Monday, September 15, 2014


I only do a travel post if I think I have some good information to share as I did on a Hawaiian trip last spring - places that were unique, special in someway, reasonable, etc. My good information here is not of the particularly reasonable kind (but it could be lots of camping here) but more of a place that I think is quite magical.  I first visited Glacier National Park (In Montana) as a teenager and even though I had grown up going to places like Yosemite and Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks I knew this place was special.
We had our plan....we left home with the intention of entering Glacier National Park and driving the Going to the Sun Road into the other part of the Glacier-Waterton Peace Park (the world's first peace park) Waterton, Alberta.  The photo above is what we expected.....
This is what mother nature had planned for us!  The Going to the Sun Road was closed 23 miles into the park so in order for us to get to Waterton for our tea reservations and later our boat ride as well as our hotel reservations we had but one choice - we drove from White Fish, Montana up to Alberta and across Alberta to the Canadian entrance to Waterton Park.  As it often turns out this was a very happy happenstance as we would never have entered the park this way and it was a glorious drive - particularly memorable was the area around Crow's Nest Pass - breathtaking.
We made it to the hotel in time for our afternoon tea and it was lovely. As seen in the photo at the top of the post the female wait staff wear Scottish plaid while the males wear Scottish kilts. A word about the hotel and why it was on my bucket list.  The first time I was here I knew nothing about the hotel - did not even know of it's existence and hoped that at some future time I could come back to the hotel and have afternoon tea.  The hotel was built at the same time as the other hotels built by the rail road companies (like the beautiful hotel in Banff) in the 20's (this hotel built in 1927) to attract visitors to the Rockies rather that the Swiss Alps. We chose not to stay here for several reasons and oddly enough it was NOT the cost. The hotels in the village of Waterton are not inexpensive.  It is a small village and it's season can be quite short.  The Prince of Wales Hotel is closing today for the season. If you read the reviews for the hotel you see a wide array of comments.  Here is my take on the hotel.  For me the pure joy of this hotel (BTW, a National Historic Site) is the fact that it does not change.  
Sorry about the glare on the photo of the then Prince of Wales (later Edward VIII, then after abdication the Duke of Windsor) but I took it inside the hotel. One could see the Duke and Duchess of Windsor in the hotel today looking quite at home taking their afternoon tea as they would have back in the 30's. Where some reviewers of the hotel said "shabby" I say classic.  Even though the hotel would be closing in four days everything was open, clean and nice and the staff very attentive.  Our tea server Megan (see photo at the top) was an adorable girl who had just graduated from college with her degree in Hotel Management and was looking forward to finding her next job after the hotel closes. We did not stay because, as with the beautiful dining room of the hotel staying the same, so have the rooms and the teeny-tiny elevator that only goes up to the 4th floor is original to the hotel. I do believe that they have replaced bathroom tubs, etc. but the rooms remain the same.  The draw for this hotel is the unparallelled view of the Waterton Lakes and the Canadian Rockies and beautiful dining room and the ambiance provided by an attentive staff.
The tables for afternoon tea are right beside the front window so lovely, not stuffy at all no dress code, mountain casual the order of the day. We enjoyed our tea service while listening to a very good musician on the harp.
The hotel is a sentinel on the hill and can be seen from almost any point down in the village.

From the warmth and coziness of the Prince of Wales hotel off to the ride on the International named because the lake is in both the US and Canada and this two hour beautiful trip goes from Canada to the US and back. Our trip was the last trip of the day at 4:00 and we thought those souls who chose to ride on top were quite brave as it was cold. We chose to ride in the outside but covered area in the back. The boat puts in on the American side for a potty break and leg stretching and to let off those folks who have one-way tickets and are going hiking in the US in Glacier National Park.  There is a point of entry US Customs office sitting in the forest to check passports of the hikers. As disappointing as it was to not drive the Going to the Sun road again, it was so wonderful to see so much of Waterton Park.  One of the big draws at Glacier is of course the awesome vistas but also the animals as you will likely see mountain goats, if you look carefully (take your binocks) the big horn sheep on the mountainsides, bears, marmots, pikas, etc. We missed that but we were not more than a mile or two into Waterton when we saw cars pulled over (a sure sign of an animal siting) and this was an easy view as not far off the road was a nice size fuzzy black bear pawing in the snow - the contrast of the black bear and the snow made him/her very easy to see.
Before I go wanted to share one more thing with you and that is this cut-line. The boat stopped at this point so that the commentator could tell us about this line.  By treaty in 1925, an International Committee was formed to maintain a boundary line between the United States and Canada.  The line goes from the Pacific Ocean to Minnesota (on or near the 49th parallel).  We asked "what happens in Minnesota" and the reply was "Lake Superior." Duh, the Great Lakes stops the line.  As we looked to the other side of the lake we could see the line as well as the more familiar stone obelisk marking the border.  On our way home we crossed back over into the US at Kingsgate point of entry, BC, I made a point to look for the cut-line and there it was! Just a little trivia for you!

Glacier-Waterton Peace Park is called the "Crown jewel of the continent" for good reason.  If you have not been you might want to consider putting it on your bucket list.


Waterton Lakes National Park, Link 
Glacier National Park, Link
The Prince of Wales Hotel, Link

Thank you for stopping by.


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