Areas of Waterton Lakes National Park remain closed due to safety hazards and infrastructure damage from the Kenow Wildfire. Visit our What's open in 2018 page for an up-to-date list of open areas.
Safety is Parks Canada's top priority. Visitors to Waterton Lakes National Park must adhere to area closures and remain vigilant of potential hazards.
For information about safety while enjoying Waterton Lakes National Park, explore the topics below.
For general information on how to stay safe when enjoying the outdoors, visit AdventureSmart.ca.
Safety after the Kenow Wildfire
Areas of the park that are open are safe to visit.
Visitors to national parks need to be aware of the potential for natural hazards. The risk of natural hazards can be reduced by being well informed and prepared. It is important to know that some areas of the park that are open currently were burned by the wildfire (e.g. Bellevue Trail, the Eskerine area, Entrance Road and Kootenai Brown Trail, Pass Creek Day-Use Area, Maskinonge Day-Use Area and portions of the Wishbone Trail):
Visitors should not drink water from any source other than the townsite supply. Personal water purification technologies such as handheld filters and chemical tablets are not adequate to ensure drinking water is potable after the effects of the Kenow Wildfire.
As conditions dry out this summer, there will be loose ash and dirt in the park. Strong winds will transport this ash and dirt and could cause air quality and visibility issues.
Visit Air Quality Health Index for updates on air quality and smoke visibility.
In fire-affected areas, reduced shade due to the burning of the forest canopy will make hiking and walking on hot and sunny days more strenuous. Due to the lack of a canopy, hiking trails will become slicker in rainy weather.
Rock fall, steep slopes and debris
Rock that was once held in place by vegetation is now loose and more unstable. Take care when travelling over steep slopes and rocky areas and reduce your overhead hazard to steep slopes and cliffs where fallen trees or loose rocks may roll downhill. Increased rock or debris fall hazard can be expected during rainy or windy weather. Also, watch out for hazards from damaged or destroyed infrastructure like steel, nails and glass.
Any trails that are open have been fully assessed for hazard trees and the risks appropriately mitigated. Travel off trail carries increased risk of injury from falling trees. Travel quickly and spread your group out to reduce exposure time. Avoid burnt forests during windy conditions with rain or snow.
Due to safety hazards and infrastructure damage resulting from the Kenow Wildfire, some roads in Waterton Lakes National Park remain closed. Visit our What's open in 2018 page for an up-to-date list of open areas.
For information about road conditions outside of Waterton Lakes National Park, visit:
- Alberta 511 web site or call (toll-free): 1-855-391-9743 (outside Alberta); 5-1-1 (within Alberta).
Following the wildfire, animals may behave unpredictably, including entering the townsite in search of food. For your safety and the safety of the animals, never approach, feed or entice wildlife. Dispose of garbage only in bear-proof bins located throughout the townsite in order to avoid attracting wildlife. Report all wildlife observations / encounters by calling 1-888-WARDENS (1-888-927-3367).
Rock climbing and scrambling
The extreme temperatures that boulders and cliffs were exposed to during the wildfire have caused the rock surfaces to become brittle. This means that rocks and climbing areas that were once solid may now have increased rockfall hazard and insecure hand and foot holds. All rock climbing anchors and bolts need to be treated will extreme caution. Trees should no longer be considered as secure anchor options.
In case of emergency: Dial 911
- State that you are calling from Waterton Lakes National Park.
- Remember, cell phones are not always reliable in the backcountry
To report park offences, wildlife concerns or visitor safety issues phone: 1-888-WARDENS (1-888-927-3367). Toll free 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.