Must See Spots in Banff National Park

Must See Spots in Banff National Park

Written by Jennifer Fast on

Jennifer Fast is a published travel, landscape and lifestyle photographer from the Rocky Mountains in Alberta, Canada. She is passionate about inspiring others to expand their horizons and explore as much of our beautiful world as possible. She loves the adventure that comes with finding unique photography locations, often hiking or traveling many miles to explore more remote territory. She is dedicated to experiencing as much natural beauty as possible and hopes that her unique imagery can help instill a heart of exploration in others.

Must See Spots in Banff National Park

Must See Spots in Banff National Park

Banff National Park is an absolute wonderland of world-renowned views that lands at the top of many bucket lists. There is so much natural beauty to be found in the Rockies, so how do you narrow down your itinerary so that you can maximize your visit?

Jennifer Fast, a published travel, landscape, and lifestyle photographer, gives us a handful of her favorite views to visit and photograph that she deems as "must-visit locations". Check it out for the perspective of a true local.

Vermillion Lakes

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Vermillion Lakes is an incredibly popular spot for both sunrise and sunset viewing, with good reason. At sunrise, the clouds above Mount Rundle can light up beautifully if the conditions are just right. At sunset, you can often catch a stunning alpenglow on Rundle’s top ridgelines. It is a popular location to canoe or kayak at in the summer, or ice skate at in the winter months. It is also one of the last lakes to freeze over in the winter, so reflection photos are possible later into the season than with other locations in the area. It is also an extremely convenient location, being the closest lake to Banff Town. Do not miss this one!

Surprise Corner

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Tunnel Mountain Road is a beautiful road to drive right in the heart of the town of Banff. Follow it up into the mountains and gape at the impressive views along the way. ‘Surprise Corner’ is about one mile up the road and offers stunning views of the historic Banff Springs Hotel. There is a parking lot where you can stop and park your car and get out and walk. At the parking lot, a short set of stairs will take you up for an even higher perspective. The Banff Springs Hotel is great to shoot at twilight/blue hour, after the sun goes down. The mountains will still be visible with a long exposure and the light of the hotel casts a beautiful glow.

Johnston Canyon

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Johnston Canyon is almost always incredibly busy, so attempt it either early or late in the day to try to avoid the crowds. It’s an easy hike accessible for the entire family, with paved pathways and spectacular canyon and Upper/Lower waterfall views. In the winter, make sure to come prepared with micro-spikes as the pathways become incredibly slippery! Try bringing along a tripod and shooting a long exposure of one of the waterfalls.

Two Jack Lake

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Two Jack Lake is located just outside of Banff Town. It features a beautiful, popular campground (book early!) and a lovely lakefront with picnic tables to relax at and enjoy the view. It is another popular sunrise destination, and if the water is calm, you might be greeted with mirror-like reflections for incredible photography opportunities. In the winter, this lake turns into a fun spot for ice skating for the whole family. Two Jack is located close to Banff town, just 12 km up Lake Minnewanka Loop Road.

Minnewanka Lake

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This 21-km lake is popular for swimming, fishing and kayaking. Its shores can be hiked or biked. You can purchase tickets for a boat cruise of this lake in the warmer months. This is a popular spot for wedding photography. If you’re heading to Two Jack Lake, continue further up Lake Minnewanka Loop Road to its namesake, Lake Minnewanka – it is just a few more minutes down the road and well worth a visit!

Icefields Parkway

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If you’re in Banff, no trip to this area is complete without a drive up the Icefiends Parkway. This spectacular drive has many spots to pull over and take in the views, but the road itself is incredibly picturesque. Try to visit in autumn if possible and take in the sights of the larch trees during a brilliant shade of gold. Go as far as you’d like – the jaw-dropping views are never ending!

Bow Lake

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Crowfoot Mountain is a mountain with a very unique shape that perches at the base of Bow Lake. This lake is a fantastic spot for kayaking and canoeing in the warmer months. It is generally a quieter location than the others, as it is about a one-hour drive from Banff Town. It also features an incredibly photogenic bridge that makes for stunning photography at sunset. Popular hiking trails and ski touring trails begin from this trailhead.

Peyto Lake

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A short drive from Bow Lake is Peyto Lake, the wolf-shaped turquoise lake that really is this blue in person. Peyto has an easily accessible trail to a popular viewpoint, but also a few other less-noticeable trails for different perspectives of this gorgeous lake. Most people only stop by the viewpoint to snap a few quick photos, so bring a picnic and set up to watch the sunset.

Moraine Lake

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No trip to Banff and area is complete without a visit to Moraine Lake. This lake is only half the size of nearby neighbor Lake Louise, but perhaps even more spectacular. Climb high up the pathway onto the rocks for a higher perspective of Valley of Ten Peaks, or visit the dock of colorful canoes and take a canoe out for a paddle. Just watch out for sandwich-stealing squirrels! The road to Moraine is closed during the winter season, but usually reopens in May, depending on conditions (or you can ski up and likely have the place all to yourself). This lake becomes incredibly busy during the day, so try to visit very early or very late in the day to avoid crowds. This view will be etched into your heart for the rest of your life, I promise!

Related Links (from Eagle Creek blog):

6 Challenging Hikes in Glacier National Park

7 Winter Sun Retreats That Will Restore Your Health and Wellbeing

Off the Beaten Path: How to Hunt Down Hidden Travel Gems