June 19, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

We left Banff at 7AM, on a snowy day, for a trip to Kootenay National Park.  The 94 km Banff-Windermere Highway (93 south) takes you through the park along the Vermilion and Kootenay Rivers and through the narrow gorge of Sinclair Canyon to the famous Radium Hot Springs. Many use the highway simply as a scenic route to reach the Windermere Valley, beyond the park's southern boundary. But those who take the time to stop along the way discover some of Kootenay's quiet, colorful secrets!! It's a wonderful place for a travel photographer to explore.

As we started out the weather was clear on 93 south but looking up at the mountains, that line 93, we could see snow was falling in the mountains. The snow falling, the lack of cars on 93 and the avalanche area warning signs made for an exciting but cautious trip. We drove on with our cameras ready to shoot.

Kootenay National Park (1,406 km ) is one of 44 national parks in Canada. Together, they celebrate and protect the diversity of the nation's great landscapes. Kootenay National Park represents the south-western region of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. We had traveled it before in the summer but not in May which we found out is still winter! I actually found it more beautiful this trip. There was something about solitude and the raw look of nature that made it an amazing photographic experience.

For thousands of years, the area which is now Kootenay National Park was part of the traditional lands identified by the Ktunaxa (Kootenay) and Kinbasket (Shuswap) First Nation's people. Archaeological evidence suggests the mountains were used primarily as seasonal hunting grounds. Groups also travelled across the mountains periodically to hunt bison on the plains east of the Rockies. Some sites are considered sacred.

Kootenay National Park was established in 1920 as part of an agreement between the provincial and federal governments to build the Banff-Windermere Highway – the first motor road across the Canadian Rockies. A strip of land five miles (eight kilometres) wide on each side of the highway was set aside as a national park. The completion of the highway in 1922 expanded the new age of motor tourism in the Canadian Rockies and established a commercial link between the Windermere Valley and Calgary.
The next three images were photographed and processed as color even though they look black and white.
We were seeing very little traffic and had no problem pulling over to the side to photograph in this beautiful park.
If you are a lover of nature this park is really a great place to drive through, no matter what your age or  physical condition. The ability to drive through and just pull into one of the many areas made for viewing makes it not only a beautiful drive but easily accessible and enjoyable. If you're a nature photographer this park should be on your list of can't miss places especially if you love landscapes. The rawness of this park, especially in winter, provides a photographic experience that you will not want to miss.
Be warned that there are no places to pick up snacks or water until you reach the city of Radium at the end of the park about 58 miles. There are rest areas with "out houses" that are in great condition and kept very clean.
 As we got closer to Radium Springs the weather started getting clearer not much warmer. 
As you can see the snow, mountain ranges, forest and rivers make this a truly beautiful area just begging to be photographed. YOU DO NOT WANT TO MISS KOOTENAY NATIONAL PARK! 


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