Waterton Lakes National Park more than lives up to its name where water enthusiasts are concerned. It offers a Rocky Mountain quartet of spectacular alpine lakes and bays that connect for mile after blissful mile.
Upper Waterton Lake stretches for 7 miles from the Waterton Townsite, across the International Boundary, and ends in Glacier National Park’s Goat Haunt region.
Middle Waterton Lake lies in the shadow of the Prince of Wales Hotel.
Lower Waterton Lake (locally known as Knight’s Lake in honor of an early superintendent of Waterton Lakes National Park) includes a serene side-trip to the Maskinonge, a prime bird habitat that is home to marshy grass and other natural wonders.
Emerald Bay, a haven for scuba divers and swimmers alike, offers one of the warmer Waterton Lakes experiences in its calm and turquoise waters.
Add to this nearby Cameron Lake and it is easy to see why Waterton Lakes is a great place for water sports of all kinds. From cruises to wind sailing, paddling to scuba diving, water enthusiasts have lots to choose from. Be forewarned, however. Waterton’s waters are glacial, making them a very chilly place for recreational swimming.
Waterton Lakes National Park shares both notoriety and an international border with Glacier National Park in Montana. Together they form Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, the world’s first International Peace Park and UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Without question, the best way to experience the easy flow between these two nations is from aboard the historic M.V. International offered by Shoreline Cruise lines at the Waterton marina. You will take an easy cruise along the shoreline of beautiful Upper Waterton Lake and cross the International border to Goat Haunt, Montana. It is a spectacular experience and comes highly recommended by visitors and locals alike.
Waterton Lakes National Park
Mid-lake Wildlife Viewing
It is not uncommon to see grizzly bears or the elusive mountain goats grazing along the avalanche slopes at the south end of Upper Waterton Lake. Experienced paddlers witness this from the safety of their canoes or kayaks. People preferring a calmer, more comfortable vantage point can take in the same views from the safety of a tour boat.
Waterton Lakes National Park
Canoeing, Kayaking and Paddling on Waterton Lakes
Calm summer days on any of Waterton’s Lakes provide an ideal place for paddlers. Experienced paddlers can head to the south end of Upper Waterton Lake and cross the International Boundary into Glacier National Park. From the safety of your boat, you can scan the avalanche slopes around the south end of the lake for grizzly bears. For your safety, do not land on or hike these slopes.
Even on the calmest days, extreme caution should be used on any of the Waterton Lakes. Weather and water conditions can change quickly in Waterton’s mountain valleys, and all park waters are glacial and very cold. Be aware that floating logs are common and can pose a serious hazard to paddlers.
Canoeing, Kayaking and Paddling on Cameron Lake
At this serene sub-alpine lake, the wind is not usually as strong as it can be on the main Waterton Lakes. Canoes, rowboats and paddleboats can be rented here. Please note that fuel or electric powered motors are not permitted on Cameron Lake.
For rentals and inquiries please contact Blackstone & Company
Power Boat and Water Skiing
Powerboats are restricted to Upper and Middle Waterton lakes in Waterton National Park. Boat launching ramps are available at the marina in the townsite and at the Linnet Lake picnic site on Middle Waterton Lake. The marina also has fuel and mooring sites available.
Water-skiing is popular on Middle Waterton Lake, especially when conditions are calm. The water is very cold, so dry suits or full wetsuits are strongly recommended for all water skiers. Be aware that floating logs are common and can pose a serious hazard to boaters, and particularly water skiers.
Wind Sailing on Waterton Lakes
Waterton International Peace Park is a windsurfer’s dream come true. The strong winds, open lakes and Rocky Mountain scenery is nothing short of a Mecca for wind sailing enthusiasts. Waterton is famous for its “wa-was” – wind and water walls that hurtle down Upper Waterton Lake for miles creating a dark ominous wall. Given the glacial temperature of the water, all wind sailors are strongly encouraged to wear full wet or dry suits.
Wind Sailing on Waterton Dam
Just 15 minutes east of the Waterton townsite, the Waterton Dam offers tremendous flat-water conditions for wind sailors. Because the water is shallower, it is much warmer and offers good conditions in southwest to west winds
Scuba Diving in Emerald Bay
Many scuba diving enthusiasts are drawn to Emerald Bay in Waterton Lakes National Park. “Gertrude”, an old paddle wheeler built in the early 1900’s, lies on the bottom of Emerald Bay at a depth of 20 meters, creating an added sense of adventure for scuba divers. Parks Canada reminds all scuba divers that the Gertrude is not a rest spot and that it is illegal to remove anything found on dives in Waterton Lakes.
Scuba Diving in Cameron Lake
The crystal-clear waters of this deep sub-alpine lake make it a great spot for scuba divers. With gradual depths up to 25 meters and no powerboats permitted, scuba diving enthusiasts find Cameron Lake to be an ideal fresh-water diving destination.
You may also be interested in the other Waterton activities: