Top 10 most photogenic locations in Canada
For both professionals and point-and-shoot amateurs, there are fewer places on the planet with landscapes more snap-worthy than Canada. We check out the top 10 most photogenic locations in Canada that will have every budding photographer clicking away for hours.
10. Tofino, Vancouver Island, British Columbia
The one-time hippie heaven that’s earned its reputation as a rough-and-tumble frontier town is Vancouver Island's most epic outdoorsy retreat. Sitting on Clayoquot Sound - the network of offshore islands made up of forests, rivers, lakes alpine valleys and laidback beach towns - it’s a perennial crowdpleaser for shutterbugs. And the camping, hiking, bear-watching, fishing, kayaking, whale watching and First Nations cultural touring isn’t bad either. Most rewarding for camera buffs are the 22 miles of easy-to-access sandy beaches and ever-dramatic waves that have been luring surfers ever since the beach-dwelling subculture emerged here in the late 1960's. Nowadays, this so-called ‘Best Surf Town in North America’ is awash with surf schools and rental shops to satisfy the thousands that head here every year; from seasoned pros and newbies braving the ocean waters to those just looking to snap away at the boarding action.
Get the shot: Any view that encompasses Tofino’s rugged and pristine wilderness. Chesterman Beach, Cox Bay and Long Beach are all perfect for documenting life on the coast and capturing the town’s supercool surf scene.
Further reading: A beginner's guide to Tofino, Vancouver Island
9. Kluane National Park Glacier & Reserve, Yukon
Any visit to Yukon means much time wearing your camera out at Kluane National Park Glacier & Reserve - the 8,499-square-mile expanse of unclimbed peaks, vast green valleys, clear lakes, and the world’s largest concentration of non-polar ice fields. Established in 1972, this place together with Tatshenshini-Alsek Wilderness Provincial Park in BC and Glacier Bay/Wrangle-St Elias National Parks in Alaska forms the largest international UNESCO site on the planet. For those keen for powerful images, highlights include taking a classic canoe trip down the Yukon River, hiking to the summit of Sheep Mountain to spot wild Dall sheep and grizzly bears along the ridges, relaxing at Lake Kluane, and gazing in awe at Mount Logan - Canada’s highest mountain peak at 19,545-feet above sea level. And there’s no shortage of bird-spotting too, given that this place is home to some 150 species - including golden eagles.
Get the shot: While this nature-lover’s paradise is spectacular at ground level, nothing beats views of both Mount Logan and the staggeringly huge icefields from a flightseeing tour (usually a prop plane or helicopter).
8. Moraine Lake, Alberta
For brilliant emerald and turquoise-tinted waters against a backdrop of towering snow-capped peaks, waterfalls and rock piles, the glacier-fed Moraine Lake in Banff National Park’s rugged Valley of the Ten Peaks has a surface elevation of 1,884-metres. Also known as the Twenty Dollar Lake View for famously featuring on the back of Canadian $20 notes issued between 1969 and 1979, this watery wonder is one of the most photographed in the world - even beating Lake Louise for scenic splendour. When you’re not admiring the lake’s glistening mirrored surface (most photo-worthy in the light of morning), must-dos include hitting the flat and easy-to-navigate Moraine Lakeshore Path for incredible views of Mount Fay. Equally worthwhile is hiking up the Rock Pile for an alternative view of these crystal waters. Just bear in the mind that the lake is only open to visitors between May and October as the main road closes during the winter months.
Get the shot: For the classic Lake Moraine money shot, head to the rock pile near the parking lot when the sun is directly overhead - ideally around midday.
7. Castle Butte in Big Muddy Valley, Saskatchewan
The Canadian Wild West may not have the same legendary status as its American counterpart, but some of the most notorious outlaws of the late-1800's and early-1900's let their mark north of the border. Nowadays, there’s more to the rugged badlands of Saskatchewan's Big Muddy Valley than the legacy of Sam Kelly, Dutch Henry and the Nelson Jones Gang; mostly the cone-shaped hills, stone effigies laid down by First Nations people, and ancient buffalo jumps. In the heart of this unique landscape lies Castle Butte - the compressed clay relic from the last Ice Age that’s around one-metre wide and 60-metres-high above the relatively flat prairie floor. For photographers, the weathered slopes of this freestanding structure are impressive at any time of day, but most magical at sunrise or sunset when bathed in the sun’s brilliant reddish-orange glow.
Get the shot: While the views from the top of this ancient rock are knockout, you’re far better off sticking to the valley floor in order to capture its weathered-walls from every angle.
6. Canadian Badlands, Alberta
For Jurassic-sized adventure along the Red Deer River in southeastern Alberta, the Canadian Badlands reward with lunar-like landscapes, windswept canyons, rustic ranches, hoodoo rock formations, weather-sculptured coulees, and treasured historic sites. But most visitors make the journey here for the dinosaur bones that are unearthed at the UNESCO World Heritage Site Dinosaur Provincial Park and showcased at the excellent Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller. While both attractions are essential detours, don’t miss the chance to take spontaneous shots of ghost towns, abandoned coalmines, and cowboys and ranchers riding horseback through prairies and grasslands. Also trip-worthy is the little-known Red Rock Coulee - a unique and wildlife-rich area made up of huge red rock-shaped boulders formed around 13,000 years ago.
Get the shot: Pack both a wide-angle lens for sweeping landscape photos and a macro lens to photograph the lichens covering the huge rocks at Red Rock Coulee. It tends to hot up around 11am during the summer, so head here at around sunrise or just before sunset.
