Waterton Lakes National Park
Where the mountains meet the prairie, Waterton Lakes National Park is 505 square kilometres (195 square miles) of wilderness mountain and lake landscapes surrounding the town of Waterton.
The drive into Waterton is a journey of contrasts. Prairie magically gives way to rolling foothills, and suddenly the landscape transforms, expanding into a majestic display of rugged wilderness, the likes of which harken back to a time when nature was truly unspoiled.
Waterton was declared a National Park in 1895, and quite truthfully, not a tremendous amount has changed since then. Waterton is very much the sort of place you envision when imagining a quaint and rustic mountain town. The pace is rambling, there is no pretence to any of it, and the major attraction in the park is the great outdoors.
Nature thrives here. Waterton is home to more than 60 species of mammals, 250 species of birds, 24 species of fish and 10 species of reptiles and amphibians. More than half of Alberta’s plant species are found in Waterton and the park is home to a menagerie of impressive mountain creatures. Grizzly bear, black bear, wolf, coyote and cougar can all be found here.
The uniqueness of Waterton has been recognized in a number of ways. It was designated an International Peace Park due to the open border it shares with Glacier National Park to the south in Montana, and also a World Heritage Site, thanks to Waterton’s extraordinary ecosystem. The park is unusually diverse in its physical, biological and cultural resources. It’s also one of the narrowest places in the Rocky Mountain chain and has some of the oldest exposed sedimentary rock in the region.