Oh Canada! My neighbor country in the North with all of it’s pristine beauty. Delivered 100%! And yes, I saw a moose.
If you’ve been on Instagram within the last couple years you’ve definitely seen all the popular turquoise lake spots. While I think they’ve been over shot to death it’s still worth the visit and not a bad set of photos to have in your portfolio. I was in the other side of Canada at Niagara Falls about a month ago and loved it. Now that I’ve been to both sides I can confidently say, Canada is amazing! (but we all already knew that, right?)
Also, the rumors are true, Canadian’s are the nicest people ever.
The Must See Areas:
- Moraine Lake
- Louise Lake
- Bow Lake
- Herbert Lake
- Two Jack Lake
- Peyto Lake
- Johnston Canyon
- Emerald Lake
Banff is essentially a lot of turquoise lakes surrounded by mountains and trees. If you go further North to Jasper you’ll get a little more variation like Sunwapta and Athabasca Falls.
Where To Stay:
I stayed in Canmore when I visited, I’d recommend not doing that (it was the only available option at the time). The Banff village is an awesome option with tons of stuff to do and places to eat. There’s also hotels at Louise Lake and Moraine lake which also looked like solid options. If you want to make it up to Jasper NP as well I’d recommend staying closer to that area because it’s a super far drive to make there and back in the same day. Yoho NP is close enough to drive to within the day. I only went to Emerald Lake in Yoho and it was super cool!
Moraine / Louise / Peyto Lake
I knew these spots were popular but I didn’t know they were THAT popular. They straight up close the parking lot when it’s full, which is a good portion of the day, until about 6pm’ish after the tour buses leave. If you want to see them I suggest going at about 6:30am to get sunrise. Moraine seems to be more popular than Louise and has a smaller parking lot so you’ll have an easier time getting in. Would suggest Louise at sunrise and Moraine at either sunrise or sunset.
If you go to Moraine and are physically able to climb the rock pile overlooking the lake I’d recommend doing that, I really regret not. The photos from up there look amazing. (next time!)
At all of the lakes (except Peyto) you can rent these really cool red canoe’s which I’d recommend doing. I personally didn’t do it but everyone says it’s a totally different way to experience the lake. Definitely need to go back at some point to do that.
Peyto is a bit further out of the way and didn’t seem to get as busy. The first viewpoint is about a 10-15 minute walk up the path and there’s a second viewpoint up the hill that doesn’t get as much traffic. Would highly suggest sunset there, when it’s not covered in clouds…
I also met two really cool fellow travelers at Peyto which you should definitely check out. #SonySquad
When To Go:
I went right after Summer / right before winter and it was cloudy every single day except one of the days. It actually snowed pretty hard the night before I left and now it’s winter, in mid September. High season is definitely summer and winter because people love camping and skiing. I would personally recommend going in Spring or Fall because it’ll get less traffic overall and everything will be cheaper. Also one thing I didn’t realize was by going partially during the weekend made my hotel more expensive. They get a lot of people coming for the weekend from Calgary and the price / availability is generally not great, so plan Monday – Friday if you can. Also I have to mention, YYC is the best airport I’ve ever been to, everything about it was just great.
What Gear To Bring:
Every trip I take I research this to figure out what to bring and I can never find info on it, so here it is. I brought my usual setup, A7RIII, 16-35, 24-70 and 100-400 with all the filters. I did end up using all my lenses but I barely used the 100-400, the only thing you’d use it for is close ups on mountains and animals if you get lucky enough to see any. I used the 16-35 for 80% of my shots and the 24-70 for the heli flight, if I did it over again I’d probably save the weight and skip the 100-400.
As for filters you definitely NEED a polarizing filter here, it’s all lakes with reflections and you want to see all the cool rocks underneath. I’d also bring a 3 or 6 stop ND with maybe a 10 stop, it’ll smooth out the water a little bit if it gets windy.
Also it never got super windy so you don’t need the most insane heavy tripod like I usually bring.
Drones & Aerial Photography:
Banff, Yoho and Jasper are national parks which means no drones, unless you get a permit for it. I did my first closed door heli ride (always do open door) and tried to use a polarizing filter to cut window glare and honestly I probably wouldn’t do that again, even though it worked sometimes. The best / well known heli service in the area is Rockies Heli Canada. While I haven’t personally flown with them I know people who have and can recommend them. If I go back I’m going to get a flight with them 100%. The views in those three national parks are so epic you have to do a flight to get the full scope of how epic it all is.
Overall it was a short simple trip and I had a ton of fun, can’t wait to go back! I’ll be Switzerland in October so keep a look out on the blog for that.
If you have any questions or comments leave one below. Thanks for reading!
Select photos from this post are available to print here.
- Sony A7RIII
- Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 GM
- Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 GM
- Sony 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS
- MindShift Gear BackLight 26L Backpack
- Formatt Hitech 100mm Filter Holder
- Formatt Hitech 3 Stop ND Filter
- Formatt Hitech 6 Stop ND Filter
- Formatt Hitech 10 Stop ND Filter
- Formatt Hitech 105mm Polarizer Filter
- Really Right Stuff TVC-34L Tripod & BH-55 Head
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