Waterton Lakes National Park is tucked away in a quiet corner of southwest Alberta.
The park covers an area of 505 square kilometres (195 square miles).
Waterton Lakes National Park is part of the traditional territory and a place of significance for the Niitsitapi (Blackfoot) and other Indigenous peoples.
The traditional Blackfoot name for Waterton Lakes – Paahtómahksikimi – means the inner sacred lake within the mountains.
The earliest evidence of hunting and gathering among Waterton’s lakes and mountains stretches back more than 10,000 years. In these rich valleys, Indigenous peoples, including Niitsitapii (Blackfoot) and K’tunaxa peoples, hunted bison and collected plants for food and medicine.
Waterton was named by Lt. Thomas Blakiston, a member of the famous Palliser Expedition and one of the area’s earliest explorers. He named it after 19th century British naturalist Charles Waterton.
Waterton was Canada’s fourth national park and is the smallest in the Canadian Rockies.
Waterton has some of the oldest, exposed sedimentary rock in the Rocky Mountains.
The park is part of the Crown of the Continent ecosystem - a place with unusually diverse physical, biological and cultural resources. The ecosystem is one of the narrowest places in the Rocky Mountain chain.
Waterton is one of Alberta’s windiest places. Winter winds over 100 km/hr are common. Waterton has many chinooks, which contribute to it being one of Alberta’s warmest areas in winter. Chinook winds can cause winter temperatures to rise dramatically within hours.
Waterton was Canada’s second biosphere reserve and the first Canadian national park to take part in this UNESCO program.
Fire is a natural process in Waterton Lakes national Park and in 2017 the park experienced a severe wildfire - the Kenow Wilfire - which will influence the park for generations.
In 2017, the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park received provisional Gold Tier designation as Waterton-Glacier International Dark Sky Park through the International Dark Sky Association, becoming the first multi-national dark sky park in the world.