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Two or Three days in Waterton? What to fill our time with?

Level Contributor
72 posts
40 reviews
Two or Three days in Waterton? What to fill our time with?

My family and I (DH and 2 kids) will be spending some time in Waterton this summer. Right now our hotel is booked for three days but we're debating shortening the trip. It really depends on what activities we find to fill our time with.

We're planning on doing a lake cruise down to Goat Haunt. We're also reading up on short day hikes we'd like to do. A picnic lunch on a lake at some point. Horse rides are a possibility. And general drive time to sight see.

What other family friendly activities could/should we do or see?

5 replies to this topic
Hudson, Wisconsin
Level Contributor
1,092 posts
74 reviews
1. Re: Two or Three days in Waterton? What to fill our time with?

Are you aware of the large fire that affected Waterton last summer? A good portion of the park burned, mainly to the west of Waterton townsite and along the popular roads to Cameron Lake and Red Rock Canyon. It is still unknown at this time what in those areas (including trails) will be open this coming summer.

The lake cruise down to Goat Haunt is still a great option that was unaffected by the fire. There are several short hikes that leave from Goat Haunt in Glacier NP. Kootenai Lakes would be a good option, as you're almost certain to see moose, though I believe it's the most popular trail that leaves from there. You could take an early cruise to Goat Haunt, and a later cruise on your return.

Toronto, Canada
Level Contributor
517 posts
19 reviews
2. Re: Two or Three days in Waterton? What to fill our time with?

We were there in Aug 2016 before the fires so I don't know much about their effect.

We stayed two nights, which meant we really only had 1 day.

It took a long day to get there from Banff, stopping at the Bar Ranch and the Frank Slide interpretive center and making a late afternoon stop at the Red Rock Canyon to scramble along the stream bed and then up the path which turned out to be blocked at the top so we didn't get the view after our short steep climb!

The full day, we went on the boat cruise in the morning. After lunch, some of us walked through the town admiring the many mule deer and fawns eating on people's front and side lawns right beside the roards, then to the falls where there were lots of birds including some Dippers which are the small grey birds that dive into the waves and swim along underwater and generally are amusing to watch. The others went on a trail ride which was their favourite ride of the trip because it went across meadows and things without having to be nose-to-tail with other riders.

The following day we had to head back up to Calgary and it was also raining heavily so we didn't do anything more in the park. We stopped at Head Smashed In which was great.

Do you have 3 nights in Waterton, or 2 nights? If it's just 2 nights, depending on where you are coming from and where you are going to, you may not have much time to fill.

Level Contributor
72 posts
40 reviews
3. Re: Two or Three days in Waterton? What to fill our time with?

Yes, we're aware of the fire and are monitoring the Park's website for closures and openings.

We're just coming from Glacier so only a few hours away. We're booked right now for 3 nights, 4 days.

Waterton Lakes...
Level Contributor
83 posts
652 reviews
4. Re: Two or Three days in Waterton? What to fill our time with?

Hi Emily,

As a local resident that lives in Waterton year-round, and given the effects of the Kenow Mountain Fire of Sept 2017, I still think you will be able to find plenty to do, to occupy 4 days / 3 nights in Waterton. The kinds of activities that you may want to consider depend on you, your kids interests, and their ages...

It is true that right now, the Akamina Parkway to Cameron Lake, and the Red Rock Parkway are both closed. I'm not sure when either will be reopened...

As mentioned above, the boat cruise to the south end of the lake is a good thing to do. If the kids like to hike, there are a number of different day hikes of varying difficulties at Goat Haunt. So, in theory, you could spend an entire day doing the boat ride and hiking at Goat Haunt.

If the kids are strong hikers, then you may want to also consider taking Waterton Shoreline Cruise Co.'s Crypt Lake hiker shuttle. It is a 20-minute boat ride across the lake to the trailhead. Crypt Lake trail is a full-day hike that is definitely worthwhile!

You could spend an entire day just exploring the Waterton townsite itself. There are plenty of great restaurants and lots of gift shops. Other things to do in town include: the movie theater; renting a bike or 4-wheeler from Pat's Waterton (the service station) to cruise around town in; checking out Cameron Falls; enjoying an afternoon along the rocky beaches and enjoying the lake itself; and wildlife watching, among other things.

The Chief Mountain International Highway (probably the route you will first drive, when coming up from Glacier) is a beautiful scenic drive with a few pull-outs along the way, so you could spend a half-day just exploring everything along that drive.

Plus Parks Canada offers plenty of different interpretive activities that you may be able to join up with, too.

Let me know if you need any other ideas, or have any questions! Happy Planning!

Edmonton, Canada
Level Contributor
994 posts
10 reviews
5. Re: Two or Three days in Waterton? What to fill our time with?

do not shorten your trip. the cruise and a short hike can take up a full day. 3-4 nights is probably a good amount of time.

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