Jack Nichols Photography | Night sky and landscape photographer in Seattle, Washington | Seattle photographer
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Journal

Autumn in Banff

Banff is a special place for my wife and I. For years, her parents had a vacation home just outside of the park in nearby Canmore, and we enjoyed visiting several times a year, throughout the seasons. We even got engaged in the Cascade Gardens just south of the Banff town site! Recently they sold their house there, but we found ourselves missing the Canadian Rockies. We decided to fix that by visiting in late September and early October, but this time with our baby daughter in tow!

You've no doubt seen many photos from Banff and the mountain parks (Jasper, Yoho, and Kootenay) of some pretty iconic locations. These places are amazing both in person and through the camera. Although this trip wasn't solely photography focused (it was a family vacation, after all), I wanted to make an effort to photograph the parks in the best light possible. I also wanted to bring home images that weren't just another version of the iconic shots - to be sure I got some of those, but I also focused on many of the smaller details and my own interpretations of popular places. Of course, I also wanted to get some night sky time too!

Jasper and Maligne Lake

Our trip started in Jasper, which in all the times I've been to the mountain parks, had never been to. We stayed at the beautiful Patricia Lake Lodge, and really enjoyed our time there, as it's quiet and very scenic. Jasper is quite a bit smaller than Banff in terms of roadside attractions, but has huge backcountry opportunities. For us with our daughter in tow, we felt that a few days was about right, visiting most of the popular places in and around the town. One night I was even treated to a great aurora show!

Icefields Parkway

No trip to the mountain parks is complete without at least one visit to the Icefields Parkway. The Icefields is one of the best drives in the world in terms of scenery and some of our favorite places can be found there. I visited Bow Lake several times, and we also made stops at Peyto and the Icefields Centre.

In and Around the Banff Town Site

For this trip, we decided to stay in the heart of Banff, within walking distance of the shops and restaurants, which worked out to be great! Banff was also a lot of fun since we met up with some great friends. Paul Zizka and Stan Novotny joined me on a trip up Sulphur Mountain, and we met up with some friends from Yellowknife and beyond, plus even some family was there too! Of course our daughter was the star of the show. :) 

The pictures in this section were taken within about a 15-20 minute drive of the Banff town site, plus a long walk in some cases. There's so much variety here!

Yoho National Park

Just west of Lake Louise is Yoho National Park. Situated entirely within BC, this park has some amazing sights. We visited Emerald Lake and Takakkaw Falls on our short day trip. Neither of us have ever been to Lake O'Hara, but that is on the roster for a future visit!

Kananaskis Country

Most visitors to the mountain parks have never heard of Kananaskis Country, much less been there. Situated just south and east of Canmore, "K Country" as it's known to the locals is a series of provincial parks that are uncrowded and full of their own charm. They also happen to be home to a bunch of wildlife, arguably more than Banff. It's a great place to visit, and on my visit, I was treated to a visit from a bull moose!

Moraine Lake

Just south of Lake Louise is popular Moraine Lake, which of course inspired the back of the old Canadian $20 bills. The view from the "rock pile" on the east end of the lake is a popular one, and for the photographer, it's tough to find something original. When we visited though, we arrived late morning (what I call a "new parent alpine start") and that turned out to be perfect, as the clouds were breaking and the sun was peeking out above the ridge. It made for some amazing, moody scenes.

Wildlife

No set of pictures from the Canadian Rockies would be complete without a few shots of the locals. On this trip, we saw grizzly bears, elk, mule deer, bighorn sheep, and a moose! The sheep shown below are from Radium Hot Springs in Kootenay National Park, and the elk we found in Jasper.

I hope you enjoyed this collection of images, and that it inspires you to visit (or re-visit) the Canadian Rockies! Most of these images are available as prints - just contact me if you'd like to discuss that!

Jack Nichols