I joined Instagram a couple of years ago and started to slowly discover a group of landscape photographers who consistently produced some stunning images.  As I looked a little deeper into their portfolio, I realized some of them had a common thread.  They were all primarily shooting in Alberta's Banff National Park.  And it was there my obsession with the bright turquoise Canadian lakes was born.  After a too long period of lusting after these photos, I finally made it to see the beauty with my own eyes!  My adventure started with a few days in Jasper, as I talked about in a previous post.  It was a great idea to get warmed up for the big leagues down in Banff.  First stop, THE lake of lakes in my opinion:  Moraine Lake!  Here are a few shots at different times of the day.  Sadly, the clouds and lightning started to roll in before I could get all my Milky Way shots completed.  Best time for the bright blue, besides heading to the park in July and August, is late morning when the sun's angle maximizes the illuminating rock flour in the water.

Moraine Lake's popularity on social media has created a serious traffic and parking problem in the area.  Every day I was there, the road to the lake would often close by 10am and not reopen until 4pm or 5pm because parking is very limited and it was not safe to park along the road.  While the rockpile is the destination for visitors wanting iconic photos, there are several trails around the lake that appeal to varying levels of skill and interest.  The easiest trail is the shoreline trail to the right of the lodge. Just down the hill from Moraine Lake is an equally popular destination: Lake Louise.  With Victoria Glacier across the lake from the luxury Fairmont Lake Louise hotel, you're in for some fantastic views.  The same crowding issues exist at Louise, and often they will close the road leading up from town to both lakes, forcing tourists to head down the highway to a designated shuttle stop/parking area.

Heading into the actual park, another popular lake is the oddly shaped Peyto Lake, named after an early park warden of Banff National Park.  There is a designated viewing platform as well as other, better views of the lake along hiking trails.  Yes!  It is REALLY THAT BLUE!

You can't miss the other lakes that are right along the Icefields Parkway:  Bow Lake, Waterfowl Lakes, etc.  Take advantage of pullouts on the road to stop and soak it all in.

While I came to Banff for the blue water, my absolute favorite experience was hiking to Sunshine Meadows located in the back country area of a local ski resort.  It is also a starting point for hikes heading toward the Canadian Rockies' tallest mountain in the southern range:  Mt. Assiniboine

There is a viewing platform that is ideal for photos and meal breaks at the top of a peak.  The afternoon I was there, the clouds were at their best creating dancing light on the bright green fields.  And the visibility was so good that there was a clear view to see Mt. Assiniboine peeking through (photobombing) two other peaks.  The mountain had the perfect amount of snow to make it a near replica of the matterhorn ride at Disneyland.

Oh hey, there's Lego Julie taking photos too!

In addition to lakes and high elevation hikes, Banff National Park also has some great rivers that are rushing through beautifully shaped gorges.  You really need 5-7 days to enjoy it all.

Normally when I go somewhere with high expectations, I am somewhat disappointed.  I can say with absolute certainty that my expectations were sky high for Banff, and I left with them exceeded. When can I go back!!??

For lodging, we stayed in the town of Lake Louise, and it was the perfect location.  There were several restaurants there for dinner and a few smaller shops for breakfast.