The End-of-the-End in Waterton Lakes National Park

Trip Start May 27, 1987
Trip End Oct 20, 2018

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Flag of Canada  , Alberta,
Thursday, October 24, 2013

Over the last few years I have written about a number of locations that I have traveled to, but have never taken the time to write about the place I hold most dear.  As such, I have decided that I will slowly over the coming months... years (?)... decades (???) attempt to bore you with my adventures, exploits and experiences in Waterton Lakes National Park.

For those of you who have spent time in Waterton Park, I hope the entries in this blog will bring a smile to your face and awaken a long-forgotten memory.  For those who happen to stumble upon this blog and have never visited this beautiful National Park, I hope that my words will convince you to begin planning a trip next year!

I know that it may seem odd to start a series of blogs by writing about the end, but that is how I am going to go about this process: by beginning with the end-of-the-end - the final days of the tourism season.  In case you are unfamiliar with the area, the tourism season in Waterton Park typically runs from early May until early October.  By the Canadian Thanksgiving Weekend (usually the second weekend in October) the majority of business services have ceased operations for the season.  Waterton Inter-Nation Shoreline Cruise Co. pulls its last boat out of the lake after Turkey Weekend; the Bayshore Inn Resort & Spa checks out its final guests; the Waterton Lakes Golf Course wraps things up with its Turkey Scramble; Pat's Waterton (the service station in town) turns its pumps off; and Parks Canada stops manning the entrance Kiosk (this means there is no entry fee to get into Waterton Lakes National Park until the following spring!).

If the local cabin owners haven't already done so, they begin to board up the windows with shutters, drain the water pipes, lock the doors, and head somewhere a little more comfortable for the winter months.

Of course, not everything shuts down... There are two hotels that remain open all year 'round: The Waterton Lakes Lodge Resort and the Waterton Glacier Suites.  Both properties maintain nice cozy rooms, offer a full dining service and rent winter sports equipment like cross country skis and snowshoes.  The post office opens a few days a week and Parks Canada continues with garbage/waste removal and attempts to keep the roads plowed and clear of snow (something easier said than done)

Despite this activity, the townsite takes on a ghost-town-like feel.  As you walk down the windswept main street, the summer crowds have long gone, and in their place are herds of mountain sheep, mule deer, and the odd bear who refuses to give in to mother nature and go to sleep.

While the latter part of September and early October were nothing special, the weather after Oct-18-2013 was pleasant enough (especially considering I've spent enough autumns here to know how unpleasant it can get).  The day I moved out of town for the season, it was a nice, sunny, clear, blue-sky day.  The air temperature was a balmy 10C (~52F).  And the wind was, of course, howling at about 40km/h (25 mph).  

As we drove around town one last time, we noticed about a half-dozen vehicles belonging to tourists and travelers.  We said goodbye to the three dozen people still living in town, and then headed out towards the park gate.  Without looking back, we left Waterton Lakes National Park behind... 

I, like most Watertonians, choose to spend my winters in a milder climate - I personally prefer to chase summer, to be honest.  As such, I have long since headed to New Zealand for the next few months...  

But I will get back to you with more about Waterton Park in the spring of 2014...

-Captain Keith B. Robinson

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