Banf and Lake Louse
I have decided to put together this photography guide for all who would like to visit the Banff area with the primary intention to take away great photos.
Banff, the gem of the Rocky Mountains. The great landscapes of Banff National Park attract millions of visitors each year. I would like to share with you all the fine photo locations that I have ever discovered and give you some recommendations as to when is the best time to visit and how to prepare for a trip.
Banff National Park is approximately a one-and-a-half-hour drive from Calgary airport. The town of Banff is the tourist center where you will find lodging, restaurants, and a tourist center. Below are some of the top destinations that you must have on your list when you visit for the first time.
One of the most recognizable locations in Banff National park is Lake Moraine. A must-see location for any photographer. The ridge of mountains creating a picturesque backdrop for the emerald waters of the lake create an unforgettable scene. The lake is only accessible by car in the summer months. While the road is closed to car traffic for most of the year it is yet still accessible for hikers, cross country skiers, or bicyclists. Its recent success among photographers causes the parking lot to fill up as early as six in the morning. So I recommend planning accordingly. If you are really in the area for a few short days dedicate one sleepless night to get to the lake and see the sunrise there. You can catch up sleep in the afternoon 🙂
The road to the lake is worthy of the destination. You will be greeted by the majestic scenes that open from the road to the Valley of Ten Peaks.
Please check the travel advisory for the Banff national park before coming to make sure there are no further restrictions to the visitors.
One of the most frequently visited locations in Banff national park is the famous Lake Louise. The Lake is surrounded by towering mountains and backs into a glacier. Lake Louise is an “Eifel Tower” of the Banff National park with all the resulting consequences. In high season it gets way too busy and to even get to it you may have to fight traffic. Be directed to an overflow parking and take a shuttle to the lake. If you’re a serious photographer I recommend you to wake up early and come before 6 am to be able to park in the village and maybe catch the first rays of the sun above the lake.
The best sports to photograph in the area though are not at the lake itself but rather on a hiking trail around it. As trails winds up you will see hidden gems like lake Agnes, the beehive rock overlooking Lake Louise and, if you’re an adventurous one, scale the Devil’s Thumb.
Mount Assiniboine photography guide
This place is surreal. And nearly pristine. There is no cell coverage. No road access. And maybe this is what keeps this place so untouched.
You have to plan to stay overnight. Or book a private helicopter tour that would take you to the park and pick you up on the same day. That means $$$$$.
To get there you can take a day hike from Sunshine Village or book a helicopter drop off through Assiniboine Lodge services.
Staying options are:
- The lodge, which fills up a year ahead of the season.
- Huts that will make you get to know your roommates very intimately.
- Or a campground where you will have to build your own tent for night sleep and explore the area by hiking.
Therefore pack warm clothing. Weather can change on a dime even in July and you can get hit by snow on any day.
The best spot to shoot this iconic view is from the top of the Nub peak right opposite of the Sunburst peak that can be seen in the center of the composition.
Jasper National Park photography guide
Technically Jasper is a separate national park in its own right. However, the route to Jasper usually starts just like the route to the Banff in Calgary. It will take you around six hours to get there from Calgary International airport. I recommend taking a scenic route through Banf National Park rather than a northern route through Edmonton. The road to Jasper from Banff national park is called The Icefields Parkway. The road is as magnificent as it sounds.
The signature spot in Jasper is Maligne Lake and the iconic Spirit Island. Banff and Jasper photography guides usually put this spot on the top of the list to visit.
This is one of my favorite photos from the area and I have made many of them over the years for my clients. Maligne Lake is about forty minutes drive from the town of Jasper. And the Town of Jasper is about five hours drive from Calgary airport.
Parks Canada prohibits any gasoline or diesel-powered boats on the lake except few official cruiser boats. If you’d like a proper time to photograph the island the cruise is not the best option. You will only get a few minutes on the island that way and who likes to photograph in a rush. So, canoeing is one of the few limited options to get to the island. It would take about two hours of paddling one way to get there depending on your physical fitness! I haven’t heard of any private photo guides taking the groups to the island. Probably accessibility is a serious obstacle.
The scene changes with the weather and you can get various moods by staying there longer. I would recommend getting a party to travel with you. And this is not just for safety but to keep you company on the long trip. Or stare at you judgementally at you on the way back 🙂
Abraham Lake photography guide
The Abraham Lake is quickly gaining traction as the photography hotspot due to its unique winter features. Like famous methane bubbles forming intricate stacked patterns in thick clear ice. As the statement suggests the best time to visit this place is in the winter. At the end of December to be precise. After the ice sets but not yet gets cloudy due to weather fluctuations or massive snowfalls.
The lake is about three and a half-hour drive from the Calgary International airport. Or about two hours from the town of Banff. To catch both the sunrise and the sunset it is probably a good idea to stay at the Nordegg motel which is located near the lake.
Due to high winds on the lake, it is critical to wear layers. Skiing goggles wouldn’t hurt. Warm gloves for sure and make all your camera gear readily accessible. Keep batteries in internal pockets to make sure they are warm. And the most important thing is ICE CLEATS! Don’t even think of venturing onto the ice without them if you don’t want to be hurt.
Please feel free to reach out to me if you need more suggestions or help planning your visit.
To be amended and continued.