Waterton Lakes National Park Canada~

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At the beginning of the 19th century, there were an estimated 1.5-2 million big horn sheep in North America.
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By 1900 that estimate had dropped to several thousand.
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Conservation efforts have brought current populations up to approximately 70,000.
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We saw several groups in Waterton Lakes National Park.
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Waterton is busy in July and August and essentially closes in late September. In the town of Waterton, most summer residents leave, with only around twenty or so souls remaining year round. The day we left the winds were blowing at 65km/h with gusts up to 90km/h! It gets COLD here fast and the locals tell me winter can be hard to take, with everything shrouded in mist. I would love to visit in winter and do a post about what life is like in a town where almost everyone has left!
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The road to Waterton.
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The iconic Prince of Wales Hotel brooding over the stark fall landscape. How would you like to stay here as the winter caretaker while the hotel is closed all winter long? I would love it, as long as Jack Nicholson doesn’t visit! No ‘Shining’ for me, thank you very much.
Cheers to you from gorgeous and uncrowded Waterton Lakes~

152 thoughts on “Waterton Lakes National Park Canada~

  1. Wow! Hearing about how the area is shrouded in mist when it gets cold makes me want to be there for that! And I’ll bet that the big horn sheep have their way of surviving when most humans have left the area. I’m with you Cindy about wanting to take the road less traveled! 😀 ~Lynn

  2. You meet the nicest creatures along the way. A few years ago, I was in a business course at the Banff Centre. It was early spring with a late snowfall. When I walked to the classroom, I was accompanied by a family of deer. I thought – could it get any better than this. We owe a great debt of gratitude to our fellow creatures. Wonderful post.

  3. The animals always are delightful, but my favorite photo is of that deeply blue, reflective lake. Sometimes it’s hard to read your posts — they’re a sure trigger for terminal wanderlust!

    • And I am no good for counseling you out of your wanderlust, since I am infected big time! We just got home and we are leaving again in a month which is actually too much even for me! Jim just couldn’t pass up this excellent winter to Europe deal……. 😉 😉

  4. I was so happy to know conservationists are working on this, Cindy. I will be breezing through a few posts I have fallen behind on reading them (and others). Love perfect reflection on the water of yhe sky. I liked the first big horn sheep with a piece of green sticking out of his mouth. 🙂

  5. Great shots. A few years ago we were hiking up to the summit of Mount Wheeler above Santa Fe, NM. Helicopters kept flying in and out with bags hanging from them. We ran into a game warden coming down as we were going up and asked him what was going on. He told us that some years back they had reintroduced big horn sheep into the Sangre De Cristo range, and they were doing so well, that the Fish a Game Dept had been exporting them all over the US to help bring back big horn populations. One of the ways they funded the operation was to action off hunting licenses that he said typically auctioned for $200,000 or more — the rangers take the hunters out and allowed them to shoot old sheep that probably would not make it through the winter. The hunters get a big, old sheep for a trophy, and the rest of the country gets big horn sheep reintroduced into various wilderness areas.

    • We have big horns in our local desert mountains, but they are a sub-species the California Big Horn and they aren’t doing well due to drought. We do a special hike that usually results in sightings every hike as it is to a spring, but I haven’t seen any sheep the last two hikes. I am concerned about the California sub-species dying out.

  6. Ha, ha…as I was reading this and you mentioned it was closed in the winter I was think “how beautiful this place could be in the wintertime” and then when viewing the Prince of Wales Hotel I had that eerie feeling that Jack Torrance lives there…and one night he’d break into my room exclaiming “Heeere’s Johnny!” 🙂 Beyond that thought – a beautiful series of photos, landscape and good to hear the sheep population is rebounding.

    • Yes, whenever I encounter one of these remote old beauties that button down for the winter, I always imagine staying and being the caretaker. I really would love to do this somewhere. Many Glaciers lodge has a blogger that over winters as the caretaker. The only thing I wouldn’t like is taking care of burst pipes!

  7. I think the less people in the area the more comfortable habitat for animals. That lovely place described in your post is looking beautiful as well as hotel. I do not say anything about animals portraits because they are wonderful as usually.

  8. I have to admit that since I already live in a snowbelt where we measure snow events in feet — I’ll leave you to supplying me with the beautiful photos of winter there. 😀 I do know what you mean about being where few people are. The energy of the place changes. i walk a nature trail that veers off into a campgrounds. Recently, I stopped as I crossed the imaginary line to the campgrounds. The energy of the place had changed. I felt quite at peace. I walked for a ways before I realized the people had closed up their campers and left for the season. <3 Wishing you peaceful journeys.

