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Old Fort Point Summit in Jasper

The hike up to Old Fort Point summit may not be the easiest hike around, but its relative distance to the town of Jasper and the resulting view from the top make this hike a must for anybody visiting Jasper National Park.

Nikon D800, 1/1000 sec., f/8.0, ISO 200, 14mm

Nikon D800, 1/1000 sec., f/8.0, ISO 200, 14mm

I don’t recall who it was that suggested I go there, but I’m glad I listened because it wasn’t on my list of places to visit, but offered some of the more spectacular views of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. The total length of this hike if you follow the looped trail markers, is about 4km and will take you about one to two hours. Going to the summit, however, is a much shorter hike, albeit not necessarily any easier. The elevation gain is about 130m. but don’t let that fool you; if you start from the base of the cliff near the Athabasca River monument (where the photo above was taken), taking  the wooden stairs, it’s a fairly steep climb all the way up in a short amount of time. Be sure to take breaks if you get tired.

Nikon D800, 1/100 sec., f/9.0, ISO 200, 14mm

Nikon D800, 1/100 sec., f/9.0, ISO 200, 14mm

Climbing up the pathway, you’ll first reach an initial plateau area where you can walk around and enjoy the panoramic view. In the photo below, these hikers decided to take a break at this plateau before continuing on to the summit.

Nikon D800, 1/160 sec.f, f/7.1, ISO 100, 200mm

Nikon D800, 1/160 sec.f, f/7.1, ISO 100, 200mm

If you look around though, you’ll see that there’s a lookout just above where you’re standing. To get to the highest point, you’ll have to continue on the trail going around the lookout point. Keep to the left and you’ll eventually make your way up to the summit. Take care hiking around the lookout point though, as the path does get a little narrow.

Bears are also known to frequent the area now and again so be on the lookout for them as well.

Nikon D800, 1/8 sec., f/11, ISO 100 70mm

Nikon D800, 1/8 sec., f/11, ISO 100 70mm

The view up at the very top is very rewarding, especially after hiking up a steep grade such as this. Be sure to stay awhile and take in the scenery. Those low-laying clouds that hug the mountain’s peak can only be seen in the mornings.

Nikon D800, 1/40 sec., f/11, ISO 100, 150mm

Nikon D800, 1/40 sec., f/11, ISO 100, 150mm

On the way down, be sure to take in the scenery on the other side of the lookout, where you’ll be able to see the mountain ranges in the far distance. The morning clouds right above the valley made for some great photos.

Nikon D800, 1/80 sec., f/9.0, ISO 100, 70mm

Nikon D800, 1/80 sec., f/9.0, ISO 100, 70mm

I loved this view so much that I came back multiple times making sure I was here during a sunset and a sunrise.

Nikon D800, 1/60 sec., f/9.0, ISO 200, 14mm

Nikon D800, 1/60 sec., f/9.0, ISO 200, 14mm

At the top of the summit, you can continue on the loop hike by following the trail behind the lookout. I opted to go back down the way I came up as I was merely interested in the view and not the loop hike itself.

Whatever the case may be, this is a hike that should not be missed. Take it easy and take your time if needed. Don’t feel like you have to run up the trail, which looks like what this girl may have done!

Nikon D800, 1/320 sec., f/7.1, ISO 100, 200mm

Nikon D800, 1/320 sec., f/7.1, ISO 100, 200mm

The breathtaking views from the Jasper Skytram

Nikon D800, 1/320 sec., f/10, ISO 100, 14mm

Nikon D800, 1/320 sec., f/10, ISO 100, 14mm

The Jasper Skytram is Canada’s longest and highest aerial tram. Reaching a height of 2277m above sea level, it gives you 360 degree views of the majestic landscapes of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. It is one tramway that should not be missed.

Nikon D800, 1/500 sec., f/9.0, ISO 100, 185mm

Nikon D800, 1/500 sec., f/9.0, ISO 100, 185mm

Located just 10 minutes from Jasper, Alberta, the Skytram is a seven-minute ride up to the side of Whistlers mountain. Pay attention during this seven-minute tram ride because the views are magnificent well before you reach the top. As seen below, you’re surrounded by trees lined all along the mountainside for some breathtaking vistas.

