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Park interpretation

Interpretive theatre programs, guided hikes & activities

2015 team of interpreters
Our 2015 team of interpreters (left to right): Sierra, Patricia, Dylan, Rachelle, Nicole, Sharon, Ashley © Parks Canada

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!

Introducing the "Shining Stars" of Waterton’s interpretive team

Join our free family programs offered at 8 p.m in Falls Theatre and Crandell Theatre (even if you are not camping). We’ve created new and exciting programs for 2015.

Ashley
Ashley enjoys supervising this creative and knowledgeable team of interpreters! She invites you to join our native storytellers, where Kenneth shares traditional Blackfoot stories and Kyle demonstrates Blackfoot culture through dance, on alternating Monday evenings.

Nicole
Nicole will lead you through a paddling adventure in Staying Alive. Exploring WATERton, where you will meet aquatic species fighting hard to survive.
Patricia
What is Patricia up to with the birds and the bees? And how do the grizzlies and the prairies fit into her evening theatre program, United for Nature?
Sharon
Sharon wonders if you've ever longed to live the high life - the mountain high life, that is! Explore the highest peaks in Waterton during her program Life on the Rocks - High Alpine Survivors. You'll meet tough-as-nails rabbits and strong and sturdy goats who, believe it or not, prefer life in one of the park's harshest environments.
Rachelle
Rachelle is working double time as Agent Red to investigate a missing meatball. Help her investigate the habits of elk, bears and people to crack this mysterious case during CSI: Waterton.

Dylan
Dylan wants you to join him on a Blast to the Past, where he'll discover the human and climatic forces that have shaped fescue grasslands in an effort to create a brighter future.

Sierra
Sierra invites you to come on a safari - by looking up at the night sky! Discover a celestial body of familiar shapes (where galactic animals await) at her evening theatre program, Night Sky National Park.

Evening theatre programs

Interpreters in costume outside Falls Theatre
Join us for evening theatre programs © Parks Canada

Join us at Falls Theatre (near Cameron Falls) or Crandell Theatre (in Crandell Mountain Campground) at 8 p.m. every night for a 45-minute program. From aquatic critters to high-alpine animals, tiny bees to large bears, fescue grassland and journeying into the past, our interpreters share the latest research with fun stories and theatrics for kids and adults alike. Find more details on this year’s new program topics; look for posters around the campground and at the visitor centre.

Waterton Natural History Association
Join the Waterton Natural History Association on Tuesday evenings in the Falls Theatre for a Walk on the Wild Side. The WHNA will host a new guest speaker every week to highlight current research on Waterton's wildlife or cultural history through these informative presentations.

Guided hikes

Guided hike
On the trail of the Great Bear © Parks Canada

Cameron Lakeshore Stroll

Discover the secrets of this subalpine lake during a refreshing guided walk along the lakeshore. Enjoy scenic views of Mount Custer and Forum Peak and be serenaded by Steller's jays.

  • Easy 3 km (1.9 miles) return
  • Family friendly 
  • Look for a roving interpreter at Cameron Lake
Blakiston Falls Walk

Join us for a walk in the park. Be delighted with fragrant pine forests that lead to a magnificent waterfall and discover why Waterton's mountains are so red.

  • Easy 2 km (1.2 miles) return
  • Family friendly 
  • Look for a roving interpreter at Red Rock Canyon
Bison for Breakfast?!

Waterton's fescue grasslands set the stunning stage for an 8000-year-old story on the deep roots between the bison and Blackfoot people. Throw an atlatl along a remnant bison drive lane and get "fired up" for a tasty treat of bison jerky at the end of this guided walk.

  • Easy 7 km (4.3 miles) return
  • Adults and older children 
  • Meet at the pull-out 3km along the Red Rock Parkway. Look for the Parks Canada vehicle and interpreter
Legends of the Falls

There is more to our surroundings than meets the eye! Join a park interpreter to discover the tall tales, stories and legends surrounding Waterton's plants and people on this scenic trail to the cascading Bertha Falls.

  • Moderate 5.2 km (3.2 miles) return
  • Family friendly 
  • Meet at Bertha Lake trail head in the community
On the Trail of the Great Bear

Discover the life of the grizzly bear (and how they differ from black bears) during this informative guided hike. The park interpreter will also share tips and tricks for safely hiking in bear country.

  • Easy 6 km (3.7 miles) return
  • Adults and older children  
  • Look for the Parks Canada vehicle and interpreter at the pull-out 400m along the Red Rock Parkway
V.I.P. Wanted

Waterton Lakes is a tiny park with big designations! Along this guided walk to a stunning mountain view, you'll discover what our biologists are doing "behind the scenes" and who they partner with to preserve this special meeting place.

