1. Of all the great national parks where photographers can find unlimited landscapes, vistas and natural wonders, Yellowstone and Yosemite are often the first that come to mind. Often overlooked, the park that is equally splendid is the Waterton Glacier International Peace Park. Created in 1932, as the world’s first park of this type, it combines the Waterton Lakes National Park in the extreme southwest corner of Alberta, Canada with Glacier National Park in the northwest corner of Montana. During 1995, the area was designated an UNESCO World Heritage Site.
2. Situated on the Crown of the Continent, or the Continental Divide, the park is often hailed as one of the best places to hike in the entire world. Following the Blakiston Trail in Waterton, for example, provides photographers with an outstanding array of natural settings, such as the pristine waters of Red Rock and Bauerman Creek, with its sturdy bridge shooting location to capture Mount Blakiston to the south and Anderson Peak to the west. The Trail then enters a coniferous forest on the way to Blakiston Falls, where there are many creative opportunities to record the raging waters.
3. A short, two-mile hike along the Cameron Lake Trail takes photographers to numerous advantageous sites to capture the ultimate beauty of the lake’s amazing blue waters as well as the incredible Mount Custer headwall.
4. One of the unique characteristics that make Waterton such a treasure for photographers is that it contains the entire range of eco-systems from the open prairie to alpine lakes and meadows. One of the best places to take a camera to capture much of that diversity is the Oil Basin Loop. It provides views of Canadian prairie land as well as the gentle, grassy valleys that lead into the interior of the Rockies.
5. Wildflowers are also a natural symbol of Waterton Glacier. On the Canadian side, approximately 1,400 varieties grow from the prairies to the high mountains. More than 50 of Canada’s rarest flowers can be found in Waterton, 30 of them exclusively. When the beargrass is in bloom, great carpets of color spread along lakes, trails and roadways throughout the park. Wild orchids and the elusive Pygmy Poppy offer a great variety of macro-photography subject matter.
Within Glacier, the wildflowers are equally dazzling and delicately colored, including purple and gold alpine daisies, scarlet Indian Paintbrushes, pink fireweed, yellow glacier lilies and multi-colored monkeyflowers.
6. The Chief Mountain Highway connects the two parks and compels any photographer to make many stops. Start with the unique grasslands environment near Maskinonge Lake, and then travel upcountry for grand vistas of the Waterton and Blakiston valleys. As you approach the border with Glacier, a surprising series of wetlands offers a totally different array of flora and fauna for the camera.
7. The Chief Mountain Highway enters Glacier at the eastern gateway, the St. Mary Valley. Photographers are immediately greeted by some of Glacier’s most awe-inspiring panoramas, including the 10-mile St. Mary Lake and the surrounding mountains.
8. The most popular vehicular route through Glacier is the Going-To-The-Sun Road, which winds along St. Mary Lake, and then climbs to its highest point at Logan Pass, 6,640 feet. For serious nature photographers, the insider’s secret is to travel to the Pass very early in the morning, before the tourists. This high alpine region is flanked by Reynolds Mountain and Clements Mountain and accented by fields of summer wildflowers. Dawn is also the perfect time to photograph mountain goats, bighorn sheep and the occasional grizzly bear.
9. For photographers who want to go where few tourists tread, Two Medicine is one of Glacier’s prime backcountry destinations. Horses take you into this wild area, where you’ll find a system of deep-woods tent camps and chalets for overnight stays. This is an excellent wilderness adventure, with amazing landscapes, extensive trails, crashing waterfalls and sparkling lakes everywhere you turn.
10. These are only a very few of the spectacular photographic opportunities in the Waterton Glacier International Peace Park. You can make it the ultimate photography and learning experience when you join the small group of photographers planning to attend the Visionary Wild Glacier-Waterton Workshop, July 15–22, 2012.
The focus of the Workshop is intensive shooting of the best these parks have to offer, guided by Jeff Foott, award-winning natural history photographer, filmmaker and naturalist, who knows Glacier very well. He will also share his advanced high-dynamic range (HDR) techniques that has made his photographs of the region so celebrated.
Justin Black, a protégé of the famed photographer Galen Rowell and co-founder of Visionary Wild, will serve as the trip leader and co-instructor. Justin is also a well-respected photographer, having been published in National Geographic Adventure, Sierra, American Photo, Outdoor Photographer and many other magazines.
Visit the Visionary Wild Web Site at http://visionarywild.com/workshops/glacier-waterton/#more-711 for workshop details and the other workshops throughout the world scheduled during 2012.
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