Waterton Lakes National Park...

"Timing is everything" and our timing for this trip could not have been more perfect. It is Canada’s 150th anniversary and in honor of this special celebration, all of Canada's National Parks are free to enter, from coast to coast to coast. We are going to do our best to see as many as possible.

The prairies of Alberta meet the peaks of the Rocky Mountains in Waterton Lakes National Park. Clear lakes, thundering waterfalls, rainbow-colored streams, colorful rocks and mountain vistas await hikers and sightseers. With an exceptional diversity of wildlife and wildflowers and a cozy little waterfront town to serve as a home base, Waterton packs a big natural punch into a relatively small and accessible area.

Our first stop, after the Visitor's Center, was the Prince of Wales Hotel (one of only two National Historic Sites in the park). Built in 1926-27, it is the park's most recognized landmark.
The hotel is named after Edward, Prince of Wales who later became King Edward VIII, and, like its namesake, it has a colorful history. If its Douglas fir pillars could talk they would tell you a tale of American imagination and money, built with Canadian grit and patience.
Today many people recognize the Prince of Wales as a railway hotel, but few realize it was built by the Great Northern of United States and not the Canadian Pacific. It is the last in a chain of 1920s luxury hotels, backcountry chalets and tent camps. In its day, it offered a final stop for affluent visitors travelling Glacier National Park's backcountry by horseback. Today, though most travelers arrive by car, the Prince is still pretty spectacular and definitely worth an explore.

What surprised me was the fact that in the heart of the park is a Village. People have homes and darling businesses here. It is all very scenic.

This sign demands further study!

June is the month for Wildflowers! We were pretty happy campers.

Wanting to explore a bit more, we headed to the Red Rock Parkway. This scenic road travels up the Blakiston Valley through rolling grasslands and ends at Red Rock Canyon. It is the best place to experience Waterton's classic prairie meeting mountain landscape. Along the way, we stopped at the scenic pull-outs, many of which had interpretive displays. And at the end we found a fantastic, brilliant red canyon with rushing water flowing through it. Wow.

We enjoy Ranger led hikes so we joined in on Bears and Blooms.
For four miles we meandered along Blakiston Creek, learning about Grizzly and Black bears. Ranger Vera identified various flowers and plants that bears eat, while helping us better understand bear behavior. At times, we were in prime foraging territory so there was a tiny bit of fear along with the excitement. It was a really great hike.
And for the perfect end to Day #1 in Waterton, Steve saw this little guy as we were heading back to the parking lot.

“Always respect Mother Nature.
Especially when she weighs 400 pounds
and is guarding her baby.”
― James Rollins

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Cyndy Brown said...

WOW...the Prince of Wales Hotel looks spectacular! How's the weather???

Aquí Ahí Allá said...

Okay. This is the end of our shared travels. Waterton was the furthest north we went last year. I look forward to seeing the sights with you!
PS did you invest in any ammolite? It is pretty, but it never really caught on here in the US...

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