Posted by: Brad Nixon | October 21, 2016

Moose on the Loose: Waterton Lakes National Park, Canada

I’ve been featuring descriptions and photos of U. S. National Parks in this centennial year of the National Park Service. Other countries have national parks, of course, including Canada. In southern Alberta, Canada’s Waterton Lakes National Park adjoins America’s Glacier National Park. When you plan a trip to either of these memorable places, try to allow time to see both. Dad and I did, and this post is a glimpse at a memorable moment from that visit.

We went to Waterton and Glacier to see mountains, glaciers, lakes and, we hoped, bears, elk and deer. We did. We saw both black bears and grizzlies. Here is a group of black bears we spotted eating huckleberries on the edge of some woods along the Red Rock Parkway in Waterton.

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Waterton Lakes is rugged, wild, and a hiker’s paradise. We could only get a nodding acquaintance with the area in a couple of days, but were impressed with what we saw.

Yes, there are lakes in Waterton Lakes NP. Here’s a view of Upper Waterton Lake, looking south in cloudy September weather.

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That view is from the iconic Prince of Wales Hotel, which occupies a prominence at the north end of the lake.

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This map shows Waterton Lakes National Park and adjoining Glacier National Park.

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In more detail, here is a portion of Waterton Lakes NP. The Prince of Wales is circled in red. Our destination for this article is southwest, in the lower left of the map, Cameron Lake, circled in yellow.

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Cameron Lake, like Upper Waterton, extends across the Canadian-U.S. border. It’s an easy drive with good parking at the north end of the lake, from which you can access a number of trails that skirt Cameron Lake and traverse to other lakes through low, swampy forest. At the south end of the lake is Mt. Custer, which sits just over the border in the U.S.

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We enjoyed hiking several trails one day, but the big thrill came just at the north end of the lake near the parking lot and concession stand, where one could rent paddle boats.

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A moose. Largest member of the deer family, Alces alces is common enough in the northern U.S., Canada and Alaska, but a rare treat for this traveler. I had seen only one prior to this, on an earlier visit to Denali National Park, and not so close, nor so curious about all the attention this one was receiving at Cameron Lake.

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She apparently wearied of being watched while she foraged for whatever was growing on the boat docks under the water, and obliged this happy amateur wildlife photographer by trotting out so I could admire her.

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I’m sorry the photo doesn’t give an accurate sense of scale, but a moose is a large animal, the second-largest land animal in North America after bison. This cow was somewhere between 5′ and 6′ tall. They’re also wild animals, capable of surprising speed and have enormous strength. Keeping a distance is advisable (and respectful). I wasn’t as close as the photo suggests, for once in my life having a film camera with a telephoto lens at hand. Hooray.

Every dog fancier has seen a dog emerge from water and shake to dry its fur. Imagine the water flying off a dog if the dog weighed something more than 300 pounds:

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That was a good day, even without Ms. Moose. Stunning scenery, hiking through the forest at the edge of a clear lake. I’m grateful to have had her company, and hope she’s fared well in the ensuing years. Moose in temperate regions of North America are suffering dramatic reductions in numbers across North America for reasons not entirely understood, although the warming climate seems to be involved.

Moose are also widespread in Europe, including Scandinavia, Latvia, Estonia, Poland, Czech Republic, Belarus, Ukraine and Russia.

I’ll write more about Waterton Lakes and Glacier. For information and photos about hiking in the Waterton area by a local, visit Hiking Jess’ blog: https://hikingjess.wordpress.com.

© Brad Nixon 2017. 2nd bear photo © Willard Nixon 2017, used by kind permission. Map 1 by Google. Map 2 U. S. National Park Service. Map 3 Parks Canada/Parcs Canada.

 

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Responses

  1. A Møøse once bit my sister… No realli!

    But seriously, moose are all over the Tetons and Yellowstone, and the summer I worked there it was all you could do to avoid them in the employee housing dorms and loading docks – like bears, trash handling is important.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good advice to all travelers, campers and casual visitors to any wild place. Glad your sister is still with us and thriving!

      Like

  2. Mai oui, I didn’t know you’d traveled in Canada! I was in Br. Columbia many years ago, tho’ not out in the wilds as you were. I visited Victoria, a delightful and beautiful small city (almost village-like), and big city Vancouver. I didn’t see any meese there. 🙂

    Like

  3. […] Moose on the Loose: Waterton Lakes National Park, Canada […]

    Liked by 1 person


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