Thanks to the shift in elevation and lakeside surface, Waterton is home to a thousand species of vascular plants, including half of all wildflower species found in Alberta. Out of those thousand, about one hundred are recorded as rare in Alberta, and fifty are rare across the country.
Traditional Indigenous Territory
Waterton National Park is part of the traditional territory of the Niitsitapi (Blackfoot) and other Indigenous peoples. Its fitting Blackfoot name, Paahtómahksikimi, means “the inner sacred lake within the mountains”.
For more than 10,000 years, the Paahtómahksikimi served as a hunting and gathering destination. In these rich valleys, Indigenous peoples hunted bison and collected plants for food and medicine. You could even find seasonal hunting camps dating back to 8,000 years ago near Red Rock Canyon!
The Waterton Wildflower Festival
In May, once the snow finally melts and the earth gets the chance to thaw, wildflowers begin to bloom—from glacier lilies to pink meadowsweet to orchids and beargrass; you’d be awed to explore such a uniquely diverse plant ecosystem.
According to Waterton Lakes National Park, the best time to view these wildflowers is the third week in June (though they have been known to stick around during the summer months as well).
Waterton Lakes National Park also hosts a yearly Wildflower Festival consisting of guided hikes, workshops, presentations, and more. Although the celebrations are paused due to the COVID-19 pandemic, re-opening updates are shared regularly on Waterton’s Facebook page.
Stay Connected With Nature
It’s sights like these that remind us just how important our connection to nature is. Now, more than ever, Canadians recognize the link between healthy ecosystems and healthy people. Stay connected with Nature Canada’s online community by joining our email list and find out more about campaign updates, advocacy opportunities, and more!