Waterton Lakes National Park

Waterton Lake and townsite, NPS photoThe M.V. International, NPS photoView north down Waterton Valley, NPS photo

During an 1858 expedition, Lt. Thomas Blakiston named the lakes now embodied with Waterton Lakes National Park after British naturalist Charles Waterton. The park first received protection in 1895 as the Kootenay Lakes Forest Park. In 1911, the park would become Canada’s fourth, and smallest, national park.

The park contains 195 square miles of rugged mountains, windswept prairies, and deep, cold lakes. The lakes, including Upper Waterton Lake which is the deepest in the Canadian Rockies, are nested in a valley that spans U.S. and Canadian property. This variety of landscapes in a relatively small geographical area results in a rich diversity of plant and animal life.

In 1932, Waterton and Glacier National Park united to form the first International Peace Park. Although administered separately, the two parks have a history of cooperative efforts. John George ‘Kootenai’ Brown, Waterton’s first park superintendent, and Henry ‘Death on the Trail’ Reynolds, a ranger in Glacier National Park, first proposed the idea of combining the two parks into an International Peace Park as early as the 1910s. To this day, the parks cooperate on efforts to protect the landscape and resources that have come to define Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park.