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Quick Stop at Waterton

Level Contributor
115 posts
55 reviews
Quick Stop at Waterton

This coming summer (early August) my husband and I will be making our way from Banff down to Glacier National Park. I am wondering if there are any good, short hikes (2-3 hours) that are easy to get to while we pass by to get to GNP. Or if there are any good spots for us to pull off and stretch our legs while catching some of the scenery. I know Waterton isn't right along the route but it isn't far. I am also aware that around 70% burned this past summer with wildfires and who knows yet what this coming summer will bring.

3 replies to this topic
Hudson, Wisconsin
Level Contributor
1,093 posts
74 reviews
1. Re: Quick Stop at Waterton

A lot is going to depend on what's open. Some trails that burned last fall may still be inaccessible this coming year. There's still a lot of unknowns. I would recommend contacting the park closer to your August visit to find out more information. Bear's Hump is a short but steep trail (2 mi. RT) where you can get sweeping views of the Waterton townsite and surrounding area, but I'm not sure it will be open next summer.

As for what I'm sure will be open, a stop at the Prince of Wales Hotel is a must. Make sure to walk outside in front of the hotel to enjoy the majestic view of Waterton Lake. You could also take a boat tour of Waterton Lake, which is considered better by most than any of the boat tours in Glacier NP.

Waterton Lakes...
Level Contributor
83 posts
652 reviews
2. Re: Quick Stop at Waterton

Hi Kes387,

I am a year-round resident in Waterton Park, so feel confident that I can give you an accurate description of the Kenow Fire that occurred back in October. I also feel that now, more than ever, Waterton is deserving of a visit, due in part to the effects of the fire!

The stats that I've been privy to claim that about 30% of the National Park burned in the fire. This translates to about 70% of the park's total montane forests. In other words, of all the montane forest areas in the National Park, about 70% of those forests burned - but that only accounts for 30% of the entire National Park.

Just before the snows began to fly in mid-December 2017, I walked partway up the Red Rock Parkway (which is currently open to non-motorized activity, up to the Crandel Campground Junction). At that point, we could see plenty of green grass shoots that had already sprouted from the soil, since the fire. The entire east side of the Park was unaffected by the fire.

The Chief Mountain International Highway, is a beautiful scenic drive (which offers a few road-side pull-outs to admire the views). There is also the Wishbone hiking trail that starts from this road. Note that the best route for you to take from Banff to Glacier National Park, MT., involves crossing the CAN/USA Border at Chief Mountain Border Crossing. So with that in mind, Waterton is right on your way south.

I expect that a number of hiking trails affected by the fire will be available to hikers by next August, so just continue to watch for Parks Canada announcements about area of Waterton that are open to the public.

Waterton Shoreline Cruise Co. offers an interesting cruise down the Upper Waterton Lake. This 2.25 hr trip will undoubtedly offer amazing views next year showing both burned areas around the townsite (the townsite itself was essentially untouched by the fire), as well as pristine, untouched forests south and east of the town.

So... Long story to your short question, I think Waterton will definitely be worth stopping at next August! Feel free to message, if you have any further questions!

Best Wishes for the New Year!

Level Contributor
115 posts
55 reviews
3. Re: Quick Stop at Waterton

Keith-B-Robinson thank you for all the information. We will definitely plan a stop at Waterton on our way to Glacier this coming summer but we will also be sure to check the most updated information on the park before stopping.

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