the Sun Road.
Overall, Waterton Lakes National Park has stolen a special place in our hearts. Even on a busy July weekend when the park was near capacity, it was still a peaceful and friendly place to be. The quiet beauty beckons us to keep coming back again and again. Until next time…