(Above photographer Tom Gross at Maligne Lake)

Jasper National  Park Photography Hot Spot

The Canadian Rockies mountain system comprises the southeastern part of this system, laying between the Interior Plains of Alberta and Northeastern British Columbia on the east to the Rocky Mountain Trench of BC on the west. The southern end borders Idaho and Montana of the USA.

The Canadian Rockies have numerous high peaks and ranges, such as Mount Robson (Sometimes called Mount Bella) (3,954 m (12,972 ft)) and Mount Columbia (3,747 m (12,293 ft)).  Much of the range is protected by national and provincial parks, several of which collectively comprise a World Heritage Site.

What you can find in Jasper National  Park

Jasper National Park is the largest national park in the Canadian Rockies, spanning 10,878 km2 (4,200 sq mi). It is located in the province of Alberta, north of Banff National Park and west of the City of Edmonton. The park includes the Columbia Icefield glaciers, hot springs, lakes, waterfalls, and mountains. Wildlife in the park consists of elk, caribou, moose, mule deer, white-tailed deer, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, grizzly bears, black bears, coyotes, beavers, Rocky Mountain pikas, hoary marmots, gray wolves, mountain lions, and wolverines.

Photography In Jasper National Park – From Banff to Jasper

It takes about 1-2 days to photograph the park’s main areas, depending on how you cover it; if you are a photographer who wants to spend time getting every angle and include every square inch plan two days.

The Columbia Icefields Parkway is one of the world’s most scenic drives that stretches 144miles between Lake Louise and Jasper. You will be able to stop and photograph many great things along the ride up the icefield parkway to get to Jasper: Peyto Lake, The Columbia Icefields, The Glacier Walk, and Bow Lake (one of our favorite spots on the planet earth.)  Start your journey early up the Icefields Parkway towards Jasper. To see Bow Lake and Peyto Lake information in detail, go to our Canada Hot Spot Page.

There are several lakes in Jasper National Park, and the main tourist attraction is Maligne Lake, under a half-hour drive from the center of town. The lake is covered with tourists if you go in the summer and parking can be a hassle. We went there for this article, but we probably will not go back.

Jasper is a 4-hour drive up the icefield parkway to get there from Banff. There isn’t as much incredible dynamic scenery compared to the southern Canadian Rockies. The drive up Icefield Parkway has some stops that make this trip worthwhile, but we were not all that impressed with Jasper overall compared to the Banff area. Maybe we have just been to many incredible places in Banff, Yoho, and Revelstoke.


The marvelous spots on this journey are the waterfalls. Athabasca and Sunwapta are the two best places not to miss. Lake Maligne, although beautiful, was covered by tourists in the summer. There are a few other lakes: Patricia and Pyramid that are good. The other lakes did not give us any compelling photos.

There is also Maligne Canyon to hike and photograph, which allows some for compelling images. The Maligne lookout is just a lookout. We call these pictures tourist shots from these types of locations. You can stop there and get some good images. Try to do something different than the same old shot of the island that every person in the world gets.

Jasper National Park Wildlife

Keep your eyes out for wildlife. Elk is abundant, especially early in the morning. We went during a heatwave when wildlife is known to stay in the wilderness. We did see some bears on our journey.

Canadian Rockies

Athabasca Falls – Jasper National Park

Above – Ahtabasca Falls, Jasper National Park

To get the deep blue sky, white puffy clouds, or the milky water effect, you will need a circular polarizing filter and or a neutral density filter. Learn how to shoot waterfalls here. It is well worth the investment to get a tripod and a filter to create dynamic milky water effect waterfall images.

Sunwapta Falls

Sunwapta Falls is accessible via a short drive off the Icefields Parkway that connects Jasper and Banff National Parks. The falls have a drop of about 18.5 meters. Sunwapta is a Stoney (Assiniboine) word that means turbulent water. It is most spectacular in the late spring when the spring melt is at its peak.  This is the first stop when heading into the park.

There are two falls, a lower and an upper one. The one most people see the upper falls, as access is easy. The lower falls are a short distance away.

The water originates from the Athabasca Glacier, and volumes are higher in early summer, caused by a glacial meltdown.

