Waterton Lakes National Park is tucked away in the corner of southwest Alberta. The park covers an area of 505 square kilometres (195 square miles).
Waterton was named by Lt. Thomas Blakiston, a member of the famous Palliser Expedition and one of the area’s earliest explorers. He named it after 19th century British naturalist Charles Waterton.
Waterton was Canada’s fourth national park and is the smallest in the Canadian Rockies.
Waterton has some of the oldest, exposed sedimentary rock in the Rocky Mountains.
The park is part of the Crown of the Continent ecosystem – a place with unusually diverse physical, biological and cultural resources. The ecosystem is one of the narrowest places in the Rocky Mountain chain.
Waterton is one of Alberta’s windiest places. Winter winds over 100 km/hr are common. Waterton has many chinooks, which contribute to it being one of Alberta’s warmest areas in winter. Chinook winds can cause winter temperatures to rise dramatically within hours.
More than half of Alberta’s plant species are found in Waterton.
Waterton is home for more than 60 species of mammals, 250 species of birds, 24 species of fish and 10 species of reptiles and amphibians. Large predators in Waterton include grizzly bear, black bear, wolf, coyote and cougar.
Waterton Lakes is the only Canadian national park that preserves foothills fescue grasslands.
Upper Waterton Lake is the deepest lake in the Canadian Rockies - 148m (487 ft) at its deepest.
The park has two National Historic Sites located within its boundaries: The Prince of Wales Hotel NHS (designated in 1995) and the First Oil Well in Western Canada NHS (designated in 1968).
The community of Waterton sits at 1280m (4200ft) above sea level. The park’s highest peak, Mt. Blakiston, is 2940m (9645ft) above sea level.
Waterton is part of the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park (IPP), created in 1932 as a symbol of peace and goodwill between Canada and the United States.
The Waterton-Glacier IPP became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995.
Waterton was Canada’s second biosphere reserve and the first Canadian national park to take part in this UNESCO program.
Waterton has been home to a small herd of plains bison since 1952, when one male and five females were brought from Elk Island National Park. They live in the Bison Paddock, a fenced-off area of prairie grassland near the park's north boundary.