2020 has set its own travel and tourism agenda. While we wait for flights, domestic and international, to resume we can staple the places we want to visit and revisit. For me it is Waterton and I was looking to fill in the blanks of my 2019 amble in the Park.
WATERTON, ALBERTA: Place names entice visitors with romantic connotations, macho ruggedness or Elysian visions. On my three earlier visits to Calgary, Alberta, Waterton never figured on my visiting list and this was a blunder I regret. When i did, in August 2019, it turned out to be a pastiche of all three categories… an Elysian, picturesque romantic all season get-away preserved by the rugged Rockies. There was one minor glitch….the visit was inconclusive as the Park was under reconstruction due to devastation of 2017 Kenow wildfire. The fire, said to have originated from British Columbia, encroached into Alberta flaming northeast from Cameron Valley along Akima Parkway scorching nearly 38,000 hectares, including 20,329 of Waterton Lakes National Park. The burnt out mountains stood testimony to the devastation that had stopped short of Waterton town and the iconic Prince of Wales Hotel. Other structures including Alpine Stables, the Visitor Centre, Crandell Campground were not so lucky. Most major hikes were closed, but being end of summer (2019) the town and its environs were swarming with visitors and nature lovers. The reason ‘..nature is already renewing itself by weaving the mosaic anew–and perhaps by adding novel, unexpected patterns’. (Parks Canada blog).
Visit of 2019: Summer is the time for beaches and national parks and on a bright sunny morning, perfect for a 2 hour plus drive to Waterton in southern Alberta bordering Montana’s Glacier National Park. we set out from Calgary, Alberta. The Park was created in 1932 as an extension of Waterston-Glacier International Peace Park (IPP), a symbol of peace and goodwill between Canada and United States. Both Parks are UNESCO declared Biosphere Reserves and, together, a World Heritage Site.
The Drive from Calgary: The 158-mile drive from Calgary is no Big Sur (California) panoramic adventure but is still one of Canada’s most scenic drives. We took the spartan meandering route from Calgary through flat prairie land passing Okotoks till Nanton and then onto Hwy 2. On return preferred the picturesque Route 22 or the Cowboy trail (part of Hwy 5) following the scenic Rockies overlooking ranches and farmlands, eateries and pubs and included a detour to Franks Slide and stop at Nanton (an hour’s drive from Calagary).
The highpoint of our trip was high tea at Prince of Wales Hotel, Waterton. The pictures say it all, the regality of a cup of tea.
Next day was return to Calgary via Highway 22 or the Cowboy Trail for an amazing ride past the Rockies and swaying green fields. On way we stopped at Franks Slide, to watch the transformation from ‘bounty of nature to fury of’ nature and then to Nanton, once known as the ‘Tap Town’. The reason for the moniker was that this small town provided passing motorists with free wate, from its foothills, via a stand tap on the northbound highway. Later this water was bottled and sold in Canada as Nanton Water & Soda Ltd. It is said to be a thriving business today.