  • Moderate 8.5 km (5 miles) one-way
  • Adults and older children
  • Turn off Highway 6 at the Bison Paddock Road. Drive to the end of the road and look for the interpreter and the park vehicle
The International Peace Park Hike 


  • Moderate 14 km (8.5 miles) one-way (boat ride back)
  • Adults and older children 
  • Meet at Bertha trail head in the community

For over thirty years, visitors have hiked across the Canada/U.S. boundary on foot, accompanied by both a Glacier National Park ranger and a Waterton Lakes National Park interpreter.

The hike ends in the U.S. at the Goat Haunt ranger station where you will board a boat to return to the community of Waterton.

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.

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 International 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, 800 KB).

Activities

Family activities
Our interpreters offer a variety of family activities © Parks Canada

Hello, my name is Waterton!

Waterton Lakes National Park is waiting to meet you and your family! Where mountains meet prairie, this special place wants to connect with YOU and reveal what makes Waterton unique though a short, guided adventure.

  • Family friendly 
  • Look for the interpreter at the parking lot for the Bison Paddock overlook
Geocache 101

Curious about what Geocaching is? Staff of the Waterton Natural History Association, in partnership with Parks Canada, will tell you about this world-wide treasure hunt. Want to try but don’t have a GPS? Sign out one of ours for free. Geared up and ready? Come find out about the Waterton Geocache Challenge!

  • Family friendly
  • Meet with the staff at Waterton Heritage Centre on Waterton Avenue in the community 
  • Curious about what geocaching is? Find out more here
Blackfoot Crafts and Stories

Join our Blackfoot interpreters. Sit on a bison rug, listen to traditional stories and make a beaded craft to take home.

  • Family friendly
  • Meet at the Crandell teepee in the Crandell Mountain Campground or at the Community Centre in the community of Waterton
Be a Butterfly Superhero!

Kids, grab your side-kicks (aka your parents) and discover the beautiful prairie home of the endangered Halfmoon Hairstreak butterfly. Discover how your superhero skills can help these charming creatures.

  • Family friendly 
  • Drive down the Marquis Hole road and look for the Parks Canada vehicle and interpreter
Wildlife Crafts and Games

Kids, come discover through fun games and activities the plants and animals that live in Waterton. A park interpreter will lead you through a craft with the help of your parent/guardian.

  • Family friendly
  • Follow Waterton Avenue past the campground to the last building on the left (Community Kitchen Shelter). Look for a Parks Canada vehicle and interpreter in the parking lot
Eyes on the Skies

It sure can be windy here in Waterton Lakes National Park! Take advantage of the prevailing weather patterns through playing with kites. Pick up a Waterton cloud-watching guide and earn your SkyWatchers Adventure Sticker.

  • Family friendly
  • Follow Waterton Avenue past the campground to the last building on the left (Community Kitchen Shelter). Look for a Parks Canada vehicle and interpreter in the parking lot

Program schedule

Programs begin Saturday June 27, 2015 and run until Sunday August 30, 2015 (unless otherwise noted).

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

ActivitiesMTWTFSSu
Be a Butterfly Superhero! (2 p.m. to 4 p.m.)          

Blackfoot Crafts at Crandell (10 a.m. to 12 p.m.)

         

Blackfoot Crafts at the Community Centre (2 p.m. to  4 p.m.)

           
Geocache 101 (1 p.m. to 3 p.m.)          
Wildlife Crafts and Games (1 p.m. to 3 p.m.)          
Eyes on the Skies (2 p.m. to 4 p.m.)            
Hello, My name is Waterton (2.30 p.m. and 4 p.m.)            
Family activities start promptly at listed times. Please arrive on time. Latecomers cannot be accommodated.

Guided HikesMTWThFSSu
Bison for Breakfast?! (9 a.m. to 12 p.m.)            
On the Trail of the Great Bear (9 a.m. to 12 p.m.)            
Legends of the Falls (1 p.m. to 4 p.m.)            
Blakiston Falls Walk (3 p.m. to 4 p.m.)            
Cameron Lakeshore Stroll (1 p.m. and 3 p.m.)            
International Peace Park Hike (10 a.m. to 6.30 p.m.)          
V.I.P. Wanted (2 p.m. to 5 p.m.)            

There's a Bear!
Want to spot a bear while you’re visiting Waterton? Look for the green Parks Canada tent by the Emerald Bay picnic site, with Digger the grizzly bear and a park interpreter. Kids and adults alike have a chance to meet Digger and discover the perils of a bear that accidentally gets into human food or related trash. Digger reminds everyone to be "Bear Aware" in Waterton Lakes National Park, and enjoy a safe visit while helping protect our wildlife.