Activities by season
Some areas in Waterton Lakes National Park are now open to the public after the Kenow Fire. Closures are still in effect for other areas due to safety hazards and infrastructure damage. Please see the up-to-date list of open and closed areas.
Waterton's character changes with the seasons. By understanding these seasonal cycles, you can plan your trip to best suit your interests.
Before your arrive, check the information available. In summer months, planning your arrival times and calling ahead may save you frustrating line-ups or a lack of accommodation. In winter, check road and avalanche reports and gas up.
Prepare yourself by finding out what the park offers at the time of year in which you intend to travel.
Spring is the best time for wildflowers in Waterton. Within a short walk from your car you can find 20 or 30 different species. Wildflowers can be seen in the park at almost any season as summer weather progresses up the mountains.
The most popular time to visit Waterton is July and August. The weather is generally warmer, dryer and more dependable, and summertime offers the most opportunities. Over half of Waterton's visitors come during these two months.
Late summer and fall are particularly good wildlife viewing times, especially for black bear, elk and deer. The grasslands of the lower mountainsides provide important food for wildlife, as well as open views which make them more visible. Ungulates such as deer, elk and bighorn sheep mate in the fall, so they are looking their best. The most spectacular birding time is in late fall when large numbers of waterfowl migrate through the park.
Winter is a time of quiet retreat. Facilities and businesses are limited and include some accommodation, restaurants and gift shops. Enjoy a variety of winter activities, such as snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, ice climbing and wildlife viewing, but be prepared for conditions ranging from warm and windy to extreme cold and deep snow. Strong winds can create poor visibility, icy conditons, and drifting snow on roads.