Waterton Lakes National Park

Our first stop in the Canadian Rockies was Waterton Lakes National Park, which is located at the southernmost part of the Canadian Rockies, and is in fact contiguous with Glacier National Park in Montana. The often forgotten-about "younger brother" of more famous Canadian parks such as Banff and Jasper, Waterton Lakes is a beautiful destination fully worth a visit; I only regret we didn't have more time to explore it. Most of the photos in this sceneset focus on the series of Waterton Lakes that give the park its name.
Hazy Waterton Park  I wish I actually knew what you were looking at here, but I don't. I guess that's what happens when I wait for years before writing descriptions for my photos. :) I do recall that it was a long view of part of Waterton Lakes National Park from Alberta's Highway 6, the road we traveled to get to Waterton after our earlier visit to Glacier National Park. The vertical bands in the sky are faint sunrays caused by the high sun streaming through overhead clouds. Tiger Swallowtail  One of the first notable examples of "wildlife" we saw at Waterton was this cool tiger swallowtail. We have lots of these in Vermont, especially at the higher elevations, but I didn't see many of them out west.  I noticed only after I processed this picture that the poor butterfly appeared to have a bite taken out of it.. but it was still able to soldier on. Storm Over Waterton Valley  This long view of much of the heart of Waterton Lakes National Park was taken as we approached the park from the east. The famous Waterton Lakes are set in a valley that has many mountains to its west but none to the northeast, affording us this panoramic scene. It was a hot, hazy and stormy day.  The small body of water visible in the center of the image is Lower Waterton Lake. Ripples on Upper Waterton Lake  Upper Waterton Lake is a dominant feature of the park, running south from the Waterton townsite many miles to the border; the southernmost third of the lake is in Glacier National Park in Montana. This image was taken on our night of arrival; it was rather stormy and dark but the water was calm except for the ripples from boats, which made these interesting interference patterns. Clearing Storm, Red Rock Parkway  Red Rock Parkway leads to the canyon of the same name. This was the only blue sky we saw the evening that we set out to check out the canyon. On the plus side, the notorious crowds at this famous locale were conspicuously absent.  This peak may be Mount Blakiston (9,527' / 2904m). The mountain, as well as Blakiston Creek, are named after Thomas Wright Blakiston, an early explorer of the Canadian Rockies. Red Rock Canyon  It doesn't take a whole lot of analysis to figure out how this canyon got its name! One of the most famous destinations in Waterton Lakes National Park, the color of the stones has to be seen to be believed, and contrasts dramatically against the green foliage in the summertime.
Vivid Red  A closer view of part of Red Rock Canyon. A light rain really caused the deep red color of the rock to come through, especially once I used my polarizer to cut down on reflections. The inclement weather also provided another advantage: no people to get in my photos!  One of the problems associated with the canyon can also be seen in this image. If you look closely you'll see that the red rock is covered with broken bits of stone and sand. The rock is actually quite fragile and breaks easily. Despite requests to the contrary, people always walk on the rock, and every footprint damages it just a little more. If it doesn't stop, one day there will be no more Red Rock Canyon, at least not the way you see it here. Upper Red Rock Canyon  This is a shot of the upper part of Red Rock Canyon, where the canyon walls are higher and steeper. Taken at around the same time as the preceding couple of images, this shot shows how different the red rocks can look from various angles even in comparable conditions. Canyon Layers  One more scene of Red Rock Canyon, this time showing better the sedimentary layers of rocks. In addition to the dominant red colors, it is common to find white layers and even some that are tinged yellow or green. Violet Sunrise  If you want to take pictures of the sunrise in the Canadian Rockies in late June, you have to get up pretty darned early! This image was taken at 5:33 am from a road near the famous Prince of Wales Hotel near the Waterton Townsite. Given how many clouds were around at the time I counted myself fortunate to have gotten such nice coloration in the sky. Waterton Wisp  The main "town" in Waterton is called, appropriately enough, the Waterton Townsite. On this fine morning a nifty cloud was floating above the town (or at least it appeared so when viewed from this angle.) Middle Waterton Sunrays  I love sun rays, caused by the sun shining through gaps in the clouds. They are seen most often after sunrise and before sunset, and for this reason are technically called crepuscular rays (that word being derived from the Latin word for twilight).  This view is looking northeast over, I believe, Middle Waterton Lake.
