Glacier National Park in northern Montana is the 'little brother' of the Canadian Rockies.
It is as beautiful a park as you will find anywhere in the world. It was mid-June and there was still over 40 feet of snow at the high passes. I concentrated on photographing some lower elevation scenics and waterfalls. Since the snow was now melting at a rapid pace, there was water dripping and falling everywhere. My 'Mystic Falls' shot was captured during this trip.
Bear sightings were also starting. The bears were now out feeding, making up for lost time after their long winter hibernation. In the peaceful place of green valleys and gorgeous mountains, Spring was coming and time there was time well spent, as a person and a photographer.
Leaving Glacier, I headed to the Canadian portion of the park, which is called Glacier-Watertown International Peace Park. What tremendous beauty! I spent my visit photographing big horn sheep, mule deer, and the lavish scenery within the park. Everything there is beautiful. This park was easy to get around and relatively small compared to some of the national parks in the lower 48 states. That gave the place a very intimate feeling and I really enjoyed my time there.
It was a short way to the Canadian Rockies; another one of my favorite places to photograph. I feel it is more of an intimate place to photograph than Alaska, and yet just as beautiful in many ways. The vertical mountains, glacier-fed lakes, and abundant wildlife make it a paradise for nature photographers. Once in these mountains, I spent a long time photographing pristine mountain lakes. Most of my time was spent between the providences of Banff and Jasper searching out scenics and capturing wildlife on film. I was able to photograph elk, mountain goat, bighorn sheep, black bear, and the many brilliant reflecting glacier-fed lakes. It is a "must" to stop at these lakes when in the Canadian Rockies, especially Maligne Lake, Morraine Lake, Peyto Lake, and Lake Louise. The photos I took of these exquisite places appear hear: Click!
I also encourage anyone to travel the length of the Canadian Highway and the Bow Valley Parkway. The areas between Banff and Jasper are probably the most scenic stretch of roadway you may ever see. Established trails throughout the Rockies make for great hiking, and you don't need to go far to see incredible beauty. This area is so filled with scenery, I'll bet many people barely leave their cars! But I would highly recommend getting out of your car and hiking as many trails as you can!
I hiked only a short distance before I reached Morraine Lake and Peyto Lake. What a great reward for such short hikes! I highly recommend going to the top of Whistler Mountain and, if you are camping, setting up camp in Whistler Campground. However, always beware of elk especially mothers with newborns, and Bulls in the rut season! Both can be very aggressive. Mother elks will chase people, and Bull Elks in rut will chase (and attack) people, cars, trucks, semis you name it. I've seen these beasts do great damage to large vehicles. DO NOT mess with them.
Two of my favorite images from my time spent in the Canadian Rockies are the Boathouse at Lake Louise (The Nordic Stop), and Spirit Island in Jasper National Park. Lake Louise lies about an hour and a half north of Banff. It's probably the most famous lake in the Canadian Rockies. If you make early reservations, you can stay at the Château Lake Louise; an elegant accommodation that world travelers refer to as one of the most beautiful places on earth to stay. On a clear morning you can look out at Lake Louise and the surrounding glacier-filled mountains. If you feel ambitious, you can hike the trail up to the Teahouse for tea and some sustenance. You'll be hungry by the time you get up there, as it's a long hike. Remember, also, you gain elevation quickly here, but it's worth the effort to enjoy the spectacular views of this timeless region.
From Lake Louise, you can head north up to the town site of Jasper. Jasper was my favorite place in the Canadian Rockies. An abundance of wildlife can be found within Jasper Park, and all throughout the town. There are more elk per capita than people here! You'll also probably spot black and grizzly bear as well. There's also a good chance of seeing mountain goats and bighorn sheep.
My Spirit Island image was taken on Maligne Lake in Jasper Park. I needed to take a boat out to the island itself. The boat ride was about an hour and it was one of the most scenic boat rides I've ever been on. When we docked, I jumped out of the boat and ran ahead of the other tourists in order to get a good photographic vantage point before they all got in my way. I had only 20 minutes to get the shot I wanted because I was on the last ride of the day so I had to go back with the boat that brought me to the island. I ran to several vantage points and shot about three rolls of film before the rest of the people caught up with me. When it was time to go back, and they all headed back to the boat, I shot two more rolls before the captain started honking the air horn warning me to get back to the boat. The light was great at that moment and everything worked out perfectly. The proof is in the photograph.
The next day, I checked my truck and my supplies and started on my way. I left Jasper and the Canadian Rockies behind, and drove for two days through miles and miles of Canadian wilderness. The first day ended when the sun went down. I slept in my truck that evening, excited and anticipating the sunrise. When the sun came up, I was back on my journey again, driving for hours through the vast, unpopulated expanse of the great north. All was quiet and untouched. I was alone with my thoughts as the roads wound on. Time passed.
And then, I got to Alaska...