Moraine Lake to Waimea Canyon: My Top 10 Photo Spots

Posted on December 9, 2015 by Mickey

Everyone has those favorite places they love to visit. Whether it’s hiking in Switzerland, walking in the sand at the Pacific Ocean as waves roll in on a wild beach, or watching buffalo roam the tallgrass prairie in the Flint Hills, we all have our special places! My favorite places to photograph have evolved dramatically over the past 6-7 years as I’ve picked up a camera and photographed the places I travel to. I wanted to share some of these favorite places to photograph with you. This list only consists of places I’ve been too. If I had been hiking in at Torres del Paine in Chile, traveling the countryside of New Zealand or photographing under the stars at Monument Rocks in western Kansas, I would imagine this list would be even harder. But I’m only going off of places I’ve been to over and over again! I really struggled to decide this list. The top three in particular kept changing places as I was writing this. If you were to ask me to name my favorite spot to photograph in any given week, it would probably change weekly.

Also keep in mind that this list is based of my favorite places to photograph, not visit. There are undoubtedly a few spots I would have much higher on this list (Chamonix-Mont Blanc in France, Vancouver Island, the Chateau de Chillon in Switzerland) had my photography plans in those places worked out better. Poor lighting, lack of time and more kept these places off this list. These are simply the top 10 places I’ve had the pleasure of photographing.

1. Moraine Lake, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

Moraine Lake Sunset
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A beautiful Moraine Lake sunset

When I visited the Canadian Rockies back in 2012, the place I tended to always gravitate back to was Moraine Lake. While driving up and down the beautiful Icefields Parkway, I probably visited Moraine Lake 5 times in 3 days. It’s a special place, and easily the most beautiful alpine lake I’ve ever seen.

2. Keeper of the Plains, Wichita, Kansas

Keeper of the Plains Lightning Bolt
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A lightning bolt frames the Keeper of the Plains

This is my go-to spot for photography. It’s treated me well. A lot of my best images are from this Wichita icon, and while the mountains are always my favorite terrain, the Keeper of the Plains has become a constant subject in my work that no other place has filled. I’ve shot more images at the Keeper of the Plains than any other place in the world, and I keep going back for more and more!

3. Wengen, Berner Oberland, Wengen, Switzerland

Dusk In Wengen
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Twilight settles at dusk in Wengen, Switzerland

Much like Moraine Lake, the view from the bench at the church in Wengen, Switzerland was a spot I continued to return to on my trip through the Alps for photography. It’s also the spot I long to go back to most in Europe someday.

4. Dallas Divide/Sneffels Wilderness, Ridgway, Colorado

Colorado Wildflowers
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A field of wildflowers on the slopes of Mount Sneffels

The Dallas Divide on the north side of the San Juans in the Colorado Rockies have become my favorite place in all of Colorado to visit. There’s a two-fold reason. My hike in 2011 to Blue Lakes in the Sneffels Wilderness produced some of the most beautiful wildflower displays I have ever seen! Second, Dallas Divide is easily my favorite spot to return to for autumn colors, as the vistas along it’s many backroads are unforgettable!

5. Big Sur, California

Big Sur Sunset
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A beautiful Big Sur sunset

I’ve now visited Big Sur twice. Once was for a brief morning in early 2012 that produced a spectacular sunrise. The second was in autumn of 2015, which also produced some of the best sunrises and sunsets of the entire year for me. One particular sunset was one of the best I’ve ever photographed! My favorite spot along Big Sur: McWay Falls. Not only does it have a beautiful tidefall waterfall that drops directly into the ocean at a gorgeous beach, but the view back towards the north is also spectacular!

6. Maroon Bells, Aspen, Colorado

Maroon Creek
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The Maroon Bells tower above a wildflower lined Maroon Creek

I’m not sure why it took me so long to visit the Maroon Bells in my years of visited Colorado, but I’ve been back almost every year since! Once for wildflowers, but mostly for the beautiful fall colors. Pro-tip: Droves of people will line the northwest shore of Maroon Lake to get the classic reflective Maroon Bells shot, but I find walking to the far side of the lake and photographing the various angles there far more rewarding. I don’t know how many times I’ve shown up for a sunrise with 200 other people fighting for rock or something in their foreground at the edge of the lake, only to find views along Maroon Creek completely deserted.

7. Dream Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Mystical Dream Lake
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A foggy Memorial Day morning at Dream Lake

If you had asked me in the years prior to taking my photography as seriously as I do now, Rocky Mountain National Park would be #1 without a shadow of a doubt. I’ve since visited some amazing places in the world, but I’ll always hold a soft spot for Dream Lake in Colorado.

8. Waimea Canyon, Waimea, Kauai, Hawaii

Waimea Canyon Rainbow
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Waimea Canyon is graced by a vivid rainbow near Waipoo Falls

There were a few places on Kauai that I kept returning to in the week I spent on the island. The one that produced the best images was the Waimea Canyon. I continued to drive up that road to the canyon and into Kokee State Park beyond. Other spots on Kauai that almost made this list include the Kilauea Lighthouse, Hanalei Bay and the Napali Coast.

