24 of the Best Photography Spots in the Canadian Rockies
The Canadian Rockies are well known for some of the most spectacular sceneries and breathtaking mountain lakes in the world. Famous glacially fed lakes such as Lake Louise, Moraine and Magalin lakes are the most recognised when the words “Canadian Rockies” are mentioned, and for good reason.
The Canadian Rockies have an abundance of photogenic places, each possessing their own special beauty.
If you are a hobby or professional photographer you know what I am talking about when I say, the Canadian Rocky Mountains have reawakened my enthusiasm in photography.
Being a busy mum of twins, photography had taken a bit of a back seat in my life. For our Canada Trip in May 2019, and especially when we travelled along the Canadian Icefields Parkway, I planned to take a bit more time to again concentrate on landscape photography, rather than just family and fun photos.
And as grandma travelled with us, and could look after the twins a bit more, there was no reason why I could not find the time to go out and finally get back into photography again.
Most of these Best Photography Spots in the Canadian Rocky Mountains are easily accessible. There are some where hiking is necessary but nothing too difficult. I have mentioned the access on each spot description. As we travelled in May and Canada had quite a long winter in 2019, many lakes where still covered in ice and some paths were not accessible. Therefore, you will not see in this post the typical Canadian Rocky Mountains Photos, with blue lakes and amazing reflections. But don’t be disappointed, we will still present to you, our “The Best Photography Spots in the Canadian Rocky Mountains”. Once you know these spots it is then up to you to manage timings and the season of when you would like to go and shoot these best photography spots in the Canadian Rocky Mountains.
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Here are our “Best Photography Spots in the Canadian Rocky Mountains”
- Emerald Lake – Yoho National park
- Natural Bridge – Yoho National Park
- Three Sisters – Canmore
- Canmore Engine Bridge – Canmore
- Grassi Lake – Canmore
- Bow River – Canmore Village
- Near Morant’s Curve – Banff National Park
- Johnston Canyon – Banff National Park
- Moraine Lake – Banff National Park
- Lake Louise – Banff National Park
- Herbert Lake – Icefields Parkway
- Bow Lake – Icefields Parkway
- Peyto Lake – Icefields Parkway
- Mistaya Canyon – Icefields Parkway
- Howse River & Mount Forbes – Icefields Parkway
- Mount Cirrus Lookout – Icefields Parkway
- The Athabasca Glacier – Icefields Parkway
- Tangle Falls – Icefields Parkway
- Sunwapta Falls – Icefields Parkway
- Athabasca Falls – Icefields Parkway
- Pyramid Lake – Jasper National Park
- Pyramid Lake Island – Jasper National Park
- Maligne Lake – Jasper National Park
- Annette Lake – Jasper National Park
Emerald Lake – Yoho National Park
The Emerald Lake is the largest lake in Yoho National Park and like the name says, is a beautiful emerald colour.
Whether you’re photographing the boat pier with the lake or simply just walking around the lake and try to get these reflections, it is a very picturesque location, and you can click away to your hearts content.
There is a large parking area close to the Lodge. This place gets quite busy during high tourist season, but once you get away from the Lodge and start walking around the lake like we did, you will soon find yourself alone.
Natural Bridge – Yoho National Park
The bridge which spans the Kicking Horse River is an impressive natural rock formation. It is easily accessible any time of the year and is adjacent to the car park. Walk around to find your perfect photography spot of the natural bridge.
Three Sisters – Canmore
Hope, Charity and Faith also known as the Three Sisters will probably be your absolute highlight on our – Best Photography Spots in the Canadian Rocky Mountains – tour. They are an icon to Canmore and quietly guard the village from their vantage point overlooking the Bow Valley. You can see them from pretty much everywhere in Canmore. However, the best spot to photograph the sisters, and well known by many photographers, is by the Policeman Creek. To get there, park at the off leash dog park just past the helipad on the Bow Valley Trail.
Cross the road and go under the train tracks whilst being super careful. Make sure the creek is on your left-hand side as you’re following it along. Depending on the season you are visiting, there might not be any water in the creek, so you can walk in it straight from where you park the car.
Continue through the forest (careful you are in bear territory so bring your spray and make some noise). Eventually it opens up and offers fantastic reflections of the Three Sisters and the chance to spot a beaver or two. This place is a little gem.
Canmore Engine Bridge – Canmore
There is something about old iron bridges and the one in Canmore is no different. You can probably spend quite some time here and shoot it from different angles. I like this photo from the side the most, simply as it is a bit different and shows the structure.
