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Thread: Five Days in Jasper National Park, Alberta

  1. #1
    Senior Member Jonathan Huyer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Canmore, Alberta

    Five Days in Jasper National Park, Alberta

    I had a great visit this past week to Jasper National Park, which is situated just north of Banff National Park in Alberta. It is a terrific place to go for wildlife, especially in late winter. One of the highlights is driving along the Icefields Parkway, a spectacular road that connects the two parks. It runs for 230 km and it took us about 6 hours to do the drive, since we were stopping so frequently for photos. At this time of year it is very quiet, especially mid-week. I had to wait a while for a couple cars to appear in this frame to provide the scale I was looking for.

    There are three types of animals that you are pretty much guaranteed of seeing, provided you've got a bit of time and are willing to put in a bit of effort. Bighorn rams can be found on two hills near the town of Jasper, so you need to scan with binoculars to see where they are, and then do the climb with your camera gear. They are quite docile at this time of year, and will happily tolerate your presence. A 70-200 mm lens is all you need to compose some nice images.

    The young sheep are also pretty relaxed, but just to be safe I used my 500 mm lens with 1.4 TC, to avoid getting too close and spooking it.

    Elk are also very abundant, and like the bighorns they are very docile at this time of year. That is in stark contrast to the rutting season in the fall, when they are extremely agressive and dangerous. So don't approach them at the wrong time! The females and their young are easy to find near town, but of course the most attractive ones are the big males. It took a fair bit of work to find some, since they tend to hide a lot more. But eventually we were rewarded with some nice photo ops. I used the 500 mm lens for this shot, primarily to maximize background blur.

    We were also hoping to spot coyotes, and at this time of year they are quite attractive with their winter coats. These animals are normally quite skittish, but we were amazed to find a young one that completely tolerated our presence and hung out with us for about half an hour, sometimes getting as close as 10 yards away. It was a huge thrill to photograph this gorgeous animal, and so unexpected.

    Of course in spite of this great success, we always hope for more. There is a remote chance of seeing a wolf, and sometimes you can find a moose. We struck out on those counts, but we're hardly complaining. Meanwhile, we'd also get out for sunrise and sunset shots each day. It took four attempts at this one particular spot to strike gold, but wow what a show. This pond is dubbed "The Glory Hole", and even though it is right beside the highway you would never know it's there unless someone told you. The water stays open all winter thanks to a spring.

    Jasper is fantastic to visit in February/March for wildlife, but September is probably the prettiest time of year for scenery. If you're ever thinking of making a trip, please get in touch with me and I'll be happy to direct you to my favourite spots.

  2. #2
    all I can say is Amazing!

  3. #3
    Senior Member Bill W's Avatar
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    Dec 2008
    Haverhill, MA
    Absolutely stunning captures Jonathan........

  4. #4
    Super Moderator Kayaker72's Avatar
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    Dec 2008
    New Hampshire, USA
    Sounds like an absolute great 5 days. Beautiful images.

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