mountains with scattered sunlight behind a beautiful lake in Banff National Park

17 Gorgeous Photography Spots In Banff To Blow Your Mind

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Banff is a place that photography buffs will adore. Its many stunning photography spots make it easy to see why this area has become so famous for capturing beautiful images.

In this blog post, we will look at some of the best photography spots in Banff National Park. Whether you’re looking to capture the majestic mountains or the pristine lakes, there’s something for everyone here!

So pack your camera and get ready to explore some of the most beautiful scenery in Canada!

17 Gorgeous Photography Spots in Banff

Our list begins in Downtown Banff and spreads from there.

Area Around The Town of Banff

1. Downtown Banff

Downtown Banff is one of the most popular photography spots in the area. With its charming streets and colorful buildings surrounded by the Canadian Rockies, it’s easy to see why this is such a popular spot for photographers.

When exploring downtown Banff, take some time to walk around and explore all of the different alleyways and side streets. You never know what you might find hidden from view.

In addition to photography, downtown Banff also has a lot to offer in terms of shopping and dining. So if you want to take a break from sightseeing or have a meal out, this is the perfect place to stop for a couple of hours.

Plan on taking the Banff Gondola up Sulphur Mountain for amazing views. You can get an incredible bird’s eye view of the townsite, river, and surrounding mountains.

Book the Banff Gondola ride

And it is a great place to stay while you visit the sites in the area.

📖 If you have plans to see Jasper National Park as well, make sure you look at where to spot the wildlife.

2. Fairmont Banff Springs Golf Course

The golf course at Fairmont Banff Springs is one of the world’s most scenic and challenging courses. The course is located in the heart of Banff National Park and offers incredible views while playing a round.

elk, including a bull, lie on the golf course of the fairmont banff springs

While we do love to golf, this isn’t the reason we are suggesting that you visit the golf course.

We know it is a surprising and strange option for our list of photography spots in Banff. But the golf course is actually one of the BEST places to find and photograph elk in the park.

We visited in September when it was cooler, so no one was golfing on the course at the time. But there were plenty of elk enjoying the nice watered lawn and lounging around.

📎 Tip: Following along Golf Course Rd will take you down to a one-way loop through a wooded area. Here is where you should keep an extra sharp eye for wildlife. We saw squirrels, birds, and even bull elk sparring to try to win a lone female.

Distance from downtown Banff: 1.4 miles (2.2 km)

3. Vermilion Lakes

Vermilion Lakes is a popular photography destination in Banff National Park. The three lakes are located just minutes from the town of Banff and offer stunning views of the Canadian Rocky Mountains, including Mount Rundle.

Vermilion lakes was one of our favorite photography spots in banff, here it is with snow falling

Many photographers come to Vermilion Lakes to capture the beauty of the landscape and the wildlife that inhabits the area.

This lake is the perfect place to try your hand if you are a birder. In addition to various ducks and some dowitchers, we also saw a bald eagle on a treetop.

We loved that there was a wooden dock at each lake leading out into the water for a bit of a different perspective.

Sunset is an excellent time to visit.

Distance from downtown Banff: 1.5 miles (2.4 km)

4. Cascade Ponds

Cascade Ponds is a popular destination for both locals and tourists alike. The ponds are located only a short drive from downtown and have spectacular views. Plus, they tend to have fewer crowds than other parts of the park.

cascade ponds not only has a beautiful backdrop but is said to be popular for moose spotting

The cascade area is a series of small ponds formed by melting glaciers, making the water feel frigid.

There are hiking trails around the ponds that offer stunning views of the surrounding mountains.

One of the best features, in our opinion, is the wooden bridges that can be found here. Consider taking photos of the bridges themselves or stand atop for a different view looking down into the crystal clear water.

See if you can spot Cascade Mountain off in the distance. At sunrise or sunset, look for wildlife, including moose. We were told it was an excellent place to find them, though we never saw one here ourselves.

Distance from downtown Banff: 3.0 miles (4.9 km)

5. Banff Viewpoint (Mount Norquay Lookout)

The Banff Viewpoint is located on Norquay Mountain and is a great place to see the town of Banff and the surrounding area.

the view of downtown banff from above with the moon over the mountains is one of the perfect photography spots in banff

From this viewpoint, you can see the town of Banff nestled in the valley below. The Rocky Mountains loom large in the distance, and several glaciers are also visible.

