Hollywood loves Southern Alberta as its home to beautiful mountains, forests, prairies, canyons, Canadian Badlands and foothills. When it comes to traveling Alberta, many opt for getaways within Banff and Jasper National Parks. As a result, travellers often overlook the amazing landscapes of Southern Alberta. Below is a guide for a trip to Waterton from Calgary with some exciting stops along the way!
The first stop on the journey down to Waterton is the Okotoks Big Rock. This southern Alberta landmark is a historical site and is of great significance to the Blackfoot peoples. Big Rock is a 16,5000-tonne boulder and is about the size of a three-storey apartment building! The boulder was originally part of a mountain formation in Jasper National Park. During the last ice age, a large rockslide carried debris and Big Rock out of the mountains on the glacial surface. Pretty neat, hey?
Head Smashed-In Buffalo Jump Interpretive Centre
Next on the journey is the Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump Interpretive Centre. This is a UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site that preserves and interprets over 6,000 years of Plains Buffalo culture. The Indigenous peoples used their excellent understanding of the topography and buffalo behaviour to kill their prey by chasing them over a cliff; hence the name of the interpretive centre! The remains of marked trails and an aboriginal camp, and vast quantities of buffalo skeletons can still be found.
Now for the main destination, Waterton! No matter the season or the type of adventure you’re seeking you can always find things to do in Waterton. Here are some things to do when visiting Waterton National Park.
International Peace Park
Waterton National Park is home to the world’s first “international peace park,” the site encompasses snow capped mountains, high-altitude lakes, and rivers cascading from glaciers. This peace park is now a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Bear’s Hump Hike
Bear’s Hump is a must-do short Alberta hike in Waterton National Park. On a clear day, you can easily see Montana! Bear’s Hump hike is located right in town and is doable in under an hour. Which means you have plenty of time to do other things like getting ice cream from the Big Scoop Ice Cream Parlor. Yum!
Red Rock Canyon
One of the most famous Waterton attractions is the Red Rock Canyon Parkway. This Parkway is a beautiful 9 km drive of rolling hills, mountains, and grassland prairie. You can drive it or bike it! In case, you have left your bike behind rentals are available downtown at Pat’s.
Paahtómahksikimi Cultural Centre
The best part of a vacation is learning about the local history. The Paahtómahksikimi Cultural Centre is an exceptional indigenous experience teaching about the history of Paahtómahksikimi – meaning the inner sacred lake. By the time you have finished at the centre, you will feel connected to the true spirit of Waterton.
Crypt Lake Hike
The Crypt Lake Hike was named one of the “World’s 20 Most Thrilling Trails” by National Geographic in 2014. This hike is considered to be more advanced being just under 20km with an elevation gain of 880m, so make sure you’re up for the trek!
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