9. Teter Rock, near Cassoday, Kansas

Teter Rock Winter Milky Way
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The Milky Way shines bright above Teter Rock

Teter Rock has become my go-to spot for shooting Milky Way and star scenes in recent years. Far enough away from city lights, but within an hour and a half drive from Wichita, it makes for an easy getaway to get out under the stars. It’s also a great place to photograph a good Kansas thunderstorm as it rolls across the prairie.

10. The Old Mill, Little Rock Arkansas

Old Mill Gardens
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Spring blooms at the Old Mill

I’ve only visited the Old Mill once, but the shots I got for the little time I spent there rank up there as some of my favorites. The one pictured here was a particular favorite. While most of Arkansas is probably inundated with images from the Old Mill (it’s a Little Rock icon), for a tourist looking for a great place to photograph, it was the perfect spot!

Other spots I loved photographing at:
Emerald Lake, Yoho National Park, Canada
Kilauea Lighthouse, Kauai
Lauterbrunnen Valley Floor, Switzerland
Hanging Lake, Colorado
Peyto Lake, Banff National Park, Canada
Murren, Switzerland
Spiez, Switzerland
Mer de Glace, France
Cowley Falls, Kansas
Moraine Park, Colorado
Bear Lake, Colorado
Geary Lake Falls, Kansas
Kalalau Overlook, Kauai
Napali Coast, Kauai
Hanalei Valley, Kauai
Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California
Multnomah Falls, Oregon
Boulder Brook, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Posted under: Canada, Colorado, Hawaii, Kansas, News & Updates, Switzerland

Banff, Jasper & the Canadian Rockies: My Canadian Adventure

Posted on April 29, 2015 by Mickey

Driving Coastal Canada
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Driving coastal Canada near Duffey Lake

There is nothing particularly striking about the above image. It is not an artistic masterpiece or some kind of groundbreaking photograph. In fact, it’s not even in the top 10-20 photos from my Canada and Pacific Northwest adventure from last summer.

However, when I look at it, it brings back the feelings of an amazing adventure I took last summer. A sense of adventure I had that lasted over five days and culminated into a thrilling, yet exhausting 24 hours driving down the Canadian Rockies and across the entirety of southern British Columbia.

However, let’s backtrack a bit. In the summer of 2012, I decided to take a trip up into the Canadian Rockies. My brother joined in, and the two of us would be trekking to some of the most beautiful mountain scenery in the world! I had seen photos of these majestic mountains for years, and what really sold me on them was pictures of Moraine Lake. As I always do, I researched. And I researched some more. I looked through lots of British Columbia and Canadian Rockies travel books. And I mapped locations on Google for weeks. After changing my mind a million times (which is part of my trip planning process – ask my wife, brother or anyone who has traveled with me – they can attest to that), I had formulated a plan. For 10 days, I would trek north from Spokane, Washington, through the beautiful Canadian Rockies and the Icefields Parkway, then make my way west to the Stewart-Cassair Highway and eventually to Hyder, Alaska, where an hour drive straight up into the rugged mountains of southern Alaska would lead me to a view above the mighty Salmon Glacier. While the journey would be half the fun, standing above the Salmon Glacier that straddles the border of southern Alaska and western British Columbia was to be my end destination. Afterwards, we would drive back down through British Columbia and the mountains north of Vancouver, before heading home from Spokane. Ambitious is probably the word that best describes this journey.

We purchased our plane tickets and set our sights on those jagged peaks to the north! Unfortunately, this trip fell victim to tight planning. Too tight. Shortly after buying these plane tickets, we found out that my brother had lost his passport. Because of how soon the trip was, there was no time to have a new one made. Not to mention, the plane tickets were non-refundable. Thankfully, for a fee, we could change the location and time of his departure. I was determined to make it to the Canadian Rockies and the Salmon Glacier. A good sunset, sunrise or night shot of the Salmon Glacier was supposed to be the signature photograph from this trip. Or even better, capturing the Northern Lights (something I’ve still yet to experience in my lifetime) over the giant glacier.

Moraine Lake Canoes
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Canoes at Banff’s Moraine Lake: The type of beautiful scenery typical in the Canadian Rockies

So a new plan was set. I would fly out with the original flights on a Saturday, race up the Canadian Rockies, across central British Columbia to Stewart, Hyder and the Salmon Glacier, then down to Vancouver and across the border where my brother would fly into Bellingham Washington on Wednesday. The rest of the trip would be spent in the Pacific Northwest exploring Washington and Oregon. So five days to drive over 3000 miles and still see and photograph everything. I had already done a similar road trip earlier in the year, and loved it! The challenge was on! The trip was no longer ambitious but almost absurd. I would be lying if I didn’t admit I was nervous about the whole thing. I was about to head up into some extremely rugged and remote places, where emergency services and help are not a phone call away. Not to mention, my main goal of camping out in my rental car above the Salmon Glacier. What if the car broke down? What if I ran into a grizzly bear? The drive in to Stewart and Hyder, Alaska is known for a very large population of both black bears and grizzly bears. Granted, I didn’t plan doing any major hiking alone, but still, I was a bit nervous. But either way, I was determined to do this trip.