To get here, you will take Mt. Norquay Road up the switchbacks. After a few minutes, you will see the retaining wall that signifies this area. Pull off the main roadway into the small parking area. There is an ample open space directly in front of the retaining wall where people had laid out blankets and kids were playing.

On less busy days, bighorn sheep are known to graze in the area.

We found this was the perfect place to enjoy the sunset and get some incredible views of the town from afar.

Distance from downtown Banff: 4.0 miles (6.4 km)

6. Two Jack Lake

Two Jack Lake is a glacial lake that is one of the smaller lakes in Banff National Park.

It is a popular spot for paddleboarding, canoeing, and hiking during the summer months. And during early winter, the ice can be thick enough to go ice skating.

With amazing views of Mount Rundle behind this lake, this is a perfect spot to do some photography. Stand at its shoreline and shoot the mountain backdrop or see what you can find along the hiking trails in the area.

Distance from downtown Banff: 7.1 miles (11.4 km)

7. Lake Minnewanka

Lake Minnewanka was one of our favorite photography spots in Banff. We had terrific light both times we visited, leaving us with mouths agape at its beauty.

sunlight dapples across the mountain tops behind lake minnewanka

Like our previous suggestion, Lake Minnewanka is also a glacial lake. But instead of being one of the smallest, it is the second longest lake.

Minnewanka means “water of the spirits” in Nakoda.

The lake is well known for its scenic beauty, as well as being a popular recreation destination. There are several campgrounds and picnic areas located around the lake. It is a popular spot for fishing, canoeing, and kayaking.

This is one of the few lakes you can also take a guided boat cruise tour on the water during the summer months.

Lake Minnewanka is also home to several species of wildlife, including bighorn sheep, deer, elk, and moose.

The lake is top-rated, and the parking can fill up fast during the summer months, particularly from mid-morning to mid-afternoon.

Lucky for you, the best time to photograph Minnewanka lake is sunrise and sunset, so you should be able to avoid much of the crowd visiting for recreation during the day.

And if you want to stay for a boat tour, the lake has an awesome one-hour cruise you can enjoy.

Book the Lake Minnewanka Cruise

Distance from downtown Banff: 8.8 miles (14.1 km)

Bow Valley Pkwy Area

8. Johnston Canyon

Johnston canyon is a popular hiking destination and photography spot in Banff National Park. Accessible all year round, this canyon has plenty to see.

the cliffs of johnston canyon are coated in moss and growth

The trail follows along Johnston Creek, which flows through a series of waterfalls and pools. The hike to the first waterfall (known as Lower Falls) is relatively easy and takes approximately 30 minutes.

The trail then continues upstream to the Upper Falls, which is a more strenuous hike that takes approximately 1-2 hours.

Besides hiking to the falls, Johnston Canyon is also perfect for wildlife watching. The canyon is home to many different species of birds and is one of the only known spots in Alberta Province that has Black Swift breeding sites.

In the spring and summer, the trail fills with wildflowers. And in the winter, you can watch people ice climb up the falls.

The canyon does get extremely busy so expect to wait your turn to take photographs at the popular spots along the hike.

Distance from downtown Banff: 19.9 miles (32.1 km)

9. Bow Valley Parkway & Castle Mountain

The Bow Valley Parkway is a scenic drive that runs through Banff National Park. The drive is approximately 31 miles (50 km) one way and travels between Banff and Lake Louise as a scenic alternative to main Hwy 1.

There are TONS of beautiful things to see along this scenic highway.

bow valley parkway is covered in lush evergreens with castle mountain see behind

There are lookout spots like Storm Mountain Lookout and Castle Lookout, as well as Morant’s Curve, which we have coming up next at #10.

It is a highlight for many tourists as this enjoyable scenic drive will leave your head on a swivel as you take in one breathtaking view after another. It has snow-covered mountain peaks, forests, waterfalls, and more.

And if you are interested in wildlife photography, this might be the best opportunity to see some of the larger mammals. Elk and deer are frequently seen in the area. But it is also a great place to find bears grazing along the roadways.

During the winter, some parts of bow river parkway can be closed due to bad weather conditions.

Distance from downtown Banff: 20.5 miles (33.0 km) for the approximate middle point

10. Morant’s Curve

Morant’s Curve, located along the Bow Valley Parkway, is a distinct curve in the railroad etched into a dramatic scene. Not far from Lake Louise, this is an iconic photo that many photographers wish to capture when they visit Banff.

The location is named after Nicholas Morant, who was a photographer for the Canadian Pacific Railway. It was used regularly in promotional material and soon became famous.

