Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Johnston Canyon

with 34 comments

Here from September 9th are three views of Johnston Canyon in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada.

Notice that not only lakes in the Canadian Rockies but also creeks there can look turquoise or aquamarine, thanks to minerals dissolved in the water. The color is even more noticeable in the pool at the Lower Falls.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 21, 2017 at 4:49 AM

34 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Wow! These are outstanding images. That water is beautiful, but I am also drawn to so many earthy tones in the canyon walls, rocks and trees. I imagine the sound of cascading and rushing water is exhilarating!


    October 21, 2017 at 5:02 AM

    • In its natural state the canyon would be difficult to access. Authorities have built a catwalk along portions of the canyon’s steep walls so that visitors can walk through. Because September 9th was a Saturday, people crowded along the walkway and I repeatedly had to wait for a lull in the traffic to be able to take pictures. At the Lower Falls, shown in the third picture, we waited a good 20 minutes in line for a chance to go through a narrow opening for a close look at the cascading water. The crowds countered some of the exhilaration you imagined, but at least we got to see Johnston Canyon.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 21, 2017 at 6:48 AM

  2. A lovely sequence.


    October 21, 2017 at 6:20 AM

    • I almost didn’t get to take these pictures. The first time we passed Johnston Canyon was two Saturdays earlier, and the crowd was so great that the parking lots had filled up. We noticed cars parked for a good distance along the road, including some that were getting towed away from places where parking isn’t allowed. On September 9th, on our way back from Jasper National Park to Calgary, the weather threatened rain. Should we try or shouldn’t we? Obviously we did, but by the time we’d walked part-way from the Lower Falls to the Upper Falls, what had been a slight drizzle turned into a light rain and we decided it was prudent to head back toward our car, which was parked in the farther parking lot.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 21, 2017 at 6:57 AM

  3. I was astonished to see colourful water in Slovenia – must be some of the same kind of minerals in the rocks there I suppose. https://smallbluegreenwords.wordpress.com/2014/04/11/travel-theme-clean/


    October 21, 2017 at 6:42 AM

    • I see what you mean about the colorful water. For most Americans, Slovenia is non-existent, though some have heard of it now because Melania Trump is from there.

      Wouldn’t it be great if you could walk through the Canadian or Slovenian canyon, turn a corner, and miraculously find yourself in the other canyon? Based on your post, even visiting Slovenia in the conventional way seems like it would be rewarding.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 21, 2017 at 7:22 AM

  4. The water reminds me of certain Hill Country creeks. There must be at least some limestone in Johnston Canyon. I read about some emerald-colored water in pools farther along the trail. Did you happen to see those? The water is beautiful, but I’m especially taken with the trees growing up from the rocks near the water. The second photo highlights them especially well, but I’m intrigued by the first. Initially, I’d thought the largest dead tree had fallen and slid down the canyon. Now, I wonder if it wasn’t growing in the rocks, and tipped over after being dislodged.

    In any event, Mr. Johnston, the gold prospector for whom the place is named, had plenty of treasure to enjoy even if he didn’t find any gold.


    October 21, 2017 at 7:50 AM

    • No, we didn’t see any emerald-color pools farther along. We got part of the way from the Lower Falls to the Upper Falls when the rain picked up enough that we thought it prudent to turn back. We had umbrellas with us but I’m always concerned about my camera equipment.

      You raise a good question about the dead tree, one that I can’t answer. In plenty of places on this trip I noticed trees that had slid down steep slopes after getting dislodged from the places where they’d grown. It was common to see upside-down ones lying on slopes. Either they’d been overturned in place, or they’d slid down from higher up and then gotten flipped over when the root ball got snagged on something.

      Somehow I suspect that those old-time prospectors didn’t have much appreciation for the landscapes that have become the gold of nature photographers.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 21, 2017 at 8:25 AM

  5. Quite impressive, this Canyon. I like the ruggedness.
    Have a great wekend,


    October 21, 2017 at 9:43 AM

  6. We took that hike. It was really good. Hanging on the canyon walls was interesting.

    Jim R

    October 21, 2017 at 9:51 AM

    • Hanging on the canyon walls, indeed. Given that we visited on a Saturday, people were pushing past other people on the narrow catwalks. Grand Central Station came to Alberta.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 21, 2017 at 10:04 AM

  7. All i can say is Oh MY God I want to be there ty ty for sharing this!


    October 22, 2017 at 12:20 PM

    • You’re most welcome. I hope you won’t have to wait long to make it to the Canadian Rockies.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 22, 2017 at 12:25 PM

  8. Skilful avoidance of walkways and people! It was hoaching, as we say in Scotland, when we were there.(Extremely busy!)

    Anabel Marsh

    November 7, 2017 at 5:54 AM

    • Here’s to another Scottish word. The first time we drove up into the mountains from Calgary we passed Johnston Canyon and found it so hoaching that people had parked up and down the road. A few cars were parked where they shouldn’t have been, and the police were towing some of them away.

      Even on our second pass, when we did park and go into the canyon, the walkways were so crowded that I sometimes had to wait for a little parade of people to pass, then grab a few pictures before the next parade squeezed by.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 7, 2017 at 6:42 AM

      • We managed to get parked ok (in fact this was our second choice after planning to go the Cave and Basin but the queue to get into Banff put us off that). Similarly busy on the walkways. I find it hard to be patient with people who dawdle along two abreast holding everyone else back!

        Anabel Marsh

        November 7, 2017 at 7:22 AM

        • That was a consideration for me, too: I sometimes had to stop and compose my pictures along narrow parts of the walkway, but I didn’t want to block people who were approaching from both directions. In a car I’m a fast driver, but as a photographer I often have to dawdle.

          Steve Schwartzman

          November 7, 2017 at 7:33 AM

          • It wasn’t the photographers that bothered me, more the unfit. Not very tolerant, I know!

            Anabel Marsh

            November 7, 2017 at 7:38 AM

  9. The color of the water is really striking in these images. Such a treat to see this.


    November 23, 2017 at 10:21 AM

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: