Shooting from the highway in the Canadian rockies: Part 3

This is the third part of an on going feature. Shooting from the highway in the Canadian rockies.

Still in Jasper National Park and just down the highway from Medicine Lake which was part 2 of this series is Maligne Lake.

Maligne Lake is one of the easiest places to photograph in the mountain parks. Easy access on a paved and well maintained highway throughout the year guarantees being able to shoot in any season.

The highway takes you to the north end of the lake where there are tourist facilities, a restaurant and shop. Overpriced but you expect that at tourist destinations. During the open water season which runs from early June til the middle of the fall, a boat service is offered which will take you to Spirit Island for a quarter of an hour stop. Spirit Island is one of the iconic Canadian Rockies shots that everyone has seen. That’s probably why I don’t have a picture of it. LOL

Fifty meters or so from the boat house is a bridge crossing the Maligne River. The bridge goes to no where. Many years ago there was a proposal to have the highway continue on and join up with the icefield highway. That idea was nixed but not before a few million dollars was spent building the bridge. The road runs hundred meters further and empties into a parking lot where you can launch your canoe or electrically powered boat. No gasoline engines are allowed on the lake, at least not by the general public.

In the photo above is where the Maligne River drains the lake. The water here is open year around and remains ice free. Great photos can be had and have been taken year round. Sunrise is the best time of the day to be here. I have never yet seen another photographer on the lake when I’ve been there.

For a slightly different look of this often photographed lake, take a ten minute walk from the first parking lot along the lake shore on the Mary Schaffer Loop. There’s no need to continue on through the loop. You’ll know when to stop when the trail leaves the shoreline and heads back into the bush. The complete loop is about three kilometers.

If you do cross the bridge and end up in the west parking lot you can walk along the shoreline for a few kilometers looking for photo ops.

Because of the high altitude of the lake when storms pass through the area, you are quite often in the clouds. It is these moody, dramatic skies that I like best. Whether I am back at home on the prairies or in the mountains, it really is the weather that makes a landscape work. Early morning or just after sunrise are my favorite times on the lake.

Pay a visit to Maligne Lake, a great spot to be in the Canadian rockies.

Happy shooting,


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~ by Dan Jurak on April 23, 2011.

8 Responses to “Shooting from the highway in the Canadian rockies: Part 3”

  1. Beautiful light as always Dan. :-)

  2. fantastic images harvested from what must have been a great trip, have a good one Dan-

  3. gorgeous images — regularly enjoy your posts

  4. @ Kathy, thank you. I hope to be posting more regularly once things start to green up a bit. Spring is always a slow time around here.

    All the best,

  5. it must be great to live close enough to this most beautiful area to pop out and get some shots. my first trip there in june 2011, and will be back!

    great images, Dan.

  6. @ Larry, four hours there and four hours back. Arrrgh. It’s not a huge distance but for our Calgary neighbors who live only an hour away… They’re really the lucky ones. If I lived in Calgary, there would be many, many more mountain photos.

  7. & Dan – A day’s travel from Santa Cruz,CA to Spokane to Fairmont Hot Springs, second day to Jasper. Your 8hr round trip is like mine to Yosemite, but Yosemite is dinky and as much as I love our Sierra, our travel from Jasper to Waterton and Glacier is something I look forward to again soon…perhaps in the fall.

  8. @ Larry, autumn in Jasper and Banff can really be special. There are two kinds of autumn color to look for.
    Starting the second week of September the poplars in Jasper and the parts of Banff start to turn yellow. It can be breathtaking during that time.

    During the last week of September and the first week of October, the larches in Banff, particularly around Lake Louise start to turn golden and you’re almost always guaranteed an early snowfall on the top of the mountains to make things look even prettier.

    It’s my favorite time in the mountains. I always book three weeks off from work so that I can get out there as often as possible.


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