Banff National Park - Banff Region

Probably the most famous of the national parks of the Canadian Rockies, Banff National Park is a "must-see" for anyone who likes mountain scenery, although with a size of over 2,500 square miles, no casual visitor could possibly hope to actually see it all. This is the first of three scenesets covering Banff National Park, focusing on the attractions in and around the town of Banff, which is considered by many the "capital" of the Canadian Rockies. Highlights in this area include hot springs, the distinctive Mt. Rundle, the Vermillion Lakes and Johnston Canyon. More of Banff National Park can be seen in the Lake Louise and Icefields Parkway scenesets.
Angular  We stopped by this lake on our way to Banff. I am not even sure what it is called. And in retrospect, it's probably far from the best picture I took on the trip... but I was so excited to see the mountains that I stopped and snapped a couple of images anyway. I do like being able to see the bands of rock in the outcropping. Sulphur Spring  Banff is famous in part for its collection of natural mineral hot springs. Some have been developed into commercial bathing areas and even resorts, but some are still left in their natural state. The white color here is a result of mineral deposition and/or thermophilic bacteria (visible on a much larger scale at larger geothermal areas such as Yellowstone National Park). The Fen  A view of one the natural fens (bog-like areas) near the Banff hot springs, taken on a less-than-stellar day for photography. :) Intense Color  I'm a sucker for a rainbow at any time, and when I run into one early in a trip I can't resist stopping for a shot, even if the background isn't the most impressive. I recall this one being particularly intense in color and brightness. Paintbrush Portrait  "Indian Paintbrush" is the name given to a variety of flowers of the genus Castilleja, which grow wild all over the Rockies, and are obviously named for their appearance. They come in a variety of colors, red being the most common and most brilliant. They were actually used by Native Americans as a food source and condiment (but not for painting). Clear Green  This pretty green pool is formed by outflow from another of the natural springs in the Banff area. Below the surface you can see stalagmites (or is that stalactites?) formed from dripping of mineral-lading water, presumably when the water level was lower.
Still Morning on Two Jack Lake  Mount Rundle's less famous eastern slopes reflect in the crystal early morning waters of Two Jack Lake, just outside the town of Banff. This small lake abutts the much larger Lake Minnewanka. Pine Lunch  Fortunately, this squirrel was far too engrossed in dissecting this pine cone to be worried about a human photographer. :) Banff Valley Panorama  A short drive up the road leading to the Mount Norquay ski area just northwest of Banff provides a spectular view of the town and the valley that surrounds it. A few highlights: Mount Rundle in the far left background; the town of Banff center-left, with Goatview Peak in the distance; Sulphur Mountain center to center-right; Sundance Peak background right; and the Bow River and Vermillion Lakes center right in front of the mountains. Mountain View  Some mountains whose names I don't know reflected in one of the Vermillion Lakes. Paddling the Vermillion Lakes  One of my favorite images from this Rockies trip, taken in early evening at I believe the second of three Vermillion Lakes. I didn't see the canoe when I set up to take the shot so it was a pleasant surprise, and I had to act quick to capture it! The mountain in the center is of course Mount Rundle, arguably the most famous mountain in the Canadian Rockies, showing off its distinctive sharp peaks. Driftlog  This pine tree must have drifted around the Vermillion Lakes for years to end up looking like this.
Knife Edge  Rocks line the shore of third Vermillion Lake. From this angle, Mt. Rundle looks like the edge of a knife. Vermillion Stumps  I'm not sure what happened to these trees; they were clearly cut down (you can see the even tops of the stumps) but must have died after water inundated the area where they were growing. I liked the play of light and shade on them as I moved around the Vermillion Lakes. Copycat  In the spring and summer, wild sheep and goats often come down to lick salt off roadways and even the exposed rocks on the sides of cliffs. I was trying to capture some of a herd that I encountered near Lake Minnewanka, when I encountered this mother-and-daughter (I think?) pair, who seemed to be perfectly synchronized! Lake Minnewanka Eve  Late evening light basks on boats near the western edge of Lake Minnewanka in this small (two-image) panorama. The lake is much larger than I realized when I took this image, extending in a serpentine shape for several miles. Moon Over Rundle  This panorama was taken from Tunnel Mountain overlooking the Bow River Valley on a pleasant evening, with the massif of Mount Rundle looming behind, and the moon visible just above its peak. To the lower left you can see the Tunnel Mountain Hoodoos (visible in more detail in the following image), and there's also a red canoe in the river to the left as well. Tunnel Mountain Hoodoos  Residents of the southwestern United States won't be impressed by these hoodoos -- and in fact, there are nicer ones even in Alberta -- but they are still pretty cool. This image was taken with a long lens from a considerable distance as we didn't really have time to hike down into the valley.
Vermillion Symmetry  Mount Rundle reflects in the early morning light on the Vermillion Lakes. First Light on Mount Bourgeau  Mount Borgeau catches the first light of day near the far fringe of the Vermillion Lakes. There must have been a fire in this area a couple of years before we visited, as there were a fair number of dead trees around. Early Morning Swim  Pink clouds blow off the top of Mount Rundle as some families of Canada Geese take to the water for an early morning swim. View from Mount Norquay  Another panorama of the Bow Valley and the town of Banff from Mount Norquay. This time the image was taken in the early morning, lighting up the faces of Mount Rundle and Sulphur Mountain. Dwarfed  The bulk of famous Mt. Rundle dwarfs this deer. He (or she) is looking in my direction, but probably didn't see me, given that this image was taken from probably a quarter-mile away. Then again, they may have better eyesight than I think! Mountain Goats  Two of the mountain goats I encountered near Lake Minnewanka seem almost stoic in appearance as they stood still (for once) so I could take this image.
The Bow River  A peaceful image of the Bow River taken outside Banff, with some pretty wildflowers for accompaniment. Johnston Canyon Flow  Johnston Canyon is a famous Banff National Park attraction -- a long gorge you can traverse easily using metal catwalks. It's also notoriously difficult to photograph, because of the high contrast between sunlit areas and the ever-shaded water. My best images of the canyon were "microlandscapes" like this one showing some of the many small cascades. Upper Waterfall, Johnston Canyon  At the very end of Johnston Canyon is a famous waterfall that apparently has only the rather mundane name of "Upper Waterfall". When I got there I knew I would want to try to capture the falls, and the lacy way the water cascaded over the rocks meant I would want a long exposure to "soften" the water. Only one problem: I was on a rickety metal catwalk with other tourists and photographers milling about! I waited patiently until the crowds cleared enough to awkwardly set up my tripod, then took a lot of shots, most of which were ruined by vibrations caused by people walking around. Finally, I got one that worked!  You can see the arc of a faint rainbow near the bottom of the image, caused by sun passing through light spray from the waterfall. Say Cheese  This relaxing wild sheep near Lake Minnewanka seemed to almost be posing for my camera. Wide Angle  A simple wide angle view of some mountains near the town of Banff.