View Full Version : Hypothetical question about hiking into canada after waterton.

05-27-2012, 00:31
So lets just say I reach the end of the cdt northbound and I decide to keep going into canada's great divide trail. Would that be bad news without a passport or could I manage to sneak in and stay out of trouble through my canadian journeys? From what I understand you only need a passport to get back into the US but I would assume that's if you were traveling by car or airport anyway. I've never stepped foot outside my region so I have no idea how it would work.

05-27-2012, 01:01
i have no personal experience in this matter but i'm pretty sure goat haunt is manned by border patrol or INS or whoever, isnt it? i think you need a passport to even get to waterton lakes.

05-27-2012, 06:18
Years ago we (US citizens) could travel in Canada with only a drivers license for identification.
No longer.
We now need a passport.

It seems to me that it'll be too late in the year for a NOBO CDT'er to continue north in the Canadian Rockies in late fall, early winter.

I too believe there is an immigration officer at Goat Haunt.
By the way, it is a much more beautiful ending to a trail than the Chief Mountain border station out on the main road.
Looking back at Glacier NP from the lake at Waterton Lakes Provincial park is one of the best views on the whole trail.

05-27-2012, 06:42
As an alternative to a passport, you might consider one of these:


05-27-2012, 06:56
Ya know not having the proper ID...I wouldn't want to risk it,could be a very big dramatic mess to an otherwise awesome hike....hypotheticly speaking o'coarse.

05-27-2012, 07:23
I used to take border crossings lightly.
Not any more I don't.
Remember the Dutch woman who had an overstay in NY City? They shackled her for 3 days I believe.
For an overstay!

I deal with immigration and customs officers all too often anymore.
There are good ones and bad ones, just like any job.

If nothing else, you should think of your future.
I would've bet you just about anything, 20 years ago that I wouldn't be living in Asia with a wife and son.
(not only I have to explain my life to customs guys, I have to deal with a mountain of red tape for them to travel also)

So, best to follow the rules here.
It's not that hard to get a passport (just expensive now-a-days) and keep it current.

Don't get caught with drugs, guns, brass knuckles, firecrackers, food, or even mud (I had to spend some time in quarantine once over some mud from Bolivia)
Although I think dried noodles and some tang would be OK.

05-27-2012, 08:50
There was a customs officer at Waterton Lake last time I was there in 2009. And last time I was at Chief Mountain in 2007, armed agents were heading out into the woods after something. I wouldn't mess around up there.

05-27-2012, 08:58
Not knowing how the Canadians do things,but in the US,I've heard,you can be detained indefinitely for just the suspicion of being here illegally,under the new post 911 laws,sure it would get worked out,but what a hassle.

Spirit Walker
05-27-2012, 11:12
You could walk into Waterton fairly easily, but you need a backcountry permit and park pass and reservations to hike through Waterton NP on the GDt. Much of the GDT passes through national parks that require the two passes and paid campsite reservations made in advance. The Provinicial Parks also require you to pay, though sometimes you can simply pay on the spot instead of in advance.
See http://spiriteaglehome.com/gdt07_camping.html

Then, when you decide to return home, you will still have to cross the border at some point. Unless you walk back on the CDT or PCT, your vehicle will be stopped at the border and all people within the vehicle will be required to show passports. As we were told when we hiked the PCT, "I don't have to let you in."

05-27-2012, 11:21
The border officials have no sense of humor about "I left my guns at home" or other stupid remarks.

In fact, this border wants no firewood brought across, not even sticks. If you fill your pockets with tinder for having a wood fire, turn the pockets out and clean them out thoroughly. I have seen vehicles detained for having left over bits of firewood in a trailer, for example.

However, you can take approved bear spray. You must say you have approved bear spray. The brand I know is approved, because I have done it, it Counter Assault Bear Spray. The label says, approved for U.S. and Canada. It really is. I have taken it along when I have gone up to Waterton, AB, Canada.

I love Canada. It is well worth going up there.

Find out the rules. Do it right.

They have no sense of humor about breaking the law. Believe it!

05-27-2012, 12:51
After looking through some forums on google it seems you can enter canada with just a birth certificate and I.D. on foot. But you need a passport to get back into the U.S.

05-27-2012, 14:07
My daughter recently had her passport stolen in Montreal during student riots. She got back in, but she immediately reported it. My understanding is that if you're a US citizen, they HAVE to let you back in. . . but I'll run it by my friend who is with Homeland Security at the border.

