We visited Waterton National Park in Canada in 2018, and one of our favorite parts was riding the boat on the Waterton Shoreline Cruise Co. Waterton is Canada’s answer to Glacier National Park because the parks border upon each other. Unfortunately a massive fire in 2017 destroyed almost all of Waterton, and they are saying it may take a lifetime to put it back to where it was.
That doesn’t mean Waterton isn’t worth visiting, though. There are still a few nice hikes, and the brave firefighters managed to save the main village. Great camping is available. The best thing we found to do in Waterton, though, was the boat ride.
The Waterton Shoreline Cruise Co. offers a a few different boat rides. We chose the 1.5 hour boat ride that leaves from the dock, and heads to Goat Haunt in Glacier National Park in the United States. Tickets can only be purchased in person on the day prior to the voyage or the day of the voyage. The boat sails south into Glacier National Park and was the best guided boat tour we’ve been on. This is due to the guide and his passion for Waterton, which is his hometown. He spoke about the fire in great detail and with deep knowledge, answering all our questions, and giving us a feeling of awe and respect for the events of 2017.
The boat ride starts at the dock and the two-tiered ship has open air seats in the top and windows for passengers on the bottom. Due to the wind and cool weather in Waterton, wear long pants and take a jacket, particularly if you plan to sit on the upper deck. We were there in July and still wore jackets and pants!
There were a lot of things to see on the narrated boatride, including the international border, which is a thirty foot wide gap cut in the trees and marked by obelisks. Amazingly, the fire burned on the Canadian side right up to this border and then stopped, leaving this section of Glacier National Park untouched.
There are also potential animal sightings including moose, bears, and bald eagles. When the boat reaches the south end of the tour, passengers disembark and have about thirty minutes on shore. You can explore, go to the bathroom, and listen to a ranger talk in Glacier National Park. There are also hikes at Goat Haunt in Glacier. You can stay and hike, but that requires buying two one way tickets. This part of Glacier isn’t often explored because it is hard to access. We were unable to hike, but wanted to try Rainbow Falls if you are looking for suggestions.
The ride on the boat is beautiful! The natural lake water is sea green due to being fed by the glaciers that surround it. High, rugged mountains make up the skyline, which makes for beautiful pictures.
If you are planning a visit to Waterton National Park, make sure that you include plans to take the boatride. It was our favorite part of the park.
Tips for Families
- A passport is required to enter Canada. Be prepared before you come.
- If you decided to hike, you have to bring your passport and clear customs before the boat ride so allow a little extra time.
- Try to buy tickets a day early to guarantee the time you’d like to ride the boat.
- Take a jacket and wear long pants. It is cool even in July on top of that boat.
- Bring snacks and water bottles for young kids. Our boys were super thirsty for some reason.
- Sunglasses and hats that won’t blow away will help you enjoy the ride.
- If you like to stamp your National Parks Passport, there is a stamp that can only be had by taking this boatride south into Glacier National Park. Don’t forget your passport book!