Waterton Lakes National Park

Waterton Lakes National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site in Canada and is the Canadian part of the Waterton Glacier International Peace Park that is joined with US Glacier National Park.


Flora and fauna

There is a good chance of seeing black and grizzly bears in the park, also if you are lucky badger. Birds in the area include osprey, bald eagle and a number of waders.

Get in

Waterton Lakes is located at the end of Highway 5, about an hour and a half from Lethbridge and 3 hours from Calgary. If driving from Calgary, take Highway 2 south out of town to Cardston and then follow Highway 5 west to the park.

There is no bus service into the park. The nearest Greyhound station is in Pincher Creek, 30 minutes north on Highway 6. Some cab companies will drive to the park from Pincher Creek if booked in advance.


There is no fee to enter the park if you are just driving through along Highway 6. However, if you want to do any activities, visit the townsite or stay overnight, a daily fee will apply. The fee is paid at the gatehouse on Highway 5, on the road to Waterton townsite, just after its junction with Highway 6.

If staying for a week or more, the annual park pass is a good value, though it can only be used in Waterton. An annual Discovery pass can also be purchased for a higher fee and be used in Waterton and at the nearby Banff National Park and Jasper National Park as well as many other national parks and historic sites.

Daily Pass Annual Pass
Adult $7.80 $39.20
Senior     $6.80 $34.30
Youth $3.90 $19.60
Family $19.60 $98.10

Special rates are also available for commercial and school groups. The annual park pass is NOT good for Banff or Jasper, however the annual discovery pass is valid at all mountain parks.

Get around

The townsite is small and can be easily travelled on foot. However, if you want to see some of the lakes, hikes and other features of the park, a car or bike will be necessary. The regular annual pass for Waterton is NOT good for any other parks such as Banff or Jasper. A shuttle bus services has started.


Bertha Lake in Waterton Lakes National Park



There are a number of souvenir shops, a small supermarket, a liquor store and a fuel station in Waterton town. Expect to pay a premium for good, so best to stock up with supplies before entering the park.


There are several restaurants in the town-site, they tend to be a little pricey and of medium quality as they have a captive customer base.




Waterton Townsite with Prince of Wales Inn in the background


There are three drive-in campgrounds available in the park. Some sites have fire pits, a fire permit is an additional $8.80.


Backcountry camping is available in a number of spots. The fee is $10/night. If staying for a week or more, a season pass is a good value at $68.70.


There aren't any Internet cafés per se in Waterton, but a couple of the restaurants/coffee shops provide access.

Stay safe

Beware of the VERY strong winds at times in the main town site area.

Hikers should be aware that although it is possible to cross the geographical border (49th parallel) into the USA there are further on ranger control points that you cannot pass unless you have a US passport. Non US citizens must use the main road crossing, where id. checks can be made.

This is bear and cougar country, when hiking make plenty of noise and take the usual precautions for bears.

Go next

There are a number of small towns and parks nearby that make good day trips or next stops to move on to.

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Monday, August 03, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.