It’s sunny and warm in Banff and the Canadian Rockies this afternoon; a balmy 11 degrees Celsius (52 F). For those of you visiting Banff in the coming weeks, it’s a perfect time of year to go for a drive in search of wildlife photography opportunities in the national park. One of my favourite drives in April and May is along the Lake Minnewanka Loop Road, where lucky park visitors and wildlife photographers may get to see and photograph elk, bighorn sheep, mule and white-tailed deer, wild wolves (the Fairholme wolf pack uses this road regularly early in the day and in the evening), and even bears.
The road is particularly well known for the large herds of bighorn sheep that hang out near Lake Minnewanka. Several big rams also frequent the area, though I often go up there to get shots of the female ewes (pictured above) and their young.
The Lake Minnewanka scenic loop is about ten kilometers (seven miles) long and takes about a half hour to complete at a nice, slow pace while you’re looking for wildlife. Wildlife photographers should be sure to check out the areas surrounding the Upper Bankhead parking lot for the multitudes of Columbian ground squirrels there. Lucky visitors may also spot resident foxes or coyotes in this area, too.
The Lake Minnewanka Loop Road is a great early morning or late evening Banff drive. I’ll often loop around it four or five times in a morning, beginning just before sunrise, to up my chances for running into a wolf or a grizzly.
For tips on where to find wildlife along the Icefields Parkway between Banff and Jasper, check out John’s popular eBook, How to Photograph the Canadian Rockies: The Icefields Parkway Wildlife Edition.