Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park stretches across the US-Canadian border, creating a massive World Biosphere Preserve, where nature remains as it has always been: untouched, and unharmed by the recklessness of humankind. Comprising Glacier National Park in Montana and Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta, the land is very protected.
The world is packed full of parks and wilderness areas where visitors can get back to nature and relieve the everyday stresses of life for a few days. They all have something special about them, but this UNESCO World Heritage site is something different from your average park. Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, is a sprawling untamed wilderness, but there’s enough of it set aside for us all to enjoy. No gimmicks. No trying to lure visitors in. It just is what it is. As a result, the quietness in most areas is almost frightening. In a beautiful way.
To wander aimlessly in the wilderness while enjoying the idyllic scenery enjoyed by adventurer’s for centuries is something many of us never get to experience. To be so deeply entrenched in fields of wildflowers, streams, lakes, an abundance of wildlife in their natural habitats, and tall trees sometimes blocking the sun’s light, is an experience not conveyable through mere words alone. There is nothing more beautiful than the magnitude of nature in its rawest form, and shame on us if we miss it.
Let’s have a look at the two sections of the park individually starting with the Canadian side.
Waterton Lakes National Park
Guaranteed, no matter where your travels take you, there is but one place, and one place only, where you are ever going to encounter a pink waterfall. It’s lying in wait at Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta, Canada.
It isn’t fake. Park Rangers aren’t standing at the source of the waterfall dumping out barrels of food color as an elaborate ploy because they need more business. It isn’t even right alongside a roadside overlook where travelers can ooh, ah, and drool over the unusual spectacle while using it as a backdrop for selfies. No sir or ma’am, your boots are going to have to do some walking. To set you more at ease, it’s only a hop, skip, and a couple of jumps.
Please do take careful note, this spectacle only occurs once a year, in the summer, so avoid disappointment by planning your trip accordingly. It has also been said the best time to experience it is at sunset.
This southern region of Canada is prone to heavy summer rainfall which agitates a mineral laying on the bottom of the source, called argillite. Hence, the same water dumps out at a place in the park known as Cameron Falls. The color pink is created when sunlight reflects off of the minerals. But it does not create a mere pinkish hue by any means, who would care about that? it creates the absolute most gorgeous shade of Pepto-Bismol pink you will ever feast your retinas upon. This was stated in all sincerity. Pinkish-red sounds more appealing. Let’s roll with that.
Now that you’re aware of this odd phenomenon, for the more serious outdoorsy types, let’s see what else there is to do on the Canadian side.
The deepest lake in all of the Rockies, at 444 ft., is located in the park. The glorious mountain peaks delicately carved by nature are over one billion years old.
Waterton is a paradise lost. Hiking trails lead so far into the wilderness a person could wander for days without the intrusion of another human. This controls visitors and keeps them to a minimum.
For those allergic to hiking, there are roads leading into the park. They run past three lakes and other highlights.
Glacier National Park
What’s your preference? Mountains, prairies, rivers, lakes, streams, mountain goats, quaint cottages, resorts, or a rolled up tent and a backpack? The answer is, yes. Whichever you choose, prepare to have your senses assaulted with beauty so picturesque you’ll question if it’s real. You’ll come home bruised from pinching yourself.
There is limitless hiking, skiing, fishing, places to take scenic drives, and indoor or outdoor fires to drink Merlot by. There is also the ruggedness of Montana for adventurers who enjoy the challenges only the untamed wilderness can provide. For deep journeys such as this, and because of the unpredictability of the terrain, an experienced guide should always be hired. Don’t trust a Youtube clip to get you through.
For hikers who still want to sleep on a mattress, the most popular day hike is the Highland Trail. It’s 11.4 miles. It runs past a glacier overlook and a chalet and parallels an area called the garden wall. A very steep 2,200 ft. decline waits near the end.
Another popular hiking trail is Grinnell Glacier which is 10.3 miles and offers magnificent views of Grinnell Falls, Angel Wing, Mt. Gould, the Continental Divide and Grinnell Lake.
If the entire family crammed into the Pontiac and you’re staying at one of the very cool mountain cabins, there’s a family-friendly hike which will be easier for the kiddos and they’ll witness wonders to behold. Fishercap Lake – Redrock Falls is only 3.6 miles. Heck. They’d walk further than that to find a Dairy Queen. The trail runs down to Fishercap Lake where there is a greater than excellent chance of seeing some moose, especially if you hike it during the early morning or evening hours when they wander in for a big slug of cold mountain water.
There are 734 miles of hiking trails running through Glacier National Park, and they were not all hiked to completion by any one person until 2011 when it was accomplished by Jack Bromante. Of course, there’s always plenty of off-trail hiking left for the taking.
If the only thing you wish to do is admire the beauty without hiking an inch, there are many lodges, cabins, B&B’s, and other such accommodations readily available. You might prefer taking day drives here and there. It’s a pretty big place.