Waterton Lakes National Park basking in the glory of the Rocky Mountains.
Alberta is the westernmost of Canada's three prairie provinces and Canada's fourth largest. It is home to the country's first and oldest national park, Banff, and the largest mountain national park Jasper. The Wood Buffalo, Elk Island and Waterton Lakes national parks are also here, basking in the glory of the Rocky Mountains.
Waterton is in the south-western corner of Alberta, where the Rockies suddenly pop out of the plains. It spills into British Columbia to the west and over the border into Montana in the US to the south. During Prohibition in the 1920s, Americans swam across the border, as Canada's bars were always open. If you plan to cross the border into the US, you will need to have your passport with you.
The 525-square-kilometre park, which is open all year, makes up less than 15 percent of the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park. The two countries work closely together to protect and preserve the park and its occupants.
The parks are swarming with wildlife: 250 species of bird, grizzly bears, bison, deer, moose, wolves, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, deer, elk and coyotes. They must on no account be fed or touched apart from disrupting the animals' natural instincts, this draws enormous fines.
Shoreline Cruises have been operating in the summer months on Waterton Lake since 1927. They offer a wonderful way to enjoy the magnificent mountain scenery, snowfields, waterfalls, interesting geology and even get a glimpse of the international border. You will possibly spot bald eagles, osprey and loon, as well as other wildlife. Cruises last 2¼ hours and include a half-hour stop at the Goat Haunt Visitor Center. Experienced guides provide informative and entertaining commentary about the establishment of the Peace Park, in the comfort and safety of their vessels.
Up on a bluff above the tiny and very windy township and lake of Waterton stands the historic and stately Prince of Wales Hotel. It has a definite Swiss/French chalet style, complete with gingerbread mouldings, and was built in 1926. Construction was a major task, as bringing materials here was no mean feat due to its isolation.
This is one of the world's most photographed hotels. Once you arrive in its grand foyer you are drawn to the marvellous views of the park from huge windows.
British tradition is adhered to, with staff wearing Royal Stewart livery and serving traditional afternoon tea and hearty meals in the Royal Stewart Dining Room. The Windsor Lounge is perfect for relaxing and soaking up the majesty of it all. The hotel gift shop is a lather of English bone china, Waterford crystal and other irresistible items.
In keeping with the times in which it was built, the hotel sticks to a policy of no television or air-conditioning, but there are telephones. All rooms are non-smoking, have private bathrooms and views of the lake or mountains.
Waterton village has one major commercial street, with shops and restaurants, clothing stores, an art gallery and a book/coffee shop. It is a pleasant walk from the Prince of Wales Hotel.
Air Canada flies daily from Sydney to Vancouver (via Honolulu) with connections to all major Canadian cities. Connections are also available from most major Australian domestic cities.
A three-hour drive from Calgary in Alberta.
Prince of Wales rooms start at around $270 a double a night.
Waterton shoreline Cruises start at around $30 per person. They run from May to October.
Qantas flies daily to Los Angeles with Alaska Airlines connections to Calgary starting at $2774 from Sydney, $2858 from Melbourne, $2859 from Brisbane, $3152 from Adelaide, $3527 from Darwin and $3659 from Perth, per person. Prices include charges/taxes and are current at time of writing but may vary at time of booking. Seasonal surcharges and conditions apply.
More informationPrince of Wales Hotel
Box 33, Waterton Lakes National Park
Alberta Canada T0K 2M0
Ph: 0011 1 403 859 2231
Fax: 0011 1 403 859 2630http://firstname.lastname@example.orgWaterton Shoreline Cruise Company
Box 126, Waterton Lakes National Park
Alberta Canada T0K 2M0
Ph: 0011 1 403 859 2362
Fax: 0011 1 403 859 5019http://email@example.comWaterton Lakes National Park
Ph: 0011 1 403 859 2224
Fax: 0011 1 403 859 firstname.lastname@example.orgTravel Albertahttp://www.travelalberta.com/main.htmCanada Travel Information
Ph: 02 9954 3377
Fax: 02 9929 4543www.canada.trav.net
Qantas: 13 13 13