Once a month, we’ll feature a wildlife 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 wildlife and to equip you to become an advocate for a wilder world at home.
This month’s focus:
Now for something different: an industrial wildlife hotspot.
While many of the best locations for wildlife photography exist within the borders of a protected area, there are some brilliant exceptions.
Cadomine is one.
The small hamlet, located about 50 kilometres south of the Jasper National Park border town of Hinton, can be reached from Hwy 40, the Forestry Trunk Road.
This highway navigates the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains, cutting through rugged terain, including Kananaskis Country’s Highwood Pass.
But unlike that segment of road, in the areas surrounding Hinton, Highway 40 is both heavily industrialized and considerably wilder.
Oxymoronic? Not really. Though Teck Resources has major mining operations in this area, few people bother exploring the miles of untouched or reclaimed wilderness on and around their property.
From when you turn off Highway 16 and head south to Cadomine, you’re in prime bear habitat. We’ve been lucky enough to spot fox, a coyote den, elk and numerous raptors all along the highway.
The main attraction, however, is the bighorn sheep.
The sheep are found, more often than not, on Teck Property, around the area where Highway 40 turns to gravel. Don’t let this put you off.
Without question, the biggest bighorn I have ever photographed are along this road.
The rams and their curls are nothing short of breathtaking.
We spent a full day last summer with the rams and though we didn’t have great light, it didn’t diminish the opportunity to watch these magnificent animals.
You do have to work hard to get into positions that have a natural background and you must, obviously, be careful about not going onto private land that is being actively industrialized.
But the effort is worth it in order to capture these animals, as is the drive east out of Jasper and south to Cadomine.
One final word: While photographing the bighorn, a local hunter joined me in awe, watching the herd. He was deciding on which ram he’d kill when the season opened.
The good news for the rams is that on Teck property, hunting isn’t allowed, but be careful doing photography during hunting season nonetheless.
And cross your fingers that this one massive ram stays on Teck property – apparently this mine is a bighorn’s best friend.
Location: Cadomine, Alberta
Accessibility: 50km South of Hinton on Hwy 40
Photographic Focus: Bighorn Sheep
Best Time: All Day
– The entire stretch of Hwy 40 from Hinton to Cadomine is excellent wildlife habitat and, supposedly, it only improves south of Cadomine as it crosses the Cardinal Divide, but the road gets very rough after the Teck Resources Mine.
– From where the road turns gravel to the hamlet of Cadomine is the core area that has rewarded us with excellent Bighorn sightings, especially the aluminium tunnel within the mine site.
– Some of the best photo opportunities are on Teck land. Be sure to stay away from areas clearly marked ‘No Trespassing’ as it is an active mine site.
– We’ve found the light is not an issue in and around Cadomine, but large telephoto lenses are helpful in keeping a safe distance from bighorn that are regularly hunted and, thus, not habituated to people.