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Park Interpretation

Interpretive Theatre Programs, Guided Hikes & Activities

How long are you staying in Waterton Lakes National Park? A few hours? A whole day? How about overnight or a couple of days? Parks Canada's team of interpreters offer a variety of visitor programs during July and August. Theatre programs, guided hikes and family activities - they are all free with your park entrance fee. Check the schedule below for days, times and locations of the programs.

What is Interpretation?

Freeman Tilden, the "grand-daddy" of interpretation, said, "The chief aim of interpretation is not instruction, but provocation."

So what does that mean?

Whether you're on a guided walk or at an evening theatre program, interpretation should engage you. And all interpretation programs contain information, so if you want to learn something, great! But the best interpretation not only entertains and teaches, it ultimately provokes thought ... gives you something to chew on ... so you can decide what you think. That's Interpretation.

Happy chewing - your Waterton interpretive team!

Tips From Our Team

Waterton Lakes National Park interpreters 2014
2014 interpreters (left to right): Ashley, Ardelle, Sharon, David, Kayla, Rachelle. © Parks Canada

Waterton has something for everyone! Looking for an evening activity with your family or friends - the park interpreters have prepared delightful programs that are sure to entertain, from butterflies to bears, felines to fire, wolves to wildflowers, grasslands to mountains. During the day, discover Waterton’s secrets through a guided hike, or "Be a Butterfly Superhero" and help park staff protect a species at risk. If you want cultural experience, listen to Blackfoot storytellers on Monday evening, or take the kids to the Blackfoot Crafts and Stories program!

Ardelle Ardelle
One of my favourite trails in Waterton is Lineham. It's a steady climb through a wide range of habitats, and a great opportunity to spot wildlife. Near the beginning is a pine forest, which yields to open, grassy slopes. Look up to see views of Lineham and Alderson Peak! The trail continues its steady climb through spruce and alpine fir forest, eventually rewarding your efforts as it emerges into Lineham Basin. Discover a view of a 250m high waterfall spilling down a sheer cliff face from a hanging valley! Mount Blakiston, the highest peak in Waterton, towers above to the north, and Lineham Peak (an easy summit when hiking from the Rowe Lakes side) forms the southern wall of the basin. It’s a gem within the park!
David David
Haven’t much time? Don’t forget the Linnet Lake trail, only a kilometre long, looping around Linnet Lake in a hollow beside the Entrance Parkway. Even in that short distance you can get a taste of the essential flavour of Waterton Lakes National Park: prairie grasses, aspen parkland, a view of the mountains beyond. Easy walking, paved and nearly level (can’t say that about many of our trails!), the Linnet Lake trail is wheelchair accessible. And - bonus - this little gem is usually well sheltered from Waterton’s famous winds. Enjoy!
Sharon Sharon
Hike up high and enjoy the magnificent views Waterton has to offer. You can find great lookouts at the top of Bear's Hump trail, along the ridge on the Carthew-Alderson trail, or even from your car on the Akamina Parkway. If you’re feeling prepared and energetic, then get yourself to the top of a peak in Waterton. Just ask at the Visitor Center for some advice on the best trails to get you there and back safely.
Rachelle Rachelle
Take time to smell the flowers! Waterton is home to many stunning and rare wildflowers. In the spring, grab your camera and head out to the prairies to find some beautiful blossoms, easily accessible from the Red Rock Parkway. As the season progresses you can find flowers blooming at higher elevations, so be sure to stroll around Cameron Lake. For the adventurous budding botanist, take a walk up the Bertha Falls trail, or hike into Upper Rowe Lakes to view some brilliant alpine meadows. If you are seeking some unique flora, explore the Blakiston Valley trail for some exceptional views of beargrass!

Why not explore Waterton by bicycle? There are cycling options for everyone. Ride the Red Rock Parkway to experience open grasslands, scenic mountains and good wildlife viewing opportunities. Or leave traffic behind on the paved Kootenai Brown Trail, paralleling the Entrance Parkway. If mountain biking is more your speed, there’s the beginner-friendly Snowshoe Trail. Or bike right into B.C. on the steep approach to Wall Lake via Akamina Pass. No matter the route, be prepared for fresh air, beautiful views, and possibly a good strong headwind!

Evening Theatre Programs

Waterton's 2014 team of interpreters outside  Falls Theatre
Join us for evening theatre programs © Parks Canada

Join us at the Falls Theatre (near Cameron Falls and the Townsite Campground) or the Crandell Theatre (in Crandell Mountain Campground) at 8pm every night for a 45-minute program. From bats to bears, felines to fire, wolverines to wildflowers, we share the latest research and fun stories to kids and adults alike.