Then came the day of the trip. I arrived at the airport, went through security, and within half an hour, a month of planning was shattered in an instant. As I sat waiting to board my early morning flight from Wichita to Spokane, we were informed that the flight was cancelled. Instead of getting to Spokane at 10AM, the re-routing would put me into Spokane around 7PM. Not good. Especially since I had a hotel booked on the edge of Yoho National Park, an 8 hour drive north of Spokane. To make matters worse, I found out the rental car agency closed at 5PM on Saturdays. So I got stuck in a Motel 6 near the Spokane airport until Sunday around noon. I now had three and a half days to pull this off. When I got to the agency, I was informed that the car they had for me was rented out on Saturday and was handed an SUV. Normally an SUV would be fine, but considering the amount of mileage I had to cover in my plans, the cost of gas just sky-rocked. Between having to cancel the few hotels I had booked, having to pay 2x as much for gas in a big SUV, having a day cut out of an already ridiculously ambitious trip along with bad weather rolling into the southern part of Alaska, my dreams of seeing Hyder and the Salmon Glacier evaporated. I came to the realization that this just wasn’t happening. I live for insane road trips. I sometimes feel like the journey of a road trip is just as fun as the final destination. Especially when seeing so much along the way. But driving to the edge of Alaska and back in such a short time… it was too much to pull off in such a short time. I was disappointed, but I had to remind myself that the Canadian Rockies were still within my grasp. The new plan began to take shape. I would use what little time I had to cover Banff, Jasper, Yoho and the Icefields Parkway in as much detail as possible. And that’s the other thing about some of my trips: I don’t sleep much. I’m up for sunrise at some spectacular location. I explore all day. I shoot the sunset, and sometimes even shoot after dark for night shots. And then I repeat the next day.

Because I had to rebook hotel rooms, my cost went up. Considerably. While finding accommodations near the national parks in the Canadian Rockies in the middle of summer can be difficult, trying to do it on the cheap is nigh impossible. I stayed in Golden, British Columbia on the west end of Yoho National Park on Sunday night. It was too dark to see much of Yoho by the time I arrived that evening, but I still took a quick drive into the park. It was beautiful and just that simple drive into the mountains washed away all of my disappointment. I was in one of the premier mountain destinations in the world and I had three days to explore and photograph to my hearts content! Early Monday morning, I raced through Yoho across the British Columbia/Alberta border and got to Moraine Lake for sunrise. Moraine Lake can simply be summed up as one of the most beautiful alpine lakes in the world. In fact, I’ve yet to see a lake I’ve found more beautiful. And that includes the gorgeous lakes in Switzerland.

Reflective Moraine Lake
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Reflections at Moraine Lake

My first day in the Canadian Rockies

Unfortunately the sunrise was a dud. The cloud-cover was too heavy so the mountains never really lit up. However, it was still beautiful. I snapped a few images at both the classic rockpile vantage-point and from the lakes edge where the canoes were. The best of which is the above shot. These canoes line many of the lakes in the Canadian Rockies. I also just spent some time marveling at how beautiful the scenery was! After Moraine Lake I decided to drive up the Icefields Parkway. My plan was to spend the day exploring it up to Jasper and then head back and stay in Canmore on Monday night. I would then head across part of British Columbia and stay in a cheap motel somewhere between Banff and Vancouver on Tuesday night. Within a few miles of starting down the Icefields Parkway, I looked to my right, and low and behold, a black bear was right on the side of the road, foraging for food!

Banff bear
Banff National Park Bear
A bear on the side of the road on the Icefields Parkway

After a few more miles up the road, I realized how hazy the atmosphere was. Not good haze, but haze that made shooting at a place like famous Peyto Lake extremely difficult. It also didn’t help that I was sharing it with 100 other tourists from the many tourist buses either. After a while, I gave up and decided I would try to drive up the Icefields Parkway first thing in the morning on Tuesday, then across British Columbia to my motel somewhere closer to crossing the border on Wednesday. But I still had the rest of the day to fill up, so I decided to go back and check out Lake Louise, which is probably the most famous of all the lakes in the Canadian Rockies!

Lake Louise Flowers
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Flowers on the edge of Lake Louise

Lake Louise is right off the main highway and town of the same name. There’s a famous hotel right at the edge of Lake Louise called Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. A walk along the lake’s eastern end lets you visit the beautifully crafted flowers and gardens of the Fairmont. The farther south you walk around the lake, you come to the many canoes for rent that you can take out onto the turquoise-colored lake.

After spending some time at Lake Louise, I unsuccessfully tried to check into my hotel in Canmore early. I noticed on the drive between Lake Louise and Canmore how there were “wildlife bridges” that went over the highway. These bridges let the wildlife have a natural crossing free of the traffic that created many collisions. It’s a pretty unique idea that Banff National Park has pioneered. You can read more about it on the Wildlife Crossings Research and Monitoring page.

After unsuccessfully checking into my hotel early, I grabbed some Subway and visited Lake Minnewanka to the north of the town of Banff. It was too hazy for any good photography, but it was still a beautiful place to be at. I walked around the lake a bit, then decided I would head to Yoho National Park to see Takakkaw Falls and Emerald Lake before returning to Moraine Lake for a sunset.

