Waterton - Pros and Cons

If you have questions, comment or experiences in Waterton Park in Canada, please post them in this section, although Glacier is the Focus, Waterton is the sister that has much to offer.

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Waterton - Pros and Cons

Postby llholmes1948 » Mon Aug 23, 2010 7:19 pm

Now that Dave Parker has kindly set up a separate Waterton Park section of the Chat, I thought it might be helpful to post a link to a prior discussion on Waterton which appears in the Areas Surrounding Glacier section on the Chat:

viewtopic.php?f=6&t=3683
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Re: Waterton - Pros and Cons

Postby alwaysmtntime » Sun Sep 05, 2010 2:32 pm

Our last trip to Glacier we combined a trip to Waterton, Banff, and Columbian Icefields with our trip into Glacier. It was our very first time to see Glacier, but I am so glad that we did a variety of areas. NOT to take a second from how awesome Glacier is...but it gave us a good basis for knowing what we'd like to do on our next trip. Specifically for this thread - Waterton- we got into Waterton and spent about 5 hours in that area. It was lovely. We agreed this would be a fairy tale place to have a summer home. It is very small. The hotel is so beautiful and quite different from the others in the USA side of Glacier. We toured and shopped in the gift shop - quite unique. They have a beautiful tea service at the hotel in which you can choose to participate or not. We did not, but will put it on my next trip's list. We toured the small town, loving the park, and watching the deer wander around. No one in that area appears to have a problem with high blood pressure - it is a very laid back and peaceful atmosphere. A not to miss shop is Welch's Candy Store. Very historic and had so many different things. Many kinds of candy - not just typical things - some things imported from England. We drove and stopped at many pull outs as we wandered around the Waterton area. The views are awesome. We saw several bears. Beautiful streams, waterfalls, rolling hills of blowing grasses. It is very different from what you see in Montana in places. I hope that everyone has an opportunity to at least do a "drive thru" of this beautiful area. We would love to return.
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Re: Waterton - Pros and Cons

Postby Mzambo » Thu Nov 10, 2011 12:06 pm

We too ventured to Glacier in 2011 for the first time. We took a day to head to Waterton, did the Bear's Hump hike (very steep, 780ish feet at a mile, but very worth it) outstanding views of the Waterton Lakes and the Prairie on the other side, as well as the Prince of Wales down below!!!! The view when you walk into the Prince of Wales Hotel literally makes you gasp. We ventured to Red Rock Canyon as well which was beautiful. The International border freaked us out, looking down it you could see a line in the woods as far as you could see. A "literal border". We saw a mother griz and 2 cubs right at the border crossing back into the U.S. On our way back in we had to stop at Two Sister's for dinner. Was a pretty awesome day! Would I do it again. Absoluetly!!!!
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Re: Waterton - Pros and Cons

Postby Hockey Ref » Thu Nov 10, 2011 1:01 pm

I'll agree that if you have only a limited amount of time in the Glacier area, and if it's your first time there, you might want to save Waterton for another trip. The exception would be if you are doing primarily a car trip, in which case Waterton would be a nice side trip. And if you're looking for a good hike there, I'd highly recommend the Carthew-Alderson trail. It's highly scenic.

That said, one of the turn-offs for me was the way my two friends and I were treated at the U.S./Canadian border last year. We were going just for the day (actually about half a day) to take a break from our Glacier hiking, and my friends had never been there before. Going into Canada was smooth as silk. We pulled up to the immigration booth, presented our passports, the immigration guy asked us a couple of cursory questions, and welcomed us to his country. All very nice and polite.

Coming back was an entirely different story. Our car was surrounded by American immigration agents in full battle dress and armed to the teeth. They demanded not only our passports but also the vehicle registration (it was a rental, so I showed them the rental agreement). They also demanded that I open the trunk and hood, they rifled through our stuff, walked a drug-sniffing dog around the car, and interrogated us about where we'd been, how long we'd been there, what we'd done, and what we'd bought, all in a very gruff, unfriendly, and intimidating tone of voice. It was the exact opposite of the Canadian side. I suppose we should expect such "you're-guilty-until-you-prove-yourself-innocent" treatment since 9/11, and the TSA certainly does the same thing when we fly, but it's still disconcerting to be treated like a criminal by members of our own government. And it makes me less likely to return to Waterton in the future.

I'm not saying everyone gets this treatment, but don't be surprised if you do.
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Re: Waterton - Pros and Cons

Postby Mzambo » Fri Nov 11, 2011 7:46 am

Wow Hockeyref!!!!

I will agree our reentry to the US was more intrusive than our entry to Canada, there were two agents, and one did indeed search the trunk, but the Grizz and 2 cubs had his attention more than we did... They were very close, although they were busy feeding on berries.
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Re: Waterton - Pros and Cons

Postby sj in cal » Fri Nov 11, 2011 10:51 am

Ref,
I also had a bad experience with the border agents this summer after spending a night at the Goat Haunt Shelters. I was "detained" for about 15 minutes from continuing my backpack up the Boulder Pass Trail because I didn't have a passport. The armed park ranger was helpful and professional, the border agent was just rude.
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Re: Waterton - Pros and Cons

Postby llholmes1948 » Fri Nov 11, 2011 4:47 pm

Living near the Maine-New Brunswick border, I have crossed the border numerous times, sometimes several times on the same day. Since 9/11, border crossing have certainly become more formal . The number of agents employed on the border by U.S. Homeland Security has increased dramatically. In some small communities it has been a real growth industry and has done a great job maintaining home prices. Unfortunately a disappointingly high percentage of U.S. border agents seem to lack people skills and are downright rude. People who feel they have been treated improperly should complain to their congressman.

