Red Rock Canyon: Nature’s Open Heart Surgery

When you look down Red Rock Canyon towards the parking lot, it appears the green Earth busted an angry vein and ripped open its heart to blue sky and mountains. We were confronted by this rocky bloody slash in the earth, after driving 15 km. through

Red Rock Canyon in Blakiston Valley. Waterton Lake National Park, Alberta 2012. Photo by J. Chong

Red Rock Canyon in Blakiston Valley. Waterton Lake National Park, Alberta 2012. Photo by J. Chong

Blakiston Valley, along a winding, peaceful road in Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta.

It’s initially startling to see Red Rock Canyon.

Peering down canyon to near dry glacial stream during summer. Red rock is Grinnell argillite.

Peering down canyon to near dry glacial stream during summer. Red rock is Grinnell argillite. Red Rock Canyon, Waterton Lake National Park AB 2012. Photo by J. Chong

Although the red-purple canyon walls are dry under the blazing sun, the vivid colours draw you in, like a bumpy, long and multi-hued bruise.

What makes some of the rock redness strange, is the rock, Grinnell argillite, when it gets wet, has a slick, earthy terra-red colour.  From afar, the water mirrors like strange, deep red blood oozing from underneath the ground.  But closer, it’s just clear water skimming over the rocks. Under the right natural light, the glacial water shimmers deep turquoise-indigo blue– like a jewel backlit by a mauve canvas.

We walked along a path that edges the whole red lip of the canyon.  The hiking guide book said it was a 20 minute hike. Right.

I must have loitered around Red Rock Canyon for almost 2 hrs. to shoot photos.  A few people dragged down their tripods and SLR cameras onto  the canyon floor.  Others

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 hopped, danced or wandered happily along the canyon bed.  I found simple photo-shooting from above, a challenge with tree shade, uneven sunlight dancing down around the rock walls and glaring white sunlight above the canyon edge.

Eons ago a river, now reduced to stream, carved out a canyon. Since the canyon is near the junction of two mountain passes and valleys, it was a popular stopping site for the aboriginals and later, for explorers.

Wildflowers along our hike from Red Rock Canyon. Waterton Lakes National Park, AB 2010. Photo by J. Chong

Wildflowers along our hike from Red Rock Canyon. Waterton Lakes National Park, AB 2010. Photo by J. Chong

We were there during early September. At this time in late summer, the stream was at its lowest point which was ideal for bedrock wandering.  And less pools of blood stream water trickery bubbling over the stones.

Red Rock Canyon is ringed by mountain peaks thrusting up, some with red-green striations. Argillite rock was created millions of years ago from hardened mud. Both colours are caused by iron deposit where red mineral, hermatite is the oxidized state, whereas green is chlorite mineral that is the unoxidized state.

Red Rock Canyon. Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta 2012. Photo by J. Chong

Red Rock Canyon. Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta 2012. Photo by J. Chong

Our 9 km. hike from the canyon area  through the valley forest, was graced with ever-changing views of mountains with red mauve blush of argillite across some of peaks, peeping through some hanging valleys and forested sides.

Red Rock Canyon –a place to hang out under different light play and seasons without  snow cover. A place that vibrates in life colour and conjures up metaphors of  menstruation,  Earth heart line,  rippling rock musculature and mountain pulse.

Interesting Reading:
Parks Canada. Waterton’s Scenic Parkways. Includes some advice. Parks Canada manages Canada’s official national parks.

Waterton Lakes National Park: Geology and Geomorphology.

36 thoughts on “Red Rock Canyon: Nature’s Open Heart Surgery

    • Thanks for letting me know. I haven’t figured the problem and only see it run occasionally. There are several other places in the world with also the similar name of Red Rock Canyon. This National Park is huge and offers different things to see when travelling around.


  1. You took some great photographs Jean, well done, and thank you for sharing part of your journey; the closest that I have got/gotten to seeing canyons was in a few of my dreams. :)


      • No I have not, I have not traveled to many places during my life so far, I have not traveled around most of the USA or most of any other popular country yet..


