Discover Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta

Situated in the rugged beauty of the Canadian Rockies in Alberta, Waterton Lakes National Park offers a breathtaking tapestry of alpine meadows, serene lakes, and towering peaks, making it a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.

This guide is your key to unlocking the wonders of this UNESCO World Heritage Site, providing essential information on must-see attractions, hiking trails, camping spots, and wildlife encounters. Whether you’re embarking on a scenic drive along the iconic Red Rock Parkway, venturing into the backcountry on a multi-day trek, or simply seeking tranquility by the shores of Upper Waterton Lake, this guide will help you make the most of your visit.


Top 3 Facts About Waterton Lakes National Park


International Peace Park

Waterton Lakes National Park forms part of the world’s first International Peace Park, created in 1932 when it was joined with Glacier National Park in Montana, USA. This unique designation underscores the cooperation and friendship between Canada and the United States, preserving over 3,200 square kilometers of pristine wilderness.


Waterton Lakes

The park is named after the chain of lakes that dot its landscape, including the Upper, Middle, and Lower Waterton Lakes. These glacier-fed lakes provide stunning vistas and recreational activities such as boating, fishing, and kayaking, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the park’s natural beauty.


Diverse Wildlife

Waterton Lakes National Park boasts an impressive array of wildlife, including over 60 species of mammals and more than 250 species of birds. Among its inhabitants are iconic species such as grizzly bears, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, and the elusive wolverine, offering visitors unparalleled wildlife viewing and photography opportunities.

Camping and transportation in Waterton Lakes National Park

info_iconBackcountry camping permits required for wilderness camping opportunities.

How to Get to Waterton Lakes National Park

Getting to Waterton Lakes National Park is an adventure, as it’s located in the southwestern corner of Alberta, Canada, near the border with Montana, USA. Here’s how you can reach this natural paradise:

  • By Air: The closest major airport to Waterton Lakes National Park is Calgary International Airport (YYC), located approximately 270 kilometers (168 miles) northeast of the park. You can rent a car from Calgary or take a shuttle to Waterton Lakes.
  • By Car: If you’re driving from Calgary, take the Trans-Canada Highway (Highway 1) westbound towards Banff and then head south on Highway 22 towards Pincher Creek. From Pincher Creek, follow Highway 6 westbound, which will take you directly to the park entrance. The drive takes approximately three to four hours depending on the road and weather conditions.
  • By RV or Campervan: If you’re traveling in an RV or campervan, there are several campgrounds within the park where you can stay. Just check road conditions and size restrictions before embarking on your journey.

Places to Stay Near Waterton Lakes National Park

When visiting Waterton Lakes National Park, there are several options for accommodations and camping nearby:

  • Townsite Campground: Located within Waterton Lakes National Park, the Townsite Campground offers tent and RV camping options. It’s conveniently situated near the park’s amenities and hiking trails, making it a popular choice for visitors. Reservations are recommended, especially during the peak summer season.
  • Waterton Townsite: The charming town of Waterton offers a variety of accommodation options, including hotels, motels, cabins, and bed and breakfasts. Staying in Waterton provides easy access to the park’s attractions and dining and shopping opportunities.
  • Crandell Mountain Campground: Just outside the park boundary, Crandell Mountain Campground offers tent and RV camping in a picturesque forested setting. It’s located along the Red Rock Parkway, providing easy access to scenic drives and hiking trails.
  • Town of Pincher Creek: About a 45-minute drive from Waterton Lakes National Park, Pincher Creek offers additional accommodation options, including hotels, motels, and guesthouses. While it’s a bit further from the park, it can be a convenient base for exploring the area.
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Best Time to Go to Waterton Lakes National Park



Summer is bustling in Waterton Lakes National Park, running from June to September. With warm temperatures and long days, it’s perfect for outdoor activities like hiking, paddling, and wildlife watching. The park’s beauty shines, and visitors can enjoy iconic viewpoints and serene lakeshores.



