Banff National Park - THE BEST photography locations you MUST SEE!

Moraine Lake in Banff National Park

Banff National Park and Jasper National Park draw photographers from around the world. If you are a visiting photographer, where should you visit first? Where are the best photography locations? Without a doubt, Moriane Lake (top photo) is the most picturesque location in the Canadian Rockies. It is located in Banff National Park. If you leave early enough in the morning you can park you car beside the lake and walk up a hill to this shooting location. Your walk will be about five minutes. Every time I have been there I have felt that I didn't deserve to get to a location that beautiful without a long hike. The best photo opportunities are found at sunrise, but sunset is also good. I have found that hiking up to the very top of the trail gives access to images with no foreground so you can shoot just the mountains and reflection off the lake. Hiking half way up will get you access to a shot with some foreground. This image is a three row pano consisting of 26 photos that together resulted in a 488MP ultra high resolution image. Final word about Moraine Lake. The majority of tourists flock to nearby Lake Louise. From a photography perspective Lake Louise is half the experience that Moraine Lake offers. Lake Louise is jam packed with people and the photos are so so. Moraine Lake does not disappoint. If you have to choose between the two locations, head to Moraine and while you are there, spend the money and rent a canoe for an hour. On a sunny day the water at the far end of the lake is the colour of blue Powerade. It is so blue it looks fake.

Mount Assiniboine - located beside Banff National Park

Mount Assiniboine is a BC Provincial Park located just outside of Canmore, Alberta. This park is simply stunning, but it is very difficult to get to. You can spend an entire day hiking there, and then you will need to camp overnight. Or you can take a ten minute helicopter ride which costs somewhere around $300 per person return. Be prepared for bad weather, and sudden cold temperatures, even in the summer. The area tends to cloud over most of the time and clear days like this one are rare. That said, there is nothing more incredible than sitting in front of this view. When I was there shooting this scene, I felt like the land laid out before me was CG from a movie. This is rugged and remote backcountry. Even if you arrive by helicopter you will need to camp for three nights and you must be prepared for some uphill hiking to get to this shooting location. From here I shot a double row pano in the fading sunlight. It was a majestic moment, which is why I named this image, Majestic.

Peyto Lake is located off the Icefield Parkway between the Village of Lake Louise and Jasper in Banff National Park. It is an easy 15 minute walk to get there, but it is typically crowded with people so get there early. The best shots are in the fall after the first snowfall of the year.

Sunwapta Falls are incredible. This location is easy to get to and you only need to hike for five minutes from the parking lot located off Icefield Parkway in Jasper National Park. What I like about these falls is the symmetry and balance of the photo. To get to this specific location you need to walk across the pedestrian bridge and then hike down a steep trail to the left. This shot was taken with a .5 second shutter speed to capture the feeling of moving water.

This is the same Sunwapta Falls in the winter. If you go there in January there is not a single person anywhere to be found and you will have the place to yourself.

Bow Lake is another one of my favourites. The early morning or during the sunset are the best photography times, but it can be difficult to find a moment where the water is perfectly still which gives the best reflections. On the day I took this shot the lake was not still, but I found a puddle that was still and I lined up the image to be centered over the puddle. The shutter speed was five seconds using a neutral density filter to smooth out the lake.

One of the many faces of Bow Lake taken during a time of perfect water stillness which gives an amazing reflection.

Spirit Island is located 2/3 of the way down Maligne Lake (pronounced Ma-lane) which is located near the town of Jasper in Jasper National Park. You can buy a boat tour to get here along with about 50 other tourists. The boat arrives and dumps out all 50 people who clamour around looking for their best iPhone photo with their selfie sticks before being called back onto the boat for the ride back home. If you really want to shoot this sacred place then you need to bring a kayak which you can rent in advance. Paddling to get here is four straight hours of work, but it is so worth it. This location is truly magical. I spent the entire day here shooting the sunrise, mid day and sunset. I look forward to going back. The trick to getting the money shot here is aligning yourself so the reflection of the island off the water is not obstructed by rocks or plants. This provides the perfectly balanced and symmetrical X shot...you could draw an X across this image from corner to corner which gives it the symmetry.

Enjoying the beauty of Spirit Island on Maligne Lake.

Emerald Lake is located in Yoho National Park near the town of Golden. This lake has a lodge where visitors stay overnight, and this is the restaurant for the lodge. Emerald Lake is another location where perfect reflections are possible at sunrise and sunset. In summer, this lake has an incredible green colour this is breathtaking.

Emerald Lake in Summer in Yoho National Park.

Maligne Canyon is near the town of Jasper. In the winter it is a magnet for ice climbers. You can hike down to the bottom of this canyon which is normally full of rushing water and photograph the climbers who create interesting photo opportunities.

Mount Robson Provincial Park is located west of Jasper about 25 minutes from Valemont. This is the tallest mountain in BC at almost 4000 meters. I like this photo because of the symmetry where the mountain sits in the middle of a valley. This location is easy to get to and it located beside the visitor center which is visible from the highway. The trick is finding a time when the mountain is not covered by cloud. This mountain and its glaciers are a cloud magnet. You can have a fully clear sky except for one stubborn cloud that is stuck to the top of Mount Robson.

About the author: Tim Shields is a photographer from Vancouver, BC. He specializes in ultra high definition landscape wilderness photography using the Nikon D850 camera.

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©  Tim Shields Landscape Photography.  Specializing in high resolution panorama landscape photography.