Waterton Lakes National Park in the fall : a quick getaway from Calgary

I know the western part of Canada doesn’t get the same amount of fall foliage as the East. In particular you see less red shades but we’ve started to notice more yellows and oranges as the temperatures have been dropping. So it only made sense for us to get out of Calgary and go explore something new during this beautiful time of the year.

We’ve wanted to discover Waterton since the 4th of July. Waterton is the “twin park” to Glacier National Park in Montana, where we were this summer. Unfortunately because of the borders being closed, we were unable to visit this side of the park at the time. But we were lucky enough that the park is only a short 3-hour drive from Calgary. So we left the last Monday of September towards the South of Alberta and the border with the United States.

It’s an easy and pretty drive following the Canadian Rockies.

One you get in, the park is quite small. We visited Red Rock Canyon first. The narrow and winding road towards the canyon is well-paved and beautiful. It’s almost unbelievable to encounter the canyon at the end of the road. The red rock transports you to Utah immediately but it only takes a look up to be reminded you’re actually in the Rockies. A short loop trail allows you to see various angles of the canyon and you can even go down and touch the water!

After exploring the canyon, we headed to a small but steep hike called “Bear’s hump”. On the way we spotted a few big horn sheeps. They were not shy and I took some time to get good pictures with my new (very efficient) lens!

Located right before Waterton village, Bear’s hump hike is very short but of so abrupt. It was very windy when we were there but it’s definitely one of the most rewarding hikes you can do in the National Park. In less than 20 minutes you’ll have views over Waterton Lake and the whole valley.

We then reached Waterton village, which is very small and very cute. Wild deer were hanging out in someone’s yard which shows how peaceful the village actually is. The end the of the village you can check out Waterton Falls as well as reach the beach on the lake. Places you should absolutely stop at.

Once we had since these iconic points of views, our last stop in Waterton was Bertha Falls hike. Cameron Lake being closed, this was the last thing we wanted to do in Waterton. Lower Bertha Falls hike is short and not hard. It’s a bit more than 5 kms round trip and you can definitely extend the experience by going all the way up to Bertha Lake (which will be 11 kms roundtrip). We were lucky to follow a bald eagle during the hike but what I really loved wad the view of the lake from the middle of the trail.

To end the day, we rejoined our camp spot in the middle of the moutains just outside of the park. We were in a for a fantastic sunset and a beautiful sunrise the following morning.

The following morning we actually left Waterton to drive towards the Northwest. We checked out the incredible Frank Slide. Beginning of 1900’s, a whole pan of the mountain slid on part of Frank village (which was a mining town). The result : 110 million tonnes of rock crashed on the town of Frank, killing 90 people. Such a sad story and the site is very impressive to see, especially when you know they are pretty sure this will happen again because of the fragile nature of this mountain.

After that we drove to Chinook Lake. Located right at Crowsnest Pass (the lowest Pass in the rockies), the lake has stunning turquoise water and the short 2kms loop around it is a fantastic stroll you can do with your puppy! If it wasn’t cold, I would definitely have swimmed :).

That was our last stop for this little getaway only 3 hours away from Calgary! The road on the way back was so beautiful and colourful, I’ll share a few shots here. Definitely a short itinerary I would recommend for anyone looking for a weekend outside the city. You can easily make it 3 days instead of two as well by adding extra hiking time.

Love,

Coco

COPYRIGHT: All pictures belong to Fanny Cohen Sanchez, @fannychn on Instagram, Three Times Nine 2020.

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