Private Tours in the Canadian Rockies
A personal guide to get you to the best spots!
You Decide When, I'll Show You Where
A year-round epic landscape awaits. Come in any season and I will guide you to incredible views and lighting conditions to add some amazing images to your portfolio. I not only get you to the location, I can also assist you with every aspect of getting the shot, working with you on composition, advanced techniques such as focus stacking and temporal blending, and post-processing in Photoshop.
Cost and Length
Minimum of three days at $600 CAD per day, (plus 5% GST). Add $100 CAD / day (plus 5% GST) for each additional person. Days typically begin 90 minutes before sunrise and extend into early evening. During the longer days of summer, this can run from 3:30 am to 10:30 pm. Night sessions to capture aurora borealis, milky way shots, meteor showers, and rising/setting moon images are also included, if the conditions are favorable.
Note that an additional fee may be charged for tours that include overnight backcountry camping or for tours that begin in a location other than Canmore, Banff, Lake Louise, or Jasper. Let's discuss your needs and I will quote you a price.
The Canadian Rockies area is one of the most unique landscapes on earth, extending in a belt from the US border running north for 1,450 km (900 miles). (Yes, that’s right – the entire state of California is only 1,240 km from north to south, or 770 miles!) There are countless peaks, valleys, lakes, rivers, glaciers, waterfalls, and forest trails to explore – a lifetime of possibilities.
"These mountains are breathtaking — utterly different than anything we have seen. The peaks and forests and “tone” fulfill almost every ideal I have had of what ‘my’ mountains could be. The cold ice crashes down tremendous cliffs to the very edge of deep, somber forests. No dust here — all is snow, ice, clean black rock and mossy earth covered with thick vegetation — all cool and calm and very strong in the primal aspect. These are great mountains we dream about.”
--Ansel Adams, describing the Canadian Rockies in a letter to his wife, Virginia – 1928. The Sierra Club's 27th annual outing was Ansel Adams's first as official photographer. It was during this expedition to the Canadian Rockies that Ansel began to find his voice as a photographer.
Depending on your objectives, we can meet anywhere in the range, from the US border right up nearly to the Yukon border. But for most people, we will begin the adventure in the mountain town of Banff, Alberta, in the heart of Banff National Park and a 90-minute drive from Calgary International Airport. Banff is actually the the second oldest national park in the world, founded in 1883, just eleven years after Yellowstone. Banff and the surrounding area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site known as “Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks”. Here is the description from UNESCO:
"Renowned for their scenic splendor, the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks are comprised of Banff, Jasper, Kootenay and Yoho national parks and Mount Robson, Mount Assiniboine and Hamber provincial parks. Together, they exemplify the outstanding physical features of the Rocky Mountain Biogeographical Province. Classic illustrations of glacial geological processes — including ice-fields, remnant valley glaciers, canyons and exceptional examples of erosion and deposition — are found throughout the area. The Burgess Shale Cambrian and nearby Precambrian sites contain important information about the earth’s evolution.
"The seven parks of the Canadian Rockies form a striking mountain landscape. With rugged mountain peaks, icefields and glaciers, alpine meadows, lakes, waterfalls, extensive karst cave systems and deeply incised canyons, the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks possess exceptional natural beauty, attracting millions of visitors annually. The seven parks of the Canadian Rockies are a classic representation of significant and on-going glacial processes along the continental divide on highly faulted, folded and uplifted sedimentary rocks."
Will You Come Join Me to Explore This Unique and Exhilarating Landscape Together?
Normally we would meet anywhere from 90-120 minutes before sunrise, to get an early start on our first photo shoot of the day.
We will usually NOT follow a fixed itinerary as we need to stay flexible to react to rapidly changing weather systems. The schedule for the first day and beyond will therefore be adapted as needed with the goal of putting ourselves in the best possible locations at the best possible time.
Where will we go during the days of the tour? Depending on a variety of factors such as weather, snow pack, flower blooms, moon phase and location, and aurora borealis activity, our path may take us to popular locations such as Peyto Lake and Moraine Lake or to locations further afield such as the Watchtower Basin near Jasper or unnamed waterfalls in Yoho National Park.
