Colors of the Canadian Rockies

Posted June 29, 2015 11:42 a.m. EDT
Updated June 29, 2015 11:52 a.m. EDT

How many different shades of blue and green can you dream up? If you are looking for lots of options head to the Canadian Rockies.

During a recent trip, I saw lakes ranging in color from milky turquoise to vibrant emerald. People look at my photographs and say, “That can’t be real,” but it is. The hue of a lake in the Rockies can change with the position of the sun, and as you hike higher and look down on the water with a wider view. These incredible colors are the result of glacial activity.

Glaciers grind against each other creating rock flour. These fine-grained particles of rock flow into the lakes and filter out all colors of the spectrum except dynamic turquoise and vivid blues. Other colors seep into the picture depending on the size of the rock particles, adding a lovely hue of green that would make the Wizard of Oz jealous.

I was prepared to fall in love with Lake Louise in Banff National Park—I did. But Moraine Lake, a smaller body of water just a few miles away, really stole my heart. Moraine didn’t have quite as many tourists, and it is probably the most beautiful lake I have ever seen. I followed a trail that took me up a pile of sharp rocks and found the perfect vantage point. What an incredible view!

Later my wife, Cindy, and I canoed the waters of Moraine. We were silent for most of the trip around the lake. The beauty not only took our breath away, but it also took our tongues away. We paddled quietly in reverence of the beauty surrounding us.

Emerald Lake up the road in Yoho National Park also offered gorgeous views.

Peyto Lake was our next stop, and despite threatening skies we managed to get a nice view of this stunning glacier-fed lake near the Icefields Parkway. Banff eventually dissolves into Jasper National Park, full of wildlife and more magnificent scenery. We took a boat trip deep into the wilds of Jasper and Maligne Lake and savored the iconic view from Spirit Island.

I felt a little guilty when it started to snow during one hike. Back home in North Carolina folks were roasting in triple digit heat. But before long on a strenuous trail straight up a mountain, I was sweating too!