Who doesn’t love a road trip? I’ve been on many roadies over the years but one of the absolute most stunning car trips I have ever done was our Canadian Rockies road trip. If you haven’t visited the Canadian Rockies before, here are 8 reasons you must do so!
1 ) Johnston Canyon
The first few nights of our Canadian Rockies trip we camped in Tunnel Mountain Village Campground which is just outside the city of Banff and close to the stunning Johnston Canyon which was one of the places we wanted to check out. Below is a shot from Johnston Creek Falls. It was a really fabulous hike along the river to get to these falls with the narrow pathway hanging off the side of the canyon precariously. We were there in early September but the crowds here were still significant. At some spots along the trail things get very narrow and there is no choice but to get up close and personal with your fellow hikers. Luckily everyone we met was super friendly so this wasn’t a big deal. We passed several small waterfalls but we were there mid day so the contrast was really harsh for photos. This scene below was lit softly at the time we reached it.
Upper Falls and Johnston Canyon, Banff National Park
2 ) Banff and Lake Louise
No trip to the Canadian Rockies would be complete without spending some time in the quaint towns of Banff and Lake Louise. We actually didn’t spend too much time in Banff itself as it was all about getting to the nearby photo locations. Over the course of 3 days we did a couple runs back and forth to Lake Louise which was as incredible as anticipated. Of course Lake Louise was jammed with tourists so I’m not even sure how I managed to get the shot below without a bunch of people in it. The moody skies on this particular day really seemed to add drama to the scene.
Beautiful Lake Louise under moody skies.
Here’s a shot of the famous boathouse at Lake Louise. The yellow flowers sure pop against that turquoise water!
The Boathouse at Lake Louise, Alberta
3 ) Moraine Lake
Just down the road from Lake Louise is Moraine Lake which had zero crowds when we were there. We planned to be there for sunset and it was probably the most breathtaking place I have ever seen. The evening light flooding the Valley of the Ten Peaks was something out this world and as we walked the trail around the west side of the lake I found myself taking picture after picture at every turn. It was so amazing! Not surprising that this scene was featured on the Canadian twenty dollar bill at one time, and thus it is know as the “twenty-dollar view”. I’d say it’s worth more than a 20 note but that’s just my opinion 🙂
Moraine Lake, Alberta at sunset.
ICYMI in my first photo blog post, below is probably my favourite photo of myself, taken at Moraine Lake. That scene would make anyone look good! To make this self portrait I simply set my camera up on my tripod, did some test shots to get the exposure right and then set it on the self-timer with a 20 second delay and several exposures. Usually one or two turn out decent and it’s fun to get in the picture sometimes since I’m usually behind the camera 🙂
Self Portrait at Moraine Lake, Alberta
I so wished we would have had the time to take one of these canoes out for a paddle. Doesn’t get much more Canadian than that folks!
Colourful canoes at Moraine Lake, Alberta
The reflections at this lake were so incredible!
Evening at Moraine Lake, Alberta.
4 ) Peyto Lake
Our time in Banff came to an end after three nights and it was time to pack up and jump on the Icefields Parkway all the way up to Jasper. There is no drive more stunning than this one. The scenery is outstanding of course but it’s made even more special by the fact that there is nothing but stunning scenery the whole drive. There are no strip malls, no fast food joints, not even a gas station. Just you, the open road, and endless Canadian Rockies mountains and aquamarine lakes to drool over. One such lake is pictured below, Peyto Lake which from the viewpoint resembles the shape of a wolf profile. Cool! It’s a short hike to get to this viewpoint and well worth it.
Peyto Lake, Alberta
5 ) Columbia Icefield
We arrived at the Columbia Icefield at around lunch time and set up a pic-nic while enjoying this incredible view below. We also took a quick tour of the visitor’s centre which had a bunch of interesting information. They do offer bus tours which take you out onto the icefield itself but we weren’t too keen on that.
6 ) Athabasca River
Another stop we made along the drive was Athabasca Falls and from there we did the hike along the Athabasca River Gorge. It was GORGE-ous! As you can see from the shot below we were there mid-day so not the best time for shots of the waterfall plus it was super crowded. But I was happy with this shot of the gorge. Still super harsh contrasty light but what are ya gonna do. That’s one thing about road trips, unless you have all the time in the world you can’t possibly be at each location during perfect light so sometimes you have to take what you can get.
Athabasca River Gorge in Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada
We finally made our way to Jasper and after waiting in a long line at the campground managed to secure a site for a few nights. On the way back to Jasper from a day trip to Miette Hot Springs (highly recommend!) the evening sky was lighting up in reds and pinks and I managed to get this sweet shot of the Athabasca River. Now THIS is what we call good light!
The Athabasca River along Highway 16 outside of Jasper, Alberta.
7 ) Talbot Lake
A little further down the road we came upon Talbot Lake which was looking mighty fine in the evening light as well.
Talbot Lake, outside Jasper Alberta.
8 ) Elk
Our Canadian Rockies road trip was in early September so the resident Elk were gearing up for the annual rut which means you really want to give the animals their space especially the males. One evening outside Jasper we came upon a traffic jam situation rather unique to Jasper and area. A small herd of Elk were doing what they do best – grazing incessantly – along the very edges of the Yellowhead Highway. The highway was pretty busy with RV’s, locals and transport drivers all trying to do their thing. Some of the tourists were so taken with these giant beasts that they didn’t really handle the situation in the safest way and we did see a local speed by yelling at the tourists to keep moving!!!
Elk traffic jam on the Yellowhead Highway
We were already stopped in a pull-out when these two beauties decided to start play-sparring right outside our vehicle. I had my 200mm lens on my Nikon D7000 and it was everything I could do to get the both of them in the frame at 70mm!! It was such a sight to behold.
Two bull elk sparring during the fall rut, outside Jasper, Alberta.
Back on our first night of camping in Banff we were serenaded to the magical sound of the local Elk bugling into the night. What a sound! I will never forget it. I didn’t get the classic bugling Elk shot but we did see this elegant cow Elk wandering through the campground one evening. We soon noticed the magpie continuously landing on her hind quarters and pecking away at the ticks living in her coat. This lady Elk seemed almost grateful for the service! Isn’t nature amazing…
A cow Elk in Banff National Park tolerates a Magpie as it forages for ticks.
I could not get enough of the Canadian Rockies and I know our trip there only scratched the surface of what the area has to offer in photo locations. It’s definitely a place I am looking forward to visiting again. Please leave me a comment below and let me know your favourite photo locations in the Canadian Rockies!
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