For those of you that are interested in finding wolves to photograph this winter, there are few better places in Canada to begin your search than in Jasper National Park. Jasper is renowned for its wolves and 7 different wolf packs in and around Jasper use and cross roads during the winter season.
Wild wolf on the Athabasca River in Jasper National Park
One of my favourite spots to look for wolves is along the river on Highway 16 in either direction from Jasper. For more specific locations and tips on where to find wolves to photograph in and around Jasper, feel free to check out my guide to Where to Photograph Wildlife on the Icefields Parkway in Banff and Jasper National Parks.
One of the premier places to photograph landscapes in the Canadian Rockies is in the spectacular alpine environs of Lake O’Hara in Yoho National Park, half an hour’s drive from world renowned Lake Louise in Banff National Park. Access to this natural wonderland of emerald lakes, snow-capped peaks and stunning vistas is via bus with Parks Canada, at which point you can either stay in the lodge, the Alpine Club of Canada hut, or the campground.
Lake O’Hara is a favourite fall photography spot of mine because of the beautiful forests of larch trees that turn gold each autumn, lighting up the landscape even further for nature photography buffs. A short hour-long hike from the lake can get a photographer up on to the Opabin Plateau in time for sunrise amid the larches, a truly magical experience for a landscape photographer!
Opabin Plateau in Lake O’Hara, Yoho National Park
Expect to book this trip at least a few weeks in advance, so if you have missed this year’s prime time (late September to early October — see our post from last fall about autumn photography in the Canadian Rockies), then aim for 2013.
One of my favourite spots for fall colours in Banff National Park is along the Bow Valley Parkway between Banff and Castle Mountain. There are some beautiful groves of aspen trees along the parkway that turn honey gold each autumn between September 15th and 30th, making for some spectacular landscape photography in the heart of the Rockies.
Fall colour photography along the Bow Valley Parkway in Banff National Park
Watch for great stands of aspen to photograph near Hillsdale Meadows and by the Sawback turn-out.
As we approach the end of summer here in the Canadian Rockies, I thought I would put out a quick note to wildlife photographers coming to the Rockies in the next month about photographing moose as the rut approaches. Several of my favourite locations to photograph the moose rut from are located in Jasper National Park and neighbouring Mt Robson Provincial Park — in particular, I cruise the Yellowhead Highway from Moose Lake (about 45 kms/25 mi west of Jasper) back towards Jasper early in the mornings and late in the evenings. There are a number of enormous bulls that patrol the area immediately east of Moose Lake.
Bull Moose along the Icefields Parkway near Sunwapta Falls, Jasper National Park
The area around Sunwapta Falls on the Icefields Parkway is also a good bet for moose, particularly if you concentrate south of the falls in the Beauty Flats area.
Be aware that bull moose are ornery at this time of year, so I recommend staying back at least 100 meters/yards and using a long telephoto for your shots.
As we near the peak of wildflower photography season in Banff and Jasper, I thought I’d share a few of my favourite spots with you. I’m going to start off with Molar Meadows in the Banff backcountry, which provides some of the best wildflower photography in the entire Canadian Rockies. You can expect some solitude in Molar Meadows as well, as it’s a good 9 kilometers in before you really start to get to the best flower photo locations.
Spectacular wildflower photography in Molar Meadows in Banff National Park
The trailhead begins at Mosquito Creek on the Icefields Parkway and splits after approximately 8 kilometers towards Molar Pass and North Molar Pass. Either route takes you into Molar Meadows at different entry points and there are close to 10 square kilometers worth of beautiful alpine meadows full of gorgeous photo-worthy wildflowers. Check out the Canadian Rockies Trail Guide for more information on the trail. To best photograph the meadows at dawn or dusk, plan to camp at the MO5 campground at kilometer 5 of the Mosquito Creek trail and then use a headlamp to get up into the meadows in the pre-dawn light.
Be aware that this area is home to a lot of wild grizzly bears, so please be careful.
