Canadian Rockies: Waterton Lakes

6 Days from
$1,560 USD
Land Tour
Highlights

Highlights

  • Spectacular mountain scenery in the Kananaskis region and Waterton Lakes National Park
  • Excellent bird and mammal watching across a range of elevations and habitats
  • Visit to Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump UNESCO World Heritage Site
Map

Map

Tour Overview

Join us as we explore Waterton Lakes National Park, truly one of the most beautiful mountain parks in North America. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995, Waterton has a great combination of stunning mountain vistas, clear lakes, thundering waterfalls and rainbow coloured streams. Known as the place where the mountains meet the prairies, the unique environments present in the park make it one of the most ecologically diverse regions in the Rocky Mountains. Breeding season will be in full swing and birding will be the focus each day on our Canadian Rockies birding tour. The bulk of our days will be spent exploring the foothills and mountains of Kananaskis and Waterton, along with stops to explore prairie sloughs and the culturally significant Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump. In addition to birding we will have the opportunity to see lots of mammals including Elk, Bighorn Sheep and perhaps even Grizzly Bears.

Dates & Prices

DATES & PRICES

What's Included

Tour Price Includes

  • All accommodations (Good quality)
  • Breakfasts and lunches
  • Ground transportation (15 passenger vans)
  • 4 - 8 participants will be guided by one guide. 9 - 12 participants will be guided by two guides in two vehicles.
  • All park, conservation and entrance fees

Tour Price Does Not Include

  • Evening meals not included
  • Flights to and from start/end location
  • Travel Insurance
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Taxes (5% GST)

Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Calgary

Our Canadian Rockies birding tour begins today. Participants will arrive in Calgary throughout the day. The group will meet in the evening at our hotel for a get-together and a discussion of the next day’s activities. Night in Calgary.

For those arriving early, there are opportunities for birding in and around Calgary. The Inglewood Bird Sanctuary along the Bow River is an excellent area for foothills and riverine species, and is easily accessible within the city of Calgary. Alternately, there are some great museums worth visiting in the city.

Calgary

Day 2: Kananaskis and the foothills west of Calgary

The fantastically beautiful Kananaskis Valley, on the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains, consists mainly of Lodgepole pine and spruce forest, with aspen and willow near water. Several large lakes and extensive wetlands dot the valley. The diverse habitats at the low elevations along the highway support a great variety of bird species. During the day we visit several locations including Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, where we look for Boreal and Mountain Chickadees, Townsend’s Warbler and Barrow’s Goldeneye. We will also be exploring a couple of sites in the foothills west of Calgary to search for LeConte’s and Nelson’s Sparrows. Night in High River.

Spray Lakes Reservoir, Kananaskis

Days 3: Frank Lake and Waterton Lakes National Park

After breakfast we head east to the extensive and bird rich wetlands of Frank Lake. Here we will find many prairie waterbirds including both Eared and Western Grebes, Canvasbacks, and Cinnamon Teal. We will also spend time looking for the exotic looking White-faced Ibis. From here we will drive south to the town of Waterton within the National Park which will be our home base for the next two nights. Night in Waterton

Eared Grebe

Day 4: Waterton Lakes National Park

Our days in Waterton will be spent exploring various trails and scenic drives looking for a diverse array of birds and mammals. This region of Alberta is home to several species of birds that are quite difficult to find elsewhere in the province. Depending on the weather we will take several short hikes to look for target species such as Cassin’s Finch, Townsend Solitaire, Black-headed Grosbeak and Western Tanager. Calliope and Rufous Hummingbirds will be visiting feeders around the town site and elk and bears are found quite easily by driving the up the valley. Night in Waterton.

A view of Upper Waterton Lake during the early morning with a landmark Hotel building on a peninsular in the foreground.

Day 5: Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, return to Calgary

After breakfast we will leave our mountain paradise and head north to Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is situated in an incredibly scenic part of the foothills. We will spend time exploring the world class visitor centre learning about this culturally significant part of Canada. Outside we will take a short hike to the Buffalo Jump and keeping our ears tuned for displaying Sprague’s Pipits overhead.

From here we will drive back to Calgary. If time permits we will endeavour to round up any species we may have missed on Day 1. Night in Calgary.

Head Smashed in Buffalo Jump

Day 6: Departure

Our Canadian Rockies birding tour ends today, you can depart anytime today.

What to Expect

• Moderate walking, some hiking

• Highly variable weather

• Good quality accommodation

• Price includes breakfasts and lunches throughout

• 4 to 8 participants with one leader; 9 to 12 participants with two leaders

On our Canadian Rockies birding tour, you can expect early morning starts each day, with the occasional before-breakfast trip as we search out breeding and late migrant birds. Weather conditions during the trip should include warm and sunny days, possibly some rain, and the nights will be cool, and sometimes cold, in the mountains.

We walk easy to moderate lowlands and mountain trails, sometimes for periods of up to two hours. A reasonable level of fitness will be required. We also bird along roadways and woodland trails, occasionally venturing into low brush and swampy and uneven terrain. During these times, we stop frequently to observe wildlife. We usually have picnic lunches while we soak up panoramic views.

In the evening, we may arrange to go to a local restaurant selected for good food and comfortable atmosphere. During this time we discuss the day’s activities, review the list of birds seen and heard, and set out plans for the next day.

Featured Wildlife

While we cannot guarantee sightings of the birds or mammals listed below, we believe that encountering these species is quite likely during this tour.

  • American Dipper
  • Nelson’s Sparrow
  • Western Grebe
  • Rufous Hummingbird
  • Calliope Hummingbird
  • Cassin's Finch
  • Townsend's Solitaire
  • Clarke's Nutcracker
  • Black-headed Grosbeak
  • Western Tanager
  • Dusky Grouse
  • White-faced Ibis
  • plus Big Horned Sheep, Elk and possibly Grizzly Bear

Past Tour Checklists

View the list of birds and other wildlife we encountered on our past tours.