10 fall experiences in Waterton Lakes National Park
There's lots to enjoy in Waterton Lakes National Park during this colourful time of year. Head out on the trails, take to the water, watch wildlife, go on a scenic drive or enjoy some stargazing.
Here is our list of top 10 things to do in the park this fall.
Get a new perspective of the park from the clear, clean waters of the Maskinonge and Lower Waterton Lake. Launch your kayak or canoe at Maskinonge Day Use Area and explore the wetlands before paddling up the river to neighbouring Lower Waterton Lake. Remember to Clean, drain and dry your watercraft, and complete a mandatory inspection before launching. Be prepared for cooler water temperatures.
Go for a scenic drive along the Akamina Parkway. The parkway is a winding mountain road following the Cameron Valley to Cameron Lake, and includes the First Oil Well in Western Canada National Historic Site and access to some great fall hiking experiences. Lineham Trail is a popular fall hike. It is a moderate out-and-back trail (8.4 km return) through forests and meadows to the 250-metre high Lineham Falls waterfall.
Calling all photography enthusiasts! Fall is an excellent time for wildlife photography in Waterton Lakes National Park. Bring your telephoto lens and capture some prize-winning shots! Bighorn sheep, deer, bears, elk and birds are out and about at this time of year. Early and late in the day is usually the best time for photography and nature watching. Give wildlife plenty of space.
Drive the Bison Paddock Loop Road before the road closes and bison wanders out of sight into the winter paddock. When viewing the bison, remember they are wild animals. The best way to stay safe is to remain in your vehicle and drive slowly. Pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists are not permitted on the Bison Paddock Loop Road. Six plains bison from Elk Island National Park were welcomed to Waterton Lakes National Park bison paddock in February 2021.
Waterton Lakes National Park has some great opportunities for a fall bike ride. Cycle the Kootenai Brown Trail, a paved pathway that provides a link from the townsite to facilities in the Waterton Valley. It offers breathtaking views and rest spots along the way. Head up the Red Rock Parkway and enjoy the scenery (the road is closed to motor vehicles October 31 to May 1). If you make it to Red Rock Canyon (14.1 km), carry on to the Snowshoe Trail, once a fire road and suitable for cycling. Chief Mountain Highway is another good fall cycling route. Enjoy the road while it is quiet - and before the snow flies!
Get away from the city lights and spend some time under the stars of the Waterton-Glacier International Dark Sky Park. Cozy up as the sun goes down and watch the night sky appear. See the Milky Way, planets and maybe even a meteor or two! Cameron Bay, Bison Overlook, pullouts on the Entrance Parkway, Red Rock Parkway and Chief Mountain Highway, and Cameron Lake are good stargazing destinations.
Autumn is mating season for elk. Watch these ungulates congregate on the Blakiston Fan and listen for their bugling to attract cows (females). Males can be aggressive during fall mating season so watch from a safe distance (30 metres, or 3 bus lengths, away). Elk are one of the many animal species that move about freely with in the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, crossing back and forth over the Canada-USA boundary, as well as onto lands outside the park.
What better way to spend a fall day than to get outside and take a hike in Waterton Lakes National Park? Fall brings crisp, refreshing air, changing colours, quieter trails and no mosquitos - perfect for hiking! During autumn, Waterton’s larch and aspen groves turn brilliant shades of yellow and gold. Rowe Trail offers a good opportunity for a golden larch day hike. Horseshoe and Wishbone are also popular trails for fall hiking.
All trails lead to Crandell Lake! Access this trail from Akamina Parkway (3.6km return), Red Rock Parkway (4km return) or Waterton village (12.4km return). This family-friendly hike travels through areas affected by the Kenow Wildfire, ending at the picturesque shores of Crandell Lake. Grab your mountain bike and pedal from the community on this bike-friendly trail, or extend your visit to the lake by camping at the Crandell Lake backcountry campground.
Stroll around the community and enjoy a picnic at one of the camp kitchens or day use areas. Visit one of our sets of red chairs and enjoy the views while absorbing the clean, cool air of fall days in the mountains. Explore the redesigned Peace Park Plaza near the marina, which celebrates the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park World Heritage Site.