Things To Do: Hiking the Red Rock Canyon

Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta

Red Rock Canyon, Waterton National Park

After years of being turned away by foraging bears, we finally managed to hike the Red Rock Canyon in Waterton National Park. A short self-guided hiking path takes visitors on an educational tour of the geological and human history of this brightly coloured canyon.

Rating - Easy Interpretative Trail
Distance - 1 kilometer
Elevation Gain - Negligible
Duration - 30 minutes
When to Go - May to October

The Red Rock Canyon is a bedrock canyon carved by the Blakiston Creek. The iron-rich rock makes the stone vivid red in color and is in stark contrast with the surrounding Rocky Mountains. Layers of green rock are sandwiched in between red layers making for a curious geological display.

Where is Red Rock Canyon?

The Red Rock Canyon is located in the western section of Waterton Lakes National Park, along the Red Rock Parkway. After the park gates, take the first right turn which leads towards the canyon, 16 kilometers away. The drive is scenic with expansive views of the valley, towering peaks and alpine meadows.

In the summer, make sure to stop at the Bison Jump exhibit that explains how the Native North Americans used the area to hunt buffalo for over 10,000 years.

The parkway is closed from late-October to May since the road is narrow and curvy and quite hazardous in the winter. The road does makes for a scenic cross-country skiing adventure in winter (Waterton in the Winter).

View Red Rock Canyon (Waterton, Alberta) in a larger map

Tips for Visitors to the Red Rock Canyon

  • There is lots of wildlife in the area. Black bears, grizzly bears, deer, mountain sheep and elk frequent the meadows. Use caution.
  • The Red Rock Parkway is narrow and windy and traffic moves very slowly. In the high season, there are often cars stopped on the roadway.
  • When stopping along the roadway, try to pull over to avoid blocking the narrow lane.

The Red Rock Canyon hike is a short interpretative trail that shows the vivid transition from prairie to mountain. Make sure to stop by when visiting Waterton Lakes National Park.

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