Heading out early to catch this spot in the morning light is ideal. If you are lucky, you might even catch a train moving along the curve, though they are not on a set schedule.

The curve is not marked along the road, so you will have to look closely for the opening in the trees to see the tracks, about 5 minutes after getting on the Bow Valley Parkway in Lake Louise.

But you can find it marked in google maps (and on ours down below!) as long as you have service.

Distance from downtown Banff: 37.9 miles (61.0 km)

Area Around Hamlet of Lake Louise

Lake Louise is part of Banff National Park but is its own hamlet. The best way to get between Banff townsite and Lake Louise is to drive the scenic Icefields Parkway.

There are places to stay in Lake Louise and it would be a great central location for the following top photography spots in Banff.

11. Top of Lake Louise Gondola

Banff and Lake Louise both have gondolas you can ride and enjoy the scenic views. We briefly mentioned the Banff one above. Now let’s talk about what you can expect from the Lake Louise Gondola.

riding the gondola to the top of saddleback mountain is a one of the awesome photography spots in banff, you can see lake louise surrounded by mountains

The Lake Louise Gondola is a ski resort lift that takes passengers to the top of Saddleback Mountain. The ride is fairly short but spectacular.

You have your choice of open lift seats or riding in the cars. We highly recommend riding in the lift seats to see the stunning views as you head up the mountain and back down.

The top of the mountain offers stunning views of Lake Louise and the surrounding mountains.

It also is the start of multiple hiking trails. The trails at the top are some of the best places in all of Banff National Park to see grizzlies, so bring your bear spray if you plan on hiking.

The ski resort area is home to 1/3 of Banff’s female bears. Unfortunately, we didn’t have our bear spray with us, so we only hiked for about 20 minutes at the top, not leaving the main busy trail.

But what we saw was gorgeous and next time we will be more prepared.

Distance from downtown Banff: 41.3 miles (66.5 km)

12. Lake Louise

Lake Louise is a glacial lake that is by far one of the most popular photography spots in Banff. The turquoise lake water with Mount Victoria as a backdrop is incredibly scenic, and millions of tourists flock to see it each year.

the shoreline of lake louise with the stunning background of mountains

This is undoubtedly one of the places that was hyped to us before our visit, and it definitely didn’t disappoint. It is awe-inspiring when you walk out of the hotel and see that walkway leading directly to the lakeshore with the mountains behind.

During the summer, you can rent a canoe and paddle around the lake, looking at its unique color. The color comes from the rock flour from the glacier that melts into the lake.

Hiking is also very popular, and there are several options to choose from in the vicinity.

While you can visit year-round, the lake has the prettiest hues in July and August. By early November, the lake freezes over.

Lake Louise will always be busy with crowds, regardless of the time of year. Try visiting at sunrise if you want to hopefully encounter fewer people, plus we know you won’t regret the wonderful lighting at that time.

Distance from downtown Banff: 42.4 miles (68.3 km)

13. Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise

The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise is a 5-star hotel in Banff National Park. The hotel is situated on the shores of Lake Louise and offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains.

the fairmont chateau lake louise sits on the edge of the lake next to tall evergreens

The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise features a number of different amenities, including a heated pool, a spa, and a fitness center. The hotel also has multiple options for dining, including a buffet restaurant and a casual café.

There is a hefty price for staying here at the hotel, so we opted to only make it part of our daytime visit. But even if you don’t stay overnight, you can make reservations to partake in the afternoon tea service if you wish.

The hotel is an iconic part of Lake Louise and is just as famous as the lake itself.

📎 Tip: The views looking out onto Lake Louise are spectacular. If you follow the Lake Louise Lakeshore trail to the far side of the lake and look back, there are spectacular views of the hotel along the water’s edge that shouldn’t be missed.

Distance from downtown Banff: 42.4 miles (68.3 km)

14. Lake Agnes

The only way to get to Lake Agnes is by hiking. But that doesn’t mean you will have any solitude as this is one of the most popular hikes in the Lake Louise area.

The trail begins at Lake Louise and is open year-round. But we recommend visiting Lake Agnes between May and October because you will have the opportunity to also visit the tea house situated at the end of the hike.

The trail provides incredible views of Lake Louise from above. You will also pass waterfalls and Mirror Lake before ending at Lake Agnes. With so much to see along the trail, it is no wonder it is on our list of gorgeous photography spots in Banff National Park.