Nikon D800, 1/640 sec., f/4.0, ISO 100, 24mm

Nikon D800, 1/640 sec., f/4.0, ISO 100, 24mm

And of course, the curious me had to take a photo of the inside of the Jasper SkyTram as well. The tram operator was explaining to us the scenes surround us and told everybody to look towards our left as he explained what we were looking at.

Nikon D800, 1/320 sec., f/4.0, ISO 100, 24mm

Nikon D800, 1/320 sec., f/4.0, ISO 100, 24mm

Once you get off the tram, you are confronted with views that literally take your breath away. Everywhere you look the beauty of the Rocky Mountains sits in front of you, it’s hard not to be awestruck. The observation deck just outside the tram station allows for people to enjoy the view from behind a barrier.

Nikon D800, 1/250 sec., f/9.0, ISO 100, 195mm

Nikon D800, 1/250 sec., f/9.0, ISO 100, 195mm

You can see the turquoise lakes scattered across Jasper National Park, and reminisce about the time you were actually standing there—or tell yourself you’ll be there tomorrow!

Nikon D800, 1/125 sec., f/10, ISO 100, 160mm

Nikon D800, 1/125 sec., f/10, ISO 100, 160mm

Once you get off the tram, you have the option of hiking further up the mountainside for a truly magical view all around you. The hike can be somewhat challenging but take your time and you’ll be glad you made the effort to get there.

Nikon D800, 1/80 sec., f/9.0, ISO 100, 175mm

Nikon D800, 1/80 sec., f/9.0, ISO 100, 175mm

Once at the top, you’ll come to a dial that displays the direction of various locations around the province, showing you how far it is from where you are standing.

Nikon D800, 1/400 sec., f/9.0, ISO 100, 14mm

Nikon D800, 1/400 sec., f/9.0, ISO 100, 14mm

The summit is quite flat allowing you to walk all around. On one side you’ll see snow-capped mountaintops like below, while on the other side, you’ll see the town of Jasper and the surrounding mountain ranges. Either way, you’re in for a treat.

Nikon D800, 1/500 sec., f/9.0, ISO 100, 200mm

Nikon D800, 1/500 sec., f/9.0, ISO 100, 200mm

Be careful walking around though as the winds can change in an instant. From calm and windless one second to winds that can topple you off your feet the next, you’ll have to be wary of this change in weather pattern while up here.

Nikon D800, 1/250sec., f/11, ISO 100, 14mm

Nikon D800, 1/250sec., f/11, ISO 100, 14mm

The tram station sits on top overlooking the entire national park, really giving you a sense of how high up you are.

Nikon D800, 1/500 sec., f/7.1, ISO 125, 90mm

Nikon D800, 1/500 sec., f/7.1, ISO 125, 90mm

The Jasper Skytram is one tramway that I will always recommend to people when in the area. And if you’re wary about the price of the ticket, I’d say it’s worth every penny. If you ask which one I prefer between the Jasper Skytram and the Banff Gondola, which I reviewed here, I’d have to say I did like the more wild and open nature of the trip up the Jasper Skytram. The view I felt was more raw and breathtaking—don’t get me wrong, the Banff Gondola was still great in its own way.

Click here for more information on the Jasper Skytram.

Have you been up the Jasper Skytram? What was your experience like up here?

The Banff Gondola gives epic views

The Banff Gondola

The Banff Gondola is located just 5 minutes away from the Town of Banff within the heart of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. The 8min. gondola ride takes you up Sulphur Mountain to a breathtaking height of 2281m. above sea level.

Nikon D800, 1/160 sec., f/7.1, ISO100, 175mm

Nikon D800, 1/160 sec., f/7.1, ISO100, 175mm

Once at the top, you’ll encounter epic views of six mountain ranges and beautiful landscapes for as far as the eye can see.

Nikon D800, 1/640 sec., f/9.0, ISO 100, 19mm

Nikon D800, 1/640 sec., f/9.0, ISO 100, 19mm

It is truly a gorgeous view that must be seen in person to be really appreciated. These pictures here certainly do not do the area justice.

Once you get off the gondola you can walk on either side of the terminal for truly amazing views of Banff National Park spotted with emerald-green, glacial-fed lakes. That’s what got me at first. I was mesmerized with one view after another. There is also a main-level observation deck that can offer great views too—albeit a little more restricted.