Cameron Creek Valley  Cameron Creek winds through the western part of Waterton Lakes National Park, linking Cameron Lake to the main Waterton Lakes complex. This image was taken in the early morning about a half hour after sunrise. Wish I knew the names of those mountains! Lifting Fog  Fog lifting from a small meadow somewhere a few miles north of the Waterton Townsite. Guarding the Shoreline  One of the best views of Upper Waterton Lake, and the Waterton Townsite itself, is from the grounds of the famous Prince of Wales Hotel. I went there on a nice morning to take some shots and was amused by the number of Columbia ground squirrels I found popping out of burrows all over the place! I'm a sucker for cute rodents so I took this shot which shows one seemingly guarding the shore of Upper Waterton Lake (but actually just basking in the early, soft sunshine). Rainbow at Cameron Falls  Cameron Falls is a small, pleasant waterfall formed where Cameron Creek runs over some hard rock folds. It is not near Cameron Lake as many expect, but rather is found right in the Waterton Townsite itself. I was lucky enough to get there at the right time for the mid-morning sun to make a little rainbow in the fall's spray. Blue Cascade  Another shot of Cameron Falls, this time taken from higher up, and showing some of the cool blue and purple wildflowers growing on the rocks. Deer Tourist...  Deer are not the most exciting wildlife in the Canadian Rockies by any means, but it was still kind of cool to see this very docile specimen just hanging around grazing right in town.
Cameron Creek  One of many spectacular, yet undistinguishing, views of Cameron Creek and surrounding mountains in the middle of Waterton Lakes National Park. International View  A pretty, calm morning on Cameron Lake, which is located in the far southwest corner of Waterton Lakes National Park. It lies nearly entirely within the park boundaries, but its extreme southern tip straddles the US/Canada border, which also means most of the mountains you see in this south-facing view are in the US as well.  The prominent peak to the left (the one you see when you follow the dock to the back of the image) is Mount Custer in the northern part of Glacier National Park. The one on the right is Forum Peak (which is named for Forum Lake, located on the other side so you can't see it here.) Peaceful Brook  Like most photographers, I have a love-hate relationship with clouds -- too many or too few make photos boring. But I'm a real sucker for clouds shrouding mountaintops or blowing over them as I saw in this peaceful shot of a quiet brook in the middle of the park.  The peak may be Mount Dungarvan, but I'm not sure. Still Spring, Cameron Lake  Spring arrives very late in the higher elevations of the Rockies. Despite this shot being taken in late June, these bushes along the shore of Cameron Lake appeared as if they were still leafing out. Black Bear Baby  Wildlife is abundant in the Canadian Rockies, and while driving back from Cameron Lake to the Waterton Townsite, we were fortunate enough to spot a baby black bear and its mom right near the side of the road. The cub was extremely cute, especially the way it was clinging to this tree and peering out from behind it. Black Bear Mama  And here's mama bear. She didn't appear particularly unhappy at the time we saw her and her cub, but we certainly weren't take any chances: the pair was only a few feet away, but this image was taken from the safety of our rental car!
Bear's Hump Panorama  Like other mountains and hills with names such as "Bear's Hump", this famous protuberance just north of the Waterton Townsite is named for its appearance. The top is accessed by a short but very steep hike (lots of switchbacks!), which rewards the climber with spectacular vistas of the town, Upper and Middle Waterton Lakes and many of the surrounding mountains. Even when the weather isn't the best for photography -- as was the case this day -- it's an amazing place. A Splash of Color  These small yellow flowers growing right in the rocks on top of the Bear's Hump provided a nice counterpoint to the expanse of lake and mountains beyond. Hidden Beauty  I'm always amazed at how plants can find ways to grow in the most unexpected of places. I have no idea what these are but they were really pretty and I sure didn't think I'd find them on top of a windswept hill. Prince of Wales Hotel and Middle Waterton Lake  Another view from the Bear's Hump, showing the impact of the wind on trees, as well as the Prince of Wales Hotel, a famous historical landmark in Waterton Lakes National Park. The hotel is located on a spit of land near where Upper and Middle Waterton Lakes meet. It was built in the 1920s and named in a shameless attempt to get the then-prince, who was touring Canada at the time, to stay at the hotel (and it didn't even work!) Tour Guide  Just as I was about to snap this shot of the Waterton Townsite and Upper Waterton Lake, this funny golden mantled ground squirrel popped up his head as if to say "Welcome to my home, let me show you around." :) There were a couple of them up there, very tame, which pleased my kids immensely. (No, we didn't feed them or touch them!) Bosporus Strait  This small canal of water connects Upper and Middle Waterton Lakes. It is probably named after the Bosphorus Strait, which is a waterway flowing through the Turkish city of Istanbul, linking the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara, and then the Mediterranean.
Hazy Meadow  This very hazy day produced pale blue skies and warm temperatures. I captured these wildflowers near the edge of the park. Yellow Columbine  A pretty, solitary yellow columbine, found on the steep switchback-laden trail that goes to the top of the Bear's Hump. Bison Paddock  Near the northeast corner of Waterton Lakes National Park is a reservation called the Bison Paddock, where a small herd of plains bison are kept. The paddock serves both to help protect and conserve the once-ubiquitous animals and as a wild viewing gallery for tourists. Sentry  A strong yet serene male bison keeps watch at the bison paddock.