Visitor guidelines

Waterton Lakes National Park

Our protected areas are unique places and require unique rules to protect them.

Visitors should familiarise themselves with the Canada National Parks Act and the National Parks General Regulations.

Breaking the law in a National Park can result in consequences including an eviction, a ticket, or in more serious cases, court appearances and/or large fines.

If you have any questions about the regulations below, please contact our Visitor Centre.

Activities requiring a permit

There are a number of outdoor activities that require a permit such as research and collection, commercial videography and photography, and commercial guiding. Additionally, some activities are restricted in some or all areas of the park. Restrictions are listed under Important Bulletins.


You cannot take off or land an aircraft in a National Park without a Restricted Activity Permit from Parks Canada, with some exceptions as listed in the National Parks of Canada Aircraft Access Regulations. All aircraft must comply with the Canadian Aviation Regulations and National Parks of Canada Aircraft Access Regulations.


Consuming alcohol is only allowed at registered campsites, private residences or on licensed premises. Alcohol is not allowed at beaches, day use areas, cook shelters, or on trails. During certain periods of the year, specific campgrounds may have temporary alcohol bans in effect. These will be identified through notices posted online and at the campgrounds.

Area closures and restrictions

Area closures and restrictions are sometimes needed to protect natural or cultural resources or for visitor safety reasons. Closures are enforceable by law. Closure notices will be posted at the trailheads, access points, park offices, and information centres. Information on closures is also available on our Important Bulletins page.


Parks Canada has authorized motorized watercraft to operate on Upper and Middle Waterton Lake in 2019 under a sealing program managed by Improvement District #4.

Beginning April 1, 2024: all non-motorized watercraft from outside of the park are prohibited from entering water bodies in Waterton Lakes National Park.

Non-motorized watercraft include (but is not limited to) canoes, kayaks, stand up paddleboards (SUPs), paddle boats, drift boats and sailboats.

Any type of inflatable is considered a vessel when it is used for navigating and each occupant/passenger requires a life vest and safety equipment.

Drinking alcohol and boating is illegal, similar to drinking and driving.

Clean, drain, dry any items that have been in park waters to reduce the threat of invasive aquatic species.


Camping is allowed in designated campgrounds only. The permit holder for the campsite is responsible for the site, including cleanliness, noise levels, and actions of visitors. Camping (including sleeping in a vehicle) is not allowed in roadside pullouts, trailheads, and day-use areas.

You can be a good neighbour by respecting the following conditions:

  • Campsites – Camping is only allowed in designated campsites. Camping permits are required.
  • Washing dishes – Use the campground dishwashing stations or a personal basin for washing dishes on your campsite (not the bathrooms or water taps).
  • Washing laundry – Please use your own tub and dump water down the outdoor sink or toilets. Laundry facilities are available in Waterton townsite.
  • Driving – Respect the posted speed limits and remain alert while driving in the campground. Trees may obstruct your view and you should expect pedestrians (including children) on the road.
  • Accessing facilities – Please use roadways and pathways to access campground facilities (cook shelters, bathrooms, etc.) and your own campsite. Cutting through a neighbouring campsite will disturb other campers and may cause damage to fragile vegetation.
  • Recycling – Check at your campground for recycling.
  • Garbage – Help keep the park clean by disposing non-recyclable items into marked garbage receptacles.
  • Pack in, pack out – All backcountry campsites have "pack in, pack out," rules. All garbage (food wrappers, beverage containers, etc.) brought into the site must be carried out.
  • Vehicles – Vehicles staying overnight must be registered to a campsite.
  • Generators – Generators are permitted daily between 7 am and 9 am, 11 am and 1 pm, 5 pm and 7 pm only.

Noise and park enjoyment
You are not allowed to interfere with others’ quiet enjoyment of the park during any part of the day or night. This includes loud music and shouting in campgrounds or in day use areas.

Quiet hours
Quiet hours are enforced in all campgrounds. Quiet hours are in effect in Waterton Lakes National Park from 10 pm to 7 am. Please remember, even quiet conversations can carry through a forested area.

During quiet hours, music, generators, loud conversation and consumption of alcohol are not allowed. Only campsite occupants are allowed on a site after 10 pm.


Cannabis is legalized and strictly regulated in Canada. It is your responsibility to understand federal, provincial, and municipal regulations for cannabis use.

Commercial film and photography

Commercial filming activities have special considerations. All commercial activity is subject to business licencing and permits. Contact the Waterton Lakes National Park business and realty office for details on whether your activity requires a permit. 


All Parks Canada places are ‘no drone zones’ for recreational use. If you do not possess a permit or special permission to fly your drone in a Parks Canada place, please leave your drone at home.


Fires are only allowed in designated fire boxes. In Townsite Campground, campfires are allowed in shared kitchen shelters only - there are no fire pits on the individual campsites. Random fires are not allowed in National Parks. Please keep your campfire safe for you and the environment by following these rules:

  • Keep fires small – To reduce their impact on the environment, fires must be contained within the designated metal fire boxes provided and be kept to a reasonable size.
  • Use firewood provided – Transporting wood from elsewhere may spread invasive insects and disease. Do not burn garbage or collect deadfall from the surrounding forest for burning.
  • Never leave a fire unattended – Fires must be attended at all times.
  • BBQs – Charcoal barbeques are permitted. Please dump cold ashes into a fire pit.

Backcountry camping – Fires are allowed in areas with designated metal fire boxes only.

Firearms and hunting

In general, firearms and hunting are not allowed in National Parks. Firearms may be transported through National Parks in accordance with the National Parks Wildlife Regulations and the Firearms Act.


