Marble Canyon in Kootenay National Park

Location Profile

 

Marble Canyon is an easy objective to photograph in both the Summer and in the Winter.  Visit this location on a heavy overcast or snowy or rainy day.  However, this little gem of a landscape photography location is often overlooked landscape photography even though it right next door to Banff National Park in the Canadian Rockies.  I can understand why it gets overlooked though.  Banff and Lake Louise are it’s World Famous next door neighbors.  If Marble Canyon wasn’t a 10 minute detour from the drive between Banff and lake Louise it would be an extremely popular destination.

The entire loop trail around Marble Canyon is only 1.1 km long.  The trail also crosses back and forth across the canyon on 7 study metal frame and wooden deck bridges.  It is from these bridges that a landscape photographer can photograph deep inside of the 35 meter deep and 3-6 meter wide, 120′ deep 10′-20′, wide canyon.  The best bridges from which to compose photographs are:

1/  The First Bridge

While standing on the first bridge above the water about 3 meters below a photographer can shoot up the canyon to create a nice composition.  The brilliantly turquoise blue water is flowing softly out of the canyon at this point.  This first bridge is only about 75 meters from the parking lot and the trail drops about 4 or 5 meters as you walk there from your car.

2/  The Third Bridge:

Looking up river from the third bridge is about the deepest part of the Canyon.  Shoot this location on a heavy overcast or rainy day as previously mentioned.  This shot doesn’t really work on a bright sunny day because of the strong highlights and shadows created in the deep canyon.  There is about 8-9 stops of variation in dynamic range at this location on a bright and sunny Summer day.

 

Marble canyon in Kootenay national Park, just 5 minutes over Vermillion Pass from Banff National Park. © www.brianmerry.ca

3/  The Fifth Bridge:

This is where the ice climbs form almost each Winter and the frozen waterfalls are the highlight of the canyon in the Winter.  The photograph below was taken on the fifth bridge looking upstream and angling the camera nearly straight down.  And, the photograph at the end of this post was taken at the bottom of the Canyon at the base of the frozen waterfalls when yours truly was leading an ice climb out of the canyon.  Yep I sure do love ice climbing!

From January to Mid-March there are ice climbers here most afternoons when the frozen waterfall forms.  At the time I wrote this post in March of 2018, the Ice climbs were not formed.  Me had an extremely dry Summer last year which probably the reason the frozen icefalls didn’t form this year.  And, they won’t form this late in the season either.  Let’s hope for a normal or wet summer in 2018 so the ice can form in the Winter of 2018-19!

 

A unknown ice climber climbing a frozen waterfall in Marble Canyon, Kootenay National Park. Unknown climber on Tokkum Pole, 35m, WI5+. © www.brianmerry.ca

 

Summary:

Marble Canyon is just a 40 minute drive from either Lake Louise or Banff.  It is a good destination to include during your photography vacation to Canadian Rockies.  But, if you are pressed for time it would be OK to consider cutting this location out.  Visiting here will take about 3-4 hours return from either Banff or from Lake Louise.  It’s worth the visit if you can fit it in.  Have fun in the Rockies!

 

Ice Climbing out of Marble Canyon in Winter. This ice climb that rarely forms is called Swine Dive, 35m, WI 5+.  The bottom of Tokkum Pole is also seen in the left foreground.  Ice climbing and rappelling skills are required to get down to this location, and to then get back out again.  Access to this location is not possible by walking.  Climber – Brian Merry : Belayer;  Megan Beaumont. 

I'm a professional photographer and recreational climber based in Banff, AB. I'm married and run my photography business with my beautiful wife, Kazue. Together we organize and lead travel and landscape photography workshops and tours in both of our homes where we grew up, Cape Breton and Japan. We also lead tours based in my hometown for the past 20 years, Banff, AB. We have been lucky to live, and now work, in some of the most beautiful places in the world.

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