We leave Pincher Creek AB and head South on Alberta 6, driving through some lovely rolling fields of grain and canola with the Rocky Mountains in the background.
Just before the park entrance is the Buffalo Paddock and we pull off the highway to take a drive around the the interior of the paddock. You are guaranteed to see Buffalo here because they are fenced in. You are warned to keep your distance though.
A few short miles from where we exited the Buffalo Paddock, we paid our entrance fee and drove into the park.
It is a gorgeous day, blue sky with fluffy white clouds and 24 Celsius. Nice and cool compared to the 34 Celsius they are experiencing back home.
There is a very large hotel just beyond the entrance to the park. This is the Prince of Wales Hotel.
Waterton Lakes National Park is the 4th largest National Park in Canada. We stopped at the Visitors Centre and took some photos of Waterton Lake out in front.
There are several scenic drives through the park, so we start with the Red Rock Parkway. This is not at all like the Don Valley Parkway back in Ontario, so how it got the “Parkway” designation I am not quite sure. I would have named this the Red Rock Scenic Drive.
We stopped to watch some riders on a trail riding their horses into the back country.
It wasn’t very long into our scenic drive and we spotted a Coyote on the move. Karen quickly passed the camera to me and I was able to get a few photos before it ran off over the top of the hill.
We got back in the car and we hadn’t driven very far and Karen spotted a Grizzly Bear. I am the better wildlife photographer between the two of us so Karen gave me the camera again.
You can see in the first photo that we are a safe distance from the bear. (The bear is just to the right of centre behind a dead tree) I use the zoom lens for closer shots.
It wasn’t too long, just a short distance away, before we spotted another bear.
Some scenery as we drive along the Parkway.
We got out of the car at the end of the road and went for a short walk to a small creek with a waterfall.
Headed back to the town of Waterton to find some lunch and souvenirs. I have been collecting hat pins from all of our stops so that I can pin them on our wall map at home. Karen buys postcards to put in the scrapbook albums she makes of our vacations.
We thought the restaurants along the main street were a bit pricey, but with further investigation and we found a Subway. I think we got a reasonably priced lunch with a “Million Dollar” view. Sitting at our table in the Subway, this was our view.
When we parked the car, it happened to be in front of an ice cream shop so before getting into the car we had to have a couple of scoops.
We wandered down to the waterfront and took more photos of the hotel and the lake.
There is a cruise boat that takes you around the lake, but at $40.00 each, we decided that we would pass and drive another scenic road instead.
We are now on the Akamina Parkway.
As we drive along we are watching for an oil derrick off to the side of the road. Seems odd that there is an oil derrick way up here in the mountains, so seeing is believing.
Here it is, this is the first oil well in Western Canada, and it seems to me to be a very unlikely place to find oil, but apparently it was oozing out of the ground right here. The natives knew of this site and told the first “white” settlers.
We tried to drive to the end of the road, but were blocked by a tow truck winching a car out of the ditch, so we got turned around and headed to another section of the park.
We followed Hwy 6 South. This is the outer boundary of the Park and it leads us to a high altitude overlook of the interior of the park.
It wasn’t much further along the road and we had to turn around. The border between Canada and the USA is just ahead. We have our passports with us, but it is not in our plans to cross into the USA today. We will be crossing over at a different location in about a week from now.
We do like “welcome” signs though, and there are 2 nice signs right here.
That concludes our visit to Waterton Lakes National Park… would we come back, oh yes… there is lots to do and explore in this park. We could spend a week or more here. It is now on our list of parks to return to.
We program the GPS to take us to our hotel for the evening with a stop in Cardston AB.
Cardston AB is the home town of Fay Wray and there is a small water fountain and a sculpture of King Kong to commemorate this. This would have been more impressive if the fountain had been turned on.
Onward towards Lethbridge AB and our hotel, we pass through another wind farm.
We will be spending 2 nights in Lethbridge, as there are some things we want to do and see while in town.
To see all of our photos from today, you can find them on our FLICKR site.