Volunteer projects

Waterton Lakes National Park

The following project descriptions are in alphabetical order. For more information or to register as a volunteer for any of the following projects, phone 403-859-5133 or email wlnp-volunteer@pc.gc.ca, indicating the name of the project you are interested in.

Park entry is free for the days of your volunteer activities. You are responsible for your own travel and accommodations while volunteering in Waterton Lakes National Park.
Find your next volunteer opportunity


Orientation late May and then ongoing work as volunteer's time permits through mid-October 


Adopt your very own patch of the park and assist our restoration crew to keep that patch clear of invasive plant species. This volunteer project is a great way to explore Waterton’s outstanding native plant diversity.

Our specialists will train and assist you with locating a patch to adopt. Work in your patch throughout the growing season as your time permits.

Our goal is to rid the Prince of Wales Hotel National Historic Site's hill and adjacent slope (known fondly as Salamander Hill) of spotted knapweed in time for the hotel’s centennial in 2027. Other patches available for adoption are located along Red Rock Parkway.

The area's plant diversity is truly special. More than half of the native flowering species in Alberta can be found here, including many rare plants. However, invasive plant species threaten the natural beauty, diversity and wildlife.

Your efforts will help to keep the ecosystem’s wildflowers blooming and help to support the many species that depend on them, including the endangered half-moon hairstreak butterfly.


  • Complete training to develop competence in plant identification, mechanical weed control and safety procedures;
  • On your own schedule, be available throughout the summer to visit and work in your adopted patch.

Volunteer duties:

  • Visit the adopted patch to control weeds;
  • Fill out weed control forms when you work independently in your patch;
  • Use safety equipment provided and follow safety procedures;
  • Sign-out equipment for the season and return it promptly when finished.

Register by email: wlnp-volunteer@pc.gc.ca

Burdock control

Second Saturday in June


Do it for the wildlife! Be a habitat hero. The seed of this tall, noticeable plant inspired the invention of Velcro. It sticks to wildlife (and visitors), and spreads to start another patch where wildlife feed and travel. That further impairs their habitat and public enjoyment.

The good news is that it is a biannual plant; only living for two years and producing seed in the second. Thus, this invasive plant can be controlled by removing the seed or flowers. Plus, the seeds are simple to remove. Being tall plants, it is also gentler on the back than controlling spotted knapweed.


  • Ability to hike on easy trails or off trail through gentle terrain, up to a kilometre or two, to access the burdock patches;
  • Prepared for a half-day or full day outside;
  • Outer clothing that is of tight-woven material so the seeds won’t stick to you;
  • Interest in doing a repetitive activity to control and stop the spread of non-native plants.

Volunteer Duties:

  • Hike with your daypack and weed bags (provided) to the burdock patch;
  • Remove and bag burdock seed, while wearing work gloves, and if the conditions warrant, safety glasses and a non-medical face mask (all provided);
  • Carry the comparatively light, filled bags out.

Register by email: wlnp-volunteer@pc.gc.ca

Busy Beaver clean-up crew

April through September


Contribute to keeping the park – a World Heritage Site - clean and pristine by helping Parks Canada staff remove old materials no longer needed in the outdoors and by picking up litter at trail heads, along roadsides and in the townsite. Sign up for one of the scheduled clean-up events or adopt a location and volunteer on your own schedule. You will be helping to reduce the risk of litter to wildlife and helping Parks Canada present nature at her best to the world. You will also be the extra eyes out there helping staff identify emerging problem areas for litter.


  • Complete a short orientation and training session before working independently in the park;
  • Adopt one or a couple of the sites listed by Parks Canada staff;
  • Commit to at least a couple work sessions during the peak visitor seasons, May long-weekend through September.

Volunteer Duties:

  • Complete and submit the tracking form when you work independently;
  • Use safety equipment and follow safety procedures;
  • Sign out equipment and return it promptly when finished for the season;
  • Dispose of litter at the appropriate locations, separating recyclables and non-recyclables.

Register by email: wlnp-volunteer@pc.gc.ca

Campground hosts

Belly River Campground: Two weekends prior to May long weekend through September (Labor Day) long weekend


Are you friendly and outgoing? Do you enjoy camping and helping other people? Are you enthusiastic about national park values, interested in passing along key park messages and working within the park mandate? Then consider volunteering as a campground host.

Campground hosts help make the visitor experience memorable by staying at the campground, greeting visitors there and providing them with information. In return, hosts have free entry to the park for a year, a free host campsite while they volunteer and many other benefits.