However, don't be fooled. I have encountered a number of Canadian border agents who are equally rude, including a young lady at the Chief Mountain crossing in 2005.

Fear of being treated rudely at the border may be an argument against visiting Waterton but personally our family regards Waterton as a beautiful place and as long as we have the proper documents, we will not be deterred from visiting there.

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Re: Waterton - Pros and Cons

Postby Mzambo » Sat Nov 12, 2011 5:28 pm

We too have crossed the border on numerous occasions living near Detroit. I have encountered customs agents with some serious control issues. I would not want to encounter it when on a special vacation like Glacier/Waterton, I am glad our experience was cushioned by a Mother Griz and cubs, it really did keep the agent's attention. LOL
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Re: Waterton - Pros and Cons

Postby mikie » Sat Nov 12, 2011 6:21 pm

Living near the Maine-New Brunswick border, I have crossed the border numerous times, sometimes several times on the same day. Since 9/11, border crossing have certainly become more formal . The number of agents employed on the border by U.S. Homeland Security has increased dramatically. In some small communities it has been a real growth industry and has done a great job maintaining home prices. Unfortunately a disappointingly high percentage of U.S. border agents seem to lack people skills and are downright rude. People who feel they have been treated improperly should complain to their congressman.


I encounter CBP agents in my job on a fairly regular basis. In the last 5 years they have gone from a professional relationship to a down-right nasty relationship. Every time I have to talk to them it is now a mean and nasty conversion (coming from them). The change in their demeanor is mainly because Congress kept insisting that 9/11 was CBP's fault, and that the borders are insecure. Congress is grossly misinformed.

It is important to understand that they have extra police powers that the regular police does not have. Never a good idea to become confrontational with them. If you have anything to declare, make sure you download the form from CBP's site. They just LOVE to impound stuff. It is a very simple form. They commonly take tools, GPS's, iPads, laptops, etc. If you didn't declare it while leaving, you are screwed when you return. If you take a laptop, make sure you make a copy of your hard drive. They may take the HD and give you back the laptop. Even if you declare it. You will never get the HD back.

They have also been laying fiber optic cable that is capable of detecting someone walking over the border. This is mainly on the New York to Maine border. I have talked to hikers who have accidentally stepped over the border, and CBP shows up in force very quickly. They also have cameras in some places.

I doubt that a congressman will do much for you. After all, they are the ones who created this mess.
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Re: Waterton - Pros and Cons

Postby Pocketlint » Sat Nov 12, 2011 6:33 pm

I won't be going to Canada any time soon. Too many horror stories from friends who go there regularly...and most say the US Border Patrol guys are the worst bad actors. One friend used to take his son up there all the time for kids hockey tournaments. They way they were treated was downright shameful. I mean this kid was like 10 years old and they treated him like he was like a drug cartel leader or a mid east terrorist. I'll stay down here.

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Re: Waterton - Pros and Cons

Postby risingwolf » Wed Feb 15, 2012 9:07 am

Wow, I am very surprised at all the negative experiences at the Chief Mountain Border. I have had no such experiences. I crossed the border solo in 2010 and 2011 with no problems. The border agents are formal but that is to be expected and desired. In Aug of 2011 the US border agent was especially nice, a young guy in his upper 20's. I meant to remove my subscription sunglasses but forgot to. The agent asked me to remove them and I apologized, he replied that it was no problem. I showed him my Passport Card and he asked me the usual questions and I was on my way. Now back in the day when I used to hitchhike around the park, the US agents searched everything . I think the haircut made the difference.
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Re: Waterton - Pros and Cons

Postby Tsmith » Tue Feb 21, 2012 6:31 pm

We kinda got put off by the US boarder agents both times we've been to Waterton. On the last visit the agent took our apples that were bought in Kalispell ... :x
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Re: Waterton - Pros and Cons

Postby Pocketlint » Thu Apr 26, 2012 6:35 pm

The other day I overheard a customer(US citizen and MT resident) talking about his experience trying to go to Canada a couple weeks ago.
He was refused entry because of a 1981 DUI conviction!!!! :shock:
And this is not the first time I have heard of these DECADES old DUI convictions being a border issue for US citizens going to Canada.

Getting a haircut this past Monday, a customer in the barber shop was telling us about what his lawyer said regarding the DUI issue and going to Canada...The customer having been recently arrested, but not convicted yet of DUI. His lawyer said that in all probabilty this fellow can forget driving to CA for at least 5 years after he's convicted.

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Re: Waterton - Pros and Cons

Postby paul » Thu Apr 26, 2012 7:06 pm

I've had trouble going inbound to Canada at Chief Mountain Customs. I was detained and my vehicle searched. They asked me a lot of personal questions like who I work for and how much money I earn. The asked me show them how much cash I had on me. It was so bad that once I crossed in the Canada I nearly decided to do a U-turn back to the states. I just didn't feel like spending any time or money in a Country that would treat me like that.
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Re: Waterton - Pros and Cons

Postby Talusman » Fri Apr 27, 2012 7:05 am

The Chief Mountain crossing is different from all but one of the numerous crossings I have made between the US and Canada or Canada and Alaska. I have yet to have anything but a brief and positive experience going into Canada, but coming back through Chief Mountain into the US is a different story. On the flip side, the entry to the US from the Roosevile (sp?) entry north of Whitefish has consitently been warm, professional, and friendly. The same with leaving the US from the entry north of Great Falls. I think sometimes a culture develops among those stationed together at a checkpoint that allows otherwise intolerable conduct to occur. Perhaps the Glacier/Waterton Park management could talk to the supervisor and remind him that the laws can be enforced without frightening off the tourists, it's bad for business. They could use their other ports of entry as examples of the more proper and effective way of dealing with people.
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