Autumn / Fall Photography in the Canadian Rockies


With fall quickly approaching, I thought now was a great time to begin talking about photography in the Canadian Rockies in September and October. Autumn is a fantastic time to visit Banff, Jasper or some of the less travelled spots like Yoho or Kananaskis Country; there are fewer people around, the wildlife is more active, and the scenery is kicked up a notch with the golds and yellows of the aspen and larches.

Mt Temple, Fall Photography in the Canadian Rockies

Mt Temple, Fall Photography in the Canadian Rockies

To top it off for any of you Americans looking for a quick, easy, and relatively inexpensive photography trip to a beautiful location, the Canadian dollar is still about 15% lower than the US dollar, providing all American travellers with an instant ‘discount’ on trips to Banff or Jasper.

The prime attractions for photography in the Canadian Rockies in fall or autumn are the usual big two, scenery and wildlife, with the added bonus of some great additional colour in the trees in the valley bottoms (aspens) and in the subalpine meadows (larches). It is the best time of the year for elk photography, as the rut begins in earnest in early September and lasts for more than a month well into October. Anywhere in the Athabasca River Valley in Jasper, particularly along highway 16 East, is a great bet for getting to photograph bull elk with their harems of cows.

Bull elk bugling in beautiful fall colours

Bull elk bugling in beautiful fall colours

And it’s a fantastic time to capture subalpine larches in their golden glory. Anywhere in Banff, Yoho, Kootenay or Kananaskis that is at the edge of treeline will see the larches all turn at the end of September and start of October. Prime locations for photography include Lake O’Hara in Yoho National Park, Floe Lake in Kootenay National Park, Saddleback Pass in Banff (near Lake Louise), and Highwood Pass in Kananaskis Country, which happens to be the only good larch that you can actually drive to!

Larches at Lake O'Hara in autumn - perfect fall photography!

Larches at Lake O'Hara in autumn - perfect fall photography!

For the best luck, try the very last week in September, though if you have time, a trip from September 20th to about October 3rd or 4th would be perfect. Each year the peak of the fall colours can vary by as much as two weeks.

Photography in the Canadian Rockies in fall or autumn is as good as it gets up here! Hope to see you here!


7 comments on “Autumn / Fall Photography in the Canadian Rockies”

  1. Thomas

    All the three images are stunning compositions John. I liked the image of the bull Elk in its habitat a lot.

  2. Janice

    The pictures of are very nice. I would like to know when are these fall pictures taken? Sept or Oct? I will be going to Rocky mountain next 2 wks, will I get to see this scenery?

  3. Corinne

    Thanks for the tips. I’m heading to Jasper this weekend. Do you have any suggestions for sunset photos at this time of year? Are there any lakes around Jasper which are prime viewing spots for a sunset, to catch the colours in the sky and reflections on the lake (where the best view/angle has easy access?) Hope that makes sense!

  4. Allan Hargraves


    Great photos (and I bought one of your books in Banff), but why do you feel the need to manipulate the colurs so much? The Rockies are beautiful just as they are.


  5. Rob Pulaski

    Most times when I get to Banff it’s either summer or winter but I have to get there for the fall foilage show. Excellent pictures, I can feel the peace settling in.

  6. ForestWanderer

    His Photography is Brilliant!

    I love the fall colors at Lake O’hara

    That is amazing

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