Use of, selling, or purchasing fireworks, or any other type of explosive, is not permitted within a National Park.


Fishing in a National Park requires a national park fishing permit. Provincial licences do not apply.

Fishing permits

Anyone under the age of 16 may fish in the National Parks without a permit if accompanied by a National Park permit holder 16 years of age or older. However, their catch is then included within the permit holder’s daily limit. A National Park fishing permit can be purchased at the park. Permit prices can be found on the location’s fees page.

Fishing in Waterton Lakes National Park

A number of restrictions exist, and different opening and closing dates and catch limits apply. See our current Fishing Regulations Summary.

Garbage and litter

Never litter.

Good times in the great outdoors are safer and more rewarding when you Leave No Trace of your visit. A good rule of thumb is to leave “no trace on the place” and “no trace on others’ space”.

Leaving food out in a campsite can attract wildlife. Wildlife is also attracted to non-food items that smell like food including garbage, dishes, pots, coolers and even toiletries.

All food and garbage must be stored or disposed of in bear-proof containers. In the backcountry, all food and garbage must be packed out.

Horseback riding

Horses are restricted in some areas of the park. Visit our Important Bulletins and horseback riding pages for more information.

  • Limit group size to 12 horses and/or mules. Max 8 horses and/or mules for overnight camping in corrals. Llamas, goats and other animals are not allowed
  • Dogs, horses and mules must be kept under physical control at all times
  • To minimize impacts such as soil erosion, the spread of non-native plant species, and disturbance to plants and animals, stay on developed trails.
  • At trailheads, be considerate of others when parking vehicles.
  • At Red Rock Canyon, please use the horse use area provided at the Lower Day Use Area (as you approach the canyon area, turn left when you see the orientation sign). Horses and horse trailers are not allowed in the Upper Day Use Area.
  • At Cameron Lake, please use the dedicated horse trailer parking on the Akamina Parkway just before reaching the Cameron Lake parking lot.
  • Do not park off the hardened surface of the roadway or parking lot.
  • Remove any manure deposited during loading and unloading.
  • Pack in a proper supply of pelletized horse feed. Horse grazing is not permitted in the park.

Natural and historic objects

It is illegal to collect plants, mushrooms, berries, animals, animal parts (including antlers), fossils, driftwood, rocks, signs, or any other historic or natural object. If you believe you have found something significant, leave the item in place and report your finding to the nearest Parks Canada office. Please leave these natural items for others to enjoy.

Motorized vehicles (off-road driving, snowmobiles, ATVs)

Vehicles must remain on hardened surfaces, paved and gravel roads. The use of ATVs, snowmobiles, dirt bikes, or other off-road vehicles is not allowed. Scooters are considered motor vehicles for these purposes and are not allowed on trails or areas closed to motor vehicle traffic.


Please park only in designated areas and areas where you do not pose a risk to others. If a parking lot is full, find the next closest lot and walk to your destination.

Pedal assist e-bikes

Pedal assist electric bicycles (e-bikes) are allowed on designated bike trails at Waterton Lakes National Park.

What does pedal assist mean?

  • Power assistance is only provided when the bicycle is being pedalled.
  • When pedalling stops, the power assistance also stops.

What other specifications does the bike need?

  • The motor can generate a maximum of 500W.
  • Power assistance stops when the bicycle attains a speed of 32 km/h on level ground.

Please note that e-bikes equipped with an accelerator (a throttle) are not pedal assist e-bikes and can only be ridden on roads.

Electrical bikes (e-bikes) used on Parks Canada’s trails need to respect the following definition

  1. has steering handlebars and is equipped with pedals,
  2. is designed to travel on not more than three wheels in contact with the ground,
  3. is capable of being propelled by muscular power only,
  4. has one or more electric motors which have, singly or in combination, the following characteristics:
    1. it has a total continuous power output rating, measured at the shaft of each motor, of 500 W or less,
    2. power assistance immediately ceases when the muscular power ceases,
    3. it is incapable of providing further assistance when the bicycle attains a speed of 32 km/h on level ground,
  5. is equipped with a safety mechanism that prevents the motor from being engaged before the bicycle attains a speed of 3 km/h.

Pets and service animals

  • At all times, pets must be kept on a leash or in suitable confinement.
  • Don’t leave your pet unattended in a vehicle, on your campsite, or anywhere else, during your visit to Waterton Lakes National Park. Wildlife, weather, and an unfamiliar environment can be scary or dangerous for your pet.
  • Don’t allow your pet to chase any wild animal - it’s illegal and dangerous.
  • Pets are not allowed in some areas. Look for notices at trailheads and info centres to find out where these restrictions are.
  • Remember to clean up after your pet.
  • Service animals are welcome, in the company of their handlers. Please keep service animals on a leash or harness during your visit.

Smoking and vaping

Be aware of provincial smoking and vaping regulations regarding distances from buildings, playgrounds, and other facilities.

Cannabis is legalized and strictly regulated in Canada. It is your responsibility to understand federal, provincial, and municipal regulations for cannabis use.


  • You are not allowed to entice, pet or attempt to pet, harass, or feed wild animals in National Parks.
  • Bring your binoculars or a telephoto lens to capture that once-in-a-lifetime photo of a wild animal in its natural environment.
  • Be respectful when photographing wildlife. Animal behaviour is unpredictable.
  • Obstructing traffic is an offence and a hazard to other motorists. Only pull over in designated pullouts for viewing wildlife.

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