Takakkaw Falls
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Takakkaw Falls and the cascades below it

I hiked around beautiful Takakkaw Falls for quite a while, enjoying how beautiful the area was. Takakkaw Falls are almost 1000 feet in height, and the spray carries quite a ways down the valley. It was difficult to shoot, as the sun was almost directly overhead, but I did my best with the shot above. After exploring and photographing with the rest of the tourists, I realized I didn’t have time to make it to Emerald Lake in Yoho if I was to make it back to Moraine Lake for a quality sunset. So I left Takakkaw Falls and drove back to Moraine Lake. This was the best decision I could make, as I got what I consider the best photograph of the trip that evening. There weren’t a lot of clouds, but the lake was fairly calm, the atmosphere and lighting were good, and it was a beautiful evening! After shooting this sunset, I spent a little more time at Moraine Lake and walking around Lake Louise in the final minutes of twilight before heading to Canmore to crash at my hotel.

Moraine Lake Sunset
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A beautiful Moraine Lake sunset

The Icefields Parkway

Moraine Lake Sunrise
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The Valley of Ten Peaks puts on a coat of red alpine glow during a Moraine Lake sunrise

The next morning (Tuesday), I awoke at 4:30AM, checked out, and jumped on the road for Moraine Lake. I needed to be there at sunrise so I could get on the Icefields Parkway quick. I had a long day ahead of myself if I was going to drive up the Icefields Parkway to Jasper, the head most of the way to Vancouver. After a few shots of Moraine Lake, one of which is featured above, I was on my way up the famous Icefields Parkway! If you look up the Icefields Parkway in Google, you’ll find it in most top 10 lists for most beautiful drives in the world. I saw nothing that contradicted this on my drive through Banff and Jasper. It was gorgeous. The drive is full of beautiful lakes, amazing waterfalls, abundant wildlife (I saw what I assume was the same bear from the morning before at the same location the next day!) and the highpoint where the Athabasca Glacier drops down from the massive Columbia Icefield to within walking distance of the highway. As I began my drive, I kept thinking to myself “Why don’t I just sleep in the SUV somewhere near the glacier at a campsite, and make the long drive back Bellingham, Washington all day Wednesday?” By the time I got to the massive Athabasca Glacier, I was convinced this was my plan.

The weather called for clear skies and fairly warm temperatures for a night in the mountains. Perfect. I could get a blanket when I got to Jasper, crash out in the back of the SUV at a campsite half a mile from the Athabasca Glacier and get up around 3AM to shoot some kind of sweet night scene with the glacier as my foreground. Who knows, maybe the Northern Lights would even come out to play. After all, Jasper National Park is known as a Dark Sky Preserve.

With this new plan made, I deposited my money at the Wilcox Creek campground just south of the Columbia Icefield Discovery Center parking lot and started driving north to Jasper to finish off the last half of the Icefields Parkway, stopping at Sunwapta Falls. I didn’t capture anything of note, but the falls were still pretty, if a bit packed with tourists.

The town of Jasper
The town of Jasper
The main road through Jasper

Once I arrived at Jasper, I grabbed some lunch and stopped in a small grocery store to get a bottle of tea. The town of Jasper itself was pretty interesting. You can see how it has a rich history in the gold rush to western Canada and Alaska. The entire town had a old west feel to it, and there were many interesting railroad features. Train tracks everywhere, old model rail cars, etc. A highway sign for Prince George and Prince Rupert caught my eye as well, knowing that I should have been going in that direction towards Alaska had my trip not been cut a little short by my flight. I still wonder what kind of beauty lies hundreds of miles to the west, and dream of finishing the trip to Hyder, Alaska and Salmon Glacier. However, I only had an afternoon. So I had a choice to make. I really only had time to go east or west. To the west was Mount Robson Provincial Park. And to the east was the road to Maligne Lake.

I chose the road to Maligne Lake. About halfway down the road to Maligne Lake is Medicine Lake. This lake is unique in that it’s not really a lake at all! During the summer, the Maligne River get’s backed up in this area, creating the river. Eventually the “lake” drains into the ground and returns to being a river. You can see how it looked in the summer when I was there. A few months later, it would have been nothing more than a frozen river in winter.

Medicine Lake
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The view from Medicine Lake

There were quite a few tourists at the stop-off at Medicine Lake so I jumped back into the SUV and kept going south to Maligne Lake. It was raining by this point. As I came around the first bend, a herd of mountain sheep nearly rammed the front of the SUV! I think they were as shocked to see me come around the corner as I was to see them running up the road at me. I would have loved to have snapped a photo of this, but it happened so fast and I was more concerned with just watching out for them as they charged around the vehicle. After watching them pass around, I made my way down to Maligne Lake, by which time it was pouring. Even in the rain, I wandered around for a bit and shot a few photos. The only one that came out okay (and hadn’t tried to soak my lens) is below.

Maligne Lake
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The rains let up for a few seconds at Maligne Lake

I walked around the lake a little more, but the rain kept coming in waves, and so I thought it was time to head back up the Icefields Parkway to get some good evening shots. I really wanted to make sure I was back at the Athabasca Glacier by sunset! As I drove back down the road from Maligne Lake towards Jasper, the clouds began to part and the rain was lifting some. I stopped to shoot a photo of the Maligne River and the mountains to the east. These mountains looked like some kind of backbone. They jut straight up like giant stone slabs. Very unique.

Maligne River Mountains
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Jagged mountains above the Maligne River north of Maligne Lake

I passed by the town of Jasper and continued south, finally Athabasca Falls, which I had left for the return trip. Unfortunately, the rain in the mountains had turned the usually vivid blue waters into a murkier dull color. Below was the only decent shot from Athabasca Falls that I managed to get.

