If spectacular scenery and wildlife appeal to you, drive one of the scenic parkways in Waterton Lakes National Park. All have pulloffs and viewpoints for safe viewing opportunities, and offer the chance to discover more about this special place.
The Entrance Parkway runs from the park gate to Waterton townsite and provides scenic views overlooking the Waterton Valley. It starts out on the prairie and follows the Waterton Lakes chain past the Prince of Wales Hotel National Historic Site to the townsite. It is one of the best roads in the park for viewing wildlife.
A multi-use pathway called the Kootenai Brown Trail runs alongside the Entrance Parkway from the park gate to the townsite.
The Red Rock Parkway travels 15 km up the Blakiston Valley through rolling grasslands and ends at Red Rock Canyon. It is the best place to experience Waterton's classic prairie meeting mountain landscape.
During your trip, be sure to stop at the scenic pulloffs, many of which have interpretive displays. At the end of the parkway, a self-guided trail loops around Red Rock Canyon. In June, the wildflowers are spectacular along this road. It is also a great place for wildlife viewing. The parkway is narrow and may not be suitable for larger motor homes.
The Red Rock Parkway offers dramatic views of Mt. Blakiston, the park’s highest peak at 2,940 m (9,645 ft) above sea level.
Red Rock Canyon is named for the several, thick, sedimentary beds of red argillite rock.
The Akamina Parkway is a winding mountain road which starts in the Waterton townsite and runs 16 km along the Cameron Valley, ending at Cameron Lake. Along the way, stop at the national historic site commemorating Western Canada's first oil well. Crandell Lake, Lineham Falls, Rowe Lakes and Akamina Pass trailheads all are located along this road.
Cameron Lake has an interpretive exhibit and a boat rental concession. A pleasant trail follows the western shore of the lake for 1.6 kilometres.
Construction began on the lower portion of the Akamina Parkway (from the townsite to the Crandell Lake trailhead) in 1921. The completed road to Cameron Lake opened in 1927.
The Akamina Parkway is subject to closures in 2020. See Infrastructure projects for the latest information.
The Chief Mountain Highway is the primary route between Waterton Lakes National Park and Glacier National Park (U.S). The highway climbs from the grasslands near Maskinonge Lake to a viewpoint which offers a magnificent panorama of the Waterton and Blakiston valleys (Chief Mountain lookout).
Along the way to Chief Mountain international border crossing (seasonal), the highway passes through wetlands and the site of the Sofa Mountain Wildfire. Travellers can continue across the international border past Chief Mountain to the community of St. Mary, on the boundary of Glacier National Park.
Chief Mountain Highway has wide shoulders making it good for cycling, but be prepared for some large hills. Belly River campground is located along this road.
The Chief Mountain Highway officially opened in 1936.
Bison Paddock Loop Road is closed until further notice. Bison Paddock overlook remains open.
Located just inside the park boundary, off Highway 6, the Bison Paddock Loop Road provides an opportunity to see these magnificent animals in their natural grassland habitat. For your safety, you must remain in your vehicle.
There are currently no bison in Waterton Lakes National Park. Parks Canada relocated the bison herd before the Kenow Wildfire to keep the animals safe. The bison handling facilities sustained some damage and the grassland in the Bison Paddock burned. We are assessing how to fix the handling facility and are planning to eventually bring the bison back. It is too early to provide a time frame on the return of the bison as this depends on the natural recovery of the native grassland that make up their habitat.
Bison Paddock Overlook
Discover the subtle beauty of the rough fescue prairies and enjoy a short walk to an outstanding view of the valley and mountains. Waterton Lakes is the only national park in Canada that protects rough fescue, a grass that is highly nutritious food for plains bison.