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Discover the spectacular Waterton Lakes National Park with us! Regarded as one of North America’s most captivating mountain parks, in 1995 Waterton Lakes National Park was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Perfectly nestled between the picturesque Alberta Prairies and the grand Rocky Mountains, the park is home to a large number of dazzling colorful streams, incredible mountain views, immense waterfalls, and crystal-clear lakes.
Due to its rare location, Waterton is one of the most ecologically diverse areas in the Rocky Mountains region. Our visit will coincide with the breeding season, and our morning birding will therefore be absolutely amazing!
During the day we will traverse the mountains and foothills of Waterton and Kananaskis Country park system. Every now and then we will pause to explore the magnificent prairie sloughs and the culturally rich UNESCO World Heritage Centre Heads-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump!
Mammals we will see along the way will include Bighorn Sheep, Wapiti (Elk), and quite possibly Grizzly Bear.
This trip can be combined with an Alberta birds and dinosaurs tour – please ask us for information.
Itinerary (6 days/5 nights)
Day 1 – Begin in Calgary
Flights can arrive in Calgary at any time during the day. If you happen to arrive early, the city and its surrounds offer some magnificent birding. An example is the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary (located along the lovely Bow River), where you can tick some great river and foothill species. If you have time, it is also worth visiting the Glenbow and Military Museums within the city.
In the evening we will meet at our hotel in Calgary to discuss our exciting forthcoming tour.
Day 2 – Western Foothills of Calgary and the beautiful Kananaskis Valley
The famed beauty of the Kananaskis Valley can be found on the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains. As we travel through this charming valley, be sure to admire its immense wetlands and vast lakes.
With its spruce, lodgepole pine, aspen and willow trees, the area boasts a diverse habitat at a low elevation. This supports a wide variety of bird species that we will observe throughout the day as we stop at sites in the foothills west of Calgary and places such as the Peter Lougheed Provincial Park.
Examples of special birds we hope to see include Barrow’s Goldeneye, Mountain and Boreal Chickadees, LeConte’s and Nelson’s Sparrows, and Townsend’s Warbler.
Overnight: High River.
Day 3 – Birding at Frank Lake en Route to Waterton Lakes National Park
We spend the morning birding the Frank Lake wetlands, an area which is home to several prairie waterbirds such as Black-necked and Western Grebes, Cinnamon Teal, and Canvasback. Of course, there will also be plenty of time to spot the unique White-faced Ibis!
Next, on our way to the national park we head south to Waterton, where we will spend our next two nights.
Day 4 – The breathtaking Waterton Lakes National Park
Waterton Lakes National Park is home to a vast array of spectacular mammals and birds, some of which are rather difficult to find elsewhere in Alberta.
We will spend our time here exploring the trails and roads in depth and (weather permitting) may take a few short walks to find special birds like Black-headed Grosbeak, Cassin’s Finch, Townsend’s Solitaire, and Western Tanager. Rufous Hummingbird and Calliope Hummingbird visit the feeders dotted around town, and mammals (such as bears and elk) can be easily found by car.
Day 5 – Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, en route to Calgary
Shortly after breakfast we will leave Waterton Lakes National Park and drive northwards to the famous Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump.
Not only is this mouthful a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but it is also located in a very beautiful area of the foothills and affords us the opportunity of spotting Sprague’s Pipit.
Once we have had a walk around the visitor’s center and have explored this important Canadian landmark, we can head to Buffalo Jump, where we can keep our eyes and ears open for the Sprague’s Pipit.
The drive continues back to Calgary, where, if time allows, we can clean up any birds we might have missed on the first day.
Day 6 – Departure
Sadly, our Canadian Rockies adventure has ended, but we hope to leave you with memories to last a lifetime and a swollen bird list!
Please also note that the itinerary might change due to various factors such as availability of accommodation, updated information, road or weather conditions. The itinerary is therefore only a guide and cannot be guaranteed.