The Canadian Rockies offer endless opportunities for amazing photos of nature at its best. During our month in Canmore we spent a lot of time hiking, driving, biking and touring the Canmore, Banff and Kananaskis area and came up with our 10 favourite places to take stunning pictures of Canmore and the surrounding area. Our favourite was the Canmore viewpoint that is the best place to watch sunrise in Canmore. I have a small obsession with reflection pictures so you can expect lakes around Canmore to feature heavily on the list. Finding your own favourite photo spot is one of the best things to do in Canmore. I know I spent a lot of time doing it!
Most of them are best early or late in the day. And, although it is nearly impossible to take a bad photo at most of these spots, if you are going to the trouble of seeking out specific photo opportunities you probably want to avoid these common travel photography mistakes, as well.
Map of the 10 Spots for Amazing Pictures of Canmore, Alberta and Area
Click the star to save this map to your Google Maps – then find it under Saved/Maps (mobile) or Your Places/Maps (desktop)
Three Sisters Viewpoint: Canmore Sunrise Spot
I loved the Three Sisters lookout and I think this is the best of the Canmore viewpoints and is definitely answers the question of where to watch sunrise in Canmore. This photo spot took me some research to find. There is now parking on the south side of the highway across from the off-leash dog park near Alpine Helicopters in Canmore, or you can park at the dog park and cross the highway under the train tracks via the short tunnel. Follow the river bed until it becomes a path and walk about 5 minutes to the Spring Creek. It is best to come here at sunrise as the river is most likely to be flat for the reflection of the Three Sisters. If you are lucky the sunrise will have some amazing colours to the sides of the Three Sisters. This isn’t a secret spot but it is also not well known and it was definitely worth coming before sunrise to enjoy the quiet and watch the world slowly wake up. Dean may have had a different opinion on this though.
Engine Bridge on Bow River Photo Spot
Right in the town of Canmore is the photogenic Engine Bridge. Its on a easy flat walk along the Bow River so its best to walk along and find the best Canmore viewpoint.
Morraine Lake Photo Spot
Moraine Lake is in Banff National Park and takes a little over an hour to drive from Canmore. It has become more and more popular with Instagrammers and photographers and has a small parking lot so if you want to be there at sunrise (for the best chance at a reflection of the view down the Valley of Ten Peaks as featured on the $20 bill) you will have to be there about an hour before sunrise. The best Moraine Lake photo spot is at the end of the Rock Pile Trail. It will be busy there at sunrise and photographers with tripods will be staking out the best spots so we sat at the top to watch the sun come up, then climbed down the rocks rather than using the trail so had lots of photo opportunities where we weren’t getting in someone else’s pictures. At the bottom of the rocks are some large driftwood trees along the lakeshore which is another nice spot. It was windy the morning we went but the views were still beautiful even without a reflection.
Lake Agnes Photo Spot
Lake Agnes is a picture perfect lake that is a 3.5 km hike up from Lake Louise. This great hike made our list of 15 Easy Hikes Near Canmore and is one of the most popular hikes in Banff National Park, so you won’t be alone. However, most people stop at the teahouse so if you continue on the trail around the lake you will get some spots to yourself. But take the time to enjoy a tea or hot chocolate at the teahouse and really soak in the view.
Lake Agnes is also the first stop on a hike that will take you to two more of my favourite photo spots – Big Beehive and Devil’s Thumb. When we came to Lake Agnes the first time it was surrounded by yellow larches (it also made our list of best larch hikes) which only made it more beautiful. We were there in the late morning and then another time in the late afternoon and both times the lake was calm for reflections.
Big Beehive Photo Spot
If you continue around Lake Agnes and go up the switchbacks on the far side for 1.6 km you will get to the Big Beehive viewpoint over Lake Louise. It’s from above that you really can appreciate the shocking colour of Lake Louise. There are lots of photo spots beside the path along the top of the Big Beehive but you might have to clamber down a rock or two. There is also the Little Beehive viewpoint but Dean and I both preferred the view from Big Beehive as its easier to see all of Lake Louise. But if you are tired once you reach Lake Agnes its shorter and easier to get to Little Beehive.
Devil’s Thumb Photo Spot
The Devil’s Thumb lets you see both Lake Agnes and Lake Louise as well as the Big Beehive, all from the same spot. To get to the Devil’s Thumb viewpoint you need to continue from the Big Beehive for another hour and 200 metres of elevation gain. This hike won’t be for everyone due to the difficulty but the epic view makes it worth it as, in our opinion, it is the best photo spot in Banff. This hike made our list of the Best Hikes Near Canmore, where you can find a map and full description.
Wedge Pond Photo Spot
Wedge Pond is a 40-minute drive from Canmore along the Kananaskis Trail. It is just off the highway and doesn’t require a hike to get to it. It’s a bit lower then the surrounding area so the pond is usually extremely flat, making it easy to get incredible reflections of Mount Kidd and the surrounding mountains. We were there in the fall so the changing colours of the leaves made the picture even better. Plus, it is an easy stop on the drive to the next photo spot on our list.
Rawson Lake Photo Spot
The trail to Rawson Lake – another of our best easy Kananaskis hikes – starts at Lower Kananaskis Lake which is a worthy photo spot in its own right. The trails skirts the lake giving you lots of views of the lake and the islands before heading up. Once you reach Rawson Lake you’re rewarded with an stunning view of Mount Sarrail which is reflected on the still waters. The trail continues around the lake although many people don’t go far so it will get quieter as you go.
Spray Lakes Photo Spot
The Spray Lakes are on the gravel (and occasionally washboarded) Smith Dorrien Trail road. So the drive isn’t quick but the views along the way make up for it. The Spray Lakes are over 20 km long and there are a plethora of viewpoints along the way. There are multiple picnic spots so you can stop for a break and enjoy the view or just pull over, hop out and snap a quick photo.
We also got amazing views of the Spray Lakes with their reflections of Goat and Cone Mountains on the Tent Ridge hike (another of our “best hikes”). Significantly more work for this photo spot though.
Buller Mountain Lake Photo Spot
The Buller Mountain Lake is just a bit further past the Spray Lakes. We discovered this photo spot after our Smutwood Peak hike while looking for a place to relax. This small lake has a few picnic benches and is protected from the wind for better chances of reflections of Mt Buller and Mt Engadine.
So this wraps up our list of our 10 favourite places to get your perfect picture of Canmore, Kananaskis and Banff. We are looking forward to coming back to the area and finding new ones.
Where to Stay in Canmore
While in Canmore, we stayed at the Canadian Rockies Chalets and it was excellent – well-equipped, roomy and walking distance to grocery stores and downtown. A couple other good choices are Base Camp Chalets (next door) and the Lamphouse Inn, which is right downtown.
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