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Bison and Horses and Bears, OH MY!

September 18, 2016

(Please note: the photos may be a little misaligned in this post. I’ll be learning more about how to fix this as I go along.)


There is quite a bit to do in Waterton Lakes. We drove around on Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2016  to give my knees and ankle time to recuperate 20160830_144258after the hike to Bertha Lake.

Red Rock Canyon

We took an easy hike around Red Rock Canyon (0.7 km or about 1/4 mile loop), though the bridge was closed for repairs when we were there). The whole drive is gorgeous with beautiful, wait for it… red rock mountains. The Canyon hike is beautiful with a river that shimmers copper. At least it looks copper with polarized sunglasses on. I used them as a camera filter because it was just prettier that way. There is also an access point to the river so you can walk up and down the slippery rocks. It’s an easy, accessible hike, so there are lots of people.

Bison Paddockimg_0834

We also drove over to the bison paddock and saw these gorgeous beasts chomping away on the prairie grass by the entrance. Once passed the entrance, the drive wasn’t too exciting because all the bison were at the entrance and the road was pretty bouncy in our 4-wheel drive.


20160830_192428Prince of Wales Hotel

We stopped at the Prince of Wales Hotel for an early dinner. It’s a beautiful historic railway hotel built by the Great Northern of United States in 1926-27.  It was a popular destination for Americans during Prohibition and has20160830_192107 breathtaking views of Waterton Lakes from the lobby, bar and restaurant. If high-tea is your thing, it’s available in the lobby between 1-5 p.m.; it isn’t ours, so we had “bangers and mash” in the bar. We got an extra treat after dinner when we got to see a mother black bear and her cub eating berries just below the hotel.

By the way, Continental Claire one of our official trip mascots. She observes, she poses, and she contributes laughs… mostly when I’m trying to get her to stand up. She falls down a lot. Claire is from the books by Diana Gabaldon and the STARZ show Outlander.  If you’re not familiar with either, check them out. They books and show are fantastic. Since Claire is English, the Prince of Wales Hotel seemed like the perfect spot to take her picture.

Waterton Lakes Boat Tour

20160831_103555It was a beautiful day for a boat ride, so we got tickets for the morning boat tour by Waterton Inter-Nation Shoreline 20160831_103205Cruise Co. around the lake. The company also shuttles hikers to Crypt Landing. One of the great joys of being at the International Peace Park is the ability to travel to both sides (Canadian/US) the same day… even on the same boat ride. We took an hour-long tour of Waterton Lake to Goat Haunt, MT on the International, a wooden boat built on Waterton Lake in 1927. A country-issued passport required to cross the border and hike to Goat Haunt. The border crossing actually occurs during the boat ride to Goat Haunt; the borderline is cleared of trees every five years. You can see the international border go up and over the mountain ridge and there’s no fence between the two countries.

Goat Haunt, MT

20160831_171352The U.S. National Parks Service has a ranger station at Goat Haunt where we got our Parks 20160831_160736Passport stamped. U.S. Customs and Border Patrol officers will ask questions and stamp “official” passports if you’re going to hike to Goat Haunt Overlook or Kootenai Lakes. We chose Kootenai Lakes because it was an easy, 2.4 miles round trip hike. It took us longer than we expected because I kept stopping to take pictures and was hiking pretty slowly anyway.  We had a a nice leisurely day napping and sitting by the lake.20160831_131412


On the boat ride back, we saw a Bald Eagleimg_0869 and enjoyed the views of the lake in the late afternoon sunlight. We’d been thinking about pizza since our hike to Bertha Lake (in fact, our chant before the rain set in was “Pizza Monday!”), so that night we made it Pizza Wednesday at 49-Degree North Pizza. They have great pizza with really interesting combinations and craft beer. I had the #11 with bison and local Saskatoon berries, and Paul had the #4 with pepperoni and bacon. They were both very good. It was even warm enough to sit outside and enjoy the early evening before heading back to camp.

Horseback Riding & Bears

dana-and-me14115552_10210471769819657_4238969929074114144_oWe went horseback riding with Alpine Stables on our last day in Waterton Lakes. Our guide, Casey, had just graduated from high school and was working his third season at the stables. He took us on a great, two-hour ride. Paul and I hadn’t been on horses in years; for me, it’s been well over 40 since I was last on a horse with my friend, Dana. Being on the horses was like stepping back in time when explorers and their horses forged new trails. Our horses were calm and sure-footed on the trails, which was a good thing, since about 45 minutes into the ride we came upon two black bears… a momma and her cub.

20160901_133739They were about 50 feet ahead of us when Casey, who was in the lead, spotted them and stopped. Our horses and the bears stayed calm and we sat there watching the bears eat berries and get fat for winter. They definitely knew we were there… watching us every once in a while, before crossing the trail to eat more berries. We thought it was a good idea to move on and give them their space, but as we started moving, Momma, stood up and looked at us. Apparently, we were getting too close to her cub so we stayed put for a while longer. Once they ambled up further into the berries, we moved on to cross streams and see more of the countryside. That was the closest we came to bears the whole time we were in Waterton Lakes and Glacier National Park. It was very exciting and the highlight of our week in Waterton.




 That evening we had a quiet evening listening to a really good guitar player 20160901_204017and singer in the Fireside Lounge, and I worked on my green, cabled knit cap, which has certainly come in handy over the last several weeks. Having left most of our warm-weather clothing in our San Diego storage unit, it’s nice to be able to “whip up” a new hat when needed.


For more information on Waterton Lakes, visit these websites:

National Park Service:

Parks Canada:


We returned the next day, Friday, to the U.S. (“Anything I need to know about?” asked the U.S. Customs & Border Patrol officer) and moved our home to St. Mary’s/East Glacier KOA next to Glacier National Park in Montana.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Dana Peabody permalink
    September 18, 2016 8:17 pm

    Love that you shared our horseback riding photo! Have fun!!!

  2. Janice Heather permalink
    September 18, 2016 8:18 pm

    Love your posts, Holly! Your writing makes me feel like I’m there. ❤️

  3. Lori from San Diego permalink
    September 18, 2016 8:43 pm

    The pictures are fantastic, the stories riveting, and you both look so relaxed and happy. This makes me happy. 💗💗💗

  4. Susie permalink
    September 19, 2016 6:05 am

    What a great post. Learning through your adventures will be so fun.

  5. Gannon Hornberger permalink
    September 19, 2016 1:17 pm

    Great photos and stories. The Momma Bear will always be remembered! What amazing horses that they were so sensitive to the bears too. You look so contented knitting your beautiful cap. Keep sharing when your time allows — it’s wonderful. Love you!

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