Athabasca Falls
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The curvy canyons of Athabasca Falls

After my stop at the Athabasca Falls, I continued back towards my campground at the top, but was greeted by one of the most vivid rainbows I’ve ever seen in my life. As the photo below shows, this rainbow literally looked like it had a pot of gold just over the hill on the road.

Icefields Parkway Rainbow
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An extremely vivid rainbow lands right on the Icefields Parkway!

I continued, hoping for a pull-off with a view that would give me a great shot of the rainbow. I found the pulloff for Honeymoon Lake, and ran to the edge of the lake, hoping to get a good shot of the rainbow. Unfortunately it had begun to fade, and I couldn’t get my tripod set up and my photo composed before the rainbow was mostly gone. As I walked back to my car, a couple from Edmonton asked where I was from. When I told them Kansas, they were surprised and exclaimed how far I must have driven to get there! I told them I had flown to Spokane and drove up, and they were still impressed. Truthfully, the drive I would have the next day was far more impressive than driving from Spokane a few days before.

I jumped back in the car, and continued back up the mountains, kind of puzzled as to why it was getting cloudier and darker rather than clearer. I was beginning to worry the forecast was completely wrong. By the time I got most of the way back up, I had already given up on a sunset. The clouds had set in and it was beginning to drizzle again. There was little in the way of breaks in the clouds. However, I did discover a waterfall near the top called Tangle Creek Falls that were beautiful! Between most of the daylight having disappeared and the cloudy, drizzly weather, I upped my shutter speed and took a large vertical panorama of the falls. This is one of my favorite photos from the trip! These falls were rushing from all the rain through the day. It seemed like little falls were pouring off of everything!

Tangle Creek Falls
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Falls pouring off of every cliff at Tangle Creek Falls

I continued on to the top, where the Athabasca Glacier juts down from the Columbia Icefield. It was well after sunset, into the final minutes of the blue hour. I tried taking shots of the Athabasca Glacier from any angle possible, including the little streams that had developed from the rain. In the end, it was really dark, but I managed the shot below.

Icefields Parkway Panorama
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Night falls over the Athabasca Glacier at the top of the Icefields Parkway

At this point, it had become too dark to shoot anything worthwhile. I was still hoping for the weather to clear off so I could shoot a beautiful night shot at some point. I drove another mile down the road to my campsite, and made a bed in the back of the SUV. As I laid down, the rain started to come in heavier waves. I began to think this wasn’t going to let up anytime soon. I had forgotten to get a blanket in Jasper, so I added some layers of clothes and used the rest of my clothes as covers. I eventually dozed off to the sound of the rain. At some point, in what I thought was the middle of the night, I woke up shivering heavily. It was getting a LOT colder. I kept trying to go back to sleep, but would wake up over and over because of how cold I was getting. I finally gave up. I was hoping it was at least 3-4AM, and I could just start my drive down the Icefields Parkway and back across British Columbia to Bellingham, Washington where my brother would be awaiting that evening. I turned the car on. It was 1AM… But I blasted the heat and decided to start driving. I didn’t want to have to turn the car on every 2 hours to heat it up and wake the other campers up multiple times through the night. I started my drive back down the Icefields Parkway to the patter of light rain. There was to be no Athabasca Glacier Northern Lights or Milky Way scene on this trip. After 15 minutes of heat to warm me up, my tiredness set back in. There was no way I could drive the 700+ miles I had ahead of me on the amount of sleep I had. And so for the next 5 hours, I would stop at a pull-off on the Icefields Parkway to sleep an hour or two until I got cold. Then I would drive 10 miles or so with the heat on blast, and repeat the same scenario. I managed to get enough sleep by 6AM that when the mountains started to take shape from daylight, I was ready to continue on. While the rain had mostly disappeared, the clouds stuck around, making for some beautiful foggy scenes that completely rejuvenated me! I knew I was going to capture some great photos on the rest of the Icefields Parkway.

The long drive across British Columbia

As morning finally started giving light to the mountains surrounding me, the fog and clouds began to show off some amazing scenes. The first was a low-light scene of fog and extremely blue water at Waterfowl Lake, followed by Snowbird Glacier and fog swirling around the surrounding peaks.

Misty Morning at Waterfowl Lake
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Fog swirls in the mountains above Waterfowl Lake on the Icefields Parkway
Snowbird Glacier in the Fog
Snowbird Glacier in the FogPrints Available
A panorama of the fog clinging to Snowbird Glacier and the mountains surrounding it

After those two quick stops, I decided to give Peyto Lake another go. While I didn’t expect the throngs of crowds from two days earlier, I did think I’d probably run into one or two others out enjoying the beautiful unique atmosphere. I was wrong, I had Peyto Lake all to myself! I walked to the viewing platform and had a blast just shooting this famous Canadian Rockies lake all by myself! I knew I couldn’t stay long, as I had a lot of stops and a lot of miles to cover, so after shooting a couple of scenes that are in the Banff National Park photo gallery, I moved on.

