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 or enjoy an interpretive program.
Here is our list of top 10 things to do in the park this fall.
Get a new perspective of the park from the waters of Lower Waterton Lake, the smallest and northernmost of the Waterton lakes chain. Launch your kayak or canoe from Knight’s Day Use Area and explore the shorelines and neighbouring wetlands. Remember to Clean, drain and dry your watercraft, and be prepared for cooler water temperatures.
Take a short (1.5 km) hike on the Bertha Trail from Waterton townsite to a viewpoint overlooking Upper Waterton Lake. After taking in the view, follow the trail to Bertha Falls, a cascading “bridal veil” waterfall. From there you can continue up to Bertha Lake. The lake is surrounded by a walking path below magnificent peaks and cliffs.
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.
Birds are the ultimate seasonal tourists in Waterton Lakes National Park! Hundreds of swans, geese and ducks all make migratory stops in late fall at the Maskinonge and other water bodies. Bring a spotting scope or binoculars to get a close look at the birds without disturbing them.
Bike the Kootenai Brown Trail, a multi-use pathway that provides a link for non-motorized travellers from the townsite to facilities in the Waterton Valley. Head up the Red Rock Parkway and enjoy the scenery. If you make it to Red Rock Canyon (14.1 km), carry on to the Snowshoe Trail, a fire road suitable for cycling.
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! Bison Overlook, Cameron Bay and pullouts on the Entrance Parkway and Chief Mountain Highway 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, fresh air, changing colours and no mosquitos - perfect for hiking! During fall, Waterton’s larch and aspen groves turn brilliant shades of yellow and gold. Hikers are rewarded with quiet trails and sublime subalpine scenery. Horseshoe and Wishbone are popular trails for fall hiking.
Watch the full fury of a Waterton wind along the lakeshore in the townsite or Prince of Wales hill. Wind gusts of over 100 km/hr (60 mph) are common in the park in fall and winter. You can always seek shelter at Linnet Lake or the Community Kitchen day use areas and enjoy a cozy autumn picnic.
Join our fantastic interpretive team this fall for bird walks, guided hikes (including night hikes), discovery tables and other opportunities to learn about Waterton Lakes National Park. Don’t forget about the Waterton Wildlife Weekend (September 19-22), which includes hikes, talks and hands-on activities.