Tour Waterton Lakes National Park in the Canadian Rockies

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Waterton Accommodations, Tours, Dining and Weather

Rugged, windswept mountains rise abruptly out of gentle prairie grassland in spectacular Waterton Lakes National Park. Here, several different ecological regions meet and interact in a landscape shaped by wind, fire, flooding, and abundant plants and wildlife. The park helps protect the unique and unusually diverse physical, biological and cultural resources found in the Crown of the Continent: one of the narrowest places in the Canadian Rockies. The highlight of Waterton's sparkling chain of lakes is the international Upper Waterton Lake, the deepest lake in the Canadian Rockies. In 1932, the park was joined with Montana's Glacier National Park to form the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park - a world first. Waterton accomodations.

Waterton's visitor service centre is located in the heart of the National Park. The cozy mountain community, population 55, is surrounded by magnificent scenery and offers all the services visitors will need to make their stay a memorable one. From streetside eateries to gift boutiques, fine art galleries and fine food dining, Waterton townsite is the hub of the Park. Accommodations range from country inns, mountain motels, hostel and serviced camping sites. A townsite stroll is a popular tour pastime on a summers evening as it takes in all the sights including beautiful Cameron Falls.

Touring Waterton

Activities to be enjoyed while in Waterton Lakes National Park during the summer include spectacular hiking trails, several scenic drives, visible wildlife, the 18 hole Stanley Thompson designed Waterton golf course, and boating. In the quieter winter months, visitors enjoy both the snow and the scenery while snowshoeing, cross country skiing and ice climbing. The Waterton community also welcomes visitors to experience their hotels, restaurants, gift shops and much more in the unique townsite area.

There are 255 kms (191 miles) of trails in Waterton Lake National Park. They range in difficulty from a short stroll to steep treks of several days duration. Trails are provided for a variety of users, including hikers, horseback riders and bicyclists. Watch for information signs at the trailhead for the type of use permitted. Trails in Waterton also lead to extensive trail systems in Montana's Glacier National Park and in British Columbia's Akamina-Kishenina Provincial Park.

The 16 kilometer (10 mile) drive to Red Rock Canyon abounds with colorful roadside wildflowers and views of hanging valleys, alpine meadows, and jagged mountain peaks. Arriving at the Canyon, many visitors remark on the striking colors of the bedrock layers. The layers of red and green colored minerals offer a brilliant contrast to each other and the lush surroundings. Short self-guided hikes explain some of the ancient history of mountainous native civilizations, as well as the unique formation of Red Rock Canyon.

Another popular tour attraction are the Cameron Falls, located right in the townsite of Waterton Village. This serene cascade is well lit at night for viewers enjoying a peaceful evening stroll. These falls are also the site of the oldest rock in the entire Canadian Rocky Mountain range! Precambrian bedrock dating 1.5 billion years old has become exposed and is visible near the falls. This is one of many examples of Waterton Park's amazing geology!

One of the most spectacular hikes in Waterton is the Bear's Hump trail. From the top of Bear's Hump you have a panoramic view of Waterton Village, Emerald Bay and Upper Waterton Lake which extends into Glacier Park, Montana.

best Fishing Experiences are easily fulfilled in Waterton Park. A variety of fish flourish here, including Rainbow, Cutthroat, Bull, Lake Trout, Northern Pike, Lake and Mountain Whitefish, as well as rare species of Deepwater Sculpin and Pygmy Whitefish. The largest fish ever caught was a Lake Trout weighing in at over 24kg!! (51 lbs.) The fish was played, gaffed and landed in a boat by a local woman, Mrs. Cal Hunter.

Winter is a magical time in Waterton Lakes National Park. Mule deer and Rocky Mountain sheep wander throughout the village, and hundreds of elk descend from the high country to graze on the flat grasslands. Although the Park is usually blanketed in a thick quilt of snow, the temperature is milder than one would expect, due to warm Chinook winds, a unique characteristic of this area.

As with many of the towns in the Canadian Rockies, a former railway hotel is the architectural centerpiece in Waterton. In 1910, James Hill, president of the Great Northern Railway of the United States had a vision. He wanted to make Glacier and Waterton Lakes National Parks "the playground of the Northwest." With help from his son Louis, he designed and built a chain of hotels, camps, chalets, several boats, roads and trails to attract tourists to the area. To reach the parks they would ride the Great Northern. Louis Hill first visited Waterton in 1913 and selected the knoll overlooking the townsite and Upper Waterton Lake as the spot for the new hotel. The park's administration granted the newly formed Canadian Rockies Hotel Co. Ltd. a 42-year lease on February 1, 1926.

Constructed in 1926-27, the hotel became the sole Canadian link in this U.S. chain of resort hotels. Its soaring roofs, gables and balconies convey the appearance of a giant alpine chalet and enclose a magnificent timber-framed interior that continues to evoke the rustic atmosphere of mountain lodges built in that period.

Beginning in 1927, after arriving by train at either East or West Glacier, Montana, travelers began an exciting vacation using a variety of hotels, lodges and tent camps. They ended their trip with a ride aboard the MV International on Upper Waterton Lake from Goat Haunt, USA to Waterton Lakes National Park of Canada. They would spend an evening at the Prince of Wales Hotel before bussing back to Glacier National Park. This was one of many routes through the park supplied by the Great Northern, which were designed for the "affluent tourist," as one week's travel and accommodation could cost more than $1000-an enormous sum in the 1920s and 1930s.

Today, the Prince of Wales Hotel is a grand survivor from the golden age of railway resort development in Canada and the United States.

Canadian Rockies

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          Additional Waterton Touring Resources:

            Parks Canada - Waterton National Park
            Akamina - Kishinena Provincial Park
            Waterton Chamber of Commerce
            Waterton Natural History Association
          Recommended Sights, Attractions, Hikes and Activities while touring Waterton:

          • Waterton Lakes Hike
          • Upper Waterton Lakeshore Trail
          • Prince of Wales Hotel
          • Hike Cameron Lakeshore Trail
          • Cameron Falls
          • Hike to Red Rock Canyon
          • Red Rock Canyon
          • Hike Bear's Hump Trail
          • Cameron Lake
          • Boat trip on Upper Waterton Lake
          • Waterton Golf Course

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