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by Tim Zurowski on Thu Nov 30, 2017 6:35 pm
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There is a good chance that I may be driving to Calgary this winter (Jan/Feb) to meet up with a friend to do some photography. There are a few bird species I am after, but I also hope to do lots of landscapes and (hopefully) some mammals. Some questions for anyone knowledgeable about the Banff to Jasper areas in the winter:

1) What will the chances be like to get photos of some mammals; i.e. Elk, Moose, Big Horn Sheep, Mountain Goat, Wolves, etc.? Any other possible species? Are they around these areas in the winter, and if so, anyone got any suggestions for areas I should check out?

2) Is the landscape photography good in the Rockies in the winter? Any spots I should be sure to go to?

3) I will be in a Toyota Tundra 4x4 with M+S Michelin tires. Will this be safe enough or good enough to get me around the area? Or will I need snow tires and/or chains?

4) Any other good advice with regards to photography for these areas in the winter would be awesome :)

Cheers
Tim
Cheers
Tim Zurowski
www.timzphotography.com
 

by Karl Egressy on Thu Nov 30, 2017 8:15 pm
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I don't know much about the wildlife in Alberta and shooting opportunities but I think the drive from Vancouver Island to Calgary is pretty demanding.
I did it in July in 1983.
I left from Vancouver Island at five 5:00 AM and arrived to Calgary next day at 2:30 AM. Slept one hour in the car in Golden.
In these days I would rather fly to Calgary and rent a car there.
 

by Tim Zurowski on Fri Dec 01, 2017 6:26 pm
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Thanks Karl :)  I have looked into the flight and car rental option and if I go by myself, it could be a bit cheaper and save a lot of time and hassles. However, I go with another person, it will be cheaper and more convenient to go in my truck. I was hoping to hear from others who have been in, and driven, the area in the winter. Guess no one has been there in the months of January or February. Anyway, I have a few good locations for wildlife and birds now, but am still uncertain about the winter driving and condition of roads. I'll talk to the RCMP.
Cheers
Tim Zurowski
www.timzphotography.com
 

by Pete Zwiers on Fri Dec 01, 2017 9:16 pm
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Tim Zurowski wrote:
There is a good chance that I may be driving to Calgary this winter (Jan/Feb) to meet up with a friend to do some photography. There are a few bird species I am after, but I also hope to do lots of landscapes and (hopefully) some mammals. Some questions for anyone knowledgeable about the Banff to Jasper areas in the winter:

1) What will the chances be like to get photos of some mammals; i.e. Elk, Moose, Big Horn Sheep, Mountain Goat, Wolves, etc.? Any other possible species? Are they around these areas in the winter, and if so, anyone got any suggestions for areas I should check out?

2) Is the landscape photography good in the Rockies in the winter? Any spots I should be sure to go to?

3) I will be in a Toyota Tundra 4x4 with M+S Michelin tires. Will this be safe enough or good enough to get me around the area? Or will I need snow tires and/or chains?

4) Any other good advice with regards to photography for these areas in the winter would be awesome :)

Cheers
Tim


1. Total crap shoot is my opinion. My wife & I were just in Jasper this week (driving from PG), and we saw a crazy amount of coyotes in Jasper & Mt Robson Provincial Park this trip. Also saw a bunch of elk right in the Jasper townsite. Other than that, very little ... and very little in the way of tracks also. We drove up the Maligne Lake road (meeting only 3 vehicles on the 45 km drive in), and didn't see anything ... except some deer & coyote tracks. 

2. I'm not a landscape guy, but winter is pretty cool for wild scenes of snow & ice if the cloud cover is doing interesting things.

3. I have driven our Toyota Prius (with good tread summer tires) along the Icefields Parkway during a snow storm a couple of times (in late April) ... not very much fun, but we got through the 6" of crap snow & slush. That said, I've driven winter roads for 35 years (where road ice is the norm from November to April), so I'm kind of used to crap roads and it's pretty much ingrained for me. If your tires are all-season (I think M&S means mud & snow - so they would be), then you'll be fine if they have decent tread. Just drive defensively and remember that 4x4 does not help you slow down! Don't forget that most rental cars in Banff & Jasper are going to be driven by inexperienced people - that's what I mean by defensive! If the roads are slushy ... then slow waaaay down and really drive defensively.

4. Bring warm weather clothing that's easily accessible ... so that if you do see something cooperative, then you'll be good to shoot for the duration of the sighting. I've had a couple of owl shots in the winter where I was absolutely freezing after 15 minutes because I didn't have my heavy winter gear easily accessible ... and I'm a warm blooded northern  guy so -10c isn't a big deal.  8)
 

by Tim Zurowski on Fri Dec 01, 2017 9:32 pm
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Thanks Pete . . . . . good info. :) Yes, M+S are mud & snow tires, and they are new Michelins with good tread. I have a feeling that some of the wildlife might be easier in the Banff areas. I have a friend who lives in Calgary and he says that Elk and Sheep will be almost a guarantee. He was photographing a heard of 35 Sheep just the other day. He says moose "can" be found in and around Canmore, but no guarantee.