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Photography Information for Jasper National Park

When to Go: Avoid the summer months and the bus people if you can. September and October are excellent times to go. Fall foliage can be unbelievably gorgeous in October. It starts to get cold in November, and ice and snow may arrive. After that, it’s a whole lot of cold. In March, the thaw will begin, and after the first week of June, the tourist will arrive. We would pick October fall foliage as the best time to go.

You MUST have an ND filter for waterfall photography.

See How to Shoot  Waterfall Photography

Camera Settings:

Long Exposure Milky Waters

To do your long exposure running, milky water shots, you will have to use a tripod.  There are a lot of moving water areas in Jasper National Park.  All of your settings will vary depending on the lighting and what neutral density filter you have. You may not get a milky water shot in the daytime if the sun is out and you don’t have an ND filter.

  • Shoot in Manual Mode for the milky waters.
  • ISO is always 100 or as low as your camera will allow.
  • Aperture is always f22.
  • Your shutter speed will vary depending on the light.
  • Use your cameras built-in light meter to set your shutter speed.

Take some test shots to decide on your shutter speed after you put your neutral density filter on. (It’s like sunglasses for your camera to stop light from coming in).

Use your live view mode to focus to lock the mirror up and avoid any camera movement. Use your shutter release or your 2-second timer also to prevent camera movement. Voila. You now have your milky water exposure.

Waterfalls Simplified has much more details if you are new to milky waters. If you do not know how to do this, we highly suggest you learn and try. It is not very hard.

Neutral Density Filters and Shutter Speed

You want at least a 2-second exposure to photograph running water. If you don’t have a neutral density filter, you may not get more than 1/15th of a second in the sun. Go to our store to buy your ND filter. We have a 3.0 for super long exposure in the sunshine – You can go as long as 30 seconds. We have an ND 1.2 and an ND8 for shorter exposures.


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Canadian Rockies National Parks and Area Information:

Passes – You must have a pass to visit the parks. You can purchase when you get there or before you go.

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Hotel Information:

Mount Robson Inn Jasper – A hotel catering to year-round vacations

The Mount Robson Inn team takes pride in being a clean, comfortable, and affordable Jasper hotel accommodation. Their services go beyond just clean and comfortable hotel accommodations. Guests of the Mount Robson Inn enjoy a complimentary continental breakfast buffet, use of hot tubs, a guest laundry facility, and secure ski storage. They are also are pleased to offer family-friendly amenities and room types for your Jasper family vacation.  As a motorcycle-friendly hotel in Jasper, the Mt Robson Inn also offers riders unique bike-friendly amenities too.  Go to their website

Our Favorite Canadian Rockies Resort when in Banff National Park – Banff Rocky Mountain Resort – 1029 Banff Avenue, Banff –  (800) 563-8764 in Canada/USA | +1(403)762-5531 Local  –  The Banff Rocky Mountain Resort is the perfect rocky mountain getaway for any traveler. They feature suites and condo-style accommodation in Banff National Park. Stay with them and enjoy the comforts of home and more. This picturesque location has a dining room, a deli, tennis courts, health facilities, swimming pool, squash courts, and conference facilities. Take your vacation at Banff and live the mountain lifestyle.

Click here to go to their website.

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Jasper is a year-round camping destination and can accommodate anything from a one-person bivy tent to a 39-foot motorhome and everything in between.

At all campgrounds, firewood is included with the purchase of a fire permit, bear-proof lockers are offered for safe food storage, and log cookhouses are available in case the weather isn’t cooperating.

To maintain the family-friendly atmosphere that attracts millions here every year, quiet hours, including a liquor and fire curfew, are enforced by park wardens between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m.

2015 Parks Canada Reservation Service

Reserve your campsite!
1-877-RESERVE (737-3783)

You can reserve Whistlers, Wapiti, Wabasso, and Pocahontas campgrounds online at www.reservation.parkscanada.gc.ca or by telephone at 1-877-RESERVE (1-877-737-3783). All other roadside campgrounds operate on a first-come, first-served basis.

For backcountry campsites, please check the campsite availability report and call the Trail Office at 780-852-6177 to make a booking.

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