Waterton Lakes National Park is one of my favourite spots to explore in Alberta. That’s because there’s so much to do and see. So if you’re planning a visit, hiking at Red Rock Canyon and Blakiston Falls is a great choice if you enjoy the great outdoors. Red Rock is a popular place for family picnics and afternoon walks.

Red Rock Canyon in Waterton
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Red Rock Canyon in Waterton Lakes National Park.

Have you ever visited Waterton Lakes National Park? My first visit to Waterton was after the 2017 Kenow Wildfire. While the fire brought much destruction, it’s incredible to see how life follows the blaze. Red Rock Canyon and Blakiston Falls are full of Waterton’s natural beauty and resilience.

While you’re driving along Red Rock Canyon Parkway, you’ll definitely see signs of the wildfire. This particular fire burnt 35,000 hectares, including over 19,300 hectares in Waterton Park. Wildfires often occur naturally to bring necessary ecological change and usually the benefits outweigh the destruction. However, over 80 percent of hiking trails and many pieces of park infrastructure were impacted by this fire.

About Red Rock Canyon and Blakiston Falls

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Jen exploring the canyon.

Location: Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta
Distance: 3 km out and back
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation: 70 m elevation gain
Time: 1 – 2 hours
Dog-friendly: Yes, but dogs must remain on-leash.
Features: Red Rock Canyon and Blakiston Falls have well-groomed trails with minimal elevation gain. Therefore, these short hikes provide interesting and diverse landscape with relatively minimal effort. Solo adventurers or larger groups will enjoy exploring the area, but keep an eye out for bears. You might also see woodpeckers and American Dippers from the trail.

Blakiston Falls in Waterton
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Cascading falls above the main Blakiston Falls.

Finding the Trailhead

Blakiston Falls and Red Rock Canyon parking area
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Red Rock Canyon parking area.

Red Rock Canyon is very easy to find. Once you arrive in Waterton, follow the Red Rock Canyon Parkway for 15 km through the Blakiston Valley over rolling grasslands. Remember, there are often black bears near this road, so drive slowly and watch for wildlife. Further, you’ll also see burnt trees standing as signs of the Kenow Wildfire along this stretch. Prepare to take about 30 minutes to reach the canyon from Waterton town. And don’t forget your Parks Canada Discovery Pass or day pass for parking.

You might also appreciate knowing that there are toilets available at the Red Rock Canyon parking area. However, these outhouses do not have indoor plumbing to conserve water for vulnerable aquatic species—like the bull trout. As the sign reads: “This no-flush latrine saves up to 60,000 litres of water per day.” Yes, please!

Read more: Crypt Lake Hike in Waterton Lakes National Park

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Toilet at Red Rock Canyon.
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“This no-flush latrine saves up to 60,000 litres of water per day.”

Hiking at Red Rock Canyon

Red Rock Canyon in Waterton Park
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Walking down to get a better look.

There’s something for everyone in Waterton Lakes National Park. Did you know that Waterton is one of Alberta’s five spectacular national parks? And you really can’t visit Waterton without visiting Red Rock Canyon! It’s worth adding to any itinerary. Walking around the canyon and then hiking to Blakiston Falls are easily combined in a morning or afternoon.

I quite enjoyed the jaunt around Red Rock Canyon, but the short loop above the canyon is hardly a “hike.” The scenic walk is under 1 km and takes 15 minutes or so. Needless to say, I was thrilled to find more trails nearby. We spent some time inside the canyon and then continued on to Blakiston Falls.

Read more: 5 Easy Hikes for Rocky Mountain Rookies (Plus a Bonus!)

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Walking along the top of Red Rock Canyon.
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Bridge closed so the full loop is not possible.
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Red Rock Canyon is dog-friendly.
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Looking down the canyon.
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Rainy day at the canyon.
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Selfie in the canyon.
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Very scenic spot.
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South bridge from the parking lot to Blakiston Falls (and other trails!).
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Picnic tables near Red Rock Canyon parking area.

Blakiston Falls Hike

Blakiston Falls sign
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There are many hiking trails in this part of Waterton.

Blakiston Falls is less frequented than the nearby Red Rocky Canyon. The trail starts after the footbridge near the parking area. Turn left to find the nicely groomed path. You’ll then cross one more bridge before starting the 2-km out and back trail to the falls. Once you approach the waterfall, the gravel trail turns into boardwalk. Two viewing platforms allow visitors to gain a closer look. I loved the roar of the waterfall and the cascading waters upstream. I’d recommend checking out both platforms for different views of the area.

The Blakiston Falls hike is short and easy, perfect for those wanting more time in the area. It’s also a great escape from the canyon crowd. The entire hike will likely take about an hour.

Aside from Cameron Falls in town, Blakiston Falls is probably the most accessible waterfall in Waterton. The highly-groomed and smooth trails provide a good option for families with young children and adults who cannot walk long distances.

Read more: Table Mountain Hike in Southern Alberta—What You Should Know

Blakiston Falls hike sign
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Blakiston Falls hike is 2 km out and back.
Blakiston Falls hiking trail
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The trailhead starts at Red Rock Canyon.
Blakiston Falls hike in the forest
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Signs of the 2017 Kenow Wildfire.
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Beautiful wildflowers along the trail in August.
Blakiston Falls hike through the trees
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There is little elevation gain on this trail.
Blakiston Falls boardwalk
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Boardwalk and two viewing platforms near the falls.
Blakiston Falls in Waterton National Park
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Blakiston Falls from the first viewing deck.
Blakiston Falls in Waterton Lakes National Park
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Closer look at Blakiston Falls.
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Woodpecker from the trail.
Blakiston Falls trail
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Heading back to the parking area. Look in the stream for American Dippers.

Respect Wildlife and Natural Area

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Momma black bear and two cubs near Red Rock Canyon Parkway.

Waterton Park is full of stunning landscapes and wonderful wildlife. Black bears, for instance, frequent the hills along Red Rock Canyon Parkway, so keep your eyes peeled to catch a glimpse from your vehicle. Red Rock Canyon and Blakiston Falls are in bear country, so bring bear spray and keep it accessible. These may be popular trails with lots of foot traffic, but it’s still possible to encounter bears.

I wouldn’t call myself an avid birdwatcher, but I do enjoy sightings now and again. We saw a woodpecker in the forest and an diving American Dipper in stream near Red Rock Canyon. They’re fun to watch for a few minutes. If you’re into “birding” (did I say that right?), I’d bring some binoculars along for the ride.

I love exploring Canada’s national and provincial parks, especially observing wild animals in their natural habitat. And I keep learning more about how to do that without causing unintentional harm. Always leave no trace, never feed wildlife (even the scavengers…), and give wild animals the space they need. Let’s keep wild things wild.

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Black bear sow near Red Rock Canyon Parkway.
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American Dipper diving in the water.
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Outdoor etiquette sign.

Map of Red Rock Canyon and Blakiston Falls

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Map of Red Rock Canyon.

Have you visiting Red Rock Canyon and Blakiston Falls? What’s your favourite outdoor thing to do in Waterton Park? Leave a comment below.

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Hiking at Red Rock Canyon and Blakiston Falls in Waterton via @outandacross
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