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Where Black Bears Live in Trees, Waterton Lakes National Park (AB017)

This end point of this road is the aptly named lovely Red Rock Canyon, but the journey there is actually better.  Through bush land and hills on the edge of the canyon, past the idyllic camping area of Crandell, sighting of a grizzly or black bear is almost guaranteed.  Grizzlies can be found roaming in the bush land feeding on the low lying berries, or bathing in a river stream in the summer’s heat.  Experience just how fast a bear can run, as they bolt across the road in front of you into the canyon as fast as your eyes can see them.  Or find one spending a lazy afternoon napping in a roadside tree.  Jason had a face to face encounter early one morning in a river bed with a black bear. 

Located on the US border of Alberta, Waterton Lakes National Park joins with Glacier National Park in the US, forming the world’s first international peace park. The drive in to the park from southern Alberta is stunning in its own right, with pristine foothills that rise slowly into mountains on the horizon.  They are worth a stop at the lookout on the way in, and create a sense of anticipation as you arrive at the park gates.  Stop on the way in the bison paddocks and visit these majestic creatures in their natural habitat.

Run by Parks Canada, entry to Waterton does require a park pass for your vehicle.  Come early in the summer, as this park has one of the shortest open seasons of any of Canada’s mountain parks.  Plan to arrive before September 15, or you will find you are one of about 10 locals, and Pincher Creek will be your best option for a meal. 

The park contains over 500km2 of rugged wilderness, mountains, rivers, and lakes, and an abundance of hiking.  The most popular hike with visitors is the Crypt Lake Trail, which requires a ferry ride over part of the Waterton Lake to the trail head.

Waterton is also home of the beautifully situated Prince of Wales Hotel, on the hilltop overlooking the town site of Waterton and lake.  Perfect for afternoon tea overlooking the lake, the hotel rooms themselves are overpriced as they lack historic authenticity in their fittings, the walls are thin, and in this particular instance, was in need of a very thorough clean.  However it is still well worth a visit, for the view from the hotel, and of the beautiful historic architecture.

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