Waterton Lakes National Park bracing for busy long weekend
Red Rock Canyon is a popular spot in Waterton Lakes National Park.
WATERTON, ALTA. -- Long weekends normally mean tons of tourists and cash flowing through the Town of Waterton, Alta.
The August long weekend — running July 31 to Aug. 1 — will be much of the same despite the COVID-19 pandemic for the southerna Alberta town near the U.S. border. .
“With the nice forecast and it being a long weekend, we are anticipating lots of visitors,” said Christy Gustavison , external relations manager of Waterton Lakes National Park.
Parks Canada is doing what it can to prevent the spread of the virus.
“We are prepared, we do have traffic control in place and monitoring traffic and trying to direct people to less busy areas of the parks” said Gutavison.
“We also want to remind people in these COVID times it’s important that you try to stay two meters away from people not in your household and wear facemasks where that’s not possible.”
But for some people, that’s not enough.
“The best way to get away from COVID and all the stuff is to come during weekdays,” said Jigth Menyo, who was visiting from Calgary.
“I’m actually sleeping in my car. I’m trying to avoid staying in the hotels and get away as far as possible from people.”
For all of Menyo’s efforts to try and avoid catching the virus, he still found crowds at one of the Park’s popular destination — Red Rock Canyon.
“There was actually around 100 to 200 people in the Canyon and I was trying to avoid (them) as much as possible,” said Menyo.
It is the first long weekend visitors will be allowed into the Park since it reopened after the May long weekend, exciting local business owners like Mike Christou, who runs the Waterton Cafe. He only opened up his establishment in the last few weeks.
“I think it’s going to be a lovely weekend. I think there is supposed to be a lot of people here,” said Christou.
Masks are not mandatory in Waterton but they are starting at noon Friday in one of Alberta’s other popular regional destinations, the Town of Banff.