For landscapes, I will probably drive up the Icefields Parkway as far as Bow and Peyto lakes. Won't likely go all the way to Jasper. That will be a call I will make while on the road and seeing what its like.

Thanks again :)
Cheers
Tim Zurowski
www.timzphotography.com
 

by chuckkl on Sat Dec 02, 2017 5:47 am
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Try Sept. / Oct.....we always do.

Fly Montreal / Calgary.....car rental....2017...our 14th visit, since 1988 !

see:

http://www.pbase.com/hootpix/alberta__2017

Chuck Kling

www.pbase.com/hootpix
 

by Tim Zurowski on Sat Dec 02, 2017 11:18 am
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chuckkl wrote:
Try Sept. / Oct.....we always do.


Thanks Chuck, but unfortunately that is not an option for this trip. I am meeting a friend flying up from LA in Jan or Feb. It is a trip he planned and was doing regardless, I am just contemplating meeting him there and joining him. Also, the target bird species are not there in Sept/Oct. This is a specific trip with specific targets (winter birds and landscapes) mammals would be a welcomed bonus.

That being said, I have been there in June before and will definitely be going back another year in late Sept or early Oct. :)
Cheers
Tim Zurowski
www.timzphotography.com
 

by Pete Zwiers on Sat Dec 02, 2017 10:19 pm
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Couple of more things about driving on winter roads ... they are pretty obvious to us northerners, but probably bear mentioning.

Never use your cruise control on snowy, icy, or slushy roads.

When meeting opposing traffic on snowy, icy, or slushy roads ... do not be accelerating in your speed. With traffic coming in the opposite lanes, you don't want to have a spin out of any kind - and this most often occurs while one is accelerating.

The Icefields Parkway may not be plowed very quickly after a good snow dumping ... so if you're leaving early in the morning after a night of snow, you can probably expect fun conditions. That's how we got caught driving our Prius through crap in April - the roads weren't plowed at all (and we went through around 10am I think). With your Tundra 4x4 (on good all season tires), you'll be able to plow through snow with ease. One winter many years ago, I drove my 4x4 truck through 3 feet of fluffy powder ... that was an absolute blast!  :mrgreen:  

 
 

by Wildflower-nut on Sun Dec 03, 2017 11:05 pm
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When traveling the mountain west in winter, I carry chains and a shovel.  Only used chains a few times in the last 30 years.  I also have things like sleeping bag, warm clothes, food and water in case I'm stuck and have to wait a day or more for rescue.  Never had to use those.  I have a spare tire and I've only used it once in 30 years but would never think of traveling without one. I would never think of winter travel in mountain west without chains and survival gear.  The icefield parkway site has suggestions of what to carry with you.
 

by tom walker on Mon Dec 04, 2017 3:06 pm
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Tim

Especially pay attention to Pete's comments.

I have been in Jasper and Banff both of the last two winters. Fabulous landscapes. There are some terrific iced-over waterfalls near the Banff-Jasper Boundary. Wonderful images possible. All depends on what you are looking for but ice and snow macros are abundant and large landscapes with delicate light on the peaks possible any clear or mostly clear day. I love Jasper in winter.

Banff, Bow River area for wolves is the word, but I did not see any. Good elk and deer there, however. I  found good mountain goats and bighorns near Athabasca Glacier lodge. Then up in Jasper Bighorns on the Maligne Road and the main highway to Edmonton. Good deer in Jasper townsite and the road up to Pyramid...Did not see many elk but one huge guy over on the Jasper gold course, and was he ever tame or mellow or whatever word you want to use.

By all means go and stay awhile. The winter weather may be bad but if you put in the time worth every mile.
 

by tom walker on Mon Dec 04, 2017 3:07 pm
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PS: I was driving a Toyota Tacoma. You will be fine.
 

by Tim Zurowski on Mon Dec 04, 2017 3:42 pm
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Thank you very much Tom. The kind of info I was hoping for :)
Cheers
Tim Zurowski
www.timzphotography.com
 

by Borquez on Thu Dec 07, 2017 8:56 am
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How much time did you spend at Jasper and Banff, Tom? I imagine it's not worth going if you can't put in a decent amount of time into exploring, right?
 

by tom walker on Mon Dec 11, 2017 2:13 pm
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Ten days to two weeks should be optimum. I found that in ten days, had four clear days, but could see that as ideal. Short trips are not worth much, imo, although a number of years ago Art Wolfe many a long series of three-day trips nationwide and did great. Luck and weather always play a part, espeiclaly the latter,
 

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