Next Stop … Waterton Lakes National Park – May 2018

Last year (2017), fires raged across northwestern Montana and southwestern Alberta. The Sprague fire burned 17,000 acres in Glacier National Park, although apparently most of the impacted areas are away from the main roads and will not be visible to typical visitors. In Waterton Lakes National Park, across the border in Canada, the Kenow fire burned 47,500 acres and had a massive impact. More than half the park was badly burned including most roads into the back country. The visitor center was burned to its foundations. The majority of the park is closed to visitors this year (2018) and as of June there is no estimate yet as to what (if any) portions of the park may be reopened next year (2019).

Our campsite. The campground and townsite are pretty open, but they are surrounded by mountains.

Still, the main campground at the Waterton Townsite was open and we’d never been to Waterton Lakes, so we decided that we should stop and visit for a couple of nights before we continue north. We didn’t really want to spend the time to fully explore it anyway, so being limited to only part of the park wasn’t a huge problem.

The drive over from Writing-on-Stone was relatively short and allowed us to spend most of the morning at the Provincial Park before driving to Waterton Lakes.

We drove into the park slowly, stopping at a few turnouts and admiring the scenery. We wandered along through town and found our campground at the end of it, the Waterton Townsite Campground. We got our site and set up and were pleased to see that the campground was mostly empty. We have a great view of the lake and mountains surrounding us. There is a wonderful walk along the lake by the campground with stunning views which we enjoyed and photographed.

The next morning we woke up to the pitter patter of raindrops on the roof. The surrounding mountains were pretty much shrouded in clouds. Today will be a day of walking in the rain. But that’s what we have our raincoats for. We started off really slow this morning because, why not? We decided that after the dog’s third walk, we would go into town, check out the visitor center, and have some lunch.

But before we got off and going, there was a knock on the door and we had visitors. I had joined a facebook group called RVing to Alaska 2018. It has been really nice to get ideas, up-to-date information on roads, etc., and to communicate with people. I had posted that we arrived at Waterton and another member responded that they were here too. We exchanged campsite info, and they stopped over. Now how cool is that!

It was raining, so we invited them in along with their dog, and had a great visit for quite awhile. Great people! Funny how travelers can have so much to talk about, especially when we’re going in the same direction. We learned some more from them and shared some of our ideas. It sounds like they are taking more time than we are on the way up, but I hope that we can meet somewhere along the road again.

Cameron Falls on a rainy, windy day.

After our visit, we took Coda out for another quick walk, settled him and the cat in the motorhome, and then walked into town. There was almost no one in town, and the only place with any business was the hot dog place, Wieners of Waterton. It gets great reviews, but we felt like having something healthier than a hot dog. We chose Pearl’s Cafe. I totally enjoyed my Chicken Apple Brie Panini and Spiced Chai Tea Latte. Opa said his Roast Beef Sandwich was just okay.

Root in lake

After lunch, we went in search of the temporary visiter center which was in town because the old one had burned down. They were able to give us maps and information but sadly the visitor center is currently just a bare room. Understandably, there are no displays or exhibits. We walked to Cameron Falls, which is on the outskirts of the townsite and the campground. It’s a beautiful falls and very well worth a visit and picture. We then walked back to our dry and cozy motorhome and except for a couple more dog walks enjoyed our warm lair for the rest of the day.

The Prince of Wales hotel

In the morning, I took Coda for another walk along the lake shore. It’s so calming. And also cold with brisk winds. We packed up and headed out with a stop at The Prince of Wales Hotel, one of the great hotels from the golden railway resort development in Canada developed by the Great Northern Railway. The hotel is extravagant and sits proudly on  a hill with fantastic views of the lake and mountains. These hotels are truly magnificent and a great work of art from their day.

The view from the bar/lounge area isn’t bad.

Time to travel to our next adventure…

Day 9 (Day 3 in Canada)

Miles: 132*
Driving time: 2:45
Roads: Two-lane highways
Overnight: Waterton Lakes National Park
Weather: Rain, clearing late morning to become mostly sunny
Total miles since crossing Canadian border: 174*
Total miles: 1,742*
* Since our motorhome is our only vehicle, mileage includes side trips.

Day 10 (Day 4 in Canada)

Miles: 0
Overnight: Waterton Lakes National Park
Weather: Rain all day

 

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