Nearly Five Years After Wildfire Destruction, Waterton Lakes National Park Visitor Center Opens to Public

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Almost five years since Waterton Lakes National Park (Alberta, Canada) lost its visitor center to a wildfire, a new facility is now open for the public.

Officials announced the new visitor center, constructed to celebrate the area’s remarkable nature and culture, is now open to visitors, as per a report.

Parks Canada also said the structure is part of the close collaboration with Indigenous groups to show their culture, traditions, history, and connection to the land that makes up Waterton Lakes National Park.

“This landmark project in Waterton Lakes National Park is an investment in the future that will welcome Canadians and visitors from around the world for years to come,” said Steven Guilbeault, the minister responsible for Parks Canada, in a release.

The new facility is open all year round and will feature a variety of contemporary exhibits, interactive programs, and guest services.

“Exhibits highlight the area’s substantial biodiversity, unique landscapes, and the forces of nature that shape them, including wind and wildfire,” officials said in the release.

Some of the exhibitions include Nightlife theatre, a glimpse of Waterton’s nocturnal wildlife and starry skies, Forces of Nature, a presentation of the park’s raw natural forces, including wildfire and recovery, and Biodiversity walls, exhibits of the distinct ecosystems found in the park.

The facility was destroyed during the Kenow wildfire in 2017, the same natural disaster responsible for destroying more than 80% of the hiking trails within the national park.

The Crandell Mountain Campground, several buildings at Canyon Youth Camp, the Alpine Stables and staff housing, as well as the electrical and water system were also destroyed, Parks Canada said.

It is estimated that the federal government invested around CA$103 million through its Infrastructure Investment Program, of which the visitor center represents a significant investment.

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