We were at Waterton National Park in June and the Wildflowers were in bloom. I saw quite a few different ones, how nice in this pretty setting.
Waterton Lakes National Park is home to more than 50 per cent of Alberta's wildflowers... more than any other Rocky Mountain national park. Over 50 of Canada's rare flowers grow in Waterton, 30 of which are found only in this park.
I am not sure what I saw, but there is plenty of variety.
If you are interested in Fauna, then you could make a date for the annual Waterton Wildflower Festival, held mid June each year.
There are guided flower walks, hikes and workshops.
It is a 9 day event offering educational courses on wildflowers, plants and ecosystems, art exhibits, workshops on photography and art, and evening slide shows and local entertainment, just what I enjoy!
Courses include: Wildflower Identification, Wildflower Habitat, Bird Watching, Wildflowers by Horseback and by Cruise Boat, Photography Workshops, Watercolours, Afternoon Tea and much more.
Fondest memory: http://www.watertonpark.com/
The Waterton Health Club (in the Waterton Lakes Lodge) has public showers and laundry available to non-members. This is perfect for someone who's been hiking or back country camping for a few days and is desperate for a hot shower!
The cost for showers last time I checked was $3 CAD. For a mere $6 a day, you can use the whole facility - gym, pool, sauna & spa AND the showers!
Waterton Park townsite gained its first permanent residents in 1904 when the Western Coal and Oil Company established a cookhouse, bunkhouse, blacksmith shop, office, stable and engine room for its operations in the area (oil had been struck two years earlier in the nearby Cameron Creek valley). Because of the formation of the original 'Kootenay Lakes Forest Park' around this area in 1895, it was gradually becoming more popular - leading to surveying of the first townsite lots in 1910. As more visitors came during the summer months to enjoy the splendors of the mountains, lakes and streams, the Mounties set up their first summer detachment here in 1920 (maybe the onset of alcohol Prohibition the USA also had something to do with it!) and things really took off when the majestic Prince of Wales Hotel opened for business in 1927. This photo of the Waterton Park townsite was taken from the front lawns of the Prince of Wales, with Upper Waterton Lake stretching off into Montana in the distance.
Today, Waterton Park is still quite a relaxed little spot. Even in mid-July, the tourist throngs did not seem like a crowd at all and wild animals roam through the town streets at their leisure (see my 'To Do' tips). Unlike some parts of Glacier NP in Montana, which are fairly isolated in some of the mountain valleys, the fact that there are various amenities available for the year-round residents makes for a good variety of restaurants and other attractions in Waterton Park.
There are three Waterton Lakes, upper, middle and lower. Upper Waterton Lake is by far the largest and most scenic of the three and it is the centerpiece for most of the activities and attractions at Wateton Lakes National Park. This natural, finger-like, glacial lake is the deepest in the Canadian Rockies. It is surrounded by mountains which include the highest cliff face in North America.
Upper Waterton Lake is also an international lake, with the larger "half" of its seven-mile-long expanse being in Canada, and the southern end stretching into Glacier National Park in the United States. On the north shore you of these cold clear waters sits the majestic Prince of Wales Hotel and also the Waterton Park townsite. On the southern shore is Glacier National Park's remote Goat Haunt Ranger Station, reached only by boat or hiking trail.
The shores of Upper Waterton Lake are the nesting site for bald eagles and also home of other wildlife, from the loon to the lynx. It is not uncommon to see bears along the shore.
At the International Boundary, on the western shore of Upper Waterton Lake, you will see not one but two small obelisks which look almost identical from a distance. Upon inquiry I learned that one is the border marker placed there by the International Boundary Commission. The other is a monument placed by the Rotary Clubs of Alberta and Montana in commemoration of the establishment of the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park in 1932.
In this photo the darker colored obelisk, in front, is the International Boundary Marker. The lighter colored marker is for the International Peace Park. Each sits astride the border line.
International Peace Park - Rotary Club Site
When you take the boat cruise on Upper Waterton Lake, your tour will stop briefly for a view of the international boundary between Canada and the United States. There you will see a very visible line - a clearing in the forest - which marks what is called the longest undefended border between two countries in the world. Actually, the border is defended, but by police and not military personnel.
Clearing of brush and vegetation for 6 meters (20 feet) on either side of the line is the responsibiliity of the International Boundary Commission. Since 1925 the Boundary Commission has had the responsibilty for surveying and mapping the boundary, maintaining boundary monuments (and buoys where applicable), as well maintaining the clearing. Exactly why it is felt a clearing is necessary is anybody's guess.
The International Boundary
Waterton Lakes National Park in Canada and Glacier National Park in the United States join each other. Although they are divided by a political line, they share the same geology, climate, wildlife, plantlife and ecosystem.
Waterton became a National Park of Canada in 1895, and Glacier National Park was not formed in the United States until 15 years later. Since that time, the two parks have shared a common boundary.
In 1932, as the result of efforts by the Rotary Club members on both sides of the border, the two parks were joined as a symbol of the longtime friendship between these two great nations. In 1995 the Waterton-Glacier Peace Park became the world's first Peace Park World Heritage Site. The joining of the two parks is largely symbolic and the two seperate parks are administered by their respective governments. However, Canada and the United States cooperate in managing their common natural and cultural resources in the park. The wild plants and animals ignore political boundaries and claim the mountain peaks, valleys, rivers and lakes on both sides of the border.
Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park
Although Waterton-Glacier is an International Peace Park, one must still pass through customs and immigration when traveling across the international boundary within the park. There is a highway crossing on the Chief Mountain Highway, which is the only roadway connecting the two parks. There is also a walk-in customs station at the trailhead leading into the United States near the boat dock on the south shore of Upper Waterton Lake.
Citizens of Canada or the United States may cross the border with proof of citizenship. A passport is recommended. Citizens of other countries MAY be required to have a visa, so know the laws for your own country.
Waterton Lakes National Park, 505 square km (203 square miles) in size, is so small that it does not even register on some maps! Located in the southwest corner of Alberta, up against the US border and the provincial border with British Columbia, Waterton is only 1/8th the size of its sister Glacier National Park (4100 sq. km) in Montana. It is completely dwarfed by its much more famous Alberta cousins, Banff NP at 6640 sq. km and Jasper at 10,900 sq. km. In addition to showing where Waterton is located, this map also indicates where we spent the first two weeks of our Alberta trip (Calgary and Cold Lake - both circled) as well as the purple routes we used in our 3200-km jaunt around southern Alberta and a bit of Montana.
The second photo is a detailed map of Waterton NP itself, showing the central town of Waterton Park (located where Middle and Upper Waterton Lakes meet) and the various highways and trails that branch out from there. We did hikes at the ends of both the black 'Parkway' roads that run off to the left of the map, as well as another from within Waterton Park itself. Our hike to Wall Lake was at the bottom right side of the greenish area shown to the left, at the bottom end of British Columbia. The line across the bottom part of the map is the Canada-USA border.
Pats is a great general store! This is the place you can rent scooters, bikes, tennis rackets, almost anything. They are the only gas station in town, and the best place to buy chips, chocolate bars, etc.
We also bought bracelets and postcards from here as they were cheaper than anywhere else.