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first time visitors

Toronto, Canada
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first time visitors

We are planning to spend 3 full days in Waterton and we ant to make a day trip to the Glacier national Park on the US side without staying there over night. We would like to drive the Going to the sun road, at least for a bit. How long would the drive from waterton be and a drive on the Going to the sun road, without beeing to exhausted and having still some time to walk around at lookout points?Thanks for any reply.

Edited: 08 July 2014, 14:22
Calgary, Canada
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for Canadian Rockies
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1. Re: first time visitors

Welcome!

I believe it would take a bit over an hour to get to the Going to the Sun Road, not counting any delays at the border. Remember to have your passports or enhanced driver's licenses. However, my understanding is the Going to the Sun Road can be VERY crowded, so it can be a long day. You might be better off staying one night in the US so you aren't trying to rush back and forth.

Toronto, Canada
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2. Re: first time visitors

thanks a lot, are there also some scenic places near the park, just a bit outside, not sure if there is enough to see for 3 days?

Calgary, Canada
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3. Re: first time visitors

There is plenty to do in Waterton for three days between some beatiful walks/hikes, the lake cruises, Red Rock Canyon, Akamina Highway and the buffalo/bison. I'd be inclined to focus on Waterton rather than do a lot of driving to get a little bit of time in the US.

Calgary, Canada
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for Waterton Lakes National Park, Nelson
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4. Re: first time visitors

The drive to the east end if the GTTS road from Waterton including border time will be an hour and fifteen min to an hour and a half. To drive the GTTS road entirely even if the traffic is horrendous should not takeover than three hours. The drive back fromWest Glacier to Waterton via Highway 2 to East Glacier and then north to St Mary will take about an hour and a half, and then the hour to hour and a half to get from there back through Customs and back to Wateron. A good full day trip and well worth the time. GTTS is a "not miss" while in the area, IMHO. There is a visitor centre at the summit of the GTtS road where you could hike up to Hidden lake, but unless you arrive very early in the day it's often difficult to find parking. You will want to make plenty of stops along the road, and that will add to your time.

Also, watch out for cattle on the road from East Glacier to St Mary, they are often on the road through there.

Calgary, Canada
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5. Re: first time visitors

Much of GTTS has been torn up and there is a long stretch that is gravel - we just return from there. Last weekends there were no delays, but you can expect delays on week days as they are working on the road. GTSR is an incredible drive and well worth your time, but traffic is very slow as people stop frequently to take a good look at the views. There are pullouts along the road, so you can enjoy the view.

If you cross the border on a Canadian long weekend, be prepared for long delays at the border.

Toronto, Canada
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6. Re: first time visitors

thanks for all the answer. has anybody a good recommendation for a travelguide-book, specifically about the Waterton lakes Park, without the Glacier; which includes trails. pictures; etc.

Calgary, Canada
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7. Re: first time visitors

I don't think there are any Waterton specific books - it's too small to merit a separate publication. Your best bet is to look for a guidebook to the Canadian Rockies, which will include all three (or four) of the parks in the Rockies.

For trails, you can get a free map/guide at the Parks Canada Centre, which should also be online. The Parks Canada website is being very slow now, but they generally have PDFs of all their trail maps online.

www.pc.gc.ca/eng/pn-np/ab/waterton/index.aspx

Toronto, Canada
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8. Re: first time visitors

thanks a lot, Does would it be also a scenic drive when we also just drive to the border to the USA and back to Waterton, from the pictures I have seen, it would be possible, with some photo stops or short hikes?

Calgary, Canada
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9. Re: first time visitors

You can't drive to the US within Waterton National Park - the only way to the US is by boat or to walk along the lake/through the mountains.

The tour boats on Upper Waterton Lake stops in Goat Haunt, which is on US territory. You can get a cute little goat stamp in your passport, but you don't actually need a passport for the boat tour. The area where the boat stop is essentially considered international, and not officially crossing the US border. However, if you want to go beyond the landing area to hike any of the US trails, you then need your passport and must clear US immigrations there (see below).

It's about an 8 mile walk along the lake to Goat Haunt - the US park rangers and Canadian park wardens do joint guided hikes on the trail during the summer months. There's a big clear cut strip and a cairn at the border, though I think the cairn is now slightly off the actual border.

If you do this hike or enter the US by any other trails, you DO need to have a passport or other legal international travel document (enhanced driver's license, NEXUS card etc). When you get to Goat Haunt, you have to go to the little US CBP hut and show them your passport to clear immigrations. It's different from the boat tour because by walking into the US, you aren't staying in the international area, but actually entering the US. If you are not a US or CAN citizen (or permanent resident) you need to have cleared US immigrations at another entry point first because Goat Haunt is not a full border crossing.

Otherwise you can drive across to the US at any of the border crossings outside the park. Nothing special about it, especially if you are going to do Glacier anyway.

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10. Re: first time visitors

If you would like some ideas for things to do with a family, and if you let me know the ages of your kids, I would be happy to help you out. Our family has been coming here every summer for over 20 years, and we have 3 kids (the oldest is 20)

Regarding Glacier -- a few years ago they introduced a bus shuttle that started at St Mary's and made several stops along the GTTS road. I took my mom and my kids to Glacier and we used this bus, and it was great for me to be able to enjoy the scenery instead of watching the road. There's a more upscale version of this -- the Red Busses that are run out of the Glacier Park Hotels in the US.

What to do in Waterton for 3 days? Hike, Golf, Canoe/pedal boat, surrey, bicycle, scooter, horseback ride, stroll, eat, dip your toes in the water (or swim if you are a kid or a 40 year old man), phtotography, bird and wlidlife watching, boat tour...You may have to come back.

The pace here is relaxed, like Banff was in the 70's I suppose. Be prepared to slow down...

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