6 ways to spend a weekend in Waterton

By Jillian Clark

Situated in the southwestern corner of Alberta and two and a half hours from Calgary, Waterton Lakes National Park should be on every adventurer’s bucket list. Botanists, bird watchers, photographers and hikers can’t get enough of the rare wildflowers, songbirds, turquoise water and snow-capped peaks. With so much to do in Waterton, it can be overwhelming to plan a weekend getaway – but here are six stops you'll want to include. [Photo credit: http://istockphoto.com/bgsmith]

6 ways to spend a weekend in Waterton

Hike up The Bear's Hump

Even if you arrive late Friday afternoon, there's still time to catch the picturesque view of the Waterton townsite from the summit of The Bear's Hump. This quick hike is only 1.5 kilometres, or about 45 minutes from the Visitor Centre. Stretch your legs and see just a snapshot of what the rest of your weekend in Waterton will look like.

Grab a quick meal in the village

The Village of Waterton is located next to Upper Waterton Lake. There are plenty of charming restaurants, many of which offer beautiful lakeside views. For a quick bite before hitting the hay, head to Glacier Bistro. This Waterton Avenue joint serves both snacks and meals to go or to stay. Stop by at the Bistro in the morning to stock up on healthy snacks and pre-packed hiker’s lunches.

To camp or to splurge?

There is no wrong choice in Waterton Park. If you choose to splurge, the Prince of Wales Hotel is the best-known historical hotel in the area, built in 1927 as a railway hotel. The common area and lakeside rooms offer some of the best views of the serene lake below. If sleeping under the stars is your kind of getaway, book a campsite at  Waterton Townsite CampingBelly River Campground or the Crandell Mountain Campground.

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Go on a day trip to Crypt Lake

Not everyone knows there is a longstanding challenge for Waterton hikers dubbed The Triple Crown of Waterton. Completing the Triple Crown includes hiking to Crypt Lake, Akamina Ridge and the Alderson-Carthew Summit in the same summer. Start slow with Crypt Lake, the shortest of the three.

Wake up bright and early on Saturday morning to catch the ferry from Waterton Village Marina to Crypt Landing, the trailhead for your 17.2-kilometre return (six to eight-hour) journey. This particular trail is limited to two boats of 50 people arriving each morning on a first-come, first-serve basis.

The Crypt Lake trail winds under the forest cover, past a handful of waterfalls, through a natural tunnel and ascends across the side of a cliff with a cable to guide you before arriving at the turquoise lake. This is a hike you will need actual hiking boots for.

If you aren’t into mildly grueling hikes, another daily ferry takes passengers to Goat Haunt, Montana. This is not a real point of entry into the United States, but you can stamp your own passport as a souvenir before heading back to Canada’s side of the lake.

Go on a Sunday morning scenic stroll

Why not squeeze in a few more photo-ops before heading back to the city? To start your Sunday, drive the Red Rock Parkway to Red Rock Canyon. While the canyon area is advertised as a trail, it’s actually an easy 20-minute scenic stroll. The Blakiston Falls are a must-see while near the canyon.

If you don’t have to rush back to Calgary early, there are other day-long hikes in Waterton that promise fantastic views and tired legs. Day-long hikes accessible from Red Rock Canyon include Twin Lakes (22.8 kilometres) and Blakiston Valley (20.2 kilometres).

Regardless of how you spend your weekend, don’t forget the bear spray when hitting the trails. Waterton is known for the vast amount of wildlife that make this part of the Rockies their home.

We could keep telling you about the unbelievable views Waterton promises, but you should probably just go experience it for yourself. Where will next weekend take you?

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