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Red Rock Canyon Waterton Park: Complete Guide

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Red Rock Canyon Waterton Park is one of the most scenic and geologically rich places inside the National Park. Home to easy trails, with tons of hiking and biking opportunities to picnic tables surrounded by the gushing sounds of rivers and falls, Red Rock Canyon is a must-add to your Alberta itinerary! 

In this Waterton guide, we will share all the practical travel information to help you plan your trip!

Red Rock Canyon Waterton Park: The Complete Guide

Waterton Park Red Rock Canyon

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Practical information: How to get to Red Rock Canyon Alberta

The Red Rock Canyon Park is located within Waterton Lakes National Park. You do have to pay national park fees to enter, and access to the Red Rock Canyon is included. 

Directions to the Red Rock Canyon: Once you are in the Waterton Townsite, from Waterton Avenue drive 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) on the Red Rock Parkway to the very end and the parking lot of the Red Rock Canyon. You can park your vehicle here, and then start exploring!

Drive to Red Rock Canyon

This parking and informative area of the Red Rock Canyon is wheelchair and baby stroller-friendly. There are information signs, trail markers, and a washroom.

Entry to Red Rock Canyon
Informative signs at the entrance

Read: Things to do in Waterton Lakes National Park

Tickets and National Park fees: 

You can buy daily or annual passes to visit and explore the Waterton Lakes National Park

  • Adult: $10.50 CAD
  • Senior: $9.00 CAD
  • Youth (up to 17 years): Free
  • Family/group (up to 7 people): $21.00 CAD
  • Commercial group (per person): $9.00 CAD

The daily passes expire at 4 pm the following day. Don’t forget to stick your daily pass on your car windshield. 

If you are a frequent National Parks visitor in Canada, then opt for the Discovery Pass. 

Annual Pass for the Waterton National Park & Discovery Pass

  • Adult: $52.25 CAD (Annual) | $72.25 (Discovery Pass)
  • Senior: $44.50 CAD (Annual) | $61.75 CAD (Discovery Pass)
  • Youth (up to 17 years): Free
  • Family/group (up to 7 people): $104.50 CAD (Annual) | $145.25 CAD (Discovery Pass)

Do you know why Red Rock Canyon is red?

The red landscape of the Red Rock Canyon Park is created due to water erosion. The hues of red and green colors, called argillite, are absolutely stunning, and the nearby surroundings with lush greenery, wildflowers, and mountain backdrop make it a beautiful experience! 

Girl at Red Rock Canyon Waterton Park
At the Red Rock Canyon Waterton

Take the time to admire these beautiful colors as you disembark and soak in those views!

Admire the little details at Red Rock Canyon 

Wandering the Red Rock Canyon will impress, and you can enjoy the views of the red argillite rock once you step outside the parking lot. 

From the parking lot, head towards the footbridge and turn right to begin exploring the Red Rock Canyon Loop Trail. 

Signs at footbridge Red Rock Canyon

On the other side of the canyon, the trail slopes downhill returning back to the parking lot area. 

Along the route of the loop trail, there are information signs, a plaque, some viewpoints, and some sitting benches.

Hike the Red Rock Canyon Loop Trail  

  • Trailhead: Red Rock Canyon
  • Distance: 1 km (.62 miles)
  • Total Time: 20-30 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy

The Red Rock Canyon Trail is an easy 1 km (.62 mile) loop. It is a partially paved and red rock-surfaced path, going up and down both sides of the high canyon walls of the river.

Hiking at Red Rock Canyon Trail
Red Rock Canyon Trail

Do go on this trail, but wear waterproof pants and shoes to completely enjoy it. This hike will truly allow you to admire the red rock up close and personal. 

And of course, the wonderful views of the canyons and the greenery and the stream of water will delight you. Pause and break when needed and just soak it all in! This area makes for a really beautiful backdrop for photographs! 

Admiring the landscape at Red Rock Canyon

Remember the Red Rock Canyon hike is a popular spot, and the best way to enjoy this natural wonderland is to head there in the morning when it isn’t that busy or crowded. Plus sunrise or sunset adds a nice touch to this hike! 

During winter and spring when the flow is high, you may not be able to go on this hike, but you can still admire it from the footbridge or trailhead nearby. 

Hike to the Blakiston Falls

  • Trailhead: Red Rock Canyon
  • Distance: 2.4 km (1.5 miles)
  • Total Time: 45 minutes to an hour
  • Difficulty: Easy

The Blakiston Falls Trail is 2.4 kilometers (1.5 miles) out and back trail in Waterton Lakes National Park. You can go on this easy hike via the Red Rock Canyon area. 

Hike to Blakiston Falls

Blakiston Falls trail is one of the easiest hikes in the park, and it is perfect for all skill levels, especially families! The trail is also pet-friendly. 

There are a few steps, bridges, and uneven areas, but the hike is worth it for the amazing view of Blakiston Falls and the mountains. The trail meanders through the forest, showcasing a nice overlook of Lone Creek and the Blakiston mountains playing peek-a-boo. 

