Once a month, we’ll feature a landscape photography hotspot. We want to aid you with getting ‘the shot’ in order to help rekindle your love for nature, to enable you to become inspired by nature and to equip you to become an advocate for a wilder world at home.
This month’s focus:
You won’t find the Waterton River Bridge on any map, but it’s not hard to locate and it offers what we feel is the best view in Waterton National Park for landscape photography.
Just east of the turn-off to enter Waterton National Park proper and just west of the turn-off for the Chief Mountain Hwy to the US border, the bridge is on the main highway to Waterton from Cardston.
The view to the north isn’t bad, especially with the rising sun…
…yet the view to the south is one that simply can’t be beaten.
The highway is one of the few places to capture Vimy Ridge, as well as the range of peaks that stretch up Waterton Lakes and along the spine of the Rockies moving north.
And it is a location that is as beautiful at sunrise…
…as it is at sunset.
With Waterton’s notorious winds, the river is often rough. No problem. With a small aperture or a ‘big stopper’ neutral density filter, the ability to slow the howling winds affect on the water creates a wonderful foreground to the distant peaks.
And when the wind stops, the river does get still enough for reflections. Mornings are better for glass-like water…
…but it’s not impossible to find a sunset reflection.
When storms pass through, the bridge is still a must-visit location, as the side-lit mountains and cloudscapes are often extraordinary.
From halfway across the bridge span, in the summer, rocks and grass become visible and, in my opinion, help elevate the scene to new heights.
But if you walk to the riverside from the west end of the bridge, you can wade into the water or even find locations along the bank that get you to eye-level with the water.
…and the rock outcroppings each provide great places to shoot the landscape.
Under the bridge, swallows make their nests and at sunrise and sunset set, the birds are out in numbers. It’s beautiful and can be used to help the image or, because they move so quickly, can also be removed with a slow shutter speed.
While there isn’t a walkway to stand on from the bridge to shoot this location, traffic isn’t heavy and is usually driving at reasonable speeds. Nonetheless, be careful of cars.
Mostly, be careful of bugs. They’re awful in the summer and can be so bad that fast shutter speeds are needed just to ensure they don’t ruin the image. And don’t even ask about their impact on your sanity. During one shoot, I was bitten more than 200 times on one arm alone.
Yes, this is a landscape hotspot that does come with a drawback. If you can get over the bugs though, I dare you to find a better location in Waterton that this one.
Location: Waterton Lakes National Park
Accessibility: Just east of the entrance road on Hwy 6
Best Time: Sunrise & Sunset
Season: Year Round