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Spring in Waterton: Wildlife, wildflowers, and waterfalls await!

Spring is a wonderful time of year to visit Waterton, when wildflowers bloom, birds return, and baby animals roam the townsite and trails. As snow melts, prairie crocuses emerge, and rivers and waterfalls surge. For spring things to do in Waterton Lakes National Park, plan to visit from mid to late May onwards (it’s pretty snowy earlier in the season).

Here are the top 12 things to do in Waterton this spring:

Watch wildlife. In the shoulder season, wildlife often outnumber people in Waterton! Expect to see deer and bighorn sheep around the townsite, elk at Blakiston Fan, and bison in the Bison Paddock. Bears are also commonly seen in the park, so hike in a group and don’t forget your bear spray!

Cycle the paved Kootenai Brown Trail. Take a 13.8km round-trip along Lower and Middle Waterton Lakes and the Blakiston Fan for stunning vistas.

Rent e-bikes or Surrey bikes from Pat’s of Waterton. No bikes, no problem! The Surrey bikes seat four and are perfect for exploring the townsite as a family.

Hike the Bear’s Hump. This short but sweet hike - a 2.8km round-trip - boasts stunning views of Waterton Lakes and the surrounding peaks. It’s all uphill, but it’s worth it!

Discover Waterton’s wildflowers. With over 400 species of flowering plants in the park, meadows are bursting with color come June. Mid-June is peak wildflower season, and Bellevue Trail (7.4km round trip) is one of the best places to see flowers. Please stay on the trail to prevent trampling fragile blooms, and don’t pick them!

Chase waterfalls. In spring, snowmelt turns trickles into torrents, transforming waterfalls into majestic spectacles. Cameron Falls is the most accessible waterfall in Waterton, at the end of Cameron Falls Drive; while Blakiston Falls (2km) is a quick and easy hike from Red Rock Canyon.

Explore Red Rock Parkway. Red Rock Parkway (15 km one-way) takes you through Blakiston Valley to beautiful Red Rock Canyon. At the end of the road, hike around Red Rock Canyon (700m loop) to learn about the red argillite rock the canyon is named for and how the canyon formed. Although the road is closed until May 1, you can bike the road before it opens to vehicles!

Bird watch at Maskinonge Lake. Over 250 species of birds have been spotted in the park, and many nest or rest at Maskinonge Lake. Download a birding app before you go to help with bird identification and bring a pair of binoculars or spotting scope (the latter is easier for kids to use). Eagles, ospreys, and sandhill cranes have been seen here.

Picnic at Pass Creek Day Use. This lovely day-use area, 4km out of town, has a picnic shelter with a wood burning stove and six picnic sites with fire pits. It’s the perfect place to roast smokies before or after visiting Red Rock Canyon.

Go on a trail ride with Alpine Stables. Scenic trail rides (one hour to a full day) are available to riders ages six and up from May 1. This family business has over 50 years of experience!

Explore the lake with Waterton Shoreline Cruise Company. Sightseeing cruises begin in early May, and the Crypt Lake shuttle starts in early June. Sail across the border, watch for wildlife, and learn about the area’s history.

Enjoy Afternoon Tea at the Prince of Wales Hotel. For a memorable meal with panoramic views, head to the iconic Prince of Wales Hotel. Afternoon Tea is served from noon until 4pm daily. The hotel opens for the season on May 17. 

Rainy day activities. Check out the exhibits and theatre at the new Visitor Centre; visit the Blackfoot Cultural Centre; attend a Parks Canada interpretive program; or watch a movie at Waterton Lakes Opera House, a super cute heritage cinema.


Know Before You Go

  • A Parks Canada Discovery Pass is required to stop in the national parks.
  • Most businesses are closed until May and avalanche danger exists until mid to late June on many trails. Always check the Waterton Lakes National Park Trail Report before you head out, or speak to the helpful staff at the Visitor Centre.
  • Wildlife is frequently seen within the townsite. Respect wildlife and keep your distance. Keep kids close and keep dogs on a leash. Be especially cautious around baby animals.
  • Ticks are voracious in the spring! You can reduce the risk of getting bitten by covering up by applying insect repellent with DEET or (p)icaridin (the latter is safer for children under 12) to clothes, exposed skin, and backpacks; staying on the trail and out of long grass/bushes; doing frequent tick checks; and removing ticks promptly.


Getting Here

Waterton Lakes National Park is only 319 km/2.5 hours south of Calgary. Nanton or Claresholm is a good pit stop approximately halfway.

Have a wonderful time exploring Waterton Lakes National Park in southwest Alberta!


Karen is a Calgary-based blogger and travel writer who was born in the boonies and grew up granola. A mother and lover of maps, mountains, and mochas, Karen is always planning her next road trip (if she isn’t currently on one). Follow her adventures at


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