Foggy Peyto Lake Classic
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Beautiful, famous Peyto Lake shrouded in fog and clouds
Canadian Rockies Foggy Morning Sunrise
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Blue morning sunrise at Bow Lake in the Canadian Rockies

Before the turn to head towards Yoho National Park and beyond, I stopped at a pulloff near Bow Lake and shot what little of a sunrise there was that morning. The clouds partially broke and provided a little blue color in the sky. I moved on, and decided I needed to have one more visit to Moraine Lake Even though I had visited Moraine Lake 4-5 times this trip, I couldn’t help but stop by for a few minutes to see what it looked like covered in fog and clouds. By the time I got here, some of the clouds began to break apart above the Valley of Ten Peaks. While I still think my best shot of it was the sunset shot from two days earlier, it was still beautiful! I finally said goodbye to my favorite lake, vowing to return again someday. Now that I’m married, it’s places like this I can’t wait for my wife to see. It’s such a beautiful place, and easily my favorite lake in the world, as I’ve said at least once before in this blog.

Foggy Peyto Lake Classic
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I was blessed to have Peyto Lake all to myself on this foggy morning!

I finally tore myself away from Moraine Lake, and went back into Yoho National Park. As I had ran out of time on Monday to stop by Emerald Lake, I decided to make a quick trip up to this Yoho classic lake. I’m certainly glad I did! I captured a number of beautiful photos of a lake that was almost completely calm of wind. Beautiful reflections of the mountains around the lake mirrored on the aquamarine-colored water. Maybe it was due to the weather on the day I was there, but this lake almost rivaled Moraine Lake in beauty. Almost. A number of canoes lined the west side of the lake, and a bridge crossed over the Emerald Lake Lodge, which I’m sure would be an awesome place to have a romantic getaway with my wife someday! I wandered around the west side of the lake, and then across the bridge, snapping a number of different vantage points of the lake.

Emerald Lake Calm
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Calm waters create a beautiful reflection on an overcast day at Emerald Lake
Tranquil Emerald Lake
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A beautiful, overcast morning at Emerald Lake reveals one of the Canadian Rockies finest locations!
Emerald Lake Canoes
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Canoes stacked at the banks of Emerald Lake in Yoho National Park
Emerald Beauty
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Beautiful flowers line the bridge at Emerald Lake

After leaving Emerald Lake, I realized I was starving. I had been living off of fruit, granola bars and two stops at Subway since Sunday morning, and decided to grab something to eat in Golden, British Columbia to the west of Yoho National Park. I made my first stop at Tim Horton’s and grabbed a late breakfast. I can see why this is a Canadian favorite. It was my only experience on this trip, but on my next trip to Canada, visiting Vancouver and Vancouver Island, my wife and I stopped on many occasions for a quick Tim Horton’s fix!

Beyond Golden was two lesser visited Canadian Rockies National Park’s: Glacier National Park and Revelstoke National Park. I really didn’t know much about Canada’s Glacier National Park, and so my only stop was to shoot a photo of a giant chunk of snow that hadn’t melted, even though it was the end of August.

Glacier National Park snow
Glacier National Park snow
Chunk of snow on the side of the road in Canada’s Glacier National Park

I drove through Glacier National Park and eventually arrived at the edge of Revelstoke National Park. I saw a sign for the Giant Cedar’s trail. I really hadn’t read about this in my pre-trip research. Everything I read about Revelstoke had been about the amazing summer wildflowers. I decided to stop and walk the boardwalk with other tourists who were braving the light rain that had re-appeared. The Giant Cedar’s trail reminded me a little of my roadtrip through the Redwoods earlier in the year. Giant ancient groves of forest in the middle of a mountain paradise!

Revelstoke Giant Cedars Boardwalk Trail
Revelstoke Giant Cedars Boardwalk TrailPrints Available
A rain-soaked boardwalk cuts through Revelstoke National Park’s ancient Giant Cedars grove

After walking the boardwalks through the Giant Cedar’s trail, I continued on to Mount Revelstoke. It takes about 30 minutes to drive up the switch-back laced Sky Parkway to the summit of Mount Revelstoke, where for 2-3 months of the year, the snow on the mountain summit melts and beautiful summer wildflowers bloom. I’m not sure if I was there during the very peak, but the flowers at the end of August were beautiful! The rain had just stopped and the sun was beginning to peak through. As it was mid-day, the best shots were close-ups of the dew still hanging to vivid purple flower pedals.

Revelstoke Flowers
Revelstoke FlowersPrints Available
One of Canada’s premier places to see summer wildflowers is Revelstoke National Park
Purple Dew
Purple DewPrints Available
A closeup of some purple flowers at Revelstoke National Park

I already knew I had spent more time hiking around the wildflowers than I meant to. I had hoped to be well into the mountains north of Vancouver by sunset, and I had a decent drive still to even get to Lillooet on the edge of the coastal mountains. I left Revelstoke and continued west across British Columbia, only stopping for gas at Kamloops on the way. I drove along the edge of Kamloops Lake on highway 1, then turned onto highway 97, seeing signs for Prince George. This again made me dream of that road trip to the Salmon Glacier and northern British Columbia! Someday, I’ll make that trip a reality. I continued on, turning onto highway 99, crossing through Marble Canyon Provincial Park and Pavilion Lake before finally arriving in Lillooet. The “highways” at this point had turned into narrow two-lane roads at times, which had a number of one-lane bridges to alternate who got to cross them. The views were pretty spectacular. Lots of canyons, with mountains surrounding in every way. The mountains to the west were much larger. Byt the time I arrived in Lillooet, it was getting to be late afternoon. I stopped at Seton Lake, on the west edge of Lillooet, hoping to get a great shot of the lake, but the light was difficult to work with and I still had a ways to drive. I snapped the shot below and continued on towards Whistler and Vancouver.