5. Baffin Island, Nunavut
Encircled by five bodies of water, Canada’s largest island (and the fifth-largest island in the world), is an Arctic playground located to the west of Greenland. Discovered by Europeans in 1576 and used extensively in the whaling industry during the 19th and 20th centuries, the payoff for adventurers is somewhat huge: the Northern Lights (also called the Aurora Borealis), the Inuit people, and the abundant wildlife both on land and in the water. Equally thrilling is the city of Iqaluit on the island’s southeastern coast, mostly for its Nunatta Sunakkutaangit Museum that houses Inuit and Arctic exhibits, igloo-shaped St. Jude's Anglican Church, and galleries showcasing and selling Inuit art. There’s also two excellent national parks: Sirmilik for its ice and snowfields, glaciers, mountains and bird sanctuary, and Auyuittuq for its high mountain peaks, dramatic coastal fjords, and famous Penny Ice Cap - the southernmost of Canada’s big ice caps that has a maximum elevation of 1,900 metres.
Get the shot: Stop at the Inuit community of Pond Inlet for mountain ranges, glaciers, geological hoodoos, drifting icebergs, and large pods of narwhal - the mysterious species of whale with an unusual unicorn-like long tusk.
4. Bruce Peninsula, Ontario
Set at the northern end of the Niagara Escarpment and bordered by Lake Huron and Georgian Bay, the Bruce Peninsula is the finger-like outcrop characterised by deep-green woodlands, diverse wetlands, unique caves and rock formations, and 531 miles of coastline. A spot-on pick for adventurers keen to capture the great outdoors on film, must-dos include hiking through rugged forest trails and natural limestone caves, riding 10-foot waves at Kincardine’s Station Beach, and paddling the clear waters of the Fishing Islands archipelago. But for nature lovers, nothing beats Bruce Peninsula National Park for braving a swim at the world-famous Grotto - the astonishing sea cave on Georgian Bay near Tobermory that’s carved by millennia of waves. Also fascinating is the park’s Dark Sky Preserve where you can pitch up at one of the many campsites for incredible views of the constellations.
Get the shot: Bruce Peninsula National Park is the perfect backdrop for unobstructed views of the night sky, Milky Way, the Northern Lights, and all the constellations.
3. Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland
Part of the towering Long Range Mountains, the geological wonder that is Gros Morne National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site stretching across 1,805 square kilometres in western Newfoundland. The second-largest National Park in eastern Canada and the very spot where geologists proved the theory of plate tectonics, it’s filled with breathtaking landscapes; think Newfoundland’s second-highest peak at 2,622 feet, the highest waterfall in eastern North America, a freshwater fjord sheltered by majestic cliffs, and plenty of coastal pathways, sea stacks and sandy beaches. Must-dos here include hitting the hiking trails that wind throughout the landscape, explore the park's dense forests for rare plant, animal and bird species, and taking a boat tour on Western Brook Pond - the park’s largest glacially-carved fjord that’s home to Atlantic salmon, brook trout, Arctic char, and an unusual colony of cliff nesting gulls.
Get the shot: For dynamic images of Western Brook Pond, the Western Brook Pond Boat Tour is a two-hour cruise that takes in the glacier-carved land-locked fjord, billion year-old cliffs, waterfalls cascading from 2,000 feet, and a fair few wildlife sightings.
2. Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia & New Brunswick
Declared one of the Seven Natural Wonders of North America in 2014, this phenomenal Atlantic Ocean bay between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia in eastern Canada is filled twice-daily by some of the highest and most extreme tides on the planet. For high-octane adventure, try tidal bore rafting, zip lining over the Reversing Falls, walking on the ocean floor at Hopewell Rocks, and sea-kayaking at Advocate Harbour. Equally rewarding is working your way around the 25-plus waterfalls at Fundy National Park and island-hopping around the three Fundy Isles: Deer Island, Grand Manan Island and Campobello Island. For many, the ultimate thrill is watching the waves hitting a whopping 53-feet at Minas Basin- the Bay of Fundy estuary famed for its sandstone arches, extensive mudflats, and cliffs that are washed by the world's highest tides.
Get the shot: The best place to photograph the tides of the Bay of Fundy is within the World’s Highest Tides Ecozone that’s located around the two upper basins of the Bay. Expect to see two extraordinary high and low tides in a 24-period.
1. Churchill, Manitoba
Known as the Polar Bear Capital of the World, the small town of Churchill on the southwestern shores of Hudson Bay is big on nature’s pleasures, mostly the 1,200 polar bears that migrate here every year between mid-October to November. Add to the mix over 300 nights of Northern Lights activity, schools of gracious beluga whales, and around 250 species of birds (including the rare Ross’s Gull that’s the sighting of a lifetime) and you’ll never want to leave. Must-dos including hopping aboard a Tundra Buggy for a close-up view of the polar bears, cosying up in a purpose-built Aurora Dome to watch the aurora borealis lighting up pitch-black nights, and racing across the white snowy terrain on a dog sled. And then there’s the whales. Take your pick from paddling your way on the Churchill River/Hudson Bay estuary in a kayak, braving the cold waters to make some new 15-foot-long friends, or playing it safe by booking a whale-watching boat tour.
Get the shot: During peak polar bear-spotting season in October and November, it’s worth signing up to one of the photography-specific guided tours that get you within really close range.
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- A beginner's guide to Churchill
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- Getting around Vancouver Island
- Top 10 national parks and preserves in Atlantic Canada
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- Exploring Atlantic Canada's Bay of Fundy
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