Waterton Lakes National Park
Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, “The unheralded line that separates Canada and the United States is the longest unfortified border in the world today, and perhaps in all of history. It says to mankind: Let not the cartographers rule, elevate nature and human friendship.” – Stewart L. Udall U.S. Secretary of the Interior, 1967
We explored Waterton Lakes while we were based at the Two Medicine Campground in Glacier National Park. The drive up combines approximately 70 miles (90 minutes) of gorgeous vistas to the park entrance. Because the first nine miles on Highway 49 is built on glacier silt, it deteriorates easily causing the road to collapse. No trailers are allowed on this stretch and we found numerous places where the paved road disappears and gravel has been added for the short term. The road up to Waterton skirts the eastern side of Glacier and leads to stunning views of mountains to the west and forest and valley views to the east. On this particular morning, rainfall combined with the angle of the sun wrapped the mountains in a rainbow blanket. Accosted by a wild horse that stood us down in the roadway we almost felt obligated to present our passports for entry.
The Canadian National Parks charge about ten bucks a person per day to enter and we elected to purchase the $120 yearly pass that covers everyone in the car … knowing that we intended to abuse our pass as best we could over the next month!
The winds were absolutely insane with 30 mph gusting up to around 50 mph! Arriving at the Price of Wales Hotel we quickly ducked inside out of the blustery wind. This is a first class hotel and we took in the amazing views across upper Waterton Lake. We explored the hotel but, being the commoners we are, we declined to partake in afternoon tea (at $39.99 per person, oh my word!). However we did venture outside behind the hotel to snap photos on the lawn, careful not to be blown over the steep cliff.
We decided to take the advice at the park entrance and drive the Red Rock Parkway, which ends with a hike in the Red Rock Canyon. Our destination was Blakiston Falls a short couple of miles up Blakiston creek. The hike was well worth it and we met a couple from Michigan who we talked with for a short while. We didn’t know what to expect from Canadian customs and had chosen to leave our bear spray back in the U.S. But, low and behold, as we came around a corner we encountered a juvenile black bear strolling in our direction up the trail following a hiker who was coming up the path toward us clapping her hands. The bear now seeing three humans instead of one darted into the woods but not without us snapping a few pictures for posterity. Maybe, just maybe, we peed our pants. A little.
Before leaving Glacier, we made a second trip to Waterton Lakes to enjoy the village and to make a hike up the Bears Hump trail to take in the views above the town (talk about a Canadian Stairmaster!). The village of Waterton proved busy, but not crazy busy as we were finding in some of the American parks. Enjoyed a surprisingly delicious hot dog with pickled onions and ginger carrots! We then headed out to the Akamina Parkway, another great drive also recommended by park personnel. The road ends with breathtaking views of Cameron Lake. We would have liked a couple more days up in Waterton Lakes, and the park does warrant it, but someone needed to get her knees in the breeze at the Lost Prairie Boogie!
Up Next: Cherry Picking