Two Secret Drives in the Canadian Rockies (why don’t photographers spend more time in these areas?)

Posted by on Jun 24, 2013 in Free Articles | 10 Comments
©Darwin Wiggett - Highway 11 in the Kootenay Plains

©Darwin Wiggett – Highway 11 in the Kootenay Plains

There are two highways in the Canadian Rockies that get overlooked by most photographers. Both highways have stunning scenery and abundant wildlife yet few photographers spend any time there. The first secret drive is Highway 11 from Nordegg, Alberta to the Saskatchewan Crossing in Banff National Park. The second drive is Highway 93 South (the Kootenay Parkway) from Castle Mountain in Banff National Park through Kootenay National Park in British Columbia ending at Radium Hot Springs.

Highway 11 through the Kootenay Plains

The Kootenay Plains is the hidden gem of the Canadian Rockies. It is one of the last places on the eastern slopes of the Canadian Rockies that does not have golf courses, ski hills, malls and spas. It’s still mostly wild and it feels that way when you spend time there. The highway follows the North Saskatchewan River and the shores of Abraham Lake where you’ll find drifted sand dunes, twisted ancient pines, swirling waterfalls, open grasslands, plunging canyons, mossy forests and windy-tossed aspen groves. Samantha and I really love this special place and have created two eBooks for photographers who want to experience the beauty of the area; Kootenay Plains and Abraham Lake Summer Edition and Kootenay Plains and Abraham Lake Winter Edition

©Darwin Wiggett - Abraham Lake in autumn

©Darwin Wiggett – Abraham Lake in autumn

©Darwin Wiggett - Abraham Lake in summer

©Darwin Wiggett – Abraham Lake in summer

©Darwin Wiggett - Abraham Lake in winter

©Darwin Wiggett – Abraham Lake in winter

©Darwin Wiggett - The Kootenay Plains Reflecting Pools on the North Saskatchewan River

©Darwin Wiggett – The Kootenay Plains Reflecting Pools on the North Saskatchewan River

©Darwin Wiggett - Cline River Canyon

©Darwin Wiggett – Cline River Canyon

©Darwin Wiggett - Kootenay Plains

©Darwin Wiggett – Kootenay Plains

©Darwin Wiggett - Photographers on Abraham Lake in winter

©Darwin Wiggett – Photographers on Abraham Lake in winter

The Kootenay Parkway

The 105-kilometer Banff-Windemere highway (Kootenay Parkway) snakes north to south through 96 kilometers of Kootenay National Park. In my opinion this is easily one of the most scenic drives in the Canadian Rockies, second only to the Icefields Parkway, yet few photographers take the time to explore the wealth of photo possibilities it has to offer. Perhaps the reason that Kootenay is overlooked is the lack of a major front country destination. There are no glaciers to drive to, no turquoise lakes with lodges to stay at, and no mountain towns with souvenir shops to visit. Indeed, if it were not for the hot springs at Radium, I doubt there would be much to attract most visitors, but for photographers, Kootenay has much to offer. Because this highway runs north and south, the light in both the morning and evening is exceptional with both east and west facing peaks available to capture the dawning and waning light of the day. As an added bonus the Kootenay Parkway is teeming with wildlife from deer and sheep to wolves and bears. This is a roadside wildlife photographers paradise. The highway is very busy though with most travelers rushing to get to other destinations in BC or Alberta and few people stopping to see Kootenay National Park in all its glory.

 

©Darwin Wiggett - Hawk Ridge

©Darwin Wiggett – Hawk Ridge

©Darwin Wiggett - Stanley Peak and Stanley Creek,

©Darwin Wiggett – Stanley Peak and Stanley Creek,

©Darwin Wiggett - Marble Canyon

©Darwin Wiggett – Marble Canyon

©Darwin Wiggett - Numa Falls

©Darwin Wiggett – Numa Falls

©Darwin Wiggett - Vermilion River at the Paint Pots

©Darwin Wiggett – Vermilion River at the Paint Pots

©Darwin Wiggett - The Rockwall at Tumbling Pass

©Darwin Wiggett – The Rockwall at Tumbling Pass

©Darwin Wiggett - Kindersley/Sinclair Coll

©Darwin Wiggett –  View from the Kindersley/Sinclair Coll

 

About the Author

I am a Canadian landscape and outdoor photographer who loves long hikes in the woods, yummy food, hairy dogs, good company and pure wilderness.

10 Comments

  1. Gerald Neufeld
    June 24, 2013

    What a delight to see some of your amazing photographs this morning. I recognize a couple of the locations as I ponder rich memories of the 5 day photo tour in the Hwy 11 and Kootenay Plains region back in 2010. Gerald

    Reply
  2. Jay Gould
    June 24, 2013

    Darwin, these may be “Two Secret Drives”; however, there are so many beautiful drives in the Canadian Rockies you could spend a lifetime and never cover them all – and you have tried really hard to cover them all!!

    Cheers Mate

    Reply
  3. Andrew O'Brien
    June 24, 2013

    Couldn’t agree more Darwin. I have driven these highways many times and there are endless opportunities for photographers. Both areas contain great hiking trails as well. One of my favorites is the ‘Rockwall’ and your photo of Tumbling Pass along this trail is great!

    Reply
  4. Suzi
    June 24, 2013

    Shhhh… don’t give everything away ;) It’s funny because those two drives were highlighted on our list for this summer. Can’t wait to explore them more.

    Reply
  5. Celso Bressan
    June 24, 2013

    My wife and I have dreaming about visiting these places (we live in Ottawa). Perhaps, we now have one more reason to do it!

    Great and fantastic pictures!

    Bressan

    Reply
  6. Werner Priller
    June 25, 2013

    Been there – done that – fantastic, even better in winter time…

    Reply
  7. Gary Tozer
    June 25, 2013

    Great article, I can see why you live, love & photograph in the Rockies.

    Reply
  8. GTA Lens Rentals
    June 25, 2013

    Excellent images, Darwin!

    Reply
  9. Lisa
    June 25, 2013

    I adore the Kootenay Parkway!

    Reply
  10. Aruna
    June 26, 2013

    Beautiful. I backpacked Rockwall Trail in Koontenay National Park last Setptember and was able to take amazing photos for the scenery. These brings back memories.

    Reply

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