Category Archives: Canadian Rockies Blogs

The Banff and Jasper Photography Blog

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Hello, and welcome to my first official blog post for CanadianRockies.net!

My name is John E. Marriott and I’m a full-time professional wildlife and nature photographer based out of Canmore, Alberta on the edge of Banff National Park. I’ve been living in the Canadian Rocky Mountains for the last 18 years and have photographed all over the parks extensively in that time. You may have seen my work in publications like National Geographic Adventure, Canadian Geographic, Popular Photography, Photo Life, Ranger Rick, National Wildlife, Reader’s Digest or Our Canada.

I’m thrilled to use this space in the coming months and years to provide you with tips on where to photograph in the Canadian Rockies, including hotspots in Banff, Jasper, Yoho and Kootenay National Parks. I’ll also provide information on photography conditions in the parks so you’ll know what to expect at various times of the year, as well as give my opinions on where the best places to stay are to get you into the heat of the photo action each morning/evening, and where the good wildlife spots are. And finally, I’ll include some of the stories behind my photo adventures, much like I do on my personal nature photography blog.

Look for the first of my tips in the next week and then watch for them regularly throughout 2009!

Mt Rundle from Third Vermilion Lake, December 2008

Mount Rundle from Third Vermilion Lake, December 2008

Cheers, and happy hunting with your cameras.

John

Miette Hot Springs of Jasper National Park: relax in scenery

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Yeah it’s getting a wee bit nippy here in Jasper National Park!

And that is why this mountain man loves to relax in some Alberta hot springs.

Miette Hot Springs is a great place for a great swim with the mountains in the background. What stands out about this hot spring is:

  1. Miete just completed a major renovation. The place seemed very clean and had the “new” feeling to it
  2. The owners heard of mountain goats that hang out at these hot springs. You’re not going to get close to them. They just tease the tourists.
  3. Miette Hot Springs is definitely hot
  4. It is tucked away down a 18 km country road and there is nothing else on this road except for the hot springs and a reasonably priced resort. You feel very private in this setting.
  5. The owners of this resort have kept the prices very reasonable. The low prices are definitely welcome compared to the rest of the dining experiences I have had in Jasper National Park.

I’ll have more soon!

Mountain Biking in Banff – A Great Way To See the Rockies

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Mountain Biking in Banff

Banff, Alberta

There is literally an endless list of activities to be tackled in and around Banff National Park. One of the best things to do though in Banff National Park must be to rent a mountain bike and explore the many beautiful surrounding areas. Here are some great rides to recommend, all of which are not too demanding, even for the lazier amongst us or the newly initiated rider.

Get back in the saddle in Banff.

Get back in the saddle in Banff.

Spray River Fire Road

Take your bike out to the Banff Springs Hotel and then onto the old Spray River fire road. This eight mile loop brings you to the Banff Springs Golf Course and then back into town. You don’t have to be a golfer to enjoy the splendid beauty of this course. You can continue around the golf course road for an extra 45 minutes where you may be lucky enough to spot elk on the way or unlucky enough to see a grizzly!

Sundance Canyon

This is a lovely ride through the woods to the Cave and Basin National Historic Site and then along Sundance Road to Sundance Canyon. The ride is about 6 miles one way. You can park your bike once you arrive at the canyon and take an easy hike around the area. Then hop on your bike and head back to town.

Tunnel Mountain Campground

If you pop up Buffalo Street to Surprise Corner and then along the Tunnel Mountain/Hoodoos Trail, you will come out near the Tunnel Mountain Campground. The ride will take you through beautiful wildflower meadows where you can stop for a picnic or just relax amongst nature’s beauty.

Banff Avenue - the start to every journey.

Banff Avenue - the start to every journey.

Vermilion Lakes Drive

This drive takes you out about 6 miles to an area where you can see waterfowl and often deer and elk. Don’t forget to look up to see the Bald Eagles and their nests between First and Second Vermilion Lakes.

Tips for making your bike travel safe and responsible:

  1. Stay within the range of your fitness level. Remember you’re not in a competition, but rather here to enjoy the flora and fauna and to make the most of your vacation travel. Go slow!
  2. Forget about making a fashion statement and think about safety. Wear your helmet! Put flowers in it if you want to look good.
  3. Keep your eye out for wildlife. It’s best to cycle with at least one other person. Make some noise every now and then to let the animals know you’re around. They are shy and will want to run from the road if they know you’re coming. Slow down when approaching blind spots to avoid possible collisions. Rockies wildlife is breathtaking.
  4. Keep your eye out for drivers. Often Banff National Park vacationers are so busy looking at the sights that they miss cyclists riding nearby. Ride your bike defensively and keep your reflexes honed for the unexpected.

Alberta Rockies Is an Ideal Vacation Destination

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There is no way to describe the Alberta Rockies without gushing over their breathtakingly colossal presence. No matter what the season, they are designed to overwhelm as they reach their jagged peaks into the changing skies.

