I recently got an email inquiring about how to get some photography in on a summer vacation to the Canadian Rockies with a family in tow.
The challenges are obvious when you have young kids in the car and you’re not that familiar with the area, so I’ll begin by breaking down some tips for the Banff townsite area.
Because Banff is jam-packed with hotels, shops and restaurants, it can often be a place where a Mom or Dad can sneak out for a few quick shots after dinner, or better yet, incorporate a photo destination in the day’s plans with the kids.
An excellent place to start is the Banff Gondola. Kids will love the ride to the top and the short, easy trails that are found there. Adults will love the view and better yet, photographers will REALLY love the view. Try for a morning ride up to get the best light, though a late afternoon ride in late summer or early fall also provides some excellent light for photography.
The view from Sulphur Mountain on the Banff Gondola
Another good morning trip for photography with a family in the Banff area is a drive along the Lake Minnewanka Loop. There is loads of wildlife, and some spectacular scenery. Stop at Lake Minnewanka and let the kids explore the shoreline while you take shots, or visit Johnson Lake for a quiet stroll around the lake.
Mt Rundle from the trail around Johnson Lake
If you want to photograph some wildlife and you think looking for it will keep your family engaged, a drive along the Bow Valley Parkway just west of town in the late afternoon often produces some good photo opps for bighorn sheep, elk and coyotes.
Bighorn Sheep ram along the Bow Valley Parkway
And finally, if you do get some free time after the kids have gone to bed, head immediately to the Vermilion Lakes area just outside of town near the Mount Norquay highway overpass. Photographers can, and often do, spend days on end photographing the sublime reflections and colours to be found in the Vermilion Lakes area. Sunset is amazing from several different spots along the road, all within five minutes drive of downtown Banff!
Mount Rundle and First Vermilion Lake at sunset