The hike is considered moderate and may not be for everyone. But those that can do it will be rewarded with Lake Agnes and the tea house.

With its reflections and backdrop, Lake Agnes is fantastic for some photography. Hitting up Lake Agnes in the early morning will be the calmest for the water reflections.

Distance from downtown Banff: 42.7 miles (68.7 km)

15. Moraine Lake

Moraine Lake is situated in the Valley of the Ten Peaks and is another top-rated lake.

moraine lake, one of the glacial lakes can be seen with the mountains behind and is a popular photography spots in banff

Several different activities can be enjoyed at Moraine Lake, including hiking, canoeing, kayaking, and fishing. The lake is also a popular spot for photography, as it offers some of the most stunning views in Banff National Park.

The most popular hike here at Moraine Lake is the Rockpile Trail, a short trail that provides a view from the top of the rock pile and is one of the most photographed places in all of Canada, not just within the park.

Like so many of the other famous lakes on our list, this one has gorgeous mountain views and glacial waters, so it is no wonder it is inundated with tourists and locals alike.

Come at sunrise or sunset for the best photographic opportunities.

If you are interested in taking a guided tour, this one covers both Lake Louise and Moraine Lake. Two photography spots on our list in one great tour.

Book the Banff Tour with Lake Louise & Moraine Lake

Distance from downtown Banff: 48.8 miles (78.6 km)

16. Bow Lake

Bow Lake is located on the Icefields Parkways outside Lake Louise. We missed this one because we only had one day in the Lake Louise area and picked the most popular attractions, Lake Louise and Moraine Lake.

But that doesn’t mean this lake isn’t worth the visit just because it isn’t as famous as others in the area. It turns out this is a favorite among local photographers.

The sheer walls of Crowfoot Mountain, glacier views, and beautiful lake make this a perfect stop for sunset.

And the footbridges that lead out to the water are a nice foreground subject to lead the eye out to the dramatic background.

Like many of the other lakes, Bow Lake is great for hiking. One spectacular hike we are adding to our list is to Bow Glacier Falls to see the waterfall on our next visit.

Distance from downtown Banff: 62.8 miles (101 km)

17. Peyto Lake

Like Lake Louise and Moraine Lake, Lake Peyto has a distinctive blue-green color that comes from rock flour coming down the glacier and into the lake.

peyto lake as seen from above at one of the famous viewpoints
Photo Credit: Louis Paulin

That brilliant lake color and the stunning views of the surrounding mountains make it the final location on our photography spots in Banff that will blow your mind.

Peyto lake is the third most visited lake after Lake Louise and Moraine Lake, so expect it to be crowded, especially during summer.

Hiking is the go-to activity during the summer months and skiing in the winter.

There are a couple of viewpoints that are just spectacular, including one that is very popular on Instagram. Just past the first viewpoint, there is an opportunity to stand on the rocks closer to the edge, allowing for the perfect shot of you above Peyto Lake and the mountains as you take in the surroundings.

If you want to head even further, a second viewpoint is often less crowded as the first one seems to catch everyone’s attention.

📎 Tip: While sunset can be lovely, sunrise is the best time to visit this lake.

Distance from downtown Banff: 67.1 miles (108 km)

Map of Banff Photo Spots

We have made this map to showcase all the beautiful places we are recommending you visit if you want the best Banff Instagram-worthy shots.

These spots will blow your mind, and we hope you will be able to visit most of them on your next visit to this national park.

Photography Tips For Shooting In Banff

Shoot At Sunrise Or Sunset

This tip is obvious to anyone who has been photographing for any length of time. But it doesn’t hurt to be reminded as many of us are not early birds and have to make the effort to get up for sunrise.

We do it because we want the best photographs of a place we visit.

Sunrise and sunset lighting will be soft and beautiful and create better photos than the harsh mid-day sun.

After looking at the sunset times specifically, please always arrive earlier than you think you need to. We have had too many occasions where we arrived when we felt it would be fine, only to find out that the sun had already disappeared behind the high mountain range.

bright yellow trees dot the foreground  as a mountain covered in fog looms overhead

Bring A Variety Of Lens With You

We will go into more detail in a moment about the types of lenses we think you should bring to the best photography spots in Banff National Park. But we want to point out that you never know what beautiful scenes you might encounter or what lens might work best.

We always carry a backpack with at least two different lenses inside so we can vary our shots as we hike and see unique places. You may find that you have walked 2 hours up to Lake Agnes only to need that wide-angle lens you opted to leave in the car.