Grassi Lake – Canmore
This spot requires a good one hour hike up to Grassi lake, but the area is stunning and well worth the hike. You can choose to hike up the easier or the more strenuous path which is passing by a waterfall view. We hiked up the waterfall view and down the easier way which I would definitely recommend. It is a very popular climbing site also.
Bow River – Canmore Village
This is definitely one of my favourite Photography Spots in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. You are actually in the middle of Canmore Village waiting for the sun to pop over the mountains to light up the river and the famous Three Sisters. If you are lucky you might even see an Elk crossing the river.
Near Morant’s Curve – Banff National Park
Yes, you guessed it, this is NOT the actual Morant’s Curve but it is only a few minute’s drive south, direction Banff from the original. And also, yes, the train is missing in the photograph. But after having waited twice over 2 hours for a train to pass at the actual Morant’s Curve we gave up. The 1st time we left after just under 2 hours of waiting only to hear the train whistle 2 minutes after 🙂 . The 2nd time we left as the kids were hungry. After driving just a few minutes direction Banff we found the pull out with some picnic tables. When we stopped and wandered around we saw the train lines with a lot of workers on it. So, it was clear that on this particular day, the train will never pass and we could have waited there forever. But never the less we found this super photogenic spot and this is why I added it to our – Best Photography Spots in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Maybe you will be lucky and the train will pass by when you’re there. Let me know and send a photo!
Johnston Canyon – Banff National Park
Yes, this is definitely a very touristy place and maybe you did not expect it in this list. But, I feel it gives you a bit of a challenge to get the shot just right with all the running water and canyons. And sometimes I like a challenge when having my camera in hand.
Try to hike it either very late in the afternoon, or very early morning to beat the crowd.
Moraine Lake – Banff National Park
Situated in the Valley of the Ten Peaks you will find one of the finest mountain lakes there is. The beautiful Moraine Lake is a glacially fed lake in Banff National Park. From the car park you will see a path on your left heading up through some rock formations. Take this path and make your way up to get a jaw dropping view over Moraine Lake.
This place gets super busy, so to be early is definitely a must in order to beat all the tour busses. If it is busy the car park fills up quickly and they make you park all the way down the road if necessary. If you are visiting just after the winter months check if the road to the lake is already open.
Lake Louise – Banff National Park
Who has not heard of Lake Louise? Probably the most touristy place you will visit during your hunt for the “Best Photography Spots in the Canadian Rocky Mountains”. But it is still worth a visit. Again, a place you should be early. As you get to the lake shore you will have to navigate hundreds of people scrambling over the shore rocks trying to get the best selfie.
Quite fun to watch actually.
But with a bit of patience you will get your shot from the boat house, the lake and the rugged mountains in the back.
We hiked our way to the Fairview Lookout. As the path was still covered in snow not many people dared to make the hike and so it happened that we were all alone at the beautiful viewpoint overlooking the lake and the massive resort.
Herbert Lake – Icefields Parkway
I love this place as your photographic object can be the lake and the reflection on the mountains in the background. But for a change why not focus on the skinny trees together with the lake and the mountains. You have endless options here and the good thing is you will most probably be alone. Herbert Lake is a much underrated place along the Icefields Parkway and most people drive past it.
Bow Lake – Icefields Parkway
You do not see the Crowfoot Mountain reflection in the still water of the lake, but it still really stands out. Bow lake is fed by meltwater from Bow Glacier in the Wapta Icefield.
The parking is right off the Icefields Parkway.
Peyto Lake – Icefields Parkway
The stunning Peyto Lake is best photographed from the overlook platform at the Bow Pass.
Depending on the time of the year you will be visiting, you may have to park at the lower parking place right off the Icefields Parkway and hike up through the snow. This is what we had to do in May. It was a fun hike nothing too strenuous and the views are breathtaking as you can see.
Mistaya Canyon – Icefields Parkway
A beautiful canyon in an amazing natural setting. Now this is a great time for you to practice your long exposure shots! Have fun!
The water is ripping through the canyon walls making you understand how powerful this natural phenomena is. Be careful it might be slippery.
There is a bridge that crosses over the canyon and you can make your way around to the other side from where I feel is also the best spot to make your shots.
Parking is right of the Icefields Parkway road and a small walk will bring you to the Canyon.
Howse River und Mount Forbes – Icefields Parkway
This will be one of the lesser seen images when you are seeking Best Photography Spots in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. But I feel it should be on every best Photography Spots in the Canadian Rocky Mountains list.