Experienced hosts or applicants who are available for longer periods may be given first choice of dates.


  • Own self-contained camping unit (RV, truck camper or tent trailer). Belly River Campground sites are back-in only;
  • Able to commit to a minimum of two weeks, five days per week, including weekends, about four hours per day;
  • Willingness to complete a security clearance (reliability status).

Volunteer Duties:

  • Representing Parks Canada mandate and values;
  • Answering visitor questions;
  • Welcome new campers;
  • Inform Parks Canada staff of issues you or other campers encounter;
  • Act as an initial point of contact for campers in case of an emergency.

Register by email: wlnp-volunteer@pc.gc.ca

Group volunteer projects

June to mid-October


Waterton offers a variety of volunteer activities for organized groups.

Bring your office colleagues, extended family, youth group or other group. Join Parks Canada staff for a half-day opportunity to participate in scheduled projects, shoreline cleanups, assist with the planting of native grasses and flower species or controlling invasive weeds. This volunteer experience makes for a well-rounded day in the park and the opportunity to learn more about this World Heritage Site.

Contact the volunteer coordinator to arrange a time and activity that suits your group.

Knapweed Rodeo

First Saturday after August long weekend


Wrangle up your posse to help us control spotted knapweed in Waterton Lakes National Park. Volunteer for a half or full day. Try your hand at winning one of the many prizes at this fun-filled day for the whole family. Spotted knapweed is an invasive plant species that impacts native ecosystems. A single plant can produce up to 140,00 seeds, every year!

Help us corral knapweed before it goes to seed at the Prince of Wales Hotel National Historic Site hill. We’re working to remove all the knapweed from this area in time for the hotel’s centennial in 2027. Don’t forget your cowboy hat!


  • No experience necessary - just a willingness to help pick and bag knapweed;
  • Involves repetitive, light physical labour (bending over, picking up);
  • TBD: Bring your appetite for a free, BBQ-style picnic lunch;

Volunteer Duties:

  • Pitch in and head off a stampede of weed seeds by pulling and bagging knapweed plants;
  • All equipment is provided

Register by email: wlnp-volunteer@pc.gc.ca

Peace Park native plant garden

Orientation and first work bee, late May, then ongoing as volunteer's time permits through September


Our native plant demonstration garden located in the Waterton community is a great introduction to native plants for visitors, the local community and volunteers alike.

The garden is maintained by volunteers. The garden is being reconfigured for 2023, and additional help is needed.


  • Attend an orientation session to learn the difference between native and weed species;
  • Available throughout the summer to work in the garden;
  • An interest in learning about the identification and care of native species.

Volunteer Duties:

  • Pull, cut and bag weeds. Mulch bare areas;
  • Remove dead stalks;
  • Identify and label species;
  • Assist with other tasks as needed, such seed collection and planting transplants.

Register by email: wlnp-volunteer@pc.gc.ca

Salamander habitat hero

March/April – half day (some years, also third Saturday in September)


Approaching Waterton village, visitors pass through the land of the long-toed salamander and into their story. You can be a habitat hero in that ongoing story by helping to maintain the crossing structures first put in place in 2008 to reduce the salamander road kills during their movements to and from Linnet Lake. Long-toed and tiger salamanders, western toads and red-sided garter snakes will all benefit from your help.

The spring date is timed in an attempt to come after the snow has melted and before the spring rains when salamanders move from their wintering areas. Depending on the state of wood-debris cover for them along the lake shore, there may also be a September volunteer opportunity.


  • Prepared for full half-day outside, including sturdy footwear and clothing layers suitable for the very changeable weather;
  • Able to perform repetitive, light physical labour (shovel work and bending over);
  • Comfortable working on sloped terrain and along a roadway.

Volunteer Duties:

  • Clearing obstructions from the byway tunnel entrances and putting accumulated soil and fine gravels into buckets for use to fill gaps;
  • Filling any gaps under byway fencing using careful shovel work and between the fencing joins using a caulking gun (supplied);
  • Pruning plants growing over or that have fallen over the byway fencing;
  • Picking up (litter-picker supplied), bagging and removing any litter along the system.

Tree planting: limber pine

September – October


Despite their naturally few numbers, this endangered species is an important part of the Rocky Mountain ecosystem. They are slow-growing and long-lived trees; preferring to grow on lower, windswept, open mountain slopes where sandstone outcrops through the surface or lies just below.