Winter brings tranquility to Waterton Lakes National Park, spanning from November to March. While snow blankets much of the park, there’s still plenty to do, from cross-country skiing to wildlife spotting. Frozen lakes and snow-dusted forests offer a peaceful retreat amidst the winter wonderland.



In spring, Waterton Lakes National Park bursts to life. From May to June, colorful wildflowers dot the meadows and baby animals explore their surroundings. It’s a fantastic time for hiking, with melting snow creating rushing waterfalls and vibrant scenery.

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In the fall, Waterton Lakes National Park transforms into a vibrant tapestry of colors. From September to October, the forests explode in red, orange, and gold hues, creating stunning vistas. It’s a quieter time in the park, ideal for leisurely hikes and scenic drives amidst the colorful landscapes.

Must-See Attractions

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Waterton Lakes

Explore the pristine beauty of Upper, Middle, and Lower Waterton Lakes, which give the park its name. Whether taking a stroll along the lakeshores, embarking on a boat tour, or simply relaxing by the water’s edge, Waterton Lakes offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains and abundant opportunities for outdoor recreation.

Red Rock Canyon

Marvel at the striking red rock formations carved by the rushing waters of the Red Rock Creek. Stroll along the canyon’s edge or hike the interpretive trail to learn about geology and wildlife.

Bertha Falls and Bertha Lake

Hike to Bertha Falls, a picturesque waterfall cascading down rugged cliffs. Continue your journey to Bertha Lake, where you can enjoy a scenic picnic or dip your toes in the crystal-clear waters while taking in the panoramic views of Mount Richards and Mount Alderson.

Helpful Tips: Making the Most of Your Adventure to Waterton Lakes National Park

Plan Ahead

Plan Ahead

Research the park’s attractions, activities, and amenities before your visit. Make campground or accommodation reservations to ensure availability, especially during the peak summer season.

Pack Appropriately

Pack Appropriately

Be prepared for changing weather conditions, including sudden rain showers and temperature fluctuations. Dress in layers and bring rain gear, sturdy footwear for hiking, sunscreen, insect repellent, and plenty of water.

Respect Wildlife

Respect Wildlife

Waterton Lakes National Park has various wildlife, including bears, elk, and bighorn sheep. Keep a safe distance and never approach or feed wild animals. Store food securely to prevent attracting wildlife to campsites or picnic areas.

Stay Informed

Be Bear Aware

Waterton Lakes National Park is bear country. Carry bear spray, know how to use it, and make noise while hiking to alert bears to your presence. Follow proper food storage practices and be vigilant, especially in bear habitat areas.

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Frequently Asked Questions about Waterton Lakes National Park

The best time to visit depends on your preferences. Summer (June to August) is the busiest season with warm weather and long days, ideal for hiking and outdoor activities. Spring (May to June) and fall (September to October) offer fewer crowds and stunning colors. Winter (November to March) is quieter and perfect for winter sports like cross-country skiing.

Waterton Lakes National Park offers several campgrounds, including Townsite Campground, Belly River Campground, and Crandell Mountain Campground. Reservations are recommended, especially during the peak summer season.

Yes, the park is home to various wildlife, including bears, elk, bighorn sheep, and more. While sightings are not guaranteed, visitors often encounter wildlife along hiking trails, scenic drives, and near lakeshores.

Yes, the park offers hiking trails for all skill levels, from easy walks to challenging backcountry routes. Popular trails include the Red Rock Canyon Loop, Bear’s Hump, Crypt Lake, and Bertha Falls.

Yes, boat tours on Upper Waterton Lake offer scenic cruises with commentary about the park’s history, geology, and wildlife. Private boat rentals and kayaking are also popular activities on the lake.

Yes, fishing is allowed in designated park areas with a valid fishing license. Waterton Lakes is known for its trout fishing, with opportunities to catch rainbow, bull, and cutthroat trout.

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