Locals that spend any amount of time in the Town of Banff quickly grow to love Banff`s infamous Green Spot, where a big green meadow on the slopes of Mount Norquay and Stoney Squaw provide an open view of the townsite below. Fortunately for landscape and nature photographers that have come to Banff to get great pictures, the Green Spot also offers up a wealth of photo opportunities of both grand scenes with the town included, as well as wildlife — the Green Spot often gets visited by a resident herd of bighorn sheep and occasionally hosts a bear family or two over the summer.
The Town of Banff and Mt Rundle from the Green Spot on Mount Norquay
To access the Green Spot, follow the signs from town for the Mount Norquay ski area and then watch for a rock wall on your right-hand side as you ascend the winding road towards the ski hill. If you make it as far as the ski area parking lots, you`ve gone about half a kilometer too far.
Summer is just around the corner in Banff National Park and there is no better place to start taking summer pictures than at Lake Louise in the heart of the Canadian Rockies. Louise is one of the most-photographed lakes in the world, and for good reason: it’s emerald green water reflections are framed magnificently by forested peaks towering to the right and left of the diamond-shaped Victoria Glacier.
Lake Louise, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada
For the best light at Lake Louise, landscape photographers should arrive at the lake in the morning, preferably by 5 a.m. at the latest, as the first colours usually show themselves in the clouds above the glacier between 5-5:30 a.m. By mid-July, landscape photographers visiting Lake Louise can usually get away with ‘sleeping in’ a bit and arriving by 5:30 a.m. or even 6, as first light is usually a bit later as the summer progresses.
My own favourite shooting locations are along the shore of the lake to the left of the Chateau Lake Louise hotel.
This is your chance to find out what a professional photographer does for a day in Banff. You can ask me any question you want, and we’ll photograph whatever we find: bears, wolves, spectacular scenics, and more! It’s just you and me, dawn to dusk! So what’s that worth to you? The bidding closes this Friday, so check it out below.
Black bear family crossing a road in Banff National Park
I don’t even offer these one-day one-on-one photo tours anymore, so if you’re interested, visit our online Facebook cancer fundraiser we’re doing for a friend of mine, Larry Renshaw: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=437266849616908&set=a.434697159873877.112490.434682913208635&type=3&theater
There are also lots of other great auction items up for bidding, including xcountry and downhill skis, local Banff artwork, framed photos, and some of my other products like my books and greeting cards. You can check out the whole auction online at https://www.facebook.com/LarryRenshawLarrysLoveLounge And note that anyone can bid! If you don’t have a Facebook account, just send an email with your bid to firstname.lastname@example.org
This is your chance to help out a legendary Banff/Canmore local!
The leaves are now in full bloom along the Athabasca River in Jasper National Park and around the Jasper townsite and this makes for some great spring nature photography. Combine this with the fact that bears and other wildlife are now being sighted daily in the park and you have the perfect storm for a wildlife and landscape photographer to spend a few days or a week enjoying the photo opportunities in Jasper.
One of my favourite early season landscape photography locations in Jasper is along the Athabasca River south of town on Highway 93 (the Icefields Parkway). Earlybird photographers may see wolves or bears along this route prior to 8 am, and really early risers can catch some spectacular sunrise light between 5 and 7 am.
Mt Fryatt and the Athabasca River at sunrise in Jasper National Park
The best locations are south of Athabasca Falls (17 miles/30 kms south of Jasper).
Five days ago I covered Vermilion Lakes and what a fantastic area it is for an early season landscape and nature photographer visiting Banff National Park because of its’ spectacular reflections and views coupled with early season greenery in the shrubs and trees. Today, I’ll take a look at another local’s favourite, Johnson Lake, which offers more superb views and landscape opportunities, as well as some great spring wildlife viewing and photography.
The East End of Mt Rundle reflected in Johnson Lake, Banff National Park
My favourite location for scenic photos at Johnson Lake in the spring is an early morning reflection from the trail that runs along the northwest side of the lake (accessed directly from the parking lot at the lake). This just happens to also take you to the best wildlife viewing location, which is a small lagoon about 250 m from the parking lot on the northwest side. This lagoon is home to nesting loons and grebes each spring and often has a resident muskrat or two swimming around. If you go sit by the shore and wait quietly, you often get rewarded with some great photo opps.