Nikon D800, 1/500 sec., f/8.0, ISO100, 120mm

Nikon D800, 1/500 sec., f/8.0, ISO100, 120mm

For an even higher perspective, you can hike another 1km up Sulphur Mountain to reach the Cosmic Ray Station National Historic Site, and Sanson’s Peak Meteorological Station.

Nikon D800, 1/320 sec., f/7.1, ISO 100, 185mm

Nikon D800, 1/320 sec., f/7.1, ISO 100, 185mm

If you peak inside the meteorological station, you’ll get a glimpse of how people lived up here.

Nikon D800, 1/13 sec., f/6.3, ISO 100, 14mm

Nikon D800, 1/13 sec., f/6.3, ISO 100, 14mm

And if you’re on the lookout, you’ll no doubt spot some wildlife on the mountainside as well.

Nikon D800, 1/320 sec., f/5.0, ISO 100, 200mm

Nikon D800, 1/320 sec., f/5.0, ISO 100, 200mm

The Banff Gondola truly offers some spectacular views that shouldn’t be missed. Even the views offered from within the gondola itself are spectacular in their own ways.

Nikon D800, 1/400 sec., f/9.0, ISO 100, 35mm

Nikon D800, 1/400 sec., f/9.0, ISO 100, 35mm

For more information on the Banff Gondola, head over to the Brewster Travel Canada website.

Canmore, Alberta

One of the very few photos that I took while I stayed in Canmore, Alberta was from here. Beside a bridge, I came here specifically so that I could take a photo of the rushing waters with the mountains in the background.

Nikon D800, 15 sec., f/18, ISO 100, 70mm

Nikon D800, 15 sec., f/18, ISO 100, 70mm

During my stay in Alberta, it was really unfortunate that I didn’t get a single day of sunset where the sky was just bursting with colours. The magnificent sunset and sunrise that the Canadian Rockies are known for had eluded me throughout my 10-day trip there.

I later found out that there were indeed many prime locations to shoot in and around Canmore, and I regret not being able to visit any of them during my trip. It just looks like I’ll have to go back another time.

Nonetheless, this extra long exposure during nightfall was made with a 6-stop ND filter and a polarizer to stop me down another stop. The ominous clouds were a great capture here as it made the mood for the photo. I tried to accentuate the winding of the river from the background to the foreground through the long exposure trails the water made.

Chateau Lake Louise from Fairview Mountain

When you go to Lake Louise, one of the first hikes people gravitate to is the one that goes around the lake—the beginnings of the Plain of Six Glaciers hike. It’s a pretty long hike if you go all the way around, but an easy one with no elevation gain. However, if you have the time and energy, the hike leading up Fairview Mountain to this view is definitely worth your while.

Nikon D800, 1/160 sec., f/8.0, ISO 100, 32mm

Nikon D800, 1/160 sec., f/8.0, ISO 100, 32mm

It’s a steep climb at first but the effort is well worth the breathtaking scenery you get of the mountain ranges and of Lake Louise. It’s a great way to spend a day in the area if you have that extra bit of time. If you have even more time on your hands, you can continue to the peak of Fairview Mountain where you’ll get even more spectacular views of Lake Louise and surrounding areas.

This spectacular view makes Chateau Lake Louise look quite majestic in its own way. Surrounded by greenery and mountain ranges for as far as the eye can see, this is one hike that will be sure to make you want to come back for more.

Look where nobody else is looking

“Now, if you look to your left, you’ll see…”

If you looked at this photo, you may automatically think that people turned their heads as soon as they realized I pulled out my full-sized dSLR to take everybody’s photo—but that’s far from the truth.

As it turns out, the guide inside the Jasper SkyTram—who is not shown here—was pointing to something to the right, mentioning some interesting facts about the area. As soon as he pointed us to that side, everybody’s heads turned that way simultaneously. It was actually quite funny. I had my camera out, taking photos of various locations within Jasper National Park, and couldn’t resist taking this photo with everybody’s heads turned to their sides.

Nikon D800, 1/320 sec., f/4.0, ISO 100, 24mm

Nikon D800, 1/320 sec., f/4.0, ISO 100, 24mm

Taking a photo within a gondola/SkyTram isn’t something that we would all instinctively think to do, but that’s the beauty of it all. When you are confronted with something different, go ahead and take advantage of it. While everyone was busy looking outside of the SkyTram, I realized the potential of a fun photo within it.

