Welcome to Waterton Lakes National Park
Here flat prairies collide dramatically with the Rockies, with a sparkling lake and a hilltop castle that may make you wonder if you've fallen into a fairy tale. Sadly, Waterton Lakes National Park is rarely known to outside visitors. While Banff and Jasper, its siblings to the north, hemorrhage with tourists and weekend warriors, Waterton is a pocket of sublime tranquillity.
Established in 1895 and now part of a Unesco World Heritage site, Unesco Biosphere Reserve and International Peace Park (with the USA's Glacier National Park), this 525-sq-km reserve lies in Alberta's southwestern corner. The park is a sanctuary for numerous iconic animals – grizzlies, elk, deer and cougar – along with 800-odd wildflower species.
The town of Waterton, a charming alpine village with a winter population of about 40, provides a marked contrast to larger, flashier Banff. Its 1920s-era Prince of Wales Hotel stands regally above town on the lakefront.