Red Rock Canyon & Blakiston Falls

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Looking for a couple of quick and relatively easy trails to hike, at the end of Red Rock Parkway in Waterton Lakes National Park?  You’ll want to take the loop around Red Rock Canyon, then continue on to roaring Blakiston Falls.  The entire effort should require only about 3 kilometers (slightly less than 2 miles) of hiking, and just about 90 minutes, depending on how much time you take to enjoy the scenery.

My Visit

As I drove out Red Rock Parkway, I was beginning to wonder, “Where are the red rocks?”  After all, I was driving through a canyon that looked quite similar to everything else I had seen in Waterton Lakes National Park.  The name suggested that I’d suddenly find myself in Sedona, but the red rocks never appeared, until the end.

This is Red Rock Canyon.  The rocks are quite brilliant, but they’re only noticeable for this stretch of Red Rock Creek.

It should come as no surprise that the hike around Red Rock Canyon is the most popular thing to do here.  The trail is relatively easy — it’s a sort-of paved surface (although it would be quite bumpy for someone in a wheelchair), and the uphill climb isn’t terribly difficult.  The trail runs up one side of the canyon…

… to a nice, deep slot, where a bridge takes you over the creek (notice the tiny rainbow?).  The trail continues on the other side, looping back to the parking area.

Most of the trail is fenced, which is good, because it will keep kids and careless people from falling into the canyon.  But…

… there’s one spot, near the parking area on the far side of the canyon, where there’s a break in the fence.  With some caution, you can climb down to the edge of the water…

… and take a few pictures of the red rocks, up-close.

That’s the lower bridge, that completes the loop.  You can, however, continue the hike downstream, on either side of the canyon, where the red rocks are still quite pretty.

When I got to this junction, there was an entire school bus load of elementary-aged children that were swarming the area.  I was very happy to take the alternate side of the canyon, as I hiked toward Blakiston Falls, which is about two kilometers, round trip, from the parking area.

The hike to Blakiston Falls isn’t terribly exciting.  You’re in the woods the entire way.  Recent rains had made the path quite muddy on the day of my hike.  But, the reward was worth the effort.  Above, you can see Blakiston Falls, and the canyon below it.

You can also see the viewpoint that’s directly above the brink of the falls.

From that viewpoint, there’s a nice view looking down the canyon.  Blakiston Creek eventually meets up with Red Rock Creek, just a short distance downstream from the parking area.

From the Red Rock Canyon parking area, you can also venture out on some much longer trails.  One good option is the Goat Lake trail, which is about 12.6 kilometers (7.8 miles) out-and-back.  Longer options also exist, including Snowshoe and Twin Lakes — but these will take up your entire day.

 

The Bottom Line

The Red Rock Parkway is an exceptionally scenic drive, and the short hikes at the end provide an extra reward.  These are fairly easy hikes that shouldn’t be too challenging for most people.

Location

Waterton Lakes National Park is located in southern Alberta, along the US/Canadian border, and the border with British Columbia to the west.  The park centers around Waterton townsite, at the western end of Alberta Route 5.

Red Rock Parkway exits Route 5, a few kilometers before you arrive in the town.  It’s 14 kilometers to the end of the road, which dead-ends at Red Rock Canyon.

Red Rock Parkway is closed in winter.

Drivelapse Video

Check out this time-lapse, dash-cam video of the drive over the Red Rock Parkway in Waterton Lakes National Park:

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