Getting out on the water is an excellent way to explore the park. Boaters planning to stay overnight at a backcountry campsite accessible by water require a wilderness permit. Please refer to wilderness camping. Overnight camping or sleeping on boats is not permitted.
Power Boating and Waterskiing
Power boats are restricted to Upper and Middle Waterton lakes. 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.
Waterskiing is popular on Middle Waterton Lake when conditions are calm. The water is cold, so dry suits or full wetsuits are recommended. Be aware that floating logs are common and can pose a serious hazard.
Prohibited Activities - use of personal watercraft (sea-doos, wave-runners, jet-skis, super jet, etc).
Attention Boaters - Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers!
You now require a free permit to launch your motorboat in the park. After answering some short questions, in most cases, the permit will be provided immediately and will last for the entire season. In some cases, a boat inspection will be required.
You now require a permit to launch your motorboat in the park © Parks Canada
This permit is a key step to prevent introduction of quagga mussels into the Waterton Lakes. Permit details
Here’s how to help maintain healthy park lakes and shorelines:
INSPECT your boat, trailer & equipment and clean off mud, plants and animals.
DRAIN water from your boat, bilge, bait buckets, transom & motor.
DRY everything for at least five days.
Other non-native aquatic species such as zebra mussels, New Zealand mud snails, purple loosestrife and Eurasian water milfoil may also threaten the park’s lakes and streams.
These species will hitch a ride on boats and trailers, float tubes, waders/wading boots and fishing equipment and have devastating and irreversible impacts on our lakes and streams. Here are some additional steps you can take to help stop the spread of invasive plants and animals.
Before entering the park, please:
- Clean and dry fishing equipment (including waders and wading boots)
- Re-inspect all boating, fishing, and wading equipment before moving from one water body to the next
Help protect park lakes!
Canoeing, Kayaking, Rowboating & Paddleboating
The park offers some excellent opportunities for canoeing and kayaking - particularly on hot, calm summer days. Extreme caution should be used on any of the Waterton Lakes due to frequent high winds and rough water conditions. Weather and water conditions can change quickly in Waterton's mountain valleys. All park waters are very cold.
The best paddling spot is Cameron Lake, at the end of the Akamina Parkway. The wind is often not as strong as on the main Waterton Lakes. Canoes, rowboats and paddle boats can be rented there. Fuel or electric powered motors are not allowed on Cameron Lake.
More experienced paddlers can head to the south end of the lake and cross the International Boundary into Glacier National Park. Scanning the avalanche slopes around the south end of the lake for grizzly bears is a popular activity, which is best carried out from your boat. For your safety, do not land or hike on these slopes. Please leave this area as a quiet haven for the bears who use it as an important feeding, resting and denning area.
A kayak is a good choice for exploring the lakes and rivers of Waterton. A spray skirt is recommended on the main Waterton Lakes.
Windsurfing / Sailboarding
The beach on Upper Waterton Lake near the Townsite Campground is popular with advanced sailboarders. High, gusty winds are common. The water is very cold, so dry suits or full wetsuits are recommended. Sailboarders can expect to share the lake with commercial and private boat traffic.