Canmore – A Nature Photographer’s Headquarters

by Jon Huyer
January 1, 2011


Canmore Alberta is ideally situated for nature photography, with excellent access to Banff, Kananaskis, and Bow Valley park. Birding and wildlife opportunities abound, plus there are many wonderful sites within the town for landscapes. One of my favourite activities is to catch sunrise photos, and I make good use of the Photographer’s Ephemeris program (available for free at to plan my outings. One of the prettiest spots is Policeman’s Creek, located right on main street. You don’t need to stray very far from your vehicle to catch a great sunrise on a cold winter’s morning.

Sunrise at Policeman's Creek by Jon Huyer ©

Sunrise at Policeman's Creek, December 2010

Closer to the Nordic Centre, the mountains will light up with golden alpenglow at sunrise from early spring to late fall. Set your alarm clock and bring a ND grad filter to make the most of the occasion.

Sunrise on Ha-Ling Peak and Mt. Rundle by Jon Huyer ©

Sunrise on Ha-Ling Peak and Mt. Rundle, March 2010

Quarry Lake sunset by Jon Huyer ©

Quarry Lake sunset, August 2010

For sunset shots, take a walk around Quarry Lake where you can get a nice mountain reflection in the water. For this photo I used a 5-stop solid ND filter to increase the exposure time.

Grassi Lakes, July 2010

If you’re carrying a lot of gear you don’t want to have to hike a long ways for a photo, but fortunately Grassi Lakes is an easy trail you can do. Access to the parking area is just past the Nordic Centre on the Spray Lakes road. A 30 minute walk up the gentle slope takes you to two wonderful ponds, with a myriad of opportunities. Bring your tripod and enjoy.

As can be expected for a mountain town, birding and wildlife opportunities are plentiful. Owls, woodpeckers, and boreal chickadees can be found, amongst many other species. Elk can commonly be seen along the Three Sisters Drive in the morning and evening. And if you take the Spray Lakes road to the Engadine Lodge area in the fall, you are almost guaranteed to see a moose in the early morning (but be wary of aggressive males during this time). If you are looking for wildflower photos, check out the Many Springs trail in nearby Bow Valley Provincial Park in June and July. You’ll find an incredible array of flowers of all varieties.

Boreal chickadee by Jon Huyer ©

Boreal chickadee, May 2010

Young Moose at Engadine Lodge by Jon Huyer ©

Young moose at Engadine Lodge, Sept. 2010

Winter is probably my favourite time of year in Canmore. Everything takes on a beautiful ambience and photographic opportunities seem to multiply. Plus, you don’t need to get up quite so early to get a sunrise shot!

Stream near Quarry Lake by Jon Huyer ©

Stream near Quarry Lake, Dec. 2010

Next time you’re heading towards Banff for some mountain photography, stop first in Canmore for a while and explore the area. You will be glad you did.


Jon Huyer portrait



Jon Huyer is an engineer by day, and has been enjoying nature photography as a hobby for over 20 years. His website is

This is Jon's 2nd article for the Canadian Nature photographer also his first article.

For a gallery of recent photos, visit



[ Top ]