View Full Version : Jasper/Banff/Canadian Rockies info please

Sidharth Kodikal
07-16-2014, 03:35 PM
I'm planning to take a 2 week vacation next month and was considering Jasper & Banff.
I haven't been there before. I haven't done any research yet either.

Landscape, mammals, birds are all fair game. While this won't be solely a photography trip, I'd love to see &/ photography any opportunity to the extent possible.
If there are any tips/pointers on locations, scenic routes, opportunities etc., I would very much appreciate the info.


Rachel Hollander
07-16-2014, 04:37 PM
I was in the area a few years ago staying at Moraine Lake Lodge and then in Banff. There's lots of great landscape locations and you can come across wildlife and birds virtually anywhere. Darren Wiggett is a photographer based in Alberta and has written several digital guides for photographers to the area. I found them useful, particularly his guide to the Icefields Parkway.

07-21-2014, 06:40 PM
The Vermillion lakes just outside of Banff are terrific for Landscapes, sunrise and sunsets.
The entire ice field highway is a scenic and landscape photo heaven.
Animals are numerous, a lot of Elk everywhere and I got way took close to a Grizzly for comfort!
A lot of sheep around Jasper. Lake Louise is famous of course, but not as scenic as Moraine lake.
The tram in Banff is worth going up for the views.
Bird wise, there are a lot of Gray Jays and Nutcrackers, easy to feed to attract.
There are the largest Ravens I have ever seen and they are tame.

Don Nelson
08-01-2014, 10:47 AM
Banff is overcrowded with tourists this season. Check the lakes just north of town for wildlife. The Tram is excellent - make sure you take the stairs to the cosmic ray observatory (former, during IGY) to the next little peak.

If you go early to Lake Louise and head up the trail to Plain of six Glaciers, you will see some incredible scenery. Last time we were there we were the first up the trail and surprised a wolverine next to the trail.
IceFields parkway is always a good bet - this summer a fire near the junction of 11 and 93 closed the Parkway for the day. It was great being on the north side with only a handful of cars. Otherwise be prepared for a continuous stream of geezer-pleaser boxes on the highway.

Jasper has far more wildlife than Banff - Our list included Sheep, Goats, Elk, Deer, Moose, wolf, Black Bear, and Grizzly. The bears are on the roads with their cubs very early -- take the side roads away from the main highway. And a reminder that feeding any wildlife, including birds, is a finable offense which is enforced in the Parks. We saw it enforced on some poor souls feeding Jays at the IceFields center - they were getting a ticket.

Frankly, if you want wildlife, go over to Kootenai early in the morning -- some interesting scenery but its not Icefields Parkway for this. And if you want to avoid the crowds at Moraine Lake and Lake Louise, go over to Yoho. You won't have the big tour busses that ply the Parkway from Banff to Jasper. You must see Yoho's Emerald Lake, and Takakkaw Falls (830 feet, one of the tallest in Canada) as well as Split Falls. Tight switchbacks going up to Takakkaw Falls means you won't have the tour bus hordes on Icefields.

On the other hand, we find Glacier(Canada version) and Revelstoke disappointing. Glacier is a shadow of its former self since they rebuilt the highway into snowsheds -- before this there were some outstanding scenic turnouts that were used by the howitzer crews to clear the cornices during winter (complete with the locations in pavement where the howitzers were lined up for firing, plus one pullout with a howitzer on display). These are gone, replaced with a superhighway running through long snowsheds. Now the Visitors center doesn't even show the previous film of the howitzer crews in action during avalanche season. Revelstoke is just a long switchbacking drive through trees to the summit - where trees block most of the summit views. Nice stands of Glacier lilies early in the season, but it just didn't compare to the big four - Banff,Jasper,Yoho,and Kootenai.

And you should give Waterton NP a thought as well. IF you drive down the west side (Kootenai to Radium Hot Springs, then over Crows Nest Pass to Waterton, you'll see the location of the Frank slide. The rock piles are still there. But lots of excellent scenery too over Crows Nest. And then there is Waterton....

And consider going in September, or even the last week in August. More chances of getting a dusting of snow on the peaks, and the later you go, the better for the trees changing (Larches and aspen)