Guided Hikes

Cameron Lakeshore Stroll
  • Easy 3 km (1.9 miles) return, family friendly 
  • Look for a roving interpreter at Cameron Lake
  • A refreshing walk along the west shore of this subalpine lake provides scenic views of Mount Custer and Mount Forum. Be serenaded by Steller's jays, gray jays, thrushes and various woodpeckers
Blakiston Falls Walk
  • Easy 2 km (1.2 miles) return, family friendly 
  • Look for a roving interpreter at Red Rock Canyon
  • Join us for a walk in the park! This short stroll delights with fragrant pine forests that lead to a magnificent waterfall
Bertha Falls Walk
  • Moderate 5.2 km (3.2 miles) return, family friendly 
  • Meet at Bertha Lake trail head in the Townsite
  • Brilliant flowers? Yes! Stunning scenery? You bet! A cascading waterfall to greet you at the end of your walk? Indeed! Join us for this guided walk along one of Waterton's most popular trails
Ancient Eyes Hike
  • Easy 7 km (4.3 miles) return, adults and older children 
  • Meet at the pullout on the north side of Red Rock Parkway, below Mt. Bellevue
  • How did people survive here 10,000 years ago? Have arrowheads been found in the park? Join us for a walk along the base of Mt. Bellevue and gain a unique persepective on the park
On the Trail of the Great Bear
  • Easy 6 km, (3.7 miles) return, adults and older children  
  • Meet the interpreter at the first pull-out on the south side of Red Rock Parkway 
  • Are you curious about grizzly and black bears? Want to hike in the safety of a group? Join us for a hike through the picturesque prairies and aspen parkland and learn about Waterton's bears.
International Peace Park Hike 
  • Moderate 13 km (8 miles) one-way (boat ride back), adults and older children 
  • Meet at Bertha trail head

Did you know that Waterton Lakes National Park and Glacier National Park formed the world's first International Peace Park? For over 30 years, visitors have hiked across the Canada / U.S. boundary on foot, accompanied by both a Glacier Park Ranger and a Waterton Park Interpreter.

Hike along the shore of Upper Waterton Lake and hear stories of what the two parks share - an ecosystem with over 1,200 species of plants, over 60 species of wildlife, and the various ways we work together.

International Peace Park Hike © Parks Canada

The hike ends in the United States at the Goat Haunt Ranger Station, where you can receive a special U.S. entry stamp in your passport before boarding a boat to return to the Waterton townsite.

Spaces are limited so please pre-register, either in person or by phoning the Waterton Visitor Centre (403-859-5133), or the St. Mary Information Center (406-732-7750).

Cost: The hike is free with your park entry fee, but there is a charge for the boat ride back. Please purchase your boat tickets in advance at Waterton Inter-National Shoreline Cruise Co. at the marina in Waterton.

Identification: The U.S. Department of Homeland Security requires Canadian and American citizens to carry a passport or passport card. All visitors from countries other than Canada or the United States need their passports and have to have been documented at another U.S. port of entry.

International Peace Park Hike Checklist (PDF, 145 KB).


Look, See, Play!
  • Family friendly / children aged 4-12
  • Follow Waterton Avenue past the campground to the last building on the left (Community Kitchen Shelter). Look for a Parks vehicle and interpreter in the parking lot
  • Come discover what makes Waterton unique through family games and activities near the lakeshore. New activities every day
Geocache 101
  • Family friendly
  • Meet with the staff at Waterton Heritage Centre on Waterton Avenue in the village 
  • Curious about what geocaching is? Find out more here
  • Come find out about the Waterton Geocache Challenge and take home your commemorative coin!
Blackfoot Crafts and Stories
  • Family friendly
  • Meet in the Crandell Theatre tipi at Crandell Campground
  • Join our Blackfoot Interpreters. Listen to stories, hang out by the fire, and make a small craft to take home with you
Be a Butterfly Superhero!
  • Family friendly / children aged 4-12 
  • From the Entrance Parkway, turn onto Hay arn Road. Look for the Parks vehicle and interpreter at the pull-out 
  • We need you! Kids, grab your research assistants (a.k.a. your parents) and discover the beautiful home of the endangered Halfmoon Hairstreak butterfly 
There's a Bear! Where? Over There!
  • Meet with Parks Canada's own 'wildlife guardians' at the Falls Theatre to learn about local wildlife and being safe in bear country. Get a few suggestions for a suitable trail and, if you like, use this opportunity to find a hiking partner

Program Schedule

Programs begin Friday June 27, 2014 and run until Monday September 1, 2014 (unless otherwise noted).

Evening TheatreMTWThFSSu
Crandell Theatre (8pm)  
Falls Theatre (8pm)

Be a Butterfly Superhero! (2pm-4pm)          
Blackfoot Crafts & Stories (10am-12pm)          
Geocache 101 (1pm-3pm)          
Look, See, Play! (2pm-4pm)            

Guided HikesMTWThFSSu
Ancient Eyes Hike (9am-12pm)            
Ancient Eyes Hike (1pm-4pm)            
Bertha Falls Walk (2pm-5pm)            
Blakiston Falls Walk (3pm to 4pm)            
Cameron Lakeshore Stroll (1pm and 3pm)          
International Peace Park Hike (10am-6.30pm)          
On the Trail of the Great Bear (12.30pm-3.30pm)          

There's a Bear! Where? Over There!MTWThFSSu
Falls Theatre (2pm)            

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