to waterton or not?

Old Apr 23rd, 2006, 06:08 PM
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to waterton or not?

My husband and I will be visiting the canadian rockies for 11days/10nights in June. Planning on visiting Banff/Lake Louise (+Yoho, etc) and Jasper. We're trying to decide whether to take a few days to check out Waterton. We're first-timers to the region, in our early 30s, into hiking and photography. Is it worth it to go to Waterton, or should we just spend more time in Banff/LL and Jasper?

Potential itineraries:
1) Arrive Calgary, drive to Waterton. Spend 2 nights in Waterton. Then 2 nights in Banff, 3 nights in Jasper, 2 nights in Lake Louise. Back to Calgary for one night and then home.
2) Arrive Calgary. Drive to Banff for 3 nights. 3 nights in Jasper, then 3 nights in Lake Louise. Back to Calgary for one night and then home.

What is there to do in Waterton? Is it a disappointment compared to Banff/LL, Jasper?
Any accomodation recommendations in Waterton? I've seen Shintangle Springs B&B and Kilmorey. Are there any others that you've stayed at?

Is it also worth it to drive the Icefields Parkway twice, or should we just stay longer in Banff/LL and then return to Calgary from Jasper?

Thanks for all of your input in advance!
st010 is offline  
Old Apr 23rd, 2006, 06:59 PM
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If your trip was going to be for 2 weeks, I would recommend including Waterton. Since you have 11 days to spend, I think Waterton is just enough of an outlier that it should stay off your itinerary. You might consider combining Waterton and Montana's Glacier National Park on a future trip.

On this trip you might consider this itinerary:

1 - Land in Calgary. Drive to Drumheller.

2 - Visit the Tyrrell Museum. Drive to Lake Louise.

3, 4, 5 - From your Lake Louise base, explore the west end of Banff National Park as well as Yoho NP and Kootenay NP.

6 - Drive the Icefields Parkway to Jasper.

7, 8 - From your Jasper townsite base, explore Jasper National Park and perhaps visit Mount Robson Provincial Park.

9 - Drive back down the Icefields Parkway to Lake Louise. At LL turn east onto the Bow Valley Parkway (Hwy #1A) and visit Johnston Canyon. Overnight in Banff townsite or Canmore.

10 - Go up the Sulphur Mountain gondola.

Drive to Calgary the long way round, through Kananaskis Country, over the Highwood Pass, and through the hamlet of Bragg Creek. Directions are on this page of my website:

11 - Fly home.

>>>>>>What is there to do in Waterton?<<<<<<

See Camping_Girl's website:

>>>>>>Is it also worth it to drive the Icefields Parkway twice<<<<<<

More than worth it.

>>>>>>or should we just stay longer in Banff/LL and then return to Calgary from Jasper?<<<<<<

Well you could do that, but when you returned from Jasper to Calgary the shortest route would still be the Icefields Parkway (Hwy #93) to Lake Louise and the TransCanada Highway (Hwy #1) to Calgary.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Old Apr 23rd, 2006, 07:54 PM
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That is a good question: Waterton or not?

I was there last summer for the xth time, and we enjoyed it.

I am sure I was the one who mentioned Shintangle Spring B and B because that is where I stay when in that area.

There are two main attractions in Waterton from my angle. One is the boat ride down the lake and back.
Second is to take the shuttle boat over to Crypt Landing and do the Crypt Lake hike. It will test you that is for sure.

Time wise, I think you could drive to Waterton from the Calgary airport in about 6 hours unless you went by the Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump, which is interesting. We were there when there was a dance festival in progress and that made it worthwhile. Otherwise, I would rate it second tier.

Then from Waterton to Banff is a fairly long drive, but one you can make fairly quickly by taking Alberta Highway 22 and 40. You need a map to spot this route.

Route 40 will give you your first look at the jagged peaks of the main part of the Rockies. (Technically, Waterton is in the Rockies, but the rock formations around there are from the ancient continent of Rodinia and are so old they contain no fossils with bones. The interesting thing about that area is that the Canadian Rockies have a big hunk of rock formations missing. Where are they? Believe it or not they are now part of Australia.)

Ok, now we have cut your time to 8 nights. What then? Well, you could spend several days around Banff Park and Lake Louise, which is in Banff Park.
There are all kinds of hikes to take.

Driving up and down the Icefields Parkway is worth about two days, if you stop at the overlooks and take a few hikes. I have done it both ways several times and shorter sections of it at other times.

Jasper is worth perhaps 3 nights and then you have got to get back to Calgary to catch your flight home.

If the trade off is between seeing the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology in Drumheller and not doing Waterton, I am not sure which one to advise.

I think it depends on your interest in the subject of paleontology. I like the subject, and have spent many hours trying to learn the rock formations in Alberta and something of the fauna of the region during the Cretacious period.

(And no, I don't by the bolide theory as the sole cause of dinosaur extinction.
Why? Nothing explains the selectivity of the event nor does it explain the extinction of polar region dinosaurs. If it got them, why didn't it get all life on this planet?)

Is Waterton a disappointment? I don't know how to respond to that because I don't know what disappoints you and what does not.

What would I do if I were doing it?
Well, I have back country objectives in mind when I go out there so my trip plan is different from what you have in mind.

Before you decide, let me suggest that you widen your Lake Louise/Banff scope to include Peter Lougheed park, Kootenay National Park and Yoho National Park. These two national parks are just over the Gread Divide from Banff, and they are also part of the 4 contiguous parks eco system. Both have many attractions in their own right.

I think you need to look at all of the options and pick what you want. It is afterall your trip.

I will say this: If you get a copy of The Canadian Rockies Trail Guide by Brian Patton and Bart Robinson you will find enough hiking to do to last a life time. So the question then becomes:
What do you do on this, your preview tour??

In 8 tries I have not come close to doing it all. So I just pick what I think I will like and go do it. I'm happy with that and, in all my trips, none of them has been less than good, even including the day I got caught in a sleet storm on the Iceline Trail in Yoho. It just added to the interest and gave us something to talk about.

bob_brown is offline  
Old Apr 24th, 2006, 03:54 PM
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Thank you Judy and Bob for your great replies! We will probably save Waterton for another trip. I think that we might get the most out of the trip by concentrating on Banff/LL and Jasper areas. We will definitely take your suggestions to visit Yoho and Kootenay NPs. Can't wait for our trip!
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Old Apr 24th, 2006, 07:08 PM
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Yoho has 3 attractions that don't take long: Emerald Lake, Takkakaw Falls, and the spiral rail tunnels on the west side of Kicking Horse Pass.

To see the beauty of Yoho, you need to get off on the trails. The Iceline will give you views galore. The Whaleback will give you views galore plus. The problem is that the Whaleback is a long day hike. I might have made it at age 40 but not at age 65 nor 73!

The crown jewels of all of it are at Lake O'Hara and environs, but that takes a reservation and considerable planning. I wouldn't miss it myself, but in June the higher trails will be dicey. Lake McArthur, one of the jewels, is usually frozen over until early July, and snow can linger on the highline trail, which is another one of those gorgeous hikes I love so much.

We walked out to Lake McArthur once on July 2. It was still 80% frozen. The inky black water of McArthur contrasted starkly with the while of the melting ice sheets.

If you can do your trip in late June, more of the lakes will be thawed or thawing.
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