Seton Lake
Late afternoon at Seton Lake
View across Seton Lake at late afternoon

After passing Lillooet, and as I climbed higher into the mountains that stretched to the Pacific Ocean, the clouds and rain began to take over again. It was also beginning to get dark. The rain seemed to enhance the beauty of the place. Deep, dark forests, high peaks and beautiful lakes like Duffey Lake filled the scenery! I made a stop on the shores of Duffey Lake twice to snap the following two images.

Duffey Lake Shoreline
Duffey Lake ShorelinePrints Available
Shoreline at Duffey Lake between Lillooet and Whistler.
Duffey Lake Flowers
Duffey Lake FlowersPrints Available
Beautiful flowers line the lake at Duffey Lake on an overcast day

After grabbing some shots at Duffey Lake, I continued towards Pemberton and Whistler. At one point, somewhere near Cayoosh Pass, I knew I needed to get out and get one more shot of the weather before darkness fully set in. There was to be no sunset on this evening. But the unique atmosphere during this drive through the coastal mountains of British Columbia was an amazing experience summed up in the photo below.

Driving Coastal Canada
Driving Coastal CanadaPrints Available
Driving coastal Canada near Duffey Lake

As darkness set in, the beautiful views of the rest of highway 99 and the Sea to Sky Highway towards Vancouver were covered. I drove through Pemberton and Whistler well after dark, and eventually the lights of Squamish came into view. I drove the rest of the Sea to Sky Highway, going up and down from sea level to views out over the Howe Sound showing the lights out on islands and across the sound towards Bowen Island and what I assume might have been Gibsons on the Sunshine Coast. I was completely exhausted at this point. I had always planned to do the much longer drive through Lillooet down the Sea to Sky Highway instead of taking the much shorter route down Highway 1 to Bellingham, Washington. I wanted to see and photograph this area. While it was dark for the majority of it, even getting the three photos above was worth the extra time. This route added another 3 hours to what turned into about 18 hours of driving and stopping along the way from the top of the Icefields Parkway to crossing the US border and my hotel bed in Washington. But all that extra time and exhausted-ness was worth it. I somehow found my way through Vancouver, down to the US border crossing, arriving at my hotel around midnight.

The rest of this trip explored Olympic National Park, Mount Rainier National Park and the Columbia River Gorge. That will be a story for another time. Before I get back to this part of the trip, I’ll be back with a travel blog about our recent trip to Vancouver and Vancouver Island.

Posted under: Canada

12 Favorite Photos In 2012

Posted on January 15, 2013 by Mickey

2012 was an amazing year for me! I managed to travel the American (US and Canada) West extensively in a short period of time. Two major road trips spanning a total of over 7,000 miles in under 2 weeks weilded some great adventures and my best photography yet! From the majestic Canadian Rockies to the rugged Pacific coastline, the west is truley a place to explore! After the amazing year that 2012 was for traveling, I can only hope 2013 turns out even better! With that said, I present the images below as my 12 favorite photographs of the year 2012!

Spectrum of a Sunrise

1. Spectrum of a Sunrise

San Simeon, California – January

It’s interesting that my very first time visiting the Pacific Ocean should also end up being my best photograph of it. In late January, I took a crazy 3500 mile 5-day road trip from my home in Wichita, Kansas, passing through the Grand Canyon and Vegas on the way to the Pacific Ocean and eventually on up the coastline to San Francisco, the Redwoods and our final destination of Portland, Oregon. We hit the Pacific Ocean after dark at San Simeon on the south end of Big Sur. When I woke up the next morning, I was greeted to this magnificent sunrise! It was easily one of the most beautiful sunrises I have ever witnessed and produced a number of fine images that morning. This image was the first I took, and turned out the best!


Sunset at Moraine Lake

2. Moraine Lake Sunset

Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada – August

It’s rather hard to take a bad picture at a place like Moraine Lake. For years, I dreamed of traveling to this spot to photograph the lake. There’s a reason it’s so highly regarded as one of the best mountain lakes in the world! It’s just that beautiful and easily the most stunning alpine mountain lake I’ve ever seen! The funny thing is, during the 2 days I had to photograph in this area, I never really captured the image I want. The weather never cooperated to give me a stunning sunrise or sunset. The wind never truley died down to give me that crystal clear reflection I had hoped for. Yet, I still love this image in all it’s imperfection.


Legend of Multnomah Falls

3. Legend of Multnomah Falls

Columbia River Gorge, Oregon – August

When you visit Multnomah Falls in the beautiful Columbia River Gorge of Oregon, you get a sense of awe about them. Maybe it’s the local legends about how the falls were formed. Or maybe it’s just the fact that Multnomah Falls is the crown jewel of an area that’s highly regarded for it’s large concentration of waterfalls. Everywhere you turn in this area, there’s a beautiful waterfall pouring through the lush green rainforest. While spring is typically the time to go, as the waterfalls are rushing with snow melt-off from the mountains above, I visited in late January, shortly after a massive winter storm pounded the area. The wind was whipping around enough to give much of the trees and plants a nice green blur to them and the water was flowing as if spring time was in full effect making for the scene you see above.