    • Oh I know exactly what you are describing because we went hiking in Glacier and got a bit lost. We ended up in a closed campground and I was fascinated by the atmosphere of the place. The bathrooms were locked. The road had barriers and the campsites and firepits seemed to be waiting. Jim and I talked about how fun it would be to camp in a closed campground and have the place entirely to ourselves. I was reading a book at the time about Glacier and learned later that rangers stay busy in the fall, ticketing and moving people who do just that, camp in a closed campground.

      • They locked up the bathrooms in all the parks in mid-September. People were still there. It was like thanks a lot guys! I guess they were worried about the pipes freezing, but the days were in the high 70’sF!

    • Yes 70,000 is not enough for me to be comfortable. The Prince of Wales hotel was built in 1927, Many Glaciers Hotel is around 100 years old, and The Old Faithful Inn is the oldest of all. People used to come by train to visit the parks and I always feel their ghostly presence when I stay in these remarkable old places. They used to call Yellowstone, Wonder Land, and roast popcorn in the massive fireplace.

  9. HaHa, my first thought was that, with practically all the people gone, I’d get a LOT of writing done — assuming, of course, that somebody periodically brought in food!!

    • Seriously, I would love to do it for one winter. I guess I would snowshoe around. I hear the mist is so dense you can’t see the mountains, and the wind rips around the valley. People say they get claustrophobic with the inability to see anything. I imagine the storms must be epic!

    • It depends on your personality I think. Introverts would tend to like it, but extroverts might be unhappy. It also depends on how comfortable you are with cold, snow and wind. I read descriptions of bird watchers who find ravens, woodpeckers, all sorts of birds. I wonder what the wildlife is like!

  10. It’s amazing that the hotel can stay in business for only a few months a year. Your description sounds like the arctic! Very cool that you got to see bighorns. 🙂

    • We were in Revelstoke late September a few years ago. We drove up a mountain and got encased in a massive blizzard and it was COLD!!! The bighorns were a thrill. Each park seemed to showcase a different animal.

  11. Beauty has its price, for it is, in my experience, often found in remote areas with extreme circumstances. Either the isolation challenges or the climate or both. Still, we are compelled to seek such places out, though I have had enough freezing weather to last a lifetime. Still, memories take me back to deep isolation in the woods of Maine, along with the extraordinary beauty of untrammeled landscapes and wild things busy about the task of survival. Brings one quite literally down to earth.

    • It sounds magnificent to me. I have only really experienced the mountains in winter while skiing. And of course, ski resorts are busy, crowded places, so there was none of this isolated grandeur that you describe so beautifully. I would just like to experience it for one winter.

    • I love these Grand Dame old hotels. It’s like stepping into a time warp. I imagine the guests from a hundred years ago and love the feeling of connection as we experience the same things.

      • They are pretty spectacular looking. Built when quality was important, and comfort not being an after thought. I thought your Jack Nicolson reference was pretty funny. Nice post, Cindy, but they usually are. :O)

  12. The big horns are magnificent! What a gorgeous setting for the hotel! I wouldn’t mind being there all winter with plenty of firewood, food, and a huge pile of books.

  13. Beautiful. But, no, I’m not one to stick around when the temps drop way down. If most of the town evacuates, that’s clue enough for me! HA! It’s so funny you mentioned “The Shining” with Jack Nicholson. That’s what I thought of when I saw that hotel! Oh, what an awful movie! LOL!

  14. I agree that it would be interesting to visit a town where everyone has left. Such an experience would try the soul, but you would probably come out of it with much in thought and feeling to cherish. The trick is, you know you will come out of it!

    • Yes, which is why I would like to do it for one winter. Every winter would wear me down. I talked at length with a woman who used to run the general store and raised her kids here. She is the one that told me a lot about what it is like in the winter. There is apparently one child who over winters there now. She now spends her summers in Waterton and her winters in Florida!