Every season is ideal for visiting as there is no end to things to do in the region. Visit world famous Banff National Park, the quieter resort of Jasper in Jasper National Park, the beautiful town of Canmore just outside Banff National Park, or Hinton, just vacation outside of Jasper National Park.

The people are hospitable, friendly and unlike other destinations, enjoy tourists from all nationalities.

Transportation in Alberta

From Vancouver it is easy to take the train to Banff and Jasper. Then from each of these locales, there are very good highway links to the rest of Canada as well as to the U.S. With Calgary International Airport near to Banff, there is also bus service and car rental service for easy access to all areas of the region. Edmonton International Airport is near to Jasper and it is from the airport that you can take a bus, train, or rental car to the resort. Jasper is linked to the transcontinental train service, Via Rail Canada, making it an easy point from which to reach out to other Canadian locales.

Alberta Rockies Climate

The sun shines all year long in the Alberta Rockies. In winter you will see blue skies along with the cold weather. Even though it’s cold, make sure to bring your sunscreen, as the altitude makes your skin vulnerable to the sun’s rays. Summers in Alberta bring warm days and chilly nights, with some days bringing rain, so make sure you pack adequate attire. Spring unveils a wild display of alpine wildflowers that thrive in the warm weather. But don’t be fooled. In the mountains the weather is always subject to changing on a dime, so if you travel in Spring, or Autumn for that matter, bring clothing that you can layer. Autumn in the Rockies is a riot of golden color, with crisp mornings and evenings that can warrant cold weather dressing.

Accommodations in Alberta and Banff National Park

There are three world-renowned hotels in the Alberta Rockies which should be visited even if you do not stay in any one of them. The Banff Springs Hotel is a castle-like building that maintains its Old World charm. Located in the heart of the Banff townsite, this hotel is a full facility resort that will make you feel
like a king or queen during your stay.

Chateau Lake Louise is a magnificent hotel that sits on the edge of Lake Louise. The quality of service and the stunning surroundings will make your stay here feel like an opulent gift, no matter what price you pay for lodging.

With its elegant cabins that ring the main building, access to cross-country skiing trails, and a world-class golf course, The Jasper Park Lodge deserves its reputation as lodging to the Hollywood stars.

Ski Resorts

It is no secret why people come from all over the world to ski the fine powder of the Alberta Rockies. Just read the top ski magazines and everyone gushes over skiing in Alberta. With stunning scenery at every turn, the area’s pride is its world-class resorts that offer trails for all levels of skiing. Go to Marmot Basin near Jasper, Lake Louise and Sunshine between Banff and Lake Louise, Banff Norquay, or Nakiska in Kananaskis Country where the 1988 Olympics for downhill skiing were held. Each one of these resorts is a jewel, offering the best conditions for skiing in the world. I ski here, finding that the snow conditions
are generally more favorable and consistent than ski resorts in the Colorado and US Rockies.

Special Attractions

Kananaskis Country

This paradise is located to the southwest of Banff National Park and is loaded with some of the most spectacular mountain scenery imaginable. With its splendid variety of flora and fauna, exquisitely maintained cross-country trails (which become hiking trails in spring), you can’t choose a more quintessential experience than in Kananaskis Country. Stay in a luxury hotel or camp in the wilderness…
whatever you decide, you will be rewarded by some of the best facilities in one of the most astounding regions the world over.

The Jasper Tramway

As Canada’s longest and highest aerial tramway, you will ride up, up and away to see the spectral sites below. Take a hiking trail at the top, or relax at the glassed-in restaurant while you look at the 260 degree scenery just outside. Go late in the day to enjoy the sunset and a romantic twilight dinner.

The Icefields Parkway

Offering kilometers of unadulterated scenery, the parkway lies between Jasper and Lake Louise. Considered one of the greatest mountain drives in the world, you will be stunned by the snowcapped summits, the waterfalls, lakes, rivers, and glaciers. With numerous viewing points along the way, you can also take hikes from these areas. There are many campsites along the route, allowing you to enjoy the area to the fullest as you traverse the parkway from one end to another. A stop at the Columbia Icefield’s Visitor Centre is a must. Here you will receive information about the glacier before walking to it or taking a snowcoach onto the surface.

Canmore moose enters downtown, gets shown the door


CANMORE, Alberta – Canmore is one of my favorite towns in all of the Canadian Rockies.

It has cool restaurants, AWESOME scenery, some shopping and while touristy, doesn’t go overboard.

So imagine seeing a moose wandering in downtown Canmore!

Yes, it does happen. Just a few weeks ago, a wondering, stessed out moose ventured into downtown Canmore.

The moose was tranquilized and removed and released near Pigeon Mountain. Those of you ne to our fine area should know not to EVER approach or get near a moose. They, like most wildlife here, are dangerous and you run the risk of being trampled or charged.

Moose are gorgeous, but they are not Bullwinkle.