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I'm browsing some trails I'd like to visit next summer around Waterton Lakes NP, in Alberta. Going off an initial skim of Google Maps, it looks like the trail system straddles the border without immediate border checkpoints.

How are these border crossings handled? I understand the US has been fairly strict about e.g. detaining joggers on a beach in BC crossing the border accidentally, and ideally this is something I'd like to avoid.

For context, I'm a Canadian citizen living in Canada.

  • 1
    Welcome to Travel! It will help if you can tell us your citizenship, as it may affect what you specifically will need to do. Also, you may want to look at the answer to this question & the links therein. – Michael Seifert Jul 31 at 15:54
  • Thanks @MichaelSeifert, added that detail! – Jules Jul 31 at 17:19
  • This question has been asked before, for the reverse direction of travel. Though it does mention that southbound travelers should go to the CBP checkpoint at Goat Haunt. – Michael Hampton Jul 31 at 17:48
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Did you see U.S. Customs pilot project expands to Waterton Lakes National Park - Lethbridge | Globalnews.ca? The answers on the linked question date from 2017 and wouldn't have known this.

U.S. Customs pilot project expands to Waterton Lakes National Park

By Tom Roulston Global News

Posted June 13, 2018 7:11 pm

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is rolling out a new pilot program in Waterton Lakes National Park for pedestrians who will be crossing the Canada-U.S. border into Glacier National Park.

The Reporting Offsite Arrival-Mobile (ROAM) application, available for Apple and Android devices, will allow park visitors crossing into the U.S. via boat or on foot the ability to report their arrival to Customs officials remotely.

The program will launch on June 16 with four inspection kiosks stationed at the Waterton Cruise Company dock.

There, travellers can create a profile and declare their intended trip to the United States.

The ROAM app will also give boat passengers and hikers the option of reporting their arrival from any location via their smartphone.  The app enables a video conference with CBP officers.

See also USA/Canada border in Glacier National Park and Waterton Lakes National Park : Borderporn.

You can continue walking for another 3km or so and you will end up at the USA Goat Haunt ranger station

. Here, there are 2 border guards that check your passport so you can continue to do the hikes on the Montana end. However, sometimes you have parks staff along the trail to check your passport as well. Unfortunately, I hiked all the way down with my roomate (13km/8mi) one way altogether, but he is a UK citizen and got turned away. Turns out this isn't treated as an actual "land border crossing" so they couldn't authorize a USA visa at the spot and we were sent back to Canada on the tour boat that goes back and forth between Waterton Lakes, Alberta and Goat Haunt, Montana. Here is a trail map where you'll see the townsite then follow the red line all the way down on the left side of Upper Waterton Lake to the bottom. That is where the ranger station is.

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  • For non-Canadian citizens it's probably better to avoid attempting to cross the border from Canada to the US at all. Not worth the hassle -- plenty to see in Canada, so won't be missing anything worth bothering about. – John MacLeod Aug 5 at 8:10
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It's better quote news article from CBP themself. I emphasize "backcountry" for you.

CBP expands ROAM app pilot to Glacier National Park | U.S. Customs and Border Protection

SWEETGRASS, Mont. — U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office of Field Operations is pleased announce the addition of Waterton, Alberta, to the list of pilot locations now using the new Reporting Offsite Arrival-Mobile (ROAM) application for pedestrian reporting.

ROAM app

CBP has expanded it's ROAM app pilot
program. This pilot expansion includes
pedestrians traveling to Goat Haunt,
Montana, via the International Cruise
Line and/or backcountry hiking trails
via Waterton International Peace Park
in Alberta, Canada, and Glacier National
Park in Montana.

This pilot expansion includes pedestrians traveling to Goat Haunt, Montana, via the International Cruise Line and/or backcountry hiking trails via Waterton International Peace Park in Alberta, Canada, and Glacier National Park in Montana.

This pilot addresses a pressing issue for border waters and backcountry trails that depend heavily on tourism. Vacationers and outdoorsmen from around the world travel to these border areas with their families to enjoy both countries’ national parks. Oftentimes these groups travel into the United States by way of the Waterton Shoreline Cruises in Waterton which requires checks by U.S. Customs and Border Protection at the Goat Haunt Port of Entry when the intent of the traveler was to cross into the United States and hike backcountry trails in Glacier National Park

The new pilot program will launch on June 16 at Waterton Cruise Company, which docks in Waterton. It is designed to allow travelers intending to cross into the United States via the international cruise line to be inspected by U.S. Customs and Border Protection through the ROAM application. Four inspection kiosks will be stationed at the Waterton Cruise Company docks for travelers to create a profile and declare their intended trip into the United States.

The ROAM app allows boat passengers and hikers the flexibility of reporting their arrival into the U.S. from any location via a device that is capable of 4G/LTE or Wi-Fi. The ROAM app is available in the Apple and Android stores under CBP ROAM. The ROAM app enables a video conference with CBP officers to efficiently make entry into the U.S.

Intending visitors to the United States can construct a profile within the application, and submit their information for a CBP video conference while at the docks, waiting to board the International vessel. Traveler information can be easily saved within the app, or recreated for future crossings.

CBP's remote arrivals app to launch nationwide -- FCW

  • By Mark Rockwell
  • Jun 15, 2018

Near Waterton Lakes National Park in Canada (above), a U.S. border crossing app recently went live. (Photo credit: Jason Patrick Ross/Shutterstock)

A new mobile app from Customs and Border Protection will make life easier for pleasure boaters and hikers in border areas, while freeing up border agents for enforcement operations.

CBP hopes its Reporting Offsite Arrival-Mobile (ROAM) app will be useful for small boat operators and their passengers, as well as hikers and other outdoors enthusiasts, who enter U.S. waters and territories in their travels in border regions.

The app is for travelers who want to be processed by CBP upon entry into the U.S.

"Most travelers want to be compliant" with immigration law, and the app makes it easier to do that, said Christopher Wright, program manager for CBP's office of field operations--innovation.

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Use of the app by travelers will free up agents to enforce immigration rules against travelers who don't want to comply, according to Wright. The app "is more a reallocation" of agents from compliance work to enforcement, he said.

The app works on LTE- or Wi-Fi-capable mobile devices and allows CBP agents to initiate a video chat after travelers set up a login and profile. Wright said CBP has also partnered with Wi-Fi-equipped local businesses in remote areas where cell coverage is limited and set up kiosks at those businesses.

ROAM replaces CPB's Outlying Area Reporting Stations (OARS), which uses 90's era, one-way video transmission capabilities and speakerphones at remote marinas and docks. Those systems, according to the agency, are outdated and challenging to access.

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