  15. Can’t imagine staying in this iconic hotel enjoying the gorgeous view! These big horn sheep are good looking creatures. Thank you so much for taking us there, Cindy! Happy travel 🙂

  16. I’ll come and keep you company, Cindy! Is there a big log fire (or several? 🙂 ) I do love bleak but only in very short spells (and less and less as I get older). I don’t know what we Brits grump about sometimes. We don’t have extremes. And those sheep are adorable. 🙂

  17. Sí, debe ser muy interesante descansar en este hotel en invierno…, pero con la calefacción a tope para aguantar los muchos grados bajo cero de esa zona ¿no? 😉
    Es bueno que haya programas de protección de las especies para que no desaparezcan. Un abrazo, amiga. <3 <3 <3

  18. Stunning. I once thought of taking a position at Bull Frog, Utah. I was so tired of Washington, DC I was desperate to get away from everything and everyone. I finally came to my senses when I learned it was 200 miles to purchase a diet coke! After all, a lady has her needs.
    I was within 18 months of retirement and had I gone, it would have been a real downgrade in position but I’d retire with my high 3. It was really tempting. Other than no diet coke, no medical care for Tom.

    • Wow I am going go google Bull Frog! 200 miles to a store is a bit isolated, even for me, who loves solitude and detests crowds. I was just over at your blog and I read your wonderful response to my comment on your post and I wanted to respond but couldn’t see where too, and here you are! Lucky me. Still so impressed with your last post Sheri and so glad you drummed up the courage to post it. Be well my dear friend and enjoy your weekend and give Tom my best~

      • I hadn’t thought of Bull Frog since 1993 when I wanted out of DC so bad I was willing to do almost anything. I haven’t looked at Bull Frog since that time. Perhaps it’s grown some.
        I did transfer from DC to Roseburg, OR and the college wasn’t there when we lived there 1989-99. I knew they’d make me retire at 20 but if I stayed in DC I’d probably be killed before I got to retire. Unfortunately there was almost as much crime at the Roseburg VA as there was in DC – it had festered for years and it was dark and ugly – very ugly. I could not wait to get out of there.
        I’m in the midst of trying to up Tom’s VA disability percentage. The paperwork is grueling but a representative from a veteran’s group thinks we have a good chance. We’re currently at 40%. Of course we use all civilian doctors with the exception of Tom’s psychiatrist and their medical records tend to be a bit more formal and well documented than what the VA keeps.
        Take care my friend. I was shocked I actually posted my last blog. I’d written it and held onto it all month. I’d told myself if I didn’t post it then I could never write about bipolar disorder again because I wouldn’t be telling the complete truth.

  19. LOL, you’re like us, off season man. It’s the only way to go. We ate outside at a local restaurant the other night. We had it all to ourselves. It was 60F but a warm heater made it quite nice. I’ve never been to Waterton, that’s a shame because it looks spectacular. ‘The Shining’ still freaks me out. At least you could have a drink with Jack, it’s those freaky twin sisters in the hallway that’d have me running and screaming the heck out of there, Ha x K

    • Yes, but I didn’t like Jack too much either, what with his hatcheting doors, his writing redrum on mirrors, cackling like the lunatic he is, and of course trying to kill his wife and child. I know, I know, I am super picky about men.

  20. I actually visiting the hotel from the Shining in Estes Park, Colorado. Its far less menacing without all the creepy special effects…and Jack.

    What a fascinating place. Do you think you’ll brave that winter and go back?

  21. It would be an interesting experience to be the last one standing after all the “birds” have flown South. So deep and brooding. The hotel looks spectacular and must have so many stories to tell!

  22. Beautiful photos, Cindy! Despite being retired now, I have done no blogging at all, and very little reading even! We have been enjoying ourselves, though. We’ve done a lot of traveling in the RV, and a motorcycle ride to Waterton from West Glacier was one of our adventures in early August. I guess the amount of tourists must have scared the big horn sheep into the high range, because we didn’t see any. Next trip to Glacier and Waterton will NOT be in season. 🙂

    • Sounds perfectly wonderful! The biggest concentrations of big horns we saw were in Glacier. There were lots of them, but you are right, they run into high elevations when there are lots of tourists and come down low after the hordes leave. Many Glaciers Hotel was closing as we left. This is a great time to visit. So glad you are relishing your retirement. It sure beats working!!! 😉 😉

  23. Hey, no fair! I’m from Canada and I never heard of Waterton Lake! (OK, confession time. In truth I thought it was called Glacier National Park!)

    • It is the Canadian extension and Canada’s uniqe take on their own national park. It’s charming beyond words with nicer infrastructure than poor underfunded US parks!

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