Waterton Lakes National Park
Guide

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Introduction

Sitting at the meeting point of the prairies of Alberta and the Rocky Mountains peaks is Waterton Lakes National Park, a 124,788-acre park that offers RV campers limitless opportunities to engage in recreational activities year-round. Located south of Pincher Creek along Highway 6, Alberta, this national park has something for everyone.

From the park’s interpretive programs, to various amazing lake activities, hiking, cycling, stargazing, climbing, fishing, sightseeing, wildlife viewing, photography, birdwatching, golfing, horseback riding, and picnicking, you would agree that Waterton Lakes National Park is indeed a camper’s paradise!

Even more, the abundant lakes in Waterton Lakes National Park provide picturesque scenery that is even more colored by the wildlife and vegetation in the park.

This national park, established in 1895 and named in honor of English naturalist Charles Waterton, is home to the first oil well in western Canada (1902) and the deepest lake in the Canadian Rockies (444 feet, 135 meters), and is especially significant because it is the Canadian portion of Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park.

Waterton Lakes National Park features amazing facilities and amenities, some of which include day use sites, picnic sites, exhibits, washrooms with hot/cold running water, showers and flush toilets, food storage and kitchen shelters, as well as communal water taps, dump station, and free Wi-Fi.

RV Rentals in Waterton Lakes National Park

Transportation in Waterton Lakes National Park

Driving

Located about 30 km (19 miles) south of Pincher Creek, Waterton Lakes National Park is easy to access via Highway 6, Alberta. From Lethbridge, the national park lies southwest along Highway 5, a distance of about 90 km (56 miles). Because the entrance to the national park lies around the intersection of both highways, it is easy to locate and access by RVs, trailers, and other motorized vehicles. There are roads within the park for RV campers to drive on to find different campgrounds and various interesting spots. There are no driving restrictions within the national park.

Parking

One thing that RV campers and visitors at Waterton Lakes National Park will never have problems finding is parking lots. The national park is replete with parking areas distributed around the park for campers to park their rigs or cars. The campgrounds also feature gravel or pavement pads for campers to park their camping units. Overnight parking is available for RV campers spending the night at the park.

Public Transport

A hiker’s shuttle service operates to Waterton Lakes National Park during the summer out of Tamarack Outdoor Outfitters. The shuttle service operates to Cameron Lake (the Cathew- Alderson Trail), Red Rock Canyon (the Tamarack Trail) and Chief Mountain Customs.

Campgrounds and parking in Waterton Lakes National Park

Campsites in Waterton Lakes National Park

Reservations camping

Townsite Campground

Townsite Campground in Waterton Lakes National Park features 237 campsites available for RVs and tents. The campground consists of 93 campsites equipped with full RV hookups (electricity, water, and sewer hookups), and 43 campsites equipped with electric hookups only. The rest of the campsites in the park are not equipped with RV hookups. The RV length limit at the campground is 35 feet (11 meters), however if your rig is longer, you may call ahead to confirm if there is space for you.

Townsite Campground offers washrooms with hot/cold running water, showers and flush toilets, food storage, kitchen shelters, as well as communal water taps, dump station, and free Wi-Fi.

This campground that sits in an open, mowed-lawn setting with few trees is exposed to winds from Upper Waterton Lake and provides access to hiking trails and trailheads. Campers usually find mule deer, bighorn sheep and ground squirrels in the campground.

Quiet hours are from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. within the campground, and generator use is permitted between 7 a.m. - 9 a.m., 11 a.m. - 1 p.m., and 5 p.m. - 7 p.m.

First-come first-served

Alternate camping

Seasonal activities in Waterton Lakes National Park

In-Season

Lake Activities

Waterton Lakes National Park is home to pristine mountain lakes that offer RV campers and visitors who love to enjoy water activities amazing fun opportunities. The biggest lakes in the park, the Upper and Middle Waterton Lakes, are often the busiest and are popular among windsurfers and sailboarders for their steady breezes. The calm Emerald Bay, on the other hand, is a cool destination for paddle boarding and diving.

Canoeing and kayaking are also popular activities for campers at the Waterton Lakes National Park, especially on hot, calm summer days. Advanced sailboarders visit the beach on Upper Waterton Lake to showcase their sailboarding skills as high, gusty winds are common on that beach.

Boat lovers are also not left out of the fun at Waterton Lakes National Park.

Biking/Cycling

RV Campers who enjoy cycling are offered the chance to see the interesting views of the Waterton Lakes National Park as they ride along the roads in the park. Cyclists usually find the Chief Mountain Highway with its wide shoulders a good choice for cycling, albeit one laden with large hills. Highways 5 and 6 which lead out of the park also have wide shoulders and are very enjoyable for cycling.

Bikers enjoy the five designated mountain biking trails in the park and catch the sight of wildlife and other trail users as they ride on the trails. These biking trails include the 6.9 km (4.3 mile) one way Kootenai Brown Trail, 8.2 km (5.1 mile) one-way Snowshoe Trail, 1.5 km (0.9 mile) one-way Akamina Pass Trail, 7 km (4.3 mile) Wishbone Trail, and the Crandell Loop Trail.

Hiking

Featuring 200 kilometers (120 miles) of hiking trails, Waterton Lakes National Park is the dream destination for RV campers who love hiking. The various trails in the park offer RV campers various opportunities ranging from short hikes and walks, to day hikes, and multi-day hikes, all with different levels of difficulty. Some of the trails are easy to walk on, some moderately difficult, while others present hikers with strenuous wilderness hikes.

The short hikes and day hikes are particularly suited for campers who want to enjoy different trails and complete them within a few hours. The Tamarack Trail, on the other hand, is 32 to 36 kilometers (20 to 23 miles) long and takes two to three days to complete depending on the route selected, and offers campers the chance to walk along the Continental Divide while granting them access to Lone Lake.

Waterton Lakes National Park is, without doubt, the perfect hiking paradise.

Off-Season

Ice Climbing

Waterton Lakes National Park features various locations well suited for ice climbing, hence campers visit the park in winter to enjoy climbs at sites such as Quick and Dirty, Compound Gullies, Lineham Falls, Experts Choice, and Sullivan Falls. It is important that campers visiting the site for ice climbing have the right training and gear to ensure safety when ice climbing in the park.

Swimming

RV campers at Waterton Lakes National Park enjoy taking dips into the cold lake on hot summer days. The most popular swimming spot in the park is Emerald Bay. The beach close to the campground in the park is also used for swimming but it is often windier. Swimmers also visit the swimming area at the Marquis Hole picnic site along the Waterton River.

Wildlife Viewing

There are plenty of amazing opportunities for RV campers and visitors at Waterton Lakes National Park to view wildlife and find interesting creatures in different habitats in the park. Wildlife around the park campground include deer, bighorn sheep, and ground squirrels, while those in the park’s grasslands include elk, mule deer and white-tailed deer. In the summer and fall, black bears are often seen around the grasslands that cover the lower mountain sides in the park.

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