Rocket Jones
05-27-2012, 14:16
They never HAVE to let you in. The passport just smooths the determination and approval process.

05-28-2012, 08:18
From my friend who works at the Canadian border:

Yes, if we are reasonable sure that a person is a U.S. Citizen we must allow them to enter the U.S.

If the person is sent inside (or maybe even at the primary lane) the officer can check for previous crossings and use that as a basis for entry.

Did I answer your question?

The real issue is that Canada may not allow you to enter their country if they think you might not be allowed back in the U.S.. Canada does not want to get ‘stuck’ with anyone. We play the same game with their people in that if we think Canada might not allow them back in to Canada we preemptively refuse them first so that Canada cannot refuse them entry. [If either country refuses someone they have technically never left the other country.]

07-12-2012, 01:17
Hello frnd,

It is very easy we do it going the other way all the time and you can also going other way. You can use the border crossing at chief Mountain may be it will help you.


07-12-2012, 08:03
My 2 cents...

This issue has become my new favorite irritant... I live on the Canadian side of a border community between Maine/New Brunswick. The two communities (St. Stephen/Calais) have a very long history of partnership and even celebrate an annual International Festival. Families live on both sides of the border. Communities share sports complexes and facilities. In reality, it is just one large community that unfortunately is divided by this arbritrary boundary.

Growing up here, you forgot about the border and the local Border Officers on both sides where friendly and familiar and never hassled locals doing their daily crossings to visit family, grociery shop, play sports, etc. But since 911, that has all changed, especially on the Canadian side. As it stands now you are required to have a passport or nexsis card to enter the US. A birth certificate and drivers licence is satisfactory for Canada, however they prefer a passport or nexis card. They now are arming the Canadian Border officers to the teeth, and have been importing a whole new breed of officers who lack any kind of discretion or personality. The US guards have remained friendly and understand the tight connection between the two communities and therefore are expedient and friendly with locals. The Canadian's on the other hand have a phrase "You give up your rights once you leave Canada" and treat you as such. Even if you make a short hop across the border to buy milk, coming back into Canada, they grill you as if you have attended a terrorist training camp. These young new officers simply will not believe you entered the US to visit friends or family and are returning with nothing to declare, and will continue to question you endlessly thinking you will suddenly break down and admit you've committed a crime.

As far as backcountry crossings. We have an international river that seperates our countries that is a favorite for canoe tripping called the St. Croix River. The river is dotted with great campsites on both sides of the border and historically there was never an issue picking a site on either side for a night. Again, this is no longer the case. Now you are restricted to only landing on whatever side you launched from, and the sites are patrolled heavily by Border Officers and by helecopter.

The only point that seems like it has always been is landings by sea kayak touring, in which you simply call a 1-800 number and declair your landing position and they will determine if it's necassary to send out an officer to check you over, but mainly, they just clear you over the telephone.

So after that long rambling story, my suggestion is follow the rules to the T, neither side seems to have a sense of humor about this stuff anymore and especially the new young Canadian officers are particularly aggressive and seem to desire throwing their weight around.

Mrs Baggins
07-12-2012, 08:25
We lived in Montreal for almost a year. I had a passport and a visa that showed I was an "accompanying spouse" because my husband was employed there and that I could come and go for 18 months as a "resident" of Canada. Every single time I left and then came back in (always at the Montreal airport) I was grilled as if I was trying to sneak in. Sometimes showing them the visa was even worse because that brought on an onslaught of questions about why my husband was working there, who was he working for, how long would he be working there, where were we living (address), and even why did I go to the states, who was I visiting there and on and on and on. Coming into the US is actually done at the Montreal airport as well, by US Border agents. Same grilling there...why were you in Montreal, why are going to the States, how long were you going to be in the States, who were you going to visit...........I love going to Italy. Get to immigration at the Rome airport, hold up your USA passport, get waived thru. No one even glances in it.

07-12-2012, 10:06
I love going to Italy. Get to immigration at the Rome airport, hold up your USA passport, get waived thru. No one even glances in it.

When we went to Germany, we were greeted at the airport by a grandmotherly type handing out gingerbread cookies that said Merry Christmas in German on the packaging.

Come back to the US and we (meaning everyone on the flight) are greeted by drug sniffing dogs. My fiancée is a German national, but was born in Poland. The customs official was very suspicious of why she was born in Poland but has a German passport (trying to explain the history of East Prussia and how between WW2 and the Cold War families were separated was not about something we were going to do.... :O).


Yeah..don't mess with the border crossing.