Great Alpine Lakes of the West: Waterton, Cameron, and Bertha

This is the story of three lakes all found within Waterton National Park; Waterton, Bertha, and Cameron.  Waterton Lake, at about 4000’ altitude is the lowest and most accessible of the three.  Whereas Banff and Lake Louise appear over crowded with tourists in a rush, Waterton National Park is all about the loitering traveler.  Spend less than a weekend and you will feel cheated.  We came thinking we would spend a couple of days and spent four nights.  I could have stayed the rest of the summer.  Lake Waterton is large, frigid from its mountain stream sources, and stunning in its beauty.  It’s also is surrounded by boat docks, cottages, diners, a quaint movie theater, and good coffee shops.  Being a Canadian National Park, each business is run by a different entity and a lot of them have a mom and pop feel that is lacking from our own National Parks.

Cameron Lake is a drive.  In fact it is a windy, uphill drive that is sometimes closed due to snow into June.  But because it is so absolutely drop dead beautiful most tourists venture the climb.  At this lake there is only one bait/canoe rental/ ice-cream/ tourist shop available and a decent size parking lot.  The lake is high (at about 5400’ elevation) and the water is cold.  When we were their last summer the boat house had just been clear to open and there were still floating patches of ice in the water.  We were also told to stay clear of the American side due to grizzlies having been spotted there (we went closer to our country’s side than we probably should have and saw no bears). 

Berth Lake is a hike.  From our campsite and back it is over eight miles.  Up switchbacks, past waterfalls, through snow patches, and into the clouds the trail is wonderful and strenuous.  Henna did not complain until the very end when she plopped down on the trail and said she could go no more.  At Bertha Lake there are no shops, food, or ice cream so the three of us dined on the remainder of the snacks and tried to ignore the biting bugs.  Being that the trail was just recently opened for the season, I was seriously concerned about meeting up with a bear and we spent no more than twenty minutes on the shore.  But for that short amount of time we owned the prettiest lake in all of Canada.