Vermilion Lakes in Winter


So you’re visiting Banff National Park, and you want to capture a postcard-quality image the mountains and water?  Head to this not-so-secret spot, where photographers go to snap amazing pictures of Mount Rundle (that big, slanted mountain behind Banff).

The Vermilion Lakes are located at the side of Highway 1, west of Banff.  There’s an overlook for eastbound travelers on the Trans-Canada Highway, but to find the best photo spots, take the Mt. Norquay Road exit and head towards Banff, then almost immediately turn right on the Vermilion Lakes access road.  This road runs directly beneath Highway 1, and runs several kilometers along the banks of the Vermilion Lakes.

I captured the photo above, near the end of the road.  It required a steep climb down a small bank (something that’s tougher in winter), then a little effort to center the ice hole in the perfect spot.   I’ve read that there’s a hot spring in this lake — maybe that’s why this hole is there.

The end of the road is a promising spot for photographs, but there are other stops along the way, which might yield good photos, as well.

I took this picture about halfway out the road.  It was a little too windy to get a perfect reflection — and at this spot, on a larger area of water, it’s more common to get some small waves.

As you drive along the Vermilion Lakes access road, you’ll need to constantly look for good photo spots.  This one is almost hidden — and even though it doesn’t offer a good reflection of Mount Rundle, the tree stumps help to make up for it.

My photos are certainly not the best ones ever taken here.  On this evening, I didn’t have great light.  I would have loved to see Mt. Rundle lit by the setting sun.  But it didn’t happen.  I returned on the final night of my trip, but couldn’t find a single decent photo to take.

So, if you plan to photograph Vermilion Lakes, you’ll need a little bit of good luck.

Drivelapse Video

Here’s the time-lapse, dash-cam video of the drive from the Vermilion Lakes towards Canmore, Alberta:

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