Wanderlust at Waterton

Red Rock Canyon // Supplied photo
Red Rock Canyon // Supplied photo

Hiking and scenery and are available at national park

Waterton Lakes National Park is tucked away in Alberta’s southwest corner where the prairies rise into rocky peaks. Removed from the more popular tourist trails connecting Banff and Jasper National Parks, there’s a different feel and energy to Waterton, which is a definite draw for visitors.

There is plenty of flora and fauna to enjoy—and be wary of—and as the name implies, water everywhere in the forms of creeks, cascades and clear lakes.

While the park has countlesss beautiful vistas and unique features, we’ve shortlisted three must-see attractions at Waterton park.

Red Rock Canyon

Red Rock Canyon is about 4 km from the Waterton Lakes entrance and hailed as one of the most gorgeous drives in Canada—right up there with the Ice Fields Parkway.

Arriving at Red Rock Canyon, the vivid colour looks artificial, but the brilliant hues are all nature’s gifts. Alternating layers of red and white rock make up this massive canyon. There is a well designed trail system that takes you along both sides of a portion of canyon and at the far north end is a bridge over a very deep and narrow section that grows more deep and narrow the further north you go. A popular activity is walking up Red Rock Creek into this crevasse as far as nature lets you go.

There are multiple turn off points, the most notable being Crandell Lake Trail, a 2 km hike with an elevation gain of 125 vertical metres.

Goat Haunt

The Goat Haunt region is the epicenter of the Glacier-Waterton International Peace Park, which straddles the 49th parallel and shares the colossal Upper Waterton Lake, making it the only place to come in and out of Canada and the United States while breathing in the crisp exterior of nature.

The iconic Goat Haunt area provides hikers access to some of the most remote and scenic landscapes in all of North America. Goat Haunt allows hikers and overnight backpacking adventurers to access its famous Boulder Pass, Waterton Valley, and Stoney Indian Pass—all of which are considered world-class glacier hikes.

The trek to reach Goat Haunt starts at the town of Waterton where you catch a boat for a 13 km trip across Upper Waterton Lake. The leisurely pace allows visitors time to appreciate features of the area, including the Canada/United States border, which is indicated by cutlines in the landscape. Once you cross this boundary between the United States and Canada, you are in Montana’s Glacier National Park.

Hikers disembark early at the drop-off zone to spend the day on the trails, and catch the last boat back to Waterton from Goat Haunt. If a boat ride and a little fresh air is all you’re interested in, stay on the lake all the way to Goat Haunt where passengers are allowed to leave the boat for 30 minutes to explore.

Crypt Lake Hike

Featured in Lonely Planet and included in “19 Thrilling Trails Guaranteed to Make Your Heart Race” by National Geographic, Crypt Lake Trail  is a must for adventure enthusiasts.

This hike also begins with a boat trip on Upper Waterton Lake, but only takes 15 mintues to reach the trailhead at Crypt Landing.

“It is the most popular hike in Waterton” says Mike Stasius from the Waterton Lake Cruise.

From Crypt Landing, the trail passes close to four breathtaking waterfalls: Hell Roaring Falls, Twin Falls, Burnt Rock Fall and Crypt Falls. A main selling point for hikers is the steel ladder and 18 metre tunnel through the mountain. Much of the hike is on an incline and not recommended for amateurs, but the pleasant distraction of the falls and wildlife make the effort worthwhile and allow moderate to pro hikers to have a blast withthis obstacle-filled trek. Finally, after a short manoeuvre around a cliff, with a cable for added security, hikers arrive at beautiful Crypt Lake.

Lisa Lunney

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