Girl at Blakiston Falls

Once you are close to the falls, you will see a fenced-in path that takes you to a viewpoint directly overlooking the waterfall’s cascade. 

You can truly feel the force of the waters from here. There are benches and guardrails where you can pause and take in the sounds and feelings of the gushing waters.

When you’re done, loop back to the trailhead and stay to the left at the bridge – on the western side of Red Rock Canyon. Along this way, you can really see the impact of erosion the creek is causing on the landscape. 

Girl at the Blakiston Falls
Blakiston Falls

Other hikes at the Red Rock Canyon

Here are some more hikes to embark in and around Red Rock Canyon, 

Snowshoe Cabin Trail

  • Distance: 16.4 km (10.4 miles)
  • Total Time: 4-5 hours
  • Difficulty: Easy

This easy hike follows the valley floor, crossing avalanche slopes and dried creek beds. It passes through thick forest and open meadows, with Bauerman creek flowing alongside. This route was originally a fire road and today it makes a great biking and hiking trail. 

You can also enjoy a backcountry campsite, found at 4.6 km (2.8 miles).

Goat Lake Trail

  • Distance: 12.6 km (7.8 miles)
  • Total Time: 5 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate

The moderate trail is accessible from the Red Rock Canyon footbridge. For the first 4 km (2.4 miles) you will be on the Snowshoe Trail. 

Once you arrive at the trail junction it gains a lot of elevation with switchbacks to the mountainside. But you will be rewarded with views of Goat Lake underneath amidst towering cliffs and sub-alpine forests. 

Avion Ridge

  • Distance: 25 km (15.5 miles – return)
  • Total Time: 10 hours
  • Difficulty: Difficult

Avion ridge will take you to the northwestern corner of Waterton, along the Snowshoe Trail. Being a loop trail you can decide to divert up to Goat Lake or Lost Lake.

Tamarack Trail

  • Distance: 36 km (23 miles)
  • Total Time: 10-12 hours
  • Difficulty: Difficult

This multi-day hiking trail leads hikers past Red Rock Canyon, along the Bauerman Creek, and beyond the campsite at Snowshoe Cabin. You’ll venture onward to Twin Lakes and run into a second campsite nearby. 

Go biking: Red Rock Canyon via Red Rock Parkway

Red Rock Canyon via Red Rock Parkway is one of the scenic rides that you can enjoy on a bike at the Waterton Lakes National Park. 

From the northern section of the park, you can drive on the Red Rock Parkway, which is a 9 km (5.5 miles) paved road, with views of mountains, wildflowers, and greenery.  

You can begin your route in Waterton, as it makes for an easy day trip. Mountain bike rentals are available at “Pat’s” located in the Village of Waterton.

Other activities at the Red Rock Canyon in Waterton Lakes National Park

The Red Rock Canyon is also the starting point for long-haul backpacking and horseback riding routes. As you wander the park, you can see signs of trails. 

Enroute Blakiston Valley Trail

You can also enjoy wilderness camping opportunities like the Snowshoe, Goat Lake, Twin Lakes, and Blakiston Valley Trails.

The moderate Snowshoe Trail leads west toward backcountry campsites at Goat Lake and below Mount Bauserman. You’ll also find views of Anderson Peak to the west, as well as the Bauerman Creek Valley from the parking lot. 

Activities and accommodation after visiting Red Rock Canyon in Alberta

After exploring Red Rock Canyon, you might want to stay back in Waterton for more outdoorsy activities. Waterton National Park is home to the iconic Prince of Wales Hotel – go there for a nice afternoon tea overlooking the lakes, or stay there overnight in style!

Prince of Wales Waterton

Between the Waterton National Park and Glacier National Park in the US, there is over 1400 km (850 miles) of maintained hiking trails. Plus Waterton Park also has 2 more mountain biking trails. 

Read: Bears Hump Waterton Hike

Not into hiking? Join a sightseeing boat cruise from mid-May to late September.  Enjoy all the scenic views that Waterton and its surroundings have to offer. 

At the Waterton Lakes shore

Other than the Red Rock Canyon, you can also enjoy stunning drives along Akamina Parkway. This park leads to Cameron Lake which is a glacier-formed alpine lake and you can go boating, and canoeing here. 

Waterton townsite is perfect for a weekend away – with amazing hotels with views, lakeside strolls, and restaurants. It is also home to an 18 hole Golf Course facility with a spectacular view of the Waterton Lakes and the surrounding mountain peaks.

Recommendations for Waterton hotels,

Prefer to camp? There are a few campsites in and around Waterton. Waterton townsite campground is within the park boundaries, and you can walk or bike to the lakes and restaurants nearby. 

  • You can call 1-877-RESERVE (1-877-737-3783) in Canada. Lines are open from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm local time
  • If you are from outside of North America, call 519-826-5391

We hope you found this post useful to plan your trip to Waterton Lakes! Happy travels!

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