Waterton Lakes National Park–Have You Really Seen It?

Silver rock cress, Waterton

Tucked away in a corner of the province of Alberta is Waterton Lakes National Park.  If Wood Buffalo National Park were the head of the province, then Waterton is the pinky toenail on its right foot.

Waterton is overshadowed by its large, noisy neighbour to the south, Glacier National Park.  Both form an International Peace Park that offer critical habitat for numerous species.  The collective Peace Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Ironically, Waterton is also home to Alberta’s first oil-producing well.

The iconic shot is of the Prince of Wales Hotel — I’ve got one of those, and it’s not very good. 

But what I love about Waterton is how the prairie meets mountain with little time for introduction.  It’s like a cowboy crashed an apres ski party in Aspen, Colorado.  Boy, is he ever out of place!  And yet the difference between flat and corrugated, sparse and populated reveals the most about each kind of physical space.  Being a prairie person, I love taking pictures of the edges of the park where the fields of fragile flowers and green grasses are juxtaposed against the dark shoulders of mountains.

Despite being only toenail-sized (505 square kilometres), over half of Alberta’s plant species are found in the park.  Many of these plant species are significant in that they are rare to Alberta, fragile or threatened species.  My only question is, given the importance of wildlife corridors from Yellowknife to Yukon (see links below), couldn’t we have given Waterton more than a toenail?  Couldn’t we stingy Albertans have set aside at least a leg-up to Banff?

For Karsten and Leanne’s epic awareness-raising journey, click here.

For information on the importance of wildlife corridors, see the Y2Y website.

For information on glorious Waterton, head over to Parks Canada’s site. (There’s an even worse picture of the hotel than mine on the homepage!)


Where prairie meets mountain

Death on the prairie

Waterton prairie


~ by Samantha on November 14, 2009.

4 Responses to “Waterton Lakes National Park–Have You Really Seen It?”

  1. whoa..that place looks amazingly beautiful.

    awesome pics by the way,

  2. Great pictures Sam. I grew up in Southern Alberta when I was a kid and Waterton was where I first saw mountains. This place is certainly a gem and has a certain touristy feel to it. There is a movement to try and convince government to extend into BC where Glacier park stops at the 49th parallel. Check out this link…http://www.ilcp.com/?cid=193 great pictures too, just like yours!

  3. Your images sure make me want to see it. What beautiful and unique sounding place…

  4. Great photos Sam. I especially love the third photo. Waterton is one of my new favorite places. I visited the park two times this year (after many many years) and I just love the place. I can’t wait to go back again.

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