PHOTOGRAPHING BANFF AND LAKE LOUISE
By Ian Robert Knight
Banff National Park is Canada’s oldest park, established in 1885. That makes it almost as old as Canada itself, younger only by 18 years. Dozens of others have followed since then, now numbering over 40. The parks range in size from 8 sq mi to over 17,000 sq mi – the largest of which is bigger than all of Switzerland.
Banff National Park also includes Lake Louise, and its surrounding areas. Many consider this part of Canada among the most beautiful scenery in the country. And there’s really something special about photographing Banff and Lake Louise that can’t be replicated anywhere else. Read on and discover the beauty of Banff National Park.
What to See, What to do
When you travel to Banff NP, there’s really a lot to see and do. You can’t do it all, but you can try. So let’s break it down into a list of things you can see/do in a week. Those would be things like Lakes, Waterfalls, Chateaus and Mountains. And food, of course.
When people think about Banff NP, the quickest thing that pops into their heads would be the mountains. Banff is nestled in the Rocky Mountain range that stretches over 3000 miles from Canada to Mexico. The Canadian portion of the Rockies is about 69,000 sq mi. And the small town of Banff is the epicenter of it all.
It’s easy to be overwhelmed with the sheer volume of peaks that surround you when you’re in the park. It seems that every few miles, the next peak you see is more spectacular than the previous one. And that goes on and on.
Mount Rundle, visible from everywhere in Banff townsite, is an impressive mountain, by any standards. Picture postcards of Banff townsite almost always have it in the background. And there are countless other peaks in the area that are famous around the world.
It’s hard to determine which lake is more famous than all the others, when there’s so many to choose from. Certainly Lake Louise would be a contender, but then so would Moraine Lake. Both are spectacular, and absolute must-see’s when you’re in the park.
But there are dozens of others that are worth seeing too. There’s Lake Agnes, Two Jack Lake, Peyto Lake, Bow Lake, and the Vermillion Lakes, just to name a few. And each lake has it’s own charms, in that you wouldn’t want to skip any of them because you think “you’ve seen one lake, you’ve seen them all”. It’s simply not the case here.
While we’re on the subject of water, Banff NP has some spectacular waterfalls. Since there are a few rivers running through the park, and the area is mountainous, there’s bound to be a few, right?
Of particular note, the waterfalls at Johnston Canyon are definitely worth a visit. There’s a bit of a walk up to the falls, but it’s really not that difficult. There are two waterfalls in the canyon – an upper and a lower waterfall, naturally. The lower falls are often as far as some people venture. But if you’re energetic, go all the way up to the upper falls – you won’t be disappointed.
Banff NP was established in the late 1800’s when the railroads were pushing through the Rockies, in an effort to connect all of Canada together. Back then, the Canadian Pacific Railway constructed the Banff Springs Hotel, as well as the Chateau Lake Louise. Both were stunning structures then, and continue to be today. The original Banff Springs hotel was built in 1888, but the current one was opened in 1928. The Chateau Lake Louise was completed in 1911.
There’s certainly no shortage of choices of restaurants in Banff NP. The volume of high-end dining options, as well as great coffee shops and craft breweries will keep you busy. And there are some items on the menus that you may not have considered before. Popular meats in Banff include Bison, Elk, and Caribou.
The Post Hotel Dining Room, just outside the village center of Lake Louise, is one of our favourites. Their roasted caribou striploin with schupfnoodles is exceptional, as is their veal medallions with porcini mushrooms. Paired with wine from their cellar, which contains over 2500 different choices, you can’t go wrong.
Join Us in Banff
We visit Banff National Park twice a year, on the shoulders of the peak season. The summer months of July and August are the busiest, and we visit in early July and early September. The sun is up as early as 5am, and sets as late as 10:30 in the summer months. So there’s plenty of time to enjoy the scenery. You will love it, we certainly do.