One of my favorite places in Alberta is Canmore. I can’t quite put my finger on all the reasons, but the combination of food, relaxed atmosphere, mountains and rivers, and walking paths all play a part. It also has a bit of a retreat vibe to it that I like.
A few years ago, I’d heard about Waterton, AB and was told that it was a bit like Canmore. Well, that was news to me, and ever since then, I’ve been curious and have wanted to experience it for myself.
On this crazy nomadic journey, beginning June of 2022, I have now been in Alberta for almost four months, and though I’m ready to head back into BC, I decided to pay Waterton, AB a visit before returning. After all, Waterton is a little out of the way, and I have no idea when / whether I’ll ever be back this way.
One thing they don’t tell you about the journey south of Calgary (and I’m glad nobody told me / reminded me) is just how much prairie driving is involved. I’m okay with highway driving for the most part, but of the wide-open, middle of nowhere ilk hasn’t been my cup of tea in the last few years. Despite all that, yesterday, I endured it for the better part of three to four hours.
Pincher Creek, AB lies just 40 minutes north of Waterton and is a logical stop on the way, and yet it is the complete epitome of the middle of nowhere, almost as if it’s on top of a mesa, and the edges of the horizon drop off into nothingness. Yeah, I’m not going back there. 🤣
Continuing south on highway 6, you gradually transition from a mesa to hills, and the upward climb seems to know few limits. Yet, it’s not until you’re well within Waterton Park that you feel as though you’ve transitioned out of the prairies and into a very different world. “You haven’t hit the mountains until you’ve really hit the mountains,” as I’ve been sharing with friends, and that seems to be an experience others share.
When I finally got there, I realized I’d booked a motel 10 minutes outside of Waterton in Mountain View. More prairie driving – great. But at that point, I simply didn’t care. I’d already endured a lot. Finding my motel was my priority, and I was arriving late afternoon / early evening, so I didn’t end up spending much time in Waterton yesterday.
Today, however, I got to pay a proper visit. And I can easily see the appeal. Yes, Waterton is currently off season, and that means most amenities were closed or unavailable. But I still got a sense of what the place is all about.
It was unfortunately very windy and cold, so I did not spend much time walking around. I slowly drove down every street, finding the tourist attractions as well as the nooks and crannies only residents would pay any heed to. I encountered many deer in the park, most of which were gathered by the picnic area.
Most importantly, perhaps, I should acknowledge and celebrate the fact that I made this trek, despite it being not the most comfortable for me. It also affirmed for me that it’s time to find a more permanent home, which is what I’ll be doing as I settle back into BC.
As for tomorrow, within 10 minutes, I should be well outside of the prairie driving that I find a little jarring, and within 30 to 60 minutes, more comfortably situated in the mountains.