Wow, an International Peace Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, plus a Buffalo Paddock, all within an easy drive from Calgary? Fantastic, where do I sign up!
Three designations all within a three hour drive from Calgary, I must admit, we Albertan’s are very lucky. I decided it was time to do some exploring, southern Alberta style, so I headed down to Waterton Lakes National Park, a park that I haven’t visited for years – a realization that I would soon regret. Located in the southwestern corner of Alberta, this park borders the province of British Columbia and Montana USA. Known as the world’s first International Peace Park, this area draws approximately four hundred thousand visitors per year from around the world and after one visit you can see why. Swimming in natural beauty, this corner of the world is surrounded by lakes and mountains. From scuba diving to hiking, from kayaking to rock climbing, from water skiing to snowshoeing, and from boat tours to biking, this is an outdoor adventure playground.
Just like every national park, there is a fee to enter, unless you have a park or discovery pass hanging from your vehicle’s mirror. A quick scan of your pass and you suddenly enter paradise. As you round the corner you will catch a quick glimpse of the Prince of Wales hotel, majestically sitting on top of the hill, keeping a close eye on the village below. You will quickly find yourself entering the town site where quaint hotels, restaurants, and stores greet you with open arms. Unlike its more crowded sister, but also beautiful Banff, the village has been able to keep a more rustic feel for visitors to enjoy. Located just off the main street is the stunning lake, kilometers of shoreline waiting to be touched.
Throughout the year, there are various events that keep the residents and visitors busy and entertained. Since accommodations are limited, please make sure to book ahead, so you are not left disappointed. I decided to make it into a day trip, but one could easily turn it into a wonderful weekend getaway, bears and all…
Links: Waterton Lakes National Park