Waterton Lakes National Park

We enjoyed catching up some sleep in Pincher Creek after staying up too late all week in the Kootenays, socialising with our friends and families and often sleeping without curtains. 

When opening our curtains we noticed that the rain clouds had brought fresh snow on the mountains as predicted. We dug up our warm sweaters from the suitcases and headed south to Waterton Lakes National park at the border with Glacier National Park in Montana. I wondered what we'd do as the mountains seemed to be up in the clouds and we also knew that a lot of the parkways were still closed after the Kenow Wildfire in 2017 that burned down 38% of the park. 80% of the walking trails were impacted and a lot of the parks infrastructure needs to get rebuilt or re-secured/checked. As a result, some people had adviced us against visiting or even wrongly told us the park was closed ...it's only been closed for 10 days in 2017.

Coyote spotted

We stopped at the visitor centre downtown first to get advise on what to visit. As feared all the parkways were still closed but there were some small hikes we could do. 

Bertha Fall trail hike

We took off on the easy hike with small climb to the bertha falls.  You climb for several kilometers along Waterton Lake and get some views on the village down. You are surrounded by the remains of the burnt forrest, where tiny shrubs, trees and wildflowers start to push-up again.

It was very chilly in the wind with only 4C outside and Beertje gave up walking after a few kilometers. He got quite happy and silly again as soon as we got him in the backpack. We progressed a lot slower than I had anticipated and I was quite happy when we arrived at the Bertha falls knowing that it was our destination. We decided not to continu higher up to the lake another few kms further, since we had no food packed with us.

On our return the clouds started lifting up a bit higher, giving us better views on the surrounding Rocky Mountains along the main lake and the view towards the US. By the end of the walk I dared to take off my warm sweater hood off now and then. 

view on Glacier NP, Montana, US

Bertha falls, Waterton Lakes NP

At the end of the trail (or start of the trail if you wish) nearby the parking lot, we had to cross a big group of elk casually grazing , undisturbed by us.

Waterton Lake lake board walk

After our morning walk, we explored the town and found a good spot for a lunch to warm up and re-energise. In the afternoon, the sun came peaking out but the wind was still blowing a cold 4C.  We bundled up once again to walk around the village, along the lake shores and village roads. The views from the lake were quite nice and we walked by the Cameron falls for a second time today. 

Red Chairs, we've seen red chairs!! It's a race to be first in the red chairs

A couple of Canada's Park's official red chairs

Yes we see you and hear you, you bunch of funny ground squirrels

Cameron Falls, Waterton Lakes NP

Prince of Wales hotel

We had done enough walking for the day. Much to my surprise we had filled this chilly day in a mostly closed small national park really well but now we were ready to go home. However we had to make one more stop before returning to our hotel.  

When leaving the village we took a turn off on the first peninsula of the lake to go and view the iconic Prince of Wales hotel. It was a nightmare to find a parking spot so I wonder how on earth they manage on busier periods.

The hotel is one of Canada's historic railway hotels built by the Canadian railroads to attract tourism across the country and get traveller's onboard.    They've greatly influenced the attraction and development of Canada's national parks with the Banff Springs hotel and Chateau Lake Louise...and this hotel in Waterton Lakes which has a splendid view over Upper Waterton lake. The inside feels a bit ...well yeah, historic and outdated as did the other chateaus. 

After our visit we waved once more at the black bear that had been stumbling in the bushes across from the exit road to the hotel all afternoon and then we drove back to Pincher Creek. We had another stop at the viewpoint towards the Rockies that this morning had been hidden in clouds.  Compare this picture with the 3rd one in this post: same spot, same day but different moment.  I was very greatfull that the weather had improved for the better. 


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