Activities by season
Areas of Waterton Lakes National Park remain closed due to safety hazards and infrastructure damage from the Kenow Wildfire. Visit our What's open page for an up-to-date list of open areas.
Waterton's character changes with the seasons. By understanding these seasonal cycles, you can plan your trip to best suit your interests.
July and August are the most popular times to visit the park and there is potential for high levels of visitation during these months. Parks Canada encourages visitors to plan their trip ahead of time.
The quieter fall, winter and spring seasons offer unique natural charms with fewer crowds. In fact, these shoulder seasons can be a perfect chance to unwind in a mountain setting. In winter, check road and avalanche reports and gas up.
Prepare yourself by finding out what the park offers at the time of year in which you intend to travel.
Spring is the best time for wildflowers in Waterton. Within a short walk from your car you can find 20 or 30 different species - including Waterton’s signature beargrass. Wildflowers can be seen in the park at almost any season as summer weather progresses up the mountains. Dedicated flower lovers and casual visitors alike enjoy the Waterton Wildflower Festival each June.
The most popular time to visit Waterton is July and August. The weather is generally warmer, dryer and more dependable, and summertime offers the most opportunities. Over half of Waterton's visitors come during these two months.
Late summer and fall are particularly good wildlife viewing times, especially for black bear, elk and deer. The grasslands of the lower mountainsides provide important food for wildlife, as well as open views which make them more visible. Ungulates such as deer, elk and bighorn sheep mate in the fall, so they are looking their best. The most spectacular birding time is in late fall when large numbers of waterfowl migrate through the park. During the fall, Waterton’s larch and aspen groves turn brilliant shades of yellow and gold. Hikers are rewarded with quiet trails and sublime subalpine scenery.
Winter offers a new perspective on the park. It is a time of quiet retreat. Skiers and snowshoers can explore Waterton’s trails, and wildlife can be easier to spot against the snowy backdrop. Facilities and businesses are limited and include some accommodation and restaurants. Be prepared for conditions ranging from warm and windy to extreme cold and deep snow.