Be Prepared For Changing Weather

Weather in the mountains can change quickly, so when you head out for a hike with all your photography equipment, be prepared.

Bring a rain cover for your camera bag. It is an easy way to protect your gear in the event that a rainstorm blows in.

How do you keep the camera itself dry when it is out of the bag? How do you protect it if the wind picks up and starts blowing some debris?

Just spend a bit of time before leaving for your trip or before going out for the day thinking about what you need to protect your gear if the weather should change mid-day.

and elk in the snow at the golf course looks on as several bulls try to win out the lone female

What Camera Gear Do You Need For Banff


Camera phones have certainly changed over the last few years, and there is much you can do with one. That said, we ALWAYS recommend bringing a “real camera” with you if you are taking a once-in-a-lifetime vacation.

We feel very comfortable with our DSLR, a Canon 5D. But a mirrorless or point-and-shoot with a decent zoom will also work.

Make sure it is something you feel comfortable carrying and using in the field.

Lenses – Wide Angle And A Zoom Lens

At the very minimum, we think having a wide-angle lens and some sort of medium zoom lens (like the Canon 24-70mm) will suffice for more than 90% of the photography spots in Banff that are here on our list.

As we are mainly talking about capturing landscapes, either of these will do for your needs.

But if you are interested in wildlife and want to spend time trying to capture animals like bears, moose, and squirrels, you will also need to bring a long telephoto lens. We have the Canon 100-400mm for wildlife and are always happy with the results.

sun sets over the treeline at one of the photography spots in banff


As we have already discussed, sunrise and sunset are the BEST times to capture these locations with incredible light. But you will need a tripod to do so. We have a small travel tripod that doesn’t weigh much. We clip it to the outside of our camera bag for instances like this; that way we always have it if we need it.

Extra Memory Cards and Batteries

We cannot stress enough how important bringing some extra batteries and cards in your camera bag is to having a good day vs. a terrible one.

It is easy in a place like Banff, where everywhere you turn is another gorgeous spot to photograph, to quickly run out of space on a memory card or run down your battery.

Carrying spares takes up very little space and can be the difference between getting the shot and not.


We have filters and never use them. It is a skill here at Traveling In Focus that we hope to learn over the next couple of years, but we haven’t taken the time to do so yet. Not because we don’t think they are helpful but because we are just set in our ways.

In particular, there are two filters we think might be useful.

First, an ND filter can be helpful in mountainous terrain like Banff. The foreground (and lake) can still be in shadow as the sky lights up behind the mountains. Using a filter, you can cut back on some of that bright light to help capture the entire scene so the gorgeous lake in front isn’t too dark.

The other filter we think would be great in this situation is a Polarizing filter, which will help reduce glare on the water’s surface and bring out all the true colors of the lake.

bow valley parkway has tons of photography spots in banff to pull off and take awesome shots like this one of the tree reflections in the river

FAQs For Photographing In Banff

Where Is The Best Place For Sunset In Banff

We have discussed multiple locations above where the sunset is the perfect time to visit and take some stunning photographs. But two of the most popular areas for sunset include Vermilion Lakes and Lake Louise.

Can I See The Northern Lights In Banff

Yes, you can. Jasper and Banff both have some great locations to view the Northern Lights as the national parks are dark allowing it to be seen by the naked eye.

In Banff, one of the best spots to photograph the Northern Lights is Lake Minnewanka.

Photographing the Northern Lights can be hit or miss during a visit to Canada. There is a chance to see them any time of the year, but from October to April, you have a higher probability.

We recommend downloading the Aurora Forecast & Alerts app during your stay in the area. It is easy to understand and will tell you when the probability is high of seeing the Northern Lights.

We had one spectacular night during our visit at the end of September while in Jasper. It was a high-activity night, and for about 10 minutes, it lit up the sky in amazing ways.

jasper national park northern lights above a lake
Northern Lights in Jasper National Park

Read More:
Incredible Wildlife In Jasper National Park
The Absolute 12 Best Beaches In Olympic National Park

15 Beautiful Seattle Photography Spots To Capture Your Memories

To Finish – 17 Gorgeous Photography Spots In Banff To Blow Your Mind

Banff is one of the most beautiful places on earth, and it’s easy to see why it attracts photographers worldwide.

While there are tons of other places we didn’t mention, we hope these 17 photography spots in Banff will be a great place to start your adventure. And if you have more time, explore and find some magical places of your own.