Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada is an extremely photogenic destination. Not only is the park full of iconic mountains, it’s home to turquoise lakes, rushing rivers, lush forests, charming towns, and picturesque hotels.
I recently took the Seeker Project quiz by Le Club AccorHotels, and my results showed that I was craving an outdoor adventure. This revolutionary quiz uses biometric responses to formulate the dream travel destination for a user based on their responses to a series of images. Well, those results were spot on, and Banff, with its beautiful yet wild scenery and outdoor opportunities, was the perfect place for me to go to get my nature fix.
As this was my third visit to this part of Canada, I’ve come up with the best photo locations in Banff National Park. See below for these 10 iconic spots you won’t want to miss!
The Best Photo Locations in Banff National Park
A turquoise dream in the summer and a snowy wonderland come winter, Lake Louise is a glacier-fed oasis surrounded by ethereal mountains. In order to get the full Lake Louise experience and the best photography opportunities, I stayed at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. This allowed me to stay right in the center of all the attractions.
Some of my favorite photo opportunities in Lake Louise include the giant main-floor windows at the chateau overlooking the lake, the waterfalls at the back of the lake (which can be accessed by either taking the trail around the right side of the lake, or by canoe), and Fairview Lookout that overlooks both the lake and the Chateau.
The trail leading to Johnston Canyon is an awe-inspiring one; it winds from the parking lot, through the canyon, and up to the falls and inkpots. While this route is beautiful and mostly accessible any time of year, I recommend doing the hike in either the shoulder seasons or the winter, due to the sometimes-intense summertime crowds.
There will be no shortage of photo opportunities once you get to Johnston, but some of my favorite spots are the Upper Falls, the Lower Falls, and Horseshoe Bend (just make sure to look ahead to see if the access to Horseshoe Bend is open as it closes seasonally).
Read more: The Best Photo Locations in Alberta, Canada
The Vermilion Lakes are a trio of lakes just minutes from the town of Banff, and they offer awesome shots of Mount Rundle. There are many photography vantage points located on the side of the lake by the road, most of which will give a great shot of the mountain reflected on the water.
That said, if you’re looking to get the absolute best shots of the Vermillion Lakes and Mount Rundle, I’d recommend staying at the Fairmont Banff Springs. The hotel is just a 10 minute drive away which means you’re super close for those sunrise and sunset shots!
Just a ten-minute drive from Lake Louise, Moraine Lake is a brilliant turquoise colored lake that’s located in Valley Of The Ten Peaks. The mountains jutting up all around the lake make for the most unreal views and incredible photography opportunities. My recommendation is to grab a canoe and head out on the lake.
Note that because of safety concerns, the road to Moraine Lake isn’t open in the winter. Make sure to check opening and closing dates before you go!
Peyto Lake Viewpoint
The Peyto Lake panoramic viewpoint is accessible via a 2.7 kilometer hiking loop situated about a 30-minute drive from Lake Louise. From the viewpoint, you’ll see the turquoise colored Peyto Lake surrounded by forests and mountains. The hike is short and easy, and the panorama you’ll get at the top will be worth it.
The trail does tend to get a little busy in peak season, so be sure to get there early or stay late. Alternatively, if you get to the viewpoint and find it’s just a little too busy for your liking, continue on the trail up the hill; there is a second, less crowded viewpoint just up the road that will give you an unobstructed view.
If you stand out on one of the terraces at the Fairmont Banff Springs and look out at the scene in front of you, Signature Mountain will be the crown jewel of what you’re looking at. The mountain can be photographed from the water or from one of the many vantage points nearby, but the best spot in my opinion, is from the Fairmont Banff.
The town of Banff has an incredibly charming downtown area; full of chalet-style buildings, pretty lights, and mom and pop businesses. So naturally this area is very photogenic as well.
That said, there’s always that one shot that takes the scene to another level, and that’s the shot of the town with Cascade Mountain in the background. To grab this iconic photo of downtown Banff, head to Banff Avenue, look towards the mountain, and shoot.
About 5 kilometres from the town of Banff lays Lake Minnewanka, a large, glacial-fed lake surrounded by mountains. In addition to being very photogenic, this is also a popular hiking and fishing spot.
The lake is also known for being an awesome Northern Light viewing location, so arrive late, set your camera to a long-exposure, and get snapping.
Read more: The Best Cameras for Hiking and Backpacking
Two Jack Lake
Just like Vermillion Lakes, heading out to Two Jack Lake will give you awesome views of Mount Rundle, albeit from a new perspective. The lake is situated on the Lake Minnewanka loop road, and has some great hiking, fishing, and even scuba diving.
One of the most iconic photography spots in all of Canada, Morant’s Curve is located just outside Lake Louise on the Bow Valley Parkway. The railway bend has a breathtaking forest and mountain backdrop, and was first photographed into history when the Canadian Pacific Railway completed their tracks through this area, and then sent their photographer, Nicholas Morant, to snap some photos.
To get that iconic shot, head to the viewpoint on the Bow Valley Parkway and, if you’re patient, wait for a train to come rolling by.