There are many scenic drives you can take when you’re camping in Waterton Lakes National Park, and one short one will take you to a hike you can do up and around Red Rock Canyon. You can even cross the other side of the valley and hike to Blackiston Falls.
When you’re with a 6 year old, however, on a hot sunny summer day, you probably skip both hikes and just play in the cold mountain creek. We just walked 50m from the parking lot and stayed put for the next hour.
The rocks in Red Rock Canyon are red and green because they were once part of a sea bed. As the sediments washed into the sea, different layers were formed. The mud and sand was compressed to become shale, and later cemented into sandstone. The green rocks contain non-oxidized iron, while the red rocks contain about 3% oxidized iron. This means, that at some point in time, there was enough oxygen in the earth’s atmosphere to affect these layers of rock. One theory suggests oxygen rich water may have done the oxidizing.
Nonetheless, the layers are now interesting stripes in the rock and continue to be eroded down into a cold, colourful playground.
If you’re going to visit Red Rock Canyon in Waterton Lakes National Park on a weekend afternoon, it’s best you take the free shuttle from the centre of Waterton. Gather at the free wifi station at the NW corner of the community playground, and catch the bus every hour on the hour for the 40 minute ride up to Red Rock Canyon. Then, every hour on the hour, you can catch it back (last one leaves Red Rock Canyon at 6p).
Note the shuttles aren’t very big (15-20 people) this meant we missed the first shuttle because Zacharie was playing the playground and we showed up 5 minutes early instead of 15. No matter, he stripped to a swimsuit and played in the water park for an hour before we caught the next bus.