Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park is dominated by large fjord-like glacial lakes. For many visitors they are a primary destination. Boating, fishing, or just plain hanging out on the shore and skipping rocks consume many a relaxing hour and are the stuff of magical memories. We need your help to keep it that way.
On the surface things look fine, but in the past stocking of non-native fish changed the ecosystems of most park lakes. These fish out compete native species for food and habitat. We need to prevent additional non-native species of animals or plants from accidentally being introduced, because each small change effects the overall health of park waters.
Use this field guide to help you identify AIS.
Don't Move a Mussel
Now there is a new and serious threat. Imagine a future where going to your favorite rock-skipping beach, you find the shoreline matted with tens of thousands of small mussel shells, with everything cemented together in a sharp, smelly mess. Imagine once productive fisheries wiped out by these new invaders. It's not science fiction, impacts are already occurring in waters in the Great Lakes, eastern provinces and states, the prairies and plains, and more recently in the Southwestern United States.
Since the 1980s freshwater zebra and quagga mussels have steadily advanced westward, transported on trailered boats. Very recently, a mussel-carrying boat was intercepted at a marina on Flathead Lake. The boat had come from the Southwest. Flathead Lake is just downstream from Glacier.
Protecting the waters of the Peace Park requires immediate action, both by the parks and by every boater.
Glacier National Park Watercraft Launch Regulations
Lake McDonald - Second Saturday in May
Two Medicine Lake - June 1
Bowman Lake - Second Saturday in May
Other Park Waters
Non-motorized watercraft and non-trailered electric motorized watercraft are permitted same day launch on Lake McDonald, Bowman Lake, Two Medicine Lake, St. Mary Lake, and Swiftcurrent Lake, after inspection and permit issuance by NPS staff. They will not require a 30-day dry time because the motors are not water-cooled and therefore are classified as lower risk, similar to hand-propelled water-craft.
Kintla Lake is open to hand-propelled watercraft, after inspection. Inspections for the North Fork area of the park (Bowman and Kintla Lakes) are performed at the Apgar Village permit station.
Hand-propelled boats and sailboats are permitted on park waters with the following exception: from April 1 through September 30, the section of Upper McDonald Creek between Mineral Creek and Lake McDonald is closed to all types of boating and floating to protect nesting Harlequin ducks.
Boating may be restricted in certain areas for safety or to protect sensitive wildlife habitat throughout the park. Marker buoys and/or signing will be placed to designate the closures.
2019 Inspection Locations and Hours of Operation
North Fork (Polebridge)
Two Medicine Ranger Station
St. Mary Visitor Center
Many Glacier Ranger Station
For specific information on recreational boating in Glacier National Park, please visit the Boating page.
Waterton Lakes National Park Permit Regulations
Currently, motorized and trailer-launched watercraft require a 90 day quarantine after inspection before launching on Waterton Lake. Non-motorized boats may self-certify prior to launching.
To obtain the permit you must complete a self-inspection form, which will act as a permit. Watercraft users must ensure their permits are available for examination. Self-inspection forms will be available at the park gate, Visitor Reception Centre, Operations Building and Wardens Office, campgrounds, and select locations in town. Permit stations will also be located throughout the park at boat launches and the most popular boating areas.
More information is available on the Waterton Lakes National Park Lakes Activities page.
Additional Aquatic Invasive Species Information
Last updated: October 31, 2019