Hiking Safety

Basic Trail Safety

Waterton Lakes National Park offers a unique brand of challenges - not only in daring, but also certainly in judgment. Be smart! Keep the summer filled with excitement, and follow these guidelines when hiking:

  • Be sure to hike with someone else, or even better, with a group.
  • Let someone know your route and expected time of return.
  • Try to prevent a potentially dangerous close encounter with large animals (like bears) - make noise! Every so often - especially when visibility is blocked by hills, trees, rocks, etc. - hoot and holler or clap hands loudly. In the presence of high winds or streams, make your noise-making efforts all the more intense.
  • Be prepared! Have enough food, water, clothes, rain gear and coverings (e.g. space blanket) for an unexpected overnight in the backcountry.
  • Use extreme caution around slippery rocks, especially at waterfalls. Learn how to cross unbridged stream and river crossings safely.
  • Carry good drinking water with you, or boil "wild water" in order to kill parasites and other germs that may inhabit the park's water.
  • If you are camping overnight, you must have a backcountry camping permit.
  • Become familiar with the national Leave No Trace program. In brief, whatever you pack in to the backcountry, you must pack out.

The Wilderness Pass

A "Wilderness Pass" charges visitors a nightly fee, was implemented in 1994 in Banff, Jasper, Kootenay and Yoho National Parks. This was extended to include Mount Revelstoke and Glacier National Parks and Waterton Lakes National Park in 1996. This Pass represents an investment in wilderness protection and helps ensure that this quality experience will be available for years to come.

Some important things to know about the Wilderness Pass are:

  • Wilderness Pass revenue will be applied directly to wilderness maintenance and services.
  • Implementation of the Wilderness Pass helps Parks Canada ensure Canadians will continue to benefit from their system of National Parks. The purchase of this Pass partially shifts the financial burden for support and maintenance of the wilderness from the general taxpayer to those users who benefit directly from the services provided.
  • Starting April 1, 1996, the Wilderness Pass is $6 per night per visitor to a maximum of $30 per person per trip. Annual Wilderness Passes are available at a cost of $42 per person. The Annual Pass is valid for one (1) year from date of purchase. To relieve the burden to families using the wilderness, children 16 years and under will not be charged the fee. It is anticipated that small incremental increases to the cost of the Wilderness Pass will continue for the next few years as Parks strive closer to self-sufficiency.
  • The purpose of the Pass is to partially off-set the cost of trail maintenance, and campground maintenance. Revenue from the Pass is not sufficient to support the cost of trail reconstruction, Park Warden patrols, resource studies, or the variety of other services that are provided.
  • We encourage visitors to plan their trips as many of our popular trails and campsites are full during the summer. A reservation system exists for some of our busiest campgrounds. An additional fee is required for this service but it is a way to avoid disappointment.
  • All commercial operators will contribute to the support and maintenance of the wilderness through separate agreements or through their clients' purchases of the Wilderness Pass.
  • Wilderness users and other stakeholders will continue to be consulted through visitor surveys and personal contact. We appreciate any comments and constructive suggestions with respect to wilderness fees. Survey results show people agree with paying part of the cost of wilderness opportunities.
  • Refunds are available under certain circumstances. For specific information check at park information centers.
  • While visiting you will likely see Park Wardens patrolling. They will also be checking for your Wilderness Pass so please make it available upon request.
  • Wilderness travel, while rewarding, can be strenuous, know your physical limits. Remember, your safety is your personal responsibility.

Fee Schedule Summary

  • Daily Wilderness Pass: $6.00 per person per night
  • Maximum Trip Cost: $30.00 per person per night
  • Shelter/Hut: $10.00 per person per night
  • Reservation Fee: $10.00 flat fee

For those visitors who frequent Canada's National Parks, may we suggest: The Annual Wilderness Pass $42/year.

The Annual Wilderness Pass is good for one year from date of purchase and is valid in Banff, Jasper, Yoho, Kootenay, Waterton, Mount Revelstoke and Glacier National Parks.

Youth 16 and under - free.

For further information please contact: Waterton Lakes National Park - (403) 859-2224.