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Mountain National Parks Careers

Living in Waterton Lakes National Park

About the park

Welcome to the smallest park in the Canadian Rockies! Waterton Lakes National Park consists of 505 square kilometers (195 square miles) of protected area. Waterton Lakes was designated a National Park in 1895 because of its breathtaking mountains, rolling plains and cool lakes. This peaceful park is home to more than just the people in the community; elk, deer, bears and buffalo frequent the area.

Upper Waterton Lake and the community of Waterton
Waterton Lakes National Park
© Parks Canada

Waterton Lakes is also a source of Canadian heritage and culture. The first oil well in Western Canada is located in Waterton and was designated a National Historic Site in 1968.

The Waterton Lakes field unit also manages the Bar U Ranch National Historic Site, located outside the park. Bar U National Historic Site was one of the first and most enduring corporate ranches in the West, making it a Canadian treasure worth protecting and celebrating.

Part of what makes Waterton Lakes such a unique park is that it is bounded on the south by the United States border. In 1932, Waterton Lakes and Glacier National Park (US) became an International Peace Park. The Peace Park was originally created because the two parks overlap through mountains and lakes and so it represented cooperation in a world of shared resources. It is a symbol of peace and goodwill between not only the United States and Canada, but within provinces as well. Waterton Lakes also borders the Akamina-Kishinena Provincial Park in British Columbia.

When visitors come to the park, they have the opportunity to take part in activities like hiking, camping, boating, wildlife viewing, picnicking, and cross country skiing. Other activities available in the town are interpretive guides, bicycle rentals, golf course, boat tours on Upper Waterton Lake, canoe or rowboat rentals at Cameron Lake, shopping, and festivals.

The Lifestyle with the job 

The small Waterton community allows you to get to know your neighbours and feel a sense of community where people say hello to each other by name. If you are looking to get away from the hustle and stress commutes of the city life and want to enjoy a pristine environment with an exciting career, a job at Waterton Lakes National Park could be for you. You will be able to enjoy adventures in the outdoors throughout the year, learn about the history of the Park, and go on strolls in your neighbourhood next to waterfalls and wildlife. Imagine not having to take long bus rides or being stuck in traffic in the mornings; everything you need is within walking distance. Everyday you could be waking-up to one of Canada’s most beautiful views. Whatever job you do at Parks Canada, you will be contribute to conservation, enhancing visitor experience, and spreading knowledge of Canada’s rich heritage.

The year-round residential population of Waterton is about 50 people and increases in the summer to about 2,000. In the community, there are nine hotels, several restaurants and lounges, one gas station, a grocery store, banks, gift shops, tennis courts, and playgrounds. There are nearby towns that offer more amenities such as hospitals and schools. These include Pincher Creek (55 km, 40 mins) and Cardston (50 km, 35 mins).Waterton Lakes National Park is located 270 km south of Calgary, Alberta, and 140 km southwest of Lethbridge, Alberta.  

Waterton is one of Alberta's windiest places; winter winds often exceed 100 km/hr! Waterton's summers are brief and cool with some hot spells (high 35ºC/94ºF). Winters are long and relatively mild with frequent warm spells (high 10ºC/50ºF) because of the Chinooks, which contribute to Waterton being one of Alberta's warmest areas in the winter (about 28 winter days with temperatures of 2.5º C and above).

First Oil Well in Western Canada National Historic Site First Oil Well in Western Canada National Historic Site © Parks Canada

Facts About Waterton Lakes…

  • Waterton Lakes was Canada's 4th national park and smallest in the Canadian Rockies
  • In 1995, the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park was designated as a World Heritage Site.
  • Waterton Lakes has two UNESCO designations: a World Heritage Site and a Biosphere Reserve.
  • The townsite sits at 1,280 m (4,200 ft) above sea level and the park's highest peak, Mt. Blakiston, is 2,940 m (9,645 ft) above sea level or approximately 1,490 m (4,900 ft) tall.
  • The Prince of Wales Hotel opened its doors in Waterton Lakes National Park on July 25, 1927. The hotel stands isolated on a bluff overlooking a spectacular vista of mountains, lakes, town and prairie. Its striking design and dramatic setting make it Waterton's most recognized landmark. It is a National Historic Site; however, it is not managed by Parks Canada.
  • The park contains 45 different types of habitat including grasslands, shrublands, wetlands, lakes, spruce-fir, pine and aspen forests, and alpine areas.
  • Waterton is home to 60 species of mammals, over 250 species of birds, 24 species of fish, and 10 reptiles and amphibians, and over 1,000 species of plants. Large predators include wolf, coyote, cougar, grizzly bear, and American black bears.
  • The grasslands are important winter range for ungulates such as elk, mule deer, and white-tailed deer. In the fall, the marsh and lake areas of the park are used extensively by migrating ducks, swans, and geese.

Learn more

Parks Canada - Waterton
Waterton Community Information 
International Peace Park Information