Old Mill Gardens

4. Old Mill Gardens

Little Rock, Arkansas – April

I had a last minute chance to visit Little Rock, Arkansas back in April to play in a soccer tournament. Knowing I would be a new place, I looked up a few interesting places to visit in hopes of maybe getting a good image or two while down there. At the top of most lists was the Old Mill in North Little Rock, which was famous for being in the opening scenes of the classic Gone With The Wind. It just so happened that I visited when the flowers were in full spring bloom giving the place a very colorful look to it!


This Is Kansas

5. This Is Kansas

Teter Rock, Kansas – July

On my first visit to Teter Rock last July a massive thunderstorm rolled through the plains. There is nothing more awe-inspiring than standing at the top of a hill out on the prairie with the echoes of thunder and flashes of lightning off in the distant. Teter Rock itself was interesting enough, but throw in the crazy lightening storm that developed and it made for classic, iconic Kansas scenery. The image above is the best of the shots from that night and this location has become my favorite place to shoot out on the Kansas prairie.


Emerald Lake Calm

6. Emerald Lake Calm

Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada – August

Across the border from Canada’s famous Banff National Park lies Yoho National Park. Another of the Canadian Rockies beautiful national parks. One of it’s best locations is Emerald Lake. The wind cooperated nicely on this morning, leaving the lake in perfect reflective stillness. Not many tourists were out that morning either, and the lake had a calm and tranquil feeling to it.


Mount Rainier Wildflowers

7. Mount Rainier Wildflowers

Mount Rainier National Park, Washington – September

I could not have planned my day-trip visit to the Paradise region of Mount Rainier any better! Typically wildflower season is much earlier in the summer, with many of the flowers peaking in August. This year, everything was late, and seemed to be peaking on Memorial Day weekend in early September. This was perfect for me, as I visited the Saturday before Memorial Day and was floored by how stunning the wildflowers were. While I had to share the area with more tourists than I have ever seen in my hiking days, I also got to share the trail with a very large black bear. Something I never expected to see, considering just how many people were out on the trails that weekend. This image is probably the best from that day, with some of the most vivid color, contrasted by the glaciers and clouds in the background on Rainier’s slopes.


The Ancient Forest

8. The Ancient Forest

Redwood National Park, California – January

On my massive January road-trip, there were so many places I was excited to visit. While I was interested in visiting the Redwoods, in my mind, I was most interested in the Grand Canyon, Big Sur and the Oregon coastline. As it turned out though, the Redwoods were likely my favorite part of this 3500+ mile trip. Words can’t describe the feeling of hiking silently among ancient giants shrouded in mist and fog. My only regret was that I only got to pass through the area for an hour or two before heading on into Oregon. I would have spent days exploring the region if I would have had the time.


The Lights of Lombard Street

9. The Lights of Lombard Street

San Francisco, California – January

While traveling up the California coastline towards Oregon, I spent a night in San Francisco, seeing a few of the major sights. One of the more interesting places I visited was Lombard Street. Lombard Street is regarded as the most crooked street in the world, and I already had in mind to do a night shot with car lights streaking down it’s curvy streets. What I didn’t expect was the 20+ other photographers there taking the same shot as me. But I still like the shot, even if it wasn’t an original idea!


Sol Duc Falls

10. Sol Duc Falls

Olympic National Park, Washington – August

My time in Olympic National Park was a little bittersweet. Olympic was one of those places I had always wanted to visit. I had always pictured foggy rainforests with constant drizzle and rain. My hope was to capture some of that in photographs. Surprisingly though, it didn’t rain a drop the entire time I was at Olympic and the sun was out the majority of the 2 days I spent traveling the park. However, I still got a few good shots of the coastline and waterfalls, this being my favorite. This waterfall is called Sol Duc Falls, with two rocks that sort of seperate the waterfall into three falls. I thought the view of the bridge from behind the falls was the best of the shots. It’s also the best of the shots I got in Olympic National Park.


Explosive Sunrise

11. Explosive Sunrise

San Simeon, California – August

This was shot just minutes after the other San Simeon sunrise, which was my favorite shot of the year. This one is unique from that one not just in color, but that I captured a wave crashing into a rock 20 feet or so out in the ocean. Beacause of the winter storm that had just passed through much of the west coast, the ocean was rough and violent, creating scenes like this from southern California north to Washington.


Peyto Lake in the Fog Panorama

12. Peyto Lake in the Fog Panorama

Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada – August

This was one of the first shots of possibly my greatest traveling day ever. I had slept in my rental SUV at the very top of the Icefields Parkway up in Jasper National Park to get up early in the morning and shoot some night scenes of the stars above the Athabasca Glacier. The weather had other plans. What had been forecast as a clear and warm (well, relatively speaking for being high in the Canadian Rockies) night turned to a foggy and drizzly night with snow about a thousand feet higher in elevation from where I had camped out. So I traveled south down the Icefields Parkway early in the morning, eventually making my way all the way across British Columbia to the coast and Vancouver late that night. One of my first stops was to get a shot of Peyto Lake in the fog as seen above. The day before the entire area was crawling with tour buses and hundreds of tourists. Because of the overcast and fog, on this morning, I was the only car in the parking lot and had the entire area to myself. And it was such a beautiful place to spend some time admiring one of Canada’s most iconic scenes.

Posted under: News & Updates