Gateway Gazette

Visitor Offer for 2018 Summer Season in Waterton Lakes National Park

Waterton Lakes National Park, ALBERTA – Waterton Lakes National Park is open and ready to welcome visitors in 2018.

Parks Canada is committed to providing fun and memorable visitor experiences in Waterton Lakes National Park in summer 2018. While the September 2017 Kenow Wildfire has affected the park, there are many recreational opportunities and a full range of special events, volunteer activities, and interpretation programs this year. The park also serves as a base for visitors to explore other areas of Southwestern Alberta.

The Entrance Road and adjacent facilities, the townsite, and the Waterton Lakes, and Chief Mountain Highway are open this year. The Red Rock Parkway is available for non-motorized use (hiking and biking) from the Entrance Road to the Bellevue Prairie Trail (see attached map below). A full list of what is available, along with information on recreation opportunities is available on our website to help visitors plan their trip: www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/ab/waterton/visit/ouvert-open.

Visitor safety is a top priority for Parks Canada. As a result, many areas affected by the Kenow Wildfire in September 2017 will remain closed for summer 2018 due to hazards such as dangerous trees, slope instability, and damaged infrastructure. The entire Akamina Parkway and the Red Rock Parkway from Bellevue Prairie Trail to Red Rock Canyon – along with associated recreation opportunities in these areas – will remain closed in 2018. It is too early to provide a timeline for when these areas will re-open.

While delivering visitor services and experiences in 2018, Parks Canada is also undertaking the necessary assessments to develop a long term plan for Waterton Lakes. The Agency is working to restore the National Park experience in a manner that is safe for the thousands of Canadian and international visitors who enjoy the park each year while advancing ecological objectives for the park.

There is potential for high levels of visitation this summer in Waterton Lakes National Park. Parks Canada encourages visitors to plan their trip ahead of time, and to consider visiting in the spring or fall, weekdays in the summer, or early morning or evening to ensure the best opportunity for easier access and less crowding. Visitors can find the most up-to-date travel information on our social media channels (Facebook and Twitter), Website, and Alberta 511.

More information below map

 

Backgrounder
Waterton Lakes National Park in 2018

Parks Canada is committed to providing fun and memorable visitor experiences in Waterton Lakes National Park in 2018. There are many recreation opportunities for visitors to experience in the park. We ask visitors to remember that the 2017 Kenow Wildfire significantly affected the park in a number of ways.

Temporary Visitor Centre Services:

• Parks Canada will operate a temporary Visitor Centre in the townsite at the Lion’s Hall on Fountain Avenue.
• The opening date and hours of operation will be communicated as soon as possible.

Red Rock Parkway from the Entrance Road to Bellevue Prairie Trail:

• Available to non-motorized use (walking, biking, etc.).
• Visitors should exercise caution as operational vehicle traffic may be present on the road.
• Public access to this portion of the parkway may change depending on construction schedules.

Water quality:

• Visitors should not drink water from any source other than the townsite supply. Personal water purification technologies such as handheld filters and chemical tablets are not adequate to ensure drinking water is safe after the effects of the Kenow Wildfire.
• More safety information is available on our Website: https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/ab/waterton/securite-safety

Impact to the park:

• Waterton Lakes National Park presents unparalleled opportunities to learn about the effects of fire on the landscape and ecosystem restoration.
• While the Kenow Wildfire affected 38% of the park and 50% of the park’s vegetation, fire kick-starts regeneration by providing ideal growing conditions. Many ecosystems have evolved with fire and depend on it for renewal. A recent burn may seem dead but many forms of life survive, giving rise to a new forest.
• For Parks Canada, managing Waterton Lakes National Park in 2018 will be unprecedented and complex. Over 30 assets were lost or significantly impacted, including both the Red Rock and Akamina Parkways, and a considerable portion of the trail network. In 2018, while delivering visitor services and experiences and a full ecological management program, Parks Canada will be assessing the extent of the damage and developing plans for the future.
• Fire related impacts and other ecological factors require on-going monitoring and potentially pro-active action, including managing the risk of non-native species expanding their presence in the park. Please watch the Waterton Lakes National Park website for updates and information.

Parks Canada is undertaking the necessary assessments, analysis, and planning to develop a long term approach for Waterton. We are working to restore the National Park experience in a manner that is safe for our many hundreds of thousands of annual visitors and fully consistent with the ecological objectives for the park.

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