Waterton Lakes National Park
We love Glacier National Park, but had never visited its Canadian side, known as Waterton Lakes National Park. We arrived at Waterton to find it had gotten snow too, just not as much as Banff and Jasper. Our first stop in the park was the Prince of Wales hotel. It resembles a massive Swiss chalet, built on a hill overlooking Upper Waterton Lake. Thick clouds added to the hilltop panorama.
Next we headed to the visitor center, where we asked a ranger about the best wildlife viewing spots. They said someone had spotted elk by Hay Barn Road that morning. We headed down that dirt road. The elk had moved on, but we did find this grouse munching on bright red berries.
Looking out into a grassy meadow, we spotted a coyote! Awesome! We watched until it trotted off.
We headed towards Red Rock Canyon next. On the way, we noticed a car with binoculars pointed up towards the hillside. We stopped and asked what they saw. A black bear! The bear ate constantly as it plodded along the snowy hillside. Mid-September in Waterton meant winter was closing in. The bear must have been filling its tummy before hibernating.
We were very excited to have seen so much wildlife in just a few hours. But Waterton had some other surprises in store. The loop trail along Red Rock Canyon is only 0.4 miles, yet quite stunning. The canyon featured layers of deep red rock against yellow autumn leaves and evergreens. The snow and clouds emphasized all that color even further.
When the trail crossed a small bridge over the canyon, we peered down into the creek below.
After reluctantly leaving the canyon, we drove the Akamina Parkway. It’s a scenic road through the park with a number of places to stop and enjoy the landscape.
The parkway ends at Cameron Lake. We were too late in the season to rent a paddleboat or canoe, but we could still enjoy the lake’s quiet majesty.
We scanned the shores with our binoculars hoping to get even luckier and spot more wildlife. We did have one happy yellow bird that wanted her picture taken. Cheep Cheep continues to travel with us everywhere we go. Next time she’s going to pack a warmer hat!
On our way back down the curvy Akamina Parkway, surrounded by steep cliffs, we came across a bear walking down the road. It broke into a run when it saw us, and disappeared around a bend.
It was getting late so we had to move on, but Waterton had a parting gift. We spotted dozens of elk in a field as we were exiting the park.
Waterton and Glacier combine to make an incredible whole. When people ask us what our favorite park is, we always say Glacier. Now we can add the lesser-known gem of Waterton to our description. What a way to end our journey through the Rockies!