What to do in Waterton Lakes National Park this summer

Waterton Lakes National Park is a paradise for adventure, wildlife, and history lovers. Located in the southwest corner of Alberta, right on the border with the U.S. state of Montana, Waterton is filled with gorgeous scenery and activities perfect for anyone wanting to get outside and enjoy the great outdoors, including families.

Below, we’ve rounded up seven of our favourite adventures in Waterton Lakes National Park to inspire your next (or first!) visit.

What’s so special about Waterton Lakes National Park, anyway?

There’s a lot to be said about how gorgeous the natural landscape of Waterton Lakes National Park is, but there’s a whole other historical and cultural side to it that shouldn’t be forgotten. Here are some fun facts about Waterton and what it’s known for:

  • Waterton Lakes National Park and Glacier National Park in the United States make up the first International Peace Park in the world, highlighting the special relationship between Canada and our southern neighbour. You can learn more about this in our blog on three reasons why Waterton is a must-see.
  • In 1995, the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park became a World Heritage Site for its distinctive climate, physiographic setting, mountain-prairie interface, and tri-ocean hydrographic divide.
  • Waterton is recognized as having one of Alberta’s highest diversity of flora. More than 50% of the vascular species in the province can be found in this park alone.
  • It’s where the prairies meet the mountains. Waterton has grasslands right up against its mountains, with stark alpine ridges right up against prairie grasslands.

7 outdoor adventures for all levels in Waterton National Park

  1. Join a wildflower walk with Uplift

Wildflowers are one of the most enjoyable and accessible sights in Waterton Lakes National Park. You can plan your visit around their peak blooming season in June, July, and August, or wait until the less-crowded shoulder season to see pops of colour in September and early October.

At Uplift Adventures, our Waterton Wildflower Walk interpretive tours take you through the park’s best spots to see blooming flowers. Throughout the four-hour trek, our professional guides, who are trained by scientists or are scientists themselves, share cool flower facts and tips on identifying them.

  1. Take in the night sky with limited light pollution

The Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park is recognized by the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) as an International Dark Sky Park. This makes Waterton a perfect place to stargaze! It has little light pollution and makes proactive efforts to keep it low, such as installing dark sky-friendly lighting to maintain a clear view of the night sky.

  1. Paddleboard in the Waterton Lakes

With a stand-up paddleboard, you can easily explore the waters of Waterton Lakes National Park. Rent one from Blakiston & Company and take it out on Upper Waterton Lake to enjoy a lake view of the iconic Prince of Wales Hotel, built in 1927 and designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1992.

  1. Stroll along the trail towards Bertha Falls

Who doesn’t love a good waterfall? The Lower Bertha Falls trail is a beginner-level 5.2-kilometre trek that’s well-marked and well-travelled. The out-and-back trail features stunning lookout points, diverse flora during wildflower season, and spectacular views of Upper Waterton Lake before ending up at the lovely Bertha Falls. The waterfalls can get crowded in the busy summer months, so we advise arriving early or in the shoulder seasons.

  1. Take a drive to Cameron Lake and make scenic stops along the way

The winding, 16-kilometre Akamina Parkway is one of the most scenic drives in Waterton Lakes National Park before it ends at Cameron Lake. The area sustained significant damage in the 2017 Kenow Wildfire, but don’t let that put you off. It’s eye-opening to see the surrounding blackened trees that are left to remind us of the fire’s destruction, but also an uplifting experience to see new growth and reforestation.

The sub-alpine Cameron Lake is a great spot to enjoy a picnic or simply kick back and relax as you take in its crystal-clear sparkle. Take your adventure onto the water with some canoeing, kayaking, or paddleboarding. All in all, it’s a splendidly serene place to spend an afternoon in Waterton.

  1. Find the red Adirondack chairs along the Waterton lakefront and snap Instagram-worthy photos of you and your friends

One of the “classic” Waterton experiences is to find one of the four pairs of red Adirondack chairs perched along the lakefront and snap some Instagram-worthy photos of you and your friends. You can find their exact locations on the Parks Canada website.

Our favourite duo is the one at Marina Point, which looks out directly at the Prince of Wales Hotel. So take a seat on one of these iconic chairs and soak up all that beauty.

  1. Visit the Paahtómahksikimi Cultural Centre to learn about Waterton’s history

Waterton was one of the first Canadian national parks, and it’s still one-of-a-kind. But before it became a tourist destination, it was a place of significance for a number of Indigenous Peoples. Learn what makes Waterton so special at the Paahtómahksikimi Cultural Centre, which aims to educate visitors about the history of Paahtómahksikimi, the Blackfoot name for the area meaning “inner sacred lake.”

Enjoy your visit to Waterton Lakes National Park

We hope you enjoy your visit to Waterton Lakes National Park. Take some time and treat yourself to a private or group guided tour while visiting the area. Our professional guides love to share our passion for the South Canadian Rockies.

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