The 10 most instagrammable sites in the Canadian Rockies

Every region of the world has those images that define travellers’ perception of the place, those images that compel one to say to themselves: “I must go there. I must put myself into that picture.”

The Canadian Rocky Mountains are almost unfairly blessed with such images. And that, in part, is what has propelled the region to become one of the world’s top travel destinations, based on numerous rankings, over the last two years. While the scenery seemingly never ends, there are those specific “can’t miss” scenes that demand a photo-stop.

Here are, in this writer’s opinion, the top 10 most instagrammable sites in the Canadian Rockies.

1. Peyto Lake lookout
Most every travel company and Rocky Mountains brochure will sport an image of this turquoise lake on the Icefields Parkway as one of its lead images. Fortunately, the vantage point for the iconic photo is just a short walk from the parking lot, so it’s easy to put oneself into the photo. Most every visitor to Western Canada does.


2. Moraine Lake rock pile
This vantage point over Moraine Lake in the Valley of the Ten Peaks, with most of the ten presiding regally over the scene, provides the perfect setting for a group—or individual—photo. A short hike/climb from the parking lot to this rock pile (mistakenly identified as a moraine in a previous generation; hence the Lake’s name) places one into the perfect setting combining rugged and serene. At dawn or dusk, the added shades of the sun’s contribution to the mountain faces supercharges the scene.


3. Spirit Island
When the New York Times printed a photo, declaring this spot one of the most idyllic in the Rockies, it almost instantly vaulted the magical spot to global prominence. Now a Canadian vacation is hardly complete without a personal shot of this peninsula (spoiler: it’s not really an island) near the far end of gorgeous Maligne Lake in Jasper national Park, surrounded by a backdrop of impressive peaks and glaciers. A 1.5-hour boat tour gets you to the perfect spot to put yourself into a photo of paradise.

4. Huber Ledges, Lake O’Hara
The Lake O’Hara region has been arguably labelled the most beautiful place on earth. It depends on the eye of the beholder, one supposes, but also the resolve of the adventurer to get there, because the numerous grand vistas are best appreciated from vantage points achieved after significant hiking. The Huber Ledges trail connecting the Lake O’Hara base with Lake Oesa and Abbot Pass may be the best of the best.


5. Mt. Rundle
While it’s typically the lakes within their rugged mountain settings that catch the eye, in this case it’s the stark outline of Mt. Rundle standing sentinel over the town of Banff that commands the scene. This quintessential example of a thrust fault with its signature scarp face equally captivates geologists, photographers and lesser studied travellers who simply appreciate the vast diversity of landscapes that make up this planet.


6. Takakkaw Falls
The second highest waterfall in Canada is a must-stop on any trip through the Rockies. A short hike from the parking lot, fifteen km off the Trans-Canada highway, takes you right to its base. But the splendid outline of the double cascade yields the best selfies from the bridge over the Yoho River that leads you there.


7. Lake Louise
The iconic lakes surrounding Lake Louise—Moraine, Peyto and Emerald—are sometime mistaken for Lake Louise, itself, simply because of the latter’s name recognition. Its actual images, though, hardly play second fiddle to its more recognizable neighbours, the main distinguishing feature being the massive Victoria Glacier in the distance. Much more developed than its neighbours, also, the grounds along the Lake’s fore-shore, adjacent to the iconic Lake Louise Lodge, provide the setting for many a wedding, honeymoon or simply bucket-list photo shoot.


8. Emerald Lake
The emerald waters of this lake (what else?) under the majestic setting of Mounts Burgess and Wapta compete with Peyto and Moraine in popularity. Like the latter, colourful canoes punctuating the tranquil, rock-flour-saturated waters that produce its hue, provide a story-book setting for that memorable photo. And like those stories, you almost forget about time as you linger and simply drink in the completeness of the setting.


9. Mount Edith Cavell
This prominent peak outside of Jasper beckons both the hiker and the casual walker with trails to various points along its flanks. Even the short walk to Cavell Meadows provides great views of its north face, and overlooks a small glacier-fed tarn, where you experience the roars and splashes of glacier calving directly into the pond. Colourful wildflowers in late July and early August add to the majesty of the scene. Though open for only a short season, when it’s open, it’s worth the winding drive to get there.


10. Mount Robson
The largest and tallest massif in the Canadian Rockies stands just inside BC’s border, a short drive from Jasper. From the Visitor Centre, the viewpoint is grand but, being taller than everything around and thus creating its own micro-climate, the Mountain’s summit displays its full splendor only occasionally. Yet even with a few clouds masking its prominence, its mass is still impressive, and the photo opportunity essential.


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