The takeaway to this post is, when you’re done looking at the same thing everybody else is busy looking at, be sure to look elsewhere to find other—and possibly even more interesting—views for more great photo opportunities.

A hike into Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park in Beautiful British Columbia

Earlier in June, we took to the mountains in Alberta to do some hiking. This particular hike through the Sunshine meadows promised great scenery with mountainscapes (is that even a word?) and valleys for as far as the eye can see. I was hooked as soon as I read great scenery. So doing a little more research, I noticed that the hike actually started in Alberta, but eventually made its way into the neighbouring province of British Columbia.

The hike starts at the foot of the Sunshine Village Ski Resort, but eventually crosses over the continental divide, entering British Columbia. That was exciting in its own right. But what I later found out was that we had to actually get to the village somehow to even start our hike into the meadow.

Nikon D800, 1/200 sec., f/4.0, ISO 100, 200mm

Nikon D800, 1/200 sec., f/4.0, ISO 100, 200mm

Normally during hiking season there is a bus that goes up this 5km gravel road, all the way to the village (see schedule and fees here). We had unfortunately gone one week too early so the bus was not operating. We had no choice but to hike our way up the road if we wanted to go to the other hikes. This view of the ski lifts was a constant reminder of how we could have saved ourselves the initial arduous hike up the gravel road!

Nikon D800, 1/640 sec., f/9.0, ISO 100, 17mm

Nikon D800, 1/640 sec., f/9.0, ISO 100, 17mm

This picture above was taken at an elevation of approximately 2220m in Sunshine Meadows, just before reaching the beautiful Rock Isle Lake in Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park. The wild flowers were just starting to bloom haphazardly throughout the meadow, and made for a great photo. You can still see the snow in the surrounding areas as temperatures were just starting to warm up when I went. There were still sections of the hike where we had to go through about a foot of snow!

Nikon D800, 1/640 sec., f/9.0, ISO 100, 16mm

Nikon D800, 1/640 sec., f/9.0, ISO 100, 16mm

If you can imagine the wild flowers growing all over the meadow with no snow on the ground, it would definitely make for a spectacular view and warrant people’s remarks when they say this hike offers the most stunning alpine scenery in the Canadian Rocky Mountains.

Because we had to hike the initial 5km up the gravel road, our hike ended at Rock Isle Lake, pictured below. If we had taken the bus up, we would have continued on this trail for another 2km and another 200m elevation gain for even more spectacular views of the meadows. Perhaps this is just a sign that we are meant to come back to experience the park once again.

Nikon D800, 1/200 sec., f/10, ISO 100, 29mm

Nikon D800, 1/200 sec., f/10, ISO 100, 29mm

Because it was pre-season, we were pretty much the only ones doing this hike that day. We saw nobody else on the trails and we had this entire vista to ourselves. We loved it. We sat on the bench by the lookout, and ate our lunch here, admiring the pure beauty that surrounded us.

The Sunshine Meadows hike is a definite must if you’re in the area. The summertime will have you seeing wild flowers all over the meadow, and in the fall, you’ll see the golden hues of the larches light up the meadows. Whenever you go—even in the Spring or Winter—you can’t lose with this spectacular scenery that surrounds you.

Peyto Lake in Banff National Park

Peyto Lake (pronounced pea-toe) has always been on my list of places to visit, and I was finally able to make this happen on my latest trip to Alberta. Located in Banff National Park, this glacial-fed lake is majestic in every way imaginable. The colour of the lake changes depending on how the sun is shining on it, so going back several times in a day will give you a different feel every time.

The lookout to this lake is situated in a high enough place that gives you a fantastic view of the lake and surrounding mountain range. The lookout can be reached by a somewhat steep 10 minute hike from the main parking lot. For tour groups, however, a secondary parking lot higher above allows for immediate access to the viewing platform. The view from here is particularly striking during a sunrise or sunset.

Nikon D800, 1/30 sec., f/9.0, ISO 100, 82mm

Nikon D800, 1/30 sec., f/9.0, ISO 100, 82mm

The sun set behind these mountain ranges, offering a spectacular view with Peyto Lake in the foreground.