As a certified guide with the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides, I have permits to lead the group into over twenty different national and provincial parks in the southern and central Canadian Rockies with a total land area over 30,000 square kilometers, an area almost the size of Switzerland. Plus, I am licensed and insured to take clients on Crown Land (the Canadian version of "Public Lands" outside of the parks), which extends the available territory to virtually the entire Rockies range. So, there will be no end of unique and beautiful locations for us to visit!
A Typical Day
While we will adapt the day-to-day plans as the weather systems change, in general we will head out every morning well before dawn and not finish shooting until well after sunset. If we are close to a town, we might duck in after the morning shoot for breakfast and again in the late afternoon for a late lunch or early dinner. Because the sun rises at 5:30 am and doesn't set until nearly 10:00 pm in early summer, this means we will be out for long days. In winter the days are shorter so we will start later, but the light is frequently more magical! As well, if conditions are right, we will also go out for nighttime shoots, to try to capture aurora borealis or moonlight on the peaks.
A huge part of being able to successfully realize your photographic vision is perfecting the creative and technical sides of photography. It is my goal on every tour to help you learn and improve techniques that will make a difference to the quality of your output. Modules that we will address include:
- learning to "see" more creatively
- shot planning / sampling other creative arts
- ways to brainstorm possibilities and explore options
- approaches to composition
- lens / filter selection
- how to plan, capture, and process panorama shots
- best practices for focus stacking and focal length blending
- temporal blending and twilight blends
- night / star / moon / aurora photography
In addition to field instruction, we will also look for opportunities to practice with Lightroom and Photoshop. I will take you through my entire workflow from RAW processing to final published image. I like to take a very pragmatic hands-on approach to make sure you get a chance to thoroughly learn the essentials that you can apply to your own photo processing.
As an added bonus, after the tour is over I will ask you to send me two unprocessed RAW image files that you captured during the trip. I will then meet with you online and process the images, showing you all the steps in my complete workflow. Depending on the images you provide, this could include focus stacking, panoramic stitching, RAW processing, advanced Photoshop processing, color management, and final sharpening. I will record these editing sessions as video files and make these available to you to download, so you can practice these techniques on your own.
Meals and Accommodations
Tour fee does not include restaurant meals or accommodations. Light meals in the field will be provided if we are shooting at distance from suitable restaurants.
You will have the option to stay in a hotel or camp in a campground each evening. I can provide you with a tent and sleeping pad/bag if required. Most campgrounds provide heated toilet / shower buildings.
As well, if you are up to the challenge, we can also hike and camp to overnight backcountry locations. I do charge an extra fee for overnight trips.
Because this is a private tour, we can tailor the physical activity level to your abilities. Whether you want to undertake a massive hike into the backcountry or just stay close to the car or helicopter, I've got you covered. We will not be doing any arduous mountain climbing but we normally do light daily hiking with occasional elevation gains and somewhat steep sections. I also have extensive experience working with people who have physical challenges such as paralysis.
You are welcome to bring your own vehicle or car-pool with me. I have a 4WD Toyota Sequoia with 8 seats, but I prefer to carry no more than 5 passengers so everyone gets a window seat.
I can also arrange a helicopter to take us up into the alpine. You will be required to pay the helicopter company directly for this booking.
You will need a camera, lenses, tripod and some hiking gear. I will provide a full list of recommended gear once you book or upon request. Mountain weather changes rapidly and we will be hiking around streams, rivers, and lakes, so it is important to have proper clothing and footwear.
Permits and Safety
I am a certified member of the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides, which means that I have been rigorously trained and tested to lead clients on extended wilderness expeditions. I have a current 80-hour Wilderness First Responder certificate and extensive training in wilderness navigation and emergency response. Add to this a lifetime of camping and wilderness travel and I am well qualified to lead clients in search of epic mountain landscapes.
I also have the permits and insurance required to legally guide clients into the back country of the Canadian mountain parks, an area covering over 30,000 sq. km.
Note that all participants will be required to sign a standard liability waiver at the start of the tour. I will send you a copy of this upon booking.
Book Today to Reserve your Place
A reservation fee of $750 CAD holds your spot. The balance plus GST (a 5% local tax) is due on the first day of the tour.
A full refund will be made for cancellations more than 90 days before the tour start date.
For cancellations 90 days to 3 days before the tour start time, your deposit will not be refunded but will instead be held on account for you to use for a future tour with me.
Cancellations made less than 72 hours before the tour start time will result in forfeiture of your reservation fee.
Get In Touch with this email Form or Call 604-360-0311