Mei Xu Photography | Explore the Canadian Rockies

Explore the Canadian Rockies

December 11, 2013  •  4 Comments

As I was sitting in the helicopter, watching the blue sky and lakes outside, I felt like I was flying into a dream. I was getting closer and closer to the paradise all photographers dream about.

After a few months of preparation, we finally breathed the air and touched the ground of beautiful Canadian Rockies. The most impressed destination of our 13-day photography journey was Mt. Assiniboine.

Mt. Assiniboine is the highest peak (3,618 m or 11,870 ft) in the Southern Continental Ranges of the Canadian Rockies. The pyramidal shape of Mt. Assiniboine is pretty similar to the Matterhorn which is a mountain in the Pennine Alps on the border between Switzerland and Italy. Thus, Mt. Assiniboine is also known as the "Matterhorn of North America”. Conversely, I wonder if Europeans call the Matterhorn the "Mt. Assiniboine of Europe".

Mt. Assiniboine is located on the border between Mt. Assiniboine Provincial Park, in British Columbia, and Banff National Park, in Alberta. The park is not accessible by car and can only be reached by hiking, skiing (17 mi), or helicopter. You can find some information about helicopter ride, lodge, camping and hiking on this website:

The best view of Mt. Assiniboine is from Nub Peak which is about 5km or 3 mile hike from Mt. Assiniboine Lodge. The fantastic overlook view includes Mt. Assiniboine, Sunburst Peak, Magog Lake, Sunburst Lake and Cerulean Lake. With the morning and evening light, the scenery looks like heaven. Moon Burst at Sunburst PeakMoon Burst at Sunburst PeakMt. Assiniboine is always beautiful at any time in all of seasons. Here is another view at a beautiful moon night. To shoot this picture, we had to stay late on the mountain with headlights. People who lived at the bottom of the mountain saw our headlights and wondered an emergency happened since it is a bear country and nobody stays late over there.

The image above was taken after sunset. The mountain with the moon behind is the Sunburst Peak. It is aptly named Sunburst, due to the peak's change in color to orange when the sun shines at it in late afternoon.  Although we didn’t see this phenomenon during our 4- day trip in the area, we were fortunate enough to see the moon burst behind this mountain. This picture is two images blended together. One was taken just after sunset, the other one was taken about half an hour later. This shot won “Photo of the Day” contest on Cloudy NightCloudy NightThe Milky Way was barely seen at that night, but I still attempted to shoot it. Here is what I got: no clear Milky Way, but beautiful clouds over Mt. Assiniboine.

The above picture was taken in front of Mt. Assiniboine Lodge. The sky was not clear and the Milky Way could barely be seen by the naked eyes, but I still gave a try. Although I eventually didn’t get clear shot of the Milky Way, the texture of clouds made this picture even more unique and interesting.  Mother Nature is always doing magical thing, rewarding us.  If we didn’t press the shutter at right moment, we would miss it.  This shot also won “Photo of the Day” contest on

The other amazing place in our journey is the Wedge Pond. Most of the lakes are usually suitable for shooting from only one side, but Wedge Pond is available for all sides. The backgrounds around Wedge Pond are filled with fabulous mountains.  We were so regretful that we just scheduled one evening and one morning of a photo shoot at this location.  Since our time was very limited at Wedge Pond, in order to shot from different angles we had to run along the lake as quickly as the light changed.  Fortunately in that tranquil morning I got a few beautiful shots from different angles. Here is one of them. Autumn Morning at Wedge PondAutumn Morning at Wedge Pond

Before I went to Vermilion Lake, I saw lots of gorgeous pictures about it on website. To shoot it in different ways, we went there after midnight. The lights from Banff city initially seemed to be a little bit of an interference; it did change the color of the image and made it more romantic.  After I took this picture, I realized then that the light pollution was not always bad for star shooting. This shot won “Photo of the Day” contest on A Night at Vermilon LakeA Night at Vermilon LakeVermilion lake is beautiful as we have seen in lots of pictures. To shoot it in different way, we went there after midnight. The lights from Banff city made the night at Vermillion Lake more romantic. I learned at that night that light pollution was not always bad for star shooting :=).

Moraine Lake is a very prominent and popular lake situated in the Valley of the Ten Peaks in Banff National Park.  When the morning lights hit the peaks, I decided not shooting the lake like most of photographers have done; instead, I changed my 17-35mm lens to 24-70mm lens, zoomed in to emphasize the lights and clouds. Here is it.  Morning Light at Ten PeaksMorning Light at Ten Peaks

While being a landscape photographer is fun, it also requires hard work, patience and endurance. To take good landscape shots, more often than not, you have to get up earlier and go to bed later, or just not sleep at all.  You sacrifice your rest time for a chance of good shot but reward is not always guaranteed.   What is certain though is that you will definitely have much more chances than other people to see the magic moment.  And when the magic moment appears, everything you have done is worthwhile.  





Juan huang
Beautiful pictures! I'm gong there in late August. Is Wedge Pond a nice shooting time by then?
Grant Hou(non-registered)
Great shots! A question: Although the blog was written in Dec 2013, by looking at the photo which shows very limited snow, I guess you went during late summer or early fall. Is that correct?
Justin Cheng(non-registered)
One big Zan for you! The warm color of the golden hours reminds me the sunset of Dubai. I've lost the connection with this magical natural color for nearly two years since I back in Chengdu. I wish you all the best in the new year Mei.
Amazing shots!!!
I like the shot of Moraine Lake most.
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