Waterton Lakes National Park is tucked away in the southwest corner of Alberta, hugging the American border, nestled between Mt Crandell and Vimy Peak. Established in 1932 this amazing national park is one park you have to commit a full weekend to. My wife and I recently set off on a long weekend exploration of the park to experience as much as we could in a weekend.
We were right on the tail end of camping season, but after Kristian came across Parks Canada post about some of their Quirky Accommodations, she knew I’d be an easy sell on the tiny house in Waterton’s campground. I have been somewhat obsessed about the Tiny House movement over the past few years. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to see if we could survive in small quarters. A quick phone call and deposit to their visitors centre and we were officially booked to stay in our very first Tiny House.
Waterton Lakes National Park is just over 7 hours from our home in Regina. We set off early after dropping off Indie, our 1.5 year old wiggle butt of a dog with my folks (Thanks parents). Unfortunately Parks Canada doesn’t want dogs stinking up their fancy Tiny Homes. Fair enough, but I know our mutt would have loved Waterton. (If Parks Canada is listening…) I hope they reconsider and allow people to start throwing damage deposits down for dogs. Probably hard to regulate but hey, worth a shot!
Driving from Saskatchewan to Waterton is a great drive as soon as you pull off the Trans Canada and move into the winding roads that take you through prairie fields, rolling hills, more prairies, then suddenly you’re surrounded by mountains. Waterton Lakes National Park is one of the only places in Canada where prairies meet mountains without rolling hills getting in the way of those majestic views.
Hiking in Waterton Lakes National Park
If you’re a hiking fiend, you’ll be right at home in Waterton. This place is surrounded with trails small and large, easy, intermediate, and expert. I’d recommend a visit to the visitor information to talk to the Parks Canada staff and get local advice on what you can handle. My wife and I hadn’t hiked a mountain in a while and were looking for something relatively easy. Just keep in my easy is all relative. We were lucky enough to catch the fall colours of Alberta in full bloom, the stark contrast of greys and yellows with blasts of green were a thing of beauty!
If you’re flatlanders like us, hiking mountains with any higher altitude than a small hill is kind of tough. And by kind of I mean it wasn’t easy at all. Fortunately despite groans, moans, and questioning all our life choices, we made it to the top of Bears Hump Trail. This trail is 2.8 km / 1.8 mi. and with a vertical elevation of 225 m / 738 ft. We couldn’t help but laugh as we saw a young Hutterite family with a two month old baby in arms, make light of this trail and politely pass us while wishing us luck. Fortunately we made it to the top and caught the tremendous views of prairies kissing mountains.
Scuba Diving in Waterton Lake
Neither Kristian and I are PADI certified, but if Scuba is up your alley, we saw groups of 15 diving the Emerald Bay portion of Upper Waterton Lake along with Cameron Bay. There’s actually a sunken paddle wheeler by the name of “Gertrude” at the bottom of Emerald Bay at a depth of 20 metres. Spring and Fall apparently offer the best visibility. Judging by how clear the lakes are I’m sure it’s worth a visit with your flippers.
The Town Of Waterton
The town is extremely walkable. From spring to early fall its home to restaurants, bars, gift shops, hotels, and countless parks, along with a beautiful waterfront trail, perfect for sunset walks or selfies. We were pleased to catch some live music over drinks and dinner at the Lakeside Chophouse. If you’re a foodie, you’ll be pleased to hear that Waterton is perfectly situated to receive some of the best Canadian proteins, from wild salmon, to farm raised beef and bison. The local restaurants are sure to impress. They even have a Taco bar!
Tiny House Rental
Waterton Lakes National Park currently rents out two different Tiny Houses, a modern Tiny house along with a Rustic Tiny House. They’re located in their RV section of the campground, which is found about 5 minutes walk from downtown, or 30 seconds by car. We ended up staying in the the Rustic option.
The Rustic Tiny House features a loft style bed, gas heating, running water, along with built in septic. Unfortunately I didn’t get to experience the somewhat spooky world of compost toilets that so many Tiny Homes have. Next time! The kitchen is surprisingly large, with a good sized sink, electric range, a small fridge, and all the cooking utensils, pots and pots you would need to cook at home. While we did indulge in dinner one night, we also decided to do some
The loft style bed is over a full sized table that’ll seat 6 comfortably. The loft has a mattress in it already, all you need to do is bring your own bedding. The views from the loft are great, and I’ll reiterate what I’ve heard from other Tiny House owners. Everything seems more spacious on the inside.
Needless to say I’m sold on owning a Tiny House someday. I think it would make the perfect summer cottage / weekend getaway, and if I had it my way I could probably live in one full time, but I’m not so sure about Kristian. She might own a few too many outfits.
Looking for more information on Waterton Lakes National Park? Visit Parks Canada for seasonal activities and more.