Waterton – Canada’s Best Kept Secret

Overlooking Upper Waterton Lake from The Prince of Wales Hotel.

Writing about Waterton has proved to be a difficult task.  My problem is that I fell in love with a place that needs unique words to describe it.  Matter-of-fact words that are powerful, rugged and solid.  It sounds like I am trying too hard and Waterton is the opposite of trying too hard.

In a time when most tourists demand entertainment and dazzling lights to keep them in awe, Waterton is unapologetic in it’s simple, unpolished beauty.

The village of Waterton is small and locals are friendly.  It welcomes the rugged outdoorsmen and provides a peaceful sanctuary for those wanting to decompress.   Even if you just go to relax, I am convinced that an innocent morning walk for coffee will trigger an urge to explore.  Whatever you decide to do in Waterton, you will leave refreshed, inspired and wanting to return very soon.

The road into the village of Waterton.

You can see the entire album on the Life Where We Are Facebook page.

Waterton is a great place to take a family.  The entire village is within walking distance so you will be active but it won’t tire the kids out.  You are always close enough to the room to take the kids back for a snack or a nap. This could easily become a yearly destination for us and maybe the site of a summer home someday.  Here are some of the things that made Waterton extra special for us:

Waterton Lakes LodgeWe stayed in a suite that had a full kitchen and a separate sitting room.  This allowed us to eat breakfast and snacks in our room to cut back on costs of eating out and also gave Josh and I a place to relax when Max was napping or in bed earlier than us.  The rooms are comfortable and informal, just what you want in Waterton.

Wildlife – We came face to face with a moose within less than a minute of entering Wateron Lakes National Park.  The next day we saw a black bear eating berries and on our final morning there were deer right outside our living room window.

Upper Waterton Lake –  You can find some large rocks to sit on but this beach is best for exploring on foot.  The rocks captured my attention because of their many colours and I wanted to bring some home for Max but he was more interested in throwing them into the lake.  I found out later that it is illegal to remove any rocks from the park!

Wieners of Waterton – You can’t go wrong eating lunch at Wieners of Waterton.  Decent prices, delicious wieners that are locally made and freshly baked hot dog buns.

Red Rock Canyon – Red Rock Canyon is an easy but beautiful hike looping around a small but gorgeous canyon.  Max did the 0.7 KM (0.4 mile) loop right along side us.

Cameron Falls – What could be more fascinating than exposed Pre-Cambrian rock that is 1200-1500 million years old.  (This is the reason why it is illegal to remove any rocks from the park.)  Cameron Falls is also the site of the first productive oil well in the western Canadian provinces.

Vimy’s – The only restaurant that is open year-round in Waterton.  The menu is quite ambitious and a bit eclectic with the meats ranging from your typical beef and chicken to the more adventurous locally raised yak, bison and elk.  I have a request in to share one of their recipes with you.  For a more detailed review, please see my TripAdvisor review.

While we ate dinner it started snowing and by the time we were finished people were having snowball fights outside.  We did the only normal thing to do in this situation, we changed into our swimsuits!  Max had so much fun in the heated pool.  I “took the high road” and let him and Dad hang out while I chilled in the hot tub by myself.  It was a great way to end the night!

The snow was beautiful but it did ruin our plans to rent a quadracycle from Pat’s!  Apparently, the family-size bikes are a 40 year old tradition in Waterton.   Next time, Pat’s!

Waterton Lakes National Park is a beautiful 3.5 hour drive from Calgary, Alberta and yet this incredible spot is virtually undiscovered.  Josh and I decided we would be perfectly content hibernating there for the winter and learning to snowshoe.

Check out what these two blogs have to say about Waterton and check out their incredible photography:
Hecktic Travels say they are bad Canadians for not visiting Waterton before now.
Hiking With Barry has a series of posts about hiking in Waterton.

3 Comments

  • Thank you for your mention. After tens of thousands of kilometres of wandering in the wilderness, my two favourite Rocky Mountain parks are Waterton Lakes National Park and Yoho National Park. Each is a bit isolated and each offers rugged, unblemished beauty. Trails are well maintained and resources within reasonable distance provide comfortable accommodation and services. Your article is well crafted and accurate. National Parks in northern British Columbia and Alberta, plus spectacular parks in the Yukon and Alaska are rising high on my bucket list. Then, there are the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean parks! So much to do and so little time. Thanks again. Good job!

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