Their exposure and the elements give them a Bonsai look, but they have been no match for the adverse impacts of the introduced and invasive white pine blister rust, a history of fire suppression and the effects of climate change.

If you are accustomed to hiking up slopes and off-trail, volunteer to help park staff with the restoration of the limber pine tree species; by planting seedlings. Some lower elevation sites are less physically demanding.


  • Pre-event: Optional download and use free smartphone map app;
  • Bring your own lunch and outdoor equipment. Planting tools supplied by the park;
  • Be able to work up to a full 8 hours in the backcountry, including hiking to and from the site and the time spent planting.

Volunteer Duties:

  • Hike to a planting location both on maintained trails and off trail with your daypack and planting equipment (equipment weight: 2.7kg/6lbs). This is off trail and is often steep terrain that may be wet, slippery and/or snow covered;
  • Repetitive use of a spade to plant seedlings;
  • You may also help map where seedlings are planted for subsequent monitoring.

Register by email: wlnp-volunteer@pc.gc.ca

Tree planting: whitebark pine

September – October


We are in a race against time to save whitebark pines throughout the Rocky Mountains. These slow-growing, long-lived trees occupy windswept rocky slopes near tree-line, high up on the mountains where forest gives way to alpine. They are in danger of completely disappearing from Waterton Lakes National Park due to a combination of stressors: the introduced and invasive white pine blister rust, a history of fire suppression and the threat of the native mountain pine beetles.

Interested volunteers can sign up earlier for training and to be on a contact list, as due to various factors, including weather, there often is only a few days’ notice for the actual planting dates.

This volunteer work is for those physically fit enough to reach elevations where the whitebark pines grow and work all day in the backcountry’s splendor.


  • Pre-event: Optional download and use of smartphone map app to help stay within planting site;
  • Bring your own lunch and outdoor equipment. Planting tools supplied by the park;
  • Be able to work a full 8 or 9 hours in the backcountry, including hiking to and from the site and the time spent planting or monitoring.

Volunteer Duties:

  • Hike to a planting location both on maintained trails and off trail with your daypack and planting equipment (equipment weight: 2.7kg/6lbs). Travel may also include low-flowing creek crossings or travel to the trailhead by boat or helicopter;
  • Travel through the planting area carrying planting equipment. This is off-trail and is often steep terrain that could be wet, slippery and/or snow covered;
  • Repetitive use of spade to plant seedlings.

Register by email: wlnp-volunteer@pc.gc.ca

Wildflower and native grasses seed collection

Mornings, once a week, July and August


More than half the species of flowering plants recorded in Alberta can be found in Waterton Lakes National Park, making it an unsurpassed place to see flowering plants and help in the restoration of their habitat.

Waterton and Glacier National Park in Montana form the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park.

Staff and volunteers from the Peace Park collect native plant seeds. The seeds are then grown to seedlings at Glacier’s state-of-the-art nursery, after which they are returned to Waterton to help restore their grassland homes and fill our demonstration native plant garden.


  • Bring food, water and appropriate footwear and clothing for half a day outside.

Volunteer Duties:

  • Travel to seed collection sites. In some cases, this may be a short hike and in other instances it may involve a few hours of walking. All sites will involve some off-trail hiking;
  • Learn to accurately identify specified plants and pull or cut and bag seeds.

Register by email: wlnp-volunteer@pc.gc.ca

Wildflower and native grass planting

Weekdays in spring; September; early October


Enjoy the feeling of accomplishment after a successful day or half-day's planting amongst the scenic backdrop of the park. This is an opportunity to assist Parks Canada restoration teams transplant plugs of native grasses and other flowering plants throughout the park.

All plants are grown in Glacier National Park's nursery from seeds collected by volunteers and staff here in Waterton Lakes. Together, Waterton Lakes and Glacier national parks form the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park. This is part of several cooperative projects amongst staff and volunteers of the respective parks.


  • Bring gear, food, water and appropriate footwear for a half or full day day outside;
  • Work location, duration and amount of hiking to planting site will be identified and emailed prior to volunteers committing to the specific planting day;
  • Planting tools, knee pads and gloves are supplied by the park.

Volunteer Duties:

  • Hiking to planting sites carrying tools/trays of plant plugs. All sites involve some off-trail travel and may be rugged or steep;
  • Plant according to instructions of Parks Canada Staff.

Register by email: wlnp-volunteer@pc.gc.ca

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