About 3 months prior to our trip, I checked with the major car rental companies to see what I could get for a deal. In the course of my discussions with them, it suddenly occured to me that maybe I should see if they offer any discounts for 'seniors', now that I am over 55! This proved to be a good idea when it came to National Car Rental - they offered me a great discount on my choice of a small car. It turned out that our 4-door, automatic Chevrolet Cobalt, with A/C only cost me C$740 (including all taxes and surcharges) for 3 weeks of driving. I managed to rack up almost 3200-km (2000-miles) in the course of driving from Calgary to Cold Lake and then back again, followed by a southerly trip to Waterton Lakes and Glacier National Park in Montana and another return to Calgary. Total fuel for the trip amounted C$260, making the total rental vehicle costs an even C$1000 (~US$890) for 3-weeks of driving pleasure. The car was just right for some of those narrow mountain roads in the National Parks and you need transport to get to many of the trail hike start points! The photo was taken beside one of many huge Canola fields we passed during the Calgary to Cold Lake drive.
Located in the Tamarack Village Square, they offer daily shuttle services to Cameron Lake (Carthew-Alderson trail), Chief Mountain Customs (to connect to U.S. trailheads), and Red Rock Canyon (Tamarack Trail), for a fee.
The cost is $9 per seat to Cameron Lake; $15 to Tamarack Trail. It leaves daily at 8:30 and 9:30 am.
They also have licensed guides available for a variety of guided hikes in and around the park.
For information or reservations, email them at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Glacier Park, Inc operates a daily shuttle between Prince of Wales Hotel in Waterton and various points in Glacier National Park. The US stops include Chief Mountain, Many Glacier, St Mary and Glacier Park Lodge.
The cost is as follows (at time of writing):
Chief Mountain $8 USD
Many Glacier $16 USD
St. Mary $24 USD
Glacier Pk Lodge $34.50 USD
Call to make reservations.
People often want to get to Waterton without a car, and sometimes they are on a budget! If you can't afford to charter a private van, there is still a way to get from the Calgary airport to Waterton without breaking the bank!
You can take the airport shuttle ($15) to the Greyhound Bus terminal in Calgary or a cab (approx $30) and then take a Greyhound bus from Calgary to Pincher Creek (approx $50), and then take a taxi from Pincher Creek to Waterton ($85 for up to 4 people). The taxi MUST be reserved in advance! If you are travelling in a group of 3 or 4 this is a very economical way to get to Waterton.
The cab company in Pincher Creek is A & G Cabs, and their contact info is below.
Greyhound's fares and schedules can be found here:
The airport shuttle is run by Sundog Airport Shuttle. You can contact them at (403) 291-9617 for details of their service hours. Outside of their hours, a cab is the only way to get from the airport to the bus depot. Their rates are $15 adult, $8 child.
Airporter Shuttle Express will transport travellers to/from the Calgary International Airport to Waterton. They will also arrange a full-day "touring trip", if you wish.
Their service is "door to door" and they offer transportation to a variety of Alberta locations, in addition to Waterton. They use a variety of motor vehicles for this service, depending on your needs. They offer sedan, van and motorcoach transportation.
An added plus to their service is that, because they are a charter service, if your flight is late, they will wait for you!
If you want to see Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park with style and grace then consider taking the Red Bus Tour. These antique vintage sedans are called "jammer buses " by the locals, a name that goes back to the time when the vehicles had standard transmissions and the drivers could be heard "Jamming" the gears as they drove them up and down the mountainous terrain.
The Red Bus fleet of Waterton and Glacier National Parks dates back to the 1930s, making it the oldest operating public transportation system in the world. The National Park Foundation and Ford Motor Company have extensively rebuilt the old buses, converting them to run on clean-burning propane fuel.
Karen and I took only a brief ride in one of the buses from the train station to the East Glacier Lodge. However, seeing these Red Buses throughout Waterton and Glacier Parks added a unique and elegant touch to this very special corner of the world.
One of the tours that I had read about before travelling to Waterton Lakes, was the boat cruise from Waterton Park down the length of Upper Waterton Lake, crossing the international border to Goat Haunt, Montana. Run by Shoreline Cruise Company, the journey features the venerable old 200-passenger cruise ship 'International', built in 1927. The cost per adult is C$26 (US$23) and cruises depart Waterton at 10 AM, 1 PM, 4 PM and 7 PM as they point out the features of the western side of the lake before arriving in Goat Haunt for a half-hour stopover. The return trip travels up the east side of the lake where more features are pointed out and there is even a stop where hikers can set out on the trail to Crypt Lake, voted as the most scenic hike in all of Canada!
One thing about the long and narrow Upper Waterton Lake is that it is often very windy as the breezes whistle through the surrounding mountains. During our first day or two in Waterton, we were still into the day hikes on various trails in the Park, and kept putting off our planned boat trip - every day was sunny and warm. However, we didn't really want to go in mid-day when the sun was high and we kept thinking maybe tomorrow the wind will let up a bit and the lake will be calmer. Finally, all we had left was the day we were due to leave Waterton Lakes and head further south into the adjoining Glacier National Park in Montana. For some reason, my addled brain confused the 7 PM sailing time such that I thought there was an early 7 AM sailing we could take and then still be back in time to leave for Glacier. We were very disappointed to wake up in the morning and remember that the earliest sailing was at 10 AM - so no boat ride for us!! However, I did get this photo of the 'International' a couple of days earlier as it sailed by the west side of the lake while we were high above on our trail walk to Lower Bertha Falls! Next time, must read literature properly!
The Waterton Shoreline Cruise company, which takes visitors on a scenic cruise down Upper Waterton Lake, also drops off hikers at the trail head of the Crypt Lake Trail.
You want to catch the first boat of the day, departing the marina at 10:00 am. The boat will pick you up at the end of the day, at 5:30 pm. If for some reason you are back earlier than that, just flag down the approaching boat when you see it, and they will come over and pick you up.
Waterton Lakes National Park is about a thirty minute drive south of Pincher Creek, Alberta via highway #6, or about an hour and fifteen minutes south-west of Lethbridge, Alberta via Highway #5.
If you're coming from the US, the closest border crossing is the Chief Mountain one. They are open daily from June 1 to October 31, 7:00 am to 10:00 pm. Alternatively, the Coutts and Del Bonita crossings are open year-round.
If you are travelling by bus and are staying at the Kilmorey Lodge or Aspen Village Inn, the hotel will pick you up at the bus stop in Pincher Creek.