Unleash your Inner Soul in Waterton Lakes National Park
by Dr. S. R. Watkins
Banff and Jasper National Parks are world famous, and so they should be. Spectacular mountains breathtaking sceneries and........ crowds. Rumour has it that both towns are completely sold out this summer as Canada celebrates its 150th anniversary with free admission to all 125 of its National Parks. But Alberta has its own “secret jem” - Waterton!
Waterton Lakes National Park, a world UNESCO site, is in the far south west corner of the Province of Alberta, just a short scenic 3-hour drive from Calgary. http://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/ab/waterton Take-in either The Bar U Ranch, a Canadian Heritage site (http://www.pc.gc.ca/en/lhn-nhs/ab/baru) or Head-Smashed-In-Buffalo Jump - another UNESCO site - on the way down. (http://www.history.alberta.ca/headsmashedin/) Watertown was formed as a National Park in 1895 by local cowboy legend Kootenai Brown and borders the State of Montana and Glacier National Park. Together these incredible mountain ranges form the International Peace Parks. Just 1/10 the size the size of Banff National Park, Waterton has 1/10 the number of visitors too!
Waterton is famous for its wildlife and wildflowers, but you’ve gotta get out of your car to see them! Here’s three of the best ways:
- Join the crew on the M.V. International for a two-hour scenic cruise down the deep waters of Waterton Lakes and cross the international border into the State of Montana. Enjoy spectacular mountains, waterfalls, and keep your eyes peeled for wildlife. If you take the first sailing of the day you can depart at Goat Haunt in Montana and take a two-hour free guided tour there by the National Park Ranger and then return to Waterton on a later departure that afternoon. http://www.watertoncruise.com
- Waterton is known for its short day hikes. Buy a guidebook at any of the available retail stores in the village or better yet contact one of the local guiding companies. You will need a flower guide book too!
- To really explore the country you need to “unleash your inner cowboy/cowgirl” (it is in all of us!) with the Trail Riders of the Canadian Rockies (TRCR) a 94-year-old non-profit organization that specializes in incredible backcountry adventures. Well suited for beginners and experienced horseback riders, (think “City Slickers with Billy Crystal) the TRCR offers four, five or six day spectacular “get away from it all” adventures. Situated in a base camp with Indian style teepees and tents, a hot shower, four-star incredible food, with live Western cowboy entertainment every night, the Trail Riders club with professional guides will take you and to places that no one else goes, on daily trips so spectacular that words and photographs do not do it justice. More than 50% of their riders are over age 50 and 75% are adventuresome women! Their slogan is, “the best vacation of your life” and judging by their Trip Advisor reviews it appears that you may have just found the secret to Waterton! www.trailridevacations.com
Celebrate Canada 150th birthday in Waterton; Alberta’s best keep secret!