      • Who said that I have been to the USA or the eastern side of the USA (I usually do not reveal my true locations publicly online)? :D

        I am guessing that you are guessing that based on my assumed IP Address and your Live Traffic Feed Widget (which I think is a privacy/security risk to some visitors of your blog, it would be better if you did not show that widget at all since it shows too much location information publicly & without permission/warning in my opinion, or I would recommend that you just pick a widget that only shows the country instead without the extra location information like city/state/et cetera ;) ).

        Some people/I I might be using a proxy/VPN or a program like Tor to mask/show a different IP Address than their/our real IP Address to protect their/our privacy/security/et cetera, and so my IP Address could be showing as an IP Address from a small town in the USA or a city the UK or France or Canada or wherever depending on the proxy/VPN/Tor Node used; so you can not always be sure if that is someone’s real location/IP Address. ;)


  2. What browser and browser version are you using Jean?

    I am using the newest version of Mozilla Firefox 16.0.2, and your slideshow shows up fine for me and it probably shows up fine in the newest version of Google Chrome as well and it shows up fine in the newest version of Internet Explorer for me (I recommend Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome over Internet Explorer any day).

    It could be a settings problem and/or maybe you need to update your browser or it could be something else like an add-on/plug-in conflict/problem, I can offer more advice once I know what browser & browser version are you using & how you have your settings configured and/or what add-ons/plug-ins you are using; and then we can go from there in troubleshooting the problem. ;)

    Here is more information on checking for browser updates for those three browsers:

    Mozilla Firefox:

    Google Chrome:

    Internet Explorer (This also lets you see updates for Windows too, I recommend keeping your Windows Operating System updated as well ;) ) :


    • I won’t be updating to Windows until things settle down with Microsoft. Browser update will be done ..eventually. But thanks for the advice. Did you see the slidehow finally?


      • I saw the slideshow from the beginning with no problems, using Mozilla Firefox.

        You won’t be updating to Windows until things settle down with Microsoft? So what Operating System are you using Jean?

        I was just assuming that you were using Windows 7 or a previous Windows version, that is all, I was not recommending updating to Windows, I was recommending updating Windows if you already had it (as in the Windows Updates/Patches/Bug Fixes/Et Cetera available for your particular version of Windows). ;)

        Also what browser are you using or updating?


  3. Hello Jean, I made a comment with some suggestions/offering help with your slideshow problem, but I think that it went to your Spam folder since I added several links to my comment; and so you will probably find my comment there. ;)


  4. hello Jean and thank you for stopping by and checking out my blog. Yes I could see the slide show above, and what great picture and great place to visit. (and by the way, I loved feeding your fish… sorry if they are now overweight it’s my fault.. :)


  5. Wonderful post! your photos and writing together give me a visual tour of what you have seen! Thanks for sharing something so beautiful.


    • Thanks, sofs. Your camping trip sounded abit strange..May you find some other interesting ‘wilderness’ treks, scenery elsewhere where you won’t have to leave so quickly.


  6. Hi Jean — thanks so much for commenting on my blog and leading me back here — if the snow and ice hadn’t settled on Calgary streets, you’d be inspiring me to get my bike out and hit the trails! Love the photos of the Peace Bridge — love all your photos. And yes, your writing has the capacity to take me along for the ride.



    • Yea, I had to find a title that was still true to the nature of the topic and distinguish it from other Red Rock Canyons of the world. There are several different places that have the same place name.


    • You would enjoy the Rocky Mountains. In fact the area along the British Columbia and Alberta border has several national and provincial wilderness parks. (I had to add the wilderness because of the bears, elk, deer, bighorn sheep and white long haired mountain goats. I forgot the moose, etc.)


  7. This beautiful canyon and her form and red blood rock flow is another affirmation of the Earth as so very feminine in her formation. I loved going on the journey with you and getting your impressions… a virtual tour!


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