Assiniboine, British Columbia, Canada

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Breathtaking views, extraordinary Canadian nature, big starry skies and even aurora. All this and much more can be experienced and photographed around Assiniboine. Marc Muench explains

Best Time To Visit

September, August or March.

Time Allowed

This is a rich are which is full of potential photographic locations, angles and variety that even a full week would not be long enough. I have spent five days, several times, and felt as though I could spend ten more.

Town of Arrival

Canmore is the nearest town.

Favorite Location While Visiting

The Nublet, a ridge located at timberline with views of the surrounding mountains.

Assiniboine, British Columbia, Canada

Physical Activity Needed

You will need to be in good walking shape. As the Assiniboine Lodge has no roads to access it, you can either hike in (about 15 miles) or pay for a helicopter ride. The lodge contracts with a local flight service to shuttle people in on 3 days a week, if this is your choice the price is reasonable. Once at the lodge, there are miles upon miles of well marked trails accessing the region. In addition to the designated trails, there is even more off-piste wilderness to explore. Some of the older guests have been visiting the lodge for many years, again and again. This leads me to believe that walking in fresh mountain air is a requirement for longevity.

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Besides Photography

If you are a hiker, walker or outdoor enthusiast, you will be quite content, especially if you book one of the cabins at the lodge, where you will find one of the very best deck views in the world. Most people visit the lodge to simply hike, so I’m sure if you are not a photo enthusiast, you would not be disappointed. If you enjoy reading, I’m certain the deck of the lodge, reading room, or some meadow within a short distance from the lodge will be the very best place to read your book in the entire world. If you are an astronomer or just a star gazer, the skies are extremely dark, allowing you to witness the heavens with no light pollution. I always enjoy watching the milky way when I am there in the fall.

Exciting Discoveries

On occasion, during dark nights, the northern lights are visible. I experienced a nice green glow several times. Unlike the directly overhead multi colored shows that occur further north, this region is not as spectacular, but the effect of that green glow is wonderful to photograph when it bounces off Mt Assiniboine. One night, while finishing dinner in the lodge, I was joking about the northern lights being visible, not knowing they were out at present. When we all stumbled out the front door about 10 minutes later, I noticed the visible grey haze. I took out my camera and fired a quick 20-second exposure and realized that the haze was the aurora. Our eyes are not capable of picking up the northern lights when they are this faint, but the camera certainly can with an ISO of 2200 – the green showed up very well. I then scrambled everyone in my group and we headed out to the viewpoint in front of the lodge and created some wonderful images of the Milky Way, Mt Assiniboine, meteor, and the green glow from the aurora – what a night!

Assiniboine, British Columbia, Canada

Do Not Miss

In late September the Larch trees turn color. Though the trees don’t turn red, but rather yellow orange since they are pine trees, their color is more consistent than the well known aspens or maple trees. Also, there is a location just up the trail to the south which leads to ‘The Towers’. A couple of miles up the trail is an intimate valley containing an amazing waterfall pouring into a lake that usually reflects not only the Towers, but the colorful larch trees as well.

Best Advice

It is not always possible to get a booking at the lodge, but fear not. There are also several huts to rent. Both require cooking, but if you are not comfortable in a tent, then try to book one of the huts. The price is right and there are mattresses in the bunks, plus a separate cabin for cooking. The area is frequented by Brown Bear, so you will need to read about how to deal with them. The good news is that there has never been an incident involving humans and bears in that region. Everyone is advised to bring bear spray and make much noise when hiking.

Assiniboine, British Columbia, Canada

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