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Whether you’re taking vacation photos with your smart phone or have the lates photography gear, the perfect location is the crucial element for your photographs to make that lasting impression. Not only do the Canadian Rockies offer an incredible travel experience, you’ll come home with the best photos you’ve ever taken. This stunning region offers photo opps around every bend. Our guide to taking photos in the Canadian Rockies made easy includes lens picks, a packing list and the top spots for the best shots. 

What you Need to Know Before Photographing the Canadian Rockies

A guest takes photos from the outdoor viewing platform in the Goldleaf coach

How Weather Affects Photography in the Rockies 

While there’s no shortage of opportunities to capture an amazing photo in the Canadian Rockies, with its striking blue glacier lakes and snow-capped mountaints, keep in mind how the weather can affect the quality of your landscapes. Many people report that the best time to go is during the fall and not simply because the leaves are changing color. The change from warm weather to cool weather has an effect on the atmosphere which can create surreal scenes you may not have the pleasure of photographing any other time of the year.  

Expect the changing season to deliver colder weather and prepare in advance by packing warmer clothing. The best idea is to dress in layers so that you can peel clothing off on the days that are slightly warmer as you see fit. It’s much better to pack too much clothing during this time a year than not enough.

Essential Equipment for Photographing the Rockies 

Equipment is key when considering how to photograph the Canadian Rockies. Whether you’re new to landscape photography or a seasoned veteran, your camera choice impacts the quality of your photographs.

Today's smartphones offer fantastic qualily images, especially for vacation snaps. To really capture the wonder of the landscapes in the Canadian Rockies, there are tricks you can use. 

Tips for Mobile Phone Photos 

  • make sure your horizons are straight 
  • get low to the ground will make your photo more interesting 
  • don't use your zoom — you can do that after the photo is taken
  • use "magic hour," that time around sunrise and sunset when the light adds major drama 
  • bring the exposure down by tapping on the screen 
  • invest in a mini tripod or stand 

Don't forget to have fun! Take lots of snaps, as you can always delete. 

If you're looking for more professional quality images, the best camera to bring is a full-frame camera because it offers a much wider field of view and less image noise. If you want to bring a backup camera, bring something that’s compact and won’t take up a lot of space in your travel bag. 

Lenses 

You may want to bring several lenses with you so that you have more versatility at your disposal. The most popular lenses for photography in the Canadian Rockies are wide-angle zoom lenses. They’re easier to use for multiple focal lengths but provide slightly less image quality than a fixed lens. If you’re planning on photographic the night sky, you want to bring along a fixed lens for these pictures.  

Accessories 

The most useful accessories to bring along include the following: 

  • A tripod to keep your camera steady — you can even get a small tripod for your phone 
  • A cable release for taking photos without touching your camera — this is also a tool you can get for your phone
  • A lens cloth for keeping your lens clear 
  • A hex wrench to make assembling your tripod easier

Travel Tips for Photographing the Canadian Rockies 

Keep in mind that while you won’t likely run into problems when entering Canada with camera equipment, returning to the United States could be problematic if you don’t take steps to register it. The reason for this is you need to pay duties on camera lenses that are purchased in the foreign country before you return home and registering your equipment proves that you bought it before you booked your trip. This isn’t just something to keep in mind for camera equipment, but for any electronic equipment you bring with that has a serial number. You can request and fill out US Customs Form 4457 before you leave the country to report all of your items and their serial numbers and this should prevent any unnecessary hassle.  

When you book your Canadian train vacation, your personal Customer Experience Specialist will also advise you of any current travel advisories or requirements for traveling in Canada. 

Best Places for Photography in the Canadian Rockies

Person paddles a canoe across a lake in the Canadian Rockies in summer.

Finding the best spot to get amazing photographs can be a challenge if you don’t know where to go. These locations, many of which can be visited during a train vacation in the Canadian Rockies, are popular destinations for photographers looking for the perfect landscape. Think turquise lakes, stunning forests, and epic waterfalls, all with the dramatic backdrop of the iconic mountain peaks.  

Spirit Island, Maligne Lake 

The only way to visit this location is on a local cruise, which your travel advisor can arrange for you. This stunning spot is made all the more breathtaking with the mountains surrounding the island on three sides with steep and vertical cliff walls.  

Vermilion Lakes 

There are plenty of trails to hike and boat rentals available. Photographers come here during the winter to capture the Northern Lights at night.  

Two Jack Lake 

With hiking and boating options near Mount Ruddle, this is a popular destination due to its emerald waters and mountain views. A popular excursion add-on, a local guided sightseeing tour, will take you to this spot. 

Lake Louise 

This destination offers winter and summer activities and is most known for its turquoise water and the Victoria Glacier. There are options for hiking, skiing and even a sleigh ride in the winter. Add a stay at the Chateau Lake Louise for more opportunites to photograph the lake at differerent times of the day. 

Moraine Lake 

This is another turquoise lake located in the Valley of the Ten Peaks. It’s most known for its iconic waterfalls and rock piles amid a mountain landscape. 

Peyto Lake 

The Canadian Parks department recently made improvements to trails, roads and parking areas here to make it more accessible to the public. It offers a serene view of Peyto Peak and Bow Summit.  

Bow Lake 

This destination isn’t as well known, so you’re less likely to deal with crowds of people. It’s nestled between mountains and offers lake and mountain views.  

Sunwapta Falls 

There’s a two-mile hiking trail that offers some amazing views of mountainsides and waterfalls and the park is friendly to dog owners.  

Emerald Lake 

The Emerald Lake Lodge limits the use of electronics, so you’re likely to get some amazing nighttime shots in this location. As the name implies, the waters here are emerald green.  

Zillmer Canyon Via Ferrata 

Travelers staying at the CMH Cariboo Lodge can take tours of the surrounding glaciers, waterfalls and mountaintops via helicopter, proving one perfect photo opportunity after another.  Ask your travel advisor about adding an excursion to the lodge. 

Mount Robson 

With a challenging hiking trail and access to campgrounds, rivers and waterfalls, this is a great destination if you’re an experienced backcountry hiker. Luckily for everyone else, you can get great views from the train. 

Aboard the Rocky Mountaineer 

The Rocky Mountaineer is a luxury train tour that allows passengers to look out at the Canadian Rockies from the train’s glass dome. There are numerous chances to snap amazing photographs of the landscape as you’re moving by.