48 hours in Waterton
By Jessica Pook | February 2020 | 3 minute read
Just three hours from Calgary in the southwest corner of Alberta, Waterton Lakes National Park is considered the ‘hidden gem’ of the Canadian Rockies
DAY 1 - Chasing waterfalls
08.00: Start the morning by fuelling up at Pearls Café, which serves up a range of hearty breakfasts, including its signature French toast, for hungry hikers.
09.30: An early start is recommended to cover as much ground as possible. Waterton Lakes National Park has 120 miles of trails, ranging from easy strolls to strenuous hikes, but a recommended starting point is the Bear’s Hump trail up Mount Crandell. Conveniently located off the Visitor Information Centre’s car park, it’s a short (2.8km) but steep workout that pays off in an unparalleled view of Upper Waterton Lake, with Waterton town nestled below. Or for a gentler pace, take a short meander along the Bertha Lake Trail, a 5.2km round-trip to Lower Bertha Falls, which offers splendid views of Upper Waterton Lake from Bertha Point.
11.30: Next, in keeping with the waterfall theme, visit Cameron Falls, which is easily accessible by foot or car, and located right in the middle of town. This waterfall can be viewed directly from the street, or for a different perspective follow a short but steep trail to a viewing platform overlooking the falls.
13.30: Take afternoon tea at the iconic Prince of Wales Hotel. Perched on a bluff high above the lake, this recognisable landmark was constructed in 1927 and is grand survivor of the golden age of railways. The panoramic view from the dining room goes perfectly with tea and cake.
16.00: Enjoy a two-nation vacation with a two-and--a-half hour round-trip tour aboard the historic ship M.V. International. Cruise along the shoreline of the deepest lake in the Canadian Rockies, Upper Waterton Lake, crossing the International border to Goat Haunt, Montana.
DAY 2 - Fuel the adventure
10.00: After breakfast at one of Waterton's local eateries, saddle up and take a guided horseback ride from the Alpine Stables on a western adventure for the whole family. Experience a variety of wildlife, alpine habitat and wildflowers as you meander through Aspen forests towards scenic outlooks. Learn local history and hopefully get a glimpse of elk, big horn sheep, coyotes and maybe a black bear along the way. Riders from as young as five years old can choose from a one-, two-, three-hour, or half-day trip, regardless of experience.
12.30: After lunch at one of the lakeside restaurants, why not explore the park on one of the RAD eBikes from Pat’s, a Waterton institution. The assisted pedal power will help you get up those hills with ease.
14.00: Or, to truly experience where the mountains meet the prairies, why not take the scenic 16km Red Rock Parkway to Red Rock Canyon, walking a short loop to see its striking red-and-green bedrock layers. It’s a photographer’s paradise. Walk another 1km to Blakiston Falls to get an impressive birds-eye view of the waterfall over the deep-red rocks. Or, if you’re up for a bigger challenge, walk to Goat Lake. At seven kilometres, with a steeper ascent, it certainly gets the heart rate up, but it’s one of the best places in the park to see mountain goats.
16.30: Finish the day with an ice-cream from Moose Lick Ice Cream Parlour while strolling the Lakeshore pathway, watching the sun set across the lake.