Before you drive over the Saskatchewan Crossing bridge, heading north, park up and walk down to the river shore. Find your perfect spot and it is all yours. I would have loved to come back here during sunset or sunrise as I can just imagine it to be breathtaking.
Mount Cirrus lookout – Icefields Parkway
Mount Cirrus stands high in the heart of this wonderful range. This mountain is located along the Continental Divide on the western border of the Rocky Mountains and splits Banff and Jasper National Parks. Again, this spot is probably best at sunrise or near sunset. But even midmorning it was a well worth a stop to get my camera gear out.
The Athabasca Glacier – Icefields Parkway
To photograph the Athabasca Glacier you can either stay at the main road or head down to the parking area closer to the glacier.
Tangle Falls – Icefields Parkway
If you have the right gear with you, i.e dark ND filter and tripod, then the Tangle falls will be an absolute pleasure for any photographer. I loved to change my settings over and over to achieve just the right bridal vails. And I am super happy with the outcome.
Parking is right off the road on the left-hand side, driving north on the Canadian Icefields Parkway.
Sunwapta Falls – Icefields Parkway
An absolute gem and a must stop for any photographer that follows our Best Photography Spots in the Canadian Rockies guide. It is also a highlight on our “Canadian Icefields Parkway – most scenic drive in Cananda” From the parking you head down to the bridge that crosses the river. Enjoy this place as it is super beautiful.
I will reveal a secret to you.
The moment I knew we will be visiting the Sunwapta Falls I knew exactly what kind of shot I was hoping to capture. The exact one you can see here.
But when I got there, I stood on the bridge placed my camera but still I could not really get the full island nor the rock in the middle of the falls.
To get this exact shot you need to cross the bridge and head down into the forest on your left. There is a little “terrace” which allows you to place your tripod. But please be careful as there is a drop nearby.
Athabasca Falls – Icefields Parkway
Another easy road side stop is the Athabasca Falls, fed by the massive Columbia Icefield.
Again a beautiful opportunity to play around with your long exposures to get the cascading water and Mount Kerkeslin in the background just right.
My tip is to walk around and capture this amazing scene from many different angles. And don’t miss the rainbow.
Pyramid Lake – Jasper National Park
Have the mountain range in the distance reflecting across Pyramid Lake as the day awakens.
Only a short drive from Jasper village lies Pyramid Lake. Also, the perfect spot for some kayaking. Make this a sunrise adventure. It will be cold but well worth the effort. And best of all you can catch two photogenic spots at once. Actually I could add many photos here as the whole area is so beautiful.
Pyramid Lake Island – Jasper National Park
And pretty much from the same spot as the first Pyramid Lake photo above you will be getting this shot. I am sure you will have seen the Island at Pyramid Lake many times on social media.
I could have posted so many different shots from here. It is such an amazing place.
Sunrise lovers are gathering on the island to witness the daily awakening. You might want to come back here again as there are just too many places to get the perfect shot. The sun seemed to rise faster than usual changing the light levels frequently. So you will not have much time to change positions between shots to capture the scene and the light you desire. That said it also depends which light level you’re aiming for. On the other hand, this makes Pyramid Lake a very photogenic and interesting place to be.
Maligne Lake – Jasper National Park
You may have heard about this place in relation to Spirit Island, a place well known to many photographers. Well, the lake was still frozen late May 2019, so the boats that could bring us to Spirit Island were obviously not running. And the hike was just a bit too long with the kids, as it would have been a there and back. But Maligne Lake has other amazing spots to be photographed.
We walked along the shore which was part of the Mary Schaffer Loop until we got to the point where the path is entering the forest. Right there you will get some beautiful vistas which makes it the perfect place for photography.
Annette Lake – Jasper National Park
A lesser known area but well worth the visit is Annette Lake right next to Edith lake. Also, a great spot for swimming, a picnic and a beautiful loop hike around the lake.
On quiet days when the water is motionless you might get Mount Pyramid reflecting in Annette Lake. Parking is between the two lakes.
I hope that the information provided here will prove itself useful when planning your Best Photography Spots in the Canadian Rocky Mountains trip. These 24 spots are some of our favourites.
If I have left anything out, or you have any other amazing Photography Spots in the Canadian Rocky Mountains, please let us know in the comments below. Or ask your questions below so that other readers can join in the conversation and benefit from your queries and suggestions as well.