Nikon D800, 3-Exposure Lightroom Merge, 1/20 sec., f/90, ISO 100, 14mm

Nikon D800, 3-Exposure Lightroom Merge, 1/20 sec., f/90, ISO 100, 14mm

This platform (seen above), however, is often crowded with tourists always trying to get the best vantage point within a confined area. A little known fact is, that if you hike a little longer along the pathway and onto the side of the mountain (about a 500m walk further up), you’ll get to an open space that will bring you an even better view of this lake, as seen below.

Nikon D800, 1/250 sec., f/10, ISO 100, 24mm

Nikon D800, 1/250 sec., f/10, ISO 100, 24mm

This vantage point is not as well known as the platform so at most you’ll find one or two others milling in the area. But since this area is open with no barriers, you’re free to walk around anywhere, allowing you that perfect vantage point you’re after. You may find this regular vying for attention though. He seems to be quite popular amongst photographers coming here.

Nikon D800, 1/250 sec., f/9.0, ISO 100, 110mm

Nikon D800, 1/250 sec., f/9.0, ISO 100, 110mm

How to get to the secondary viewing area

This secondary view is highly recommended and only adds an extra 20-30min (roundtrip) hike from the platform. If you keep to the trails, you’ll encounter this sign below.

Nikon D800,

Nikon D800,

When you’re on the loop trail beyond the viewing platform, follow the trail to your right. After about a 5-7 minute hike, just before the loop hooks to the left, look for this sign below.

This sign is at the entrance to the hike to the open viewing area of Peyto Lake

This sign is at the entrance to the hike to the open viewing area of Peyto Lake

Follow the path that leads you into the mountainside. Eventually you will come out to an open area. The first open area you encounter offers great views, but walk a few steps more and you’ll come out to a completely open and rocky area that offers the best views of Peyto Lake, as seen here.

Nikon D800, 1/160 sec., f/14, ISO 100, 15mm

Nikon D800, 1/160 sec., f/14, ISO 100, 15mm

More Peyto Lake

Once you’ve exhausted your stay here by the rocks, you can continue on to the trail for a few more minutes where you’ll be able to get a glimpse of the end of Peyto Lake. This is something you won’t be able to see from that platform, but is quite striking in its own way.

A closeup with my telephoto lens at 200mm shows the details of the sand spilling through to Peyto Lake. I love how painterly this looked while I was standing there.

Nikon D800, 1/320 sec., f/6.3, ISO 100, 200mm

Nikon D800, 1/320 sec., f/6.3, ISO 100, 200mm

Peyto Lake will always be a must-see in my books, no matter what time of day you’re able to get there. It’s a popular destination so pick your times wisely. Whether you take pictures from the platform or the open area, you won’t be disappointed with the results. It’s one of Banff National Park’s wonderful glacial-fed lakes and is highly recommended.

Have you been to Peyto Lake before? What was your first impression?

Annette Lake in Jasper National Park

We arrived in Jasper National Park in the evening, after a long drive from Calgary. The weather was a mix of rain,  cloud, and some sky trying to peek out. We didn’t know where to go for the first sunset in Alberta so we drove around looking for a great vantage point. By googling around the vicinity that we were in, we noticed a fairly large lake by the name of Edith Lake. We headed to the point as quickly as we could, as darkness was quickly approaching and we still had a few kms to go in a place we were unfamiliar in, and bears no doubt wandering around.

We drove into a park and came upon gravel road. We were on that road for wha seemed like a long time until we saw a lake come upon us on our right. We stopped into the parking lot, conveniently located right by the gravel road and noticed a boat launching deck right by the waterside. I hurried out of the car with my camera in hand and marvelled at the tranquility of the area. No one was in sight, there weren’t any sounds except for those of mother nature, the lake was so calm that the reflection was like looking at a mirror.

Nikon D800, 1/60 sec., f/11, ISO 800, 14mm

Nikon D800, 1/60 sec., f/11, ISO 800, 14mm

It was a beautiful first lake to come upon in Jasper National Park. The sun was setting in the opposite direction unfortunately so we didn’t get any beautiful colours. However, the pristine nature of this scenery really took us aback.

I loved how you can see right through the water in the foreground while you can see the full reflection of the mountains and trees in the distance. The only thing that was bugging me (literally speaking) about this moment were those pesty bugs you see flying on the top right of this frame. Yes, those are bugs (not mosquitos, thankfully) that are not afraid of you!

This view we had on our first night in Alberta was great, and we couldn’t be more excited as it was only going to get better by the day.