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Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Parks Canada opens additional areas in Waterton Lakes National Park

Reopening areas in Waterton -  June 2018
  • Parks Canada has reopened over 50 kilometres of previously closed trails and three backcountry campgrounds in Waterton Lakes National Park
  • Safety guide for burned areas in Waterton Lakes National Park in 2018
  • Report all wildlife observations/encounters to 1-888-WARDENS (1-888-927-3367)

Waterton Lakes National Park - 
Waterton Lakes National Park is open and ready to welcome visitors in 2018. While some areas of the park were affected by the September 2017 Kenow Wildfire, Parks Canada is committed to providing fun and memorable visitor experiences in Waterton Lakes National Park in summer 2018.


Parks Canada’s staff has been working hard to assess and reduce wildfire related hazards on trails and backcountry facilities in Waterton Lakes National Park. Trail crews have repaired damaged and destroyed infrastructure (benches and small footbridges) and assessed, cut, and cleared fallen and burned trees.

As a result of this work, Parks Canada has reopened over 50 kilometres of previously closed trails and three backcountry campgrounds in Waterton Lakes National Park. Areas now reopened include the Bertha Falls, Bertha Lake, Crandell Lake Loop, Horseshoe Basin, and Lakeshore trails. The portion of the Red Rock Parkway open to non-motorized use (biking and hiking) has been extended – from Bellevue Trailhead to Coppermine Creek. In addition, the Bertha Bay, Bertha Lake (pending snowmelt and assessment), and Boundary Bay backcountry campgrounds have also reopened.

The Entrance Road and adjacent facilities, townsite, Waterton Lakes, and Chief Mountain Highway are also open. A complete list of what is available in Waterton, along with information and suggestions on recreational opportunities, special events, volunteer activities, andinterpretation programs is posted on our website to help visitors plan their trip: www.parkscanada.ca/waterton-open.

Visitor safety is a priority for Parks Canada. Backcountry travel always comes with inherent risks and areas affected by the Kenow Wildfire may have increased hazards. Visitors should be aware of their surroundings and prepared with the appropriate equipment during backcountry travel. For more information to plan a safe and enjoyable experience, please see the attached backgrounder and our visitor safety webpages: https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/ab/waterton/securite-safety.

The Crandell Mountain Campground, Bear’s Hump Trail, the Akamina Parkway, Cameron Lake Day Use Area, Red Rock Parkway from Coppermine Creek to Red Rock Canyon, and recreational opportunities associated with these areas remain closed at this time. It is too early to provide a timeline for when these areas will re-open. To ensure safety, please respect all area closures. Entering a closed area can result in a fine.

There is potential for a busy summer in Waterton Lakes National Park. Parks Canada encourages visitors to plan their trip ahead of time, visit on weekdays, early morning or evening in the summer, or plan your trip for fall or winter. The most up-to-date travel information is available on our social media channels (Facebook and Twitter), Website, and Alberta 511.


Safety in burned areas in Waterton Lakes National Park in 2018

Parks Canada is committed to providing memorable visitor experiences in Waterton Lakes National Park in 2018. There are many recreational opportunities for visitors to experience in the park. Backcountry travel always comes with inherent risks. We ask visitors to remember that some open areas of the park were burned by the Kenow Wildfire. Please review the following information to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience:

•    Water quality - The Kenow Wildfire may have affected water quality in the backcountry.
Visitors travelling in the backcountry should treat drinking water gathered from burned areas, or pack in potable water. Water turbidity and microbial pathogens (potentially increased due to the wildfire) are examples of contaminants that need to be addressed through treatment. These contaminants can be addressed with two steps: 1) filtering backcountry water with a microbial water filter that meets a third party standard such as P231 and 2) disinfection with chlorine tablets if the filter pore size is 0.02 microns or larger.

•    Blowing dust - As conditions dry out this summer, there will be loose ash and dirt in the park. Strong winds will transport this ash and dirt and could cause air quality and visibility issues.

•    Reduced shade – In fire affected areas, reduced shade due to the burning of the forest canopy will make hiking and walking on hot and sunny days more strenuous. Due to the lack of a canopy, hiking trails will be more slippery in rainy weather.

•    Rock fall, steep slopes, and debris - Rock that was once held in place by vegetation is now loose and more unstable. Take care when travelling over steep slopes and rocky areas and reduce your overhead hazard to steep slopes and cliffs where fallen trees or loose rocks may roll downhill. Increased rock or debris fall hazard can be expected during rainy or windy weather. Also, watch out for hazards from damaged or destroyed infrastructure like steel, nails, and glass.

•    Hazard trees - Any trails that are open have been assessed for hazard trees and the risks appropriately mitigated. Travel quickly and spread your group out to reduce exposure time. Avoid burnt forests during windy, rainy, or snowy conditions. Travel off trail carries increased risk from falling trees. Hazard trees have not been assessed or cleared in off-trail areas.

•    Wildlife – Following the wildfire, animals may behave unpredictably, including entering the townsite in search of food. For your safety and the safety of the animals, never approach, feed, or entice wildlife. Dispose of garbage only in the bear-proof bins located throughout the townsite in order to avoid attracting wildlife. Report all wildlife observations/encounters by calling 1-888-WARDENS (1-888-927-3367).

•    Rock climbing and scrambling - Boulders and cliffs were exposed to extreme temperatures during the wildfire, causing some rock surfaces to become brittle. Rocks and climbing areas that were once solid may now have increased rockfall hazard and insecure hand and footholds. All rock climbing anchors and bolts need to be treated with extreme caution. Trees should no longer be considered as secure anchor options.

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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