Quiet, Uncrowded Waterton Lakes National Park ~ Alberta, Canada

What started at an annual Rotary meeting between clubs in Montana and Alberta quickly blossomed into an international spirit of cooperation, a convergence of like values, celebrating the peace and goodwill between two nations with the longest globally undefended border.

Upper Waterton Lake
Upper Waterton Lake

In 1932 Waterton Lakes National Park and Glacier National Park joined together as Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, the first of its kind.  The joint efforts of both the U.S. and Canada are reflected in their wildlife and vegetation management, search and rescue programs, and joint interpretive programs.  In 1995 Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park was designated a World Heritage Site.

In the 80+ years since, 138  international peace parks and similar protected transboundary areas have sprung up on five continents, some in the most combative corners of the globe.

Cameron Falls
Cameron Falls

While still in Glacier National Park I enrolled us for the International Peace Park Hike, an 8-mile hike along Upper Waterton Lake, which included a boat shuttle trip back from Goat Haunt.  Jointly led by a Glacier Park Ranger and Waterton Park Interpreter, this seemed the perfect way to begin our Canadian adventure.

Bright and early on a gray, cloudy day we headed for Waterton Lakes National Park, giving ourselves plenty of time, or so we thought, to purchase tickets at the marina and meet our guides at the trailhead.  Not aware of the road construction between Glacier and Waterton Lakes, the delays prevented us from arriving on time.  To placate my disappointment, Terry convinced me that a rainy, foggy day wasn’t the best time for a hike or a boat ride.  I reluctantly agreed.

Prince of Wales Hotel
Prince of Wales Hotel

We waited a couple of hours until the fog burnt off then proceeded to the same trailhead we missed earlier and hiked the Bertha Lake Trail, a 6.5-mile hike to an alpine lake.  The switchbacks seemed to never end, and at one point I remarked to Terry, “there had better be a damn fine lake and waterfall at the end of this trail”…and there was.

Bertha Falls
Bertha Falls
Bertha Lake
Bertha Lake

After a pizza/microbrew meal and a stroll around town, we decided, weather permitting, that a hike to Crypt Lake should be on the agenda for the next day.  It is rated by National Geographic as “one of the world’s most thrilling trails”.  Sadly it was a wash-out as the rains moved in and stayed for the day.  Nonetheless, we found Waterton Lakes to be a lovely little town, and vowed to return to finish the two hikes we had on the agenda.

“Shaped by wind, fire, and water, Waterton remains for all time a place of spectacular beauty, a Canadian legacy of mountains, lakes, prairies, forests, alpine meadows, and wildlife.”  Our visit to Canada may have gotten off to a soggy start, but an anticipated visit to friends put the sun right back into our days.

Next up:  Cochrane

41 thoughts on “Quiet, Uncrowded Waterton Lakes National Park ~ Alberta, Canada

  • Lu-
    What an amazing place. So beautiful. I’d love to stay at the Prince of Wales. What a great trip. thanks for the constant photos and stories

  • Your adventures always reveal things I never knew, such as Peace Parks. Wonderful. Your hikes take you to places that feed our souls. Thank you for being my “legs” and for your own joy in our earth.

  • Sorry you missed the hike. You need to give it another try. We were a little concerned about a group hike of 20 people. We’ve never done a large group hike. But this was not a hike for those who weren’t in shape. The rangers moved along at a very good clip. They did stop frequently to share information so people could catch up then. We were thrilled to see the pace. It isn’t an easy hike either with a few climbs. Maybe stop again on your way back:) Waterton is a nice town. We tried to get reservation in the town campground but it was full. Hope the rain move on so you have nice weather for the rest of your trip. Sounds like you had a great time anyway:)

  • Sorry you missed out on the hike. I’m sure you were disappointed, rain or not. We did a day trip to Waterton from Glacier and just took couple of short hikes. Also had lunch at Prince of Wales. We would love to go back and spend more time there. Such a lovely place!

  • Im sure you will have another chance on your way down back to the USA. But still your photos are making me smile for we are in for at treat ourselves as your photos showed. Beautiful!

  • Oh, I would have been disappointed to miss the International Peace Hike, too. But it looks like you had a wonderful day, anyway! You guys are really putting in the miles on some gorgeous trails. Sounds like Waterton Lakes deserves a return visit—that’s good, we can go there together after Glacier. :-)) Beautiful header photo, LuAnn!

    • Great plan! And then we can move to Banff and Lake Louise. We did a killer hike at Yoho NP today. When I have better Internet I will be sharing it. 🙂

  • Oh you are making me miss Alberta! Waterton was one of my favourite places to escape for the weekend, especially on summer when Banff is pretty crowded. Too bad about the weather. Crypt Lake is a great hike! And I would also recommend Akamina Ridge hike (full day) and during wildflowers season Lineham Falls is awesome (half day). Carthew-Alderson is supposedly amazing, but we never got as far before we had to return to Norway. A good reason for us to go back one day:)

    • Thanks for all the great tips Inger. We know we will be back to Waterton. So many great hikes in the area. We are now at Lake Louise campground. Did the Iceline Trail yesterday, 13 miles of beautiful country.

      • That sounds wonderful, there are so many hikes to chose from in Banff NP. I assume you are continuing north along Icefields Parkway up to Jasper? That is such a beautiful stretch to drive:)

      • We just finished the Icefields Pkwy a few minutes ago. As soon as I have been internet, I will be blogging about it. 🙂

  • Sorry about the weather but after your tantalising treks, it is certainly something you will look forward to coming back to. National Geographic is always spot on when it comes to areas of natural beauty, you have an eye for the scenery yourself though!

  • I will never forget the Prince of Wales hotel LuAnn. I stayed there when I was seven and can still see it all in my mind. A family trip to Glacier Park and it was so memorable. thanks for taking me back!

  • I remember when I first attended a Rotary celebration meeting, I was wearing casual, but everybody else was all dressed up. 😀 I wish I could easily say “vow to return” as well. 🙂 Although, “the most thrilling trail” is making think twice. 🙂

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