This summer, I had the pleasure of traveling to Waterton, Alberta, Canada, with someone who is not only an incredible photographer but a cherished friend: Jennifer Mooney. This girls-only road trip spurred out of the need to take a step back and relax after a long shooting season. We also needed an opportunity to take pictures in a pressure-free situation just for fun. In the summer, I am lucky enough to shoot under Jennifer. You know, it's crazy! The whole reason I even have the opportunity to shoot with Jennifer is that I volunteered to model for Rocky Mountain Bride, and Jennifer happened to be the photographer for it. We hit it off at the shoot, and here we are today! Crazy how fate works.
Anywho. Our journey started out with me taking a solo road trip from Missoula to Many Glacier. I opted to take the long way through the park, because why waste an opportunity to go on the Going to the Sun Road. In Many Glacier, Jen and I were lucky enough to happen to run into each other. There isn't any cell service in the park, so make sure you have a solid plan if you are planning to meet anyone there. We definitely could have planned better!
In Many Glacier, we stopped for a little photo-opt. Many Glacier is the perfect location if you are looking to fake a trip to the Swiss Alps. It is absolutely stunning! The compression my 70-200mm lens gave just made the mountains look huge. You feel like you are on top of the world here.
My absolute favorite part of shooting in Many Glacier was that I got to see a bear. This may not seem that exciting, but in the four years that I have been back living in Montana, this was my first bear sighting. I ran down to my car to switch lenses while Jen was changing outfits, and looked back up to see a baby grizzly running across the ridge where we were shooting 3 minutes prior. I am still so angry, cause I was in the middle of changing lenses, so I didn't get a single shot! Nevertheless, I was still so happy for my first griz in years! A few moments later, park services came running by. They tranked the little guy and safely moved him to a better area without humans.
After our little shoot in Many Glacier, we headed to the great north! We took two different cars because I was heading back to Missoula the next morning (damn prior commitments!), and I was so terrified to cross the border alone. I mean, let's be honest. If the government was out there watching, pretty much all I do is watch Netflix and eat Panda Express, but I was still so terrified that I would be detained for some reason. I am the most paranoid person ever. As soon as we crossed over into Canada, we pulled over for another quick shoot.
Continuing on into the Canadian-side of Glacier, as we started to pull into Waterton, we could see the famous Prince of Wales Hotel. Naturally, we had to stop. This hotel was named when the Prince of Wales visited North America. It was named after him to attract him into visiting the hotel, which he never did. The hotel is extra unique because it themed around Scotland. A little odd, but cool. The views from here were incredible! It also boasts the oldest elevator in North America. Kinda cool, eh?
Even though the trip ended up only being one night long for me, I still made sure to find some poutine. If you don't know what poutine is, you haven't lived. Poutine is the most delicious, unhealthy piece of heaven ever. It is fries covered in gravy and cheese curds. I would travel to Canada any day of the week just for this snack. Ugh.
Naturally, I forced Jen to wake up at 4:30 am to catch the sunrise before I hit the road home. She remained in Canada and went to Banff without me. Ugh. We found a spot on the beach to post up. It's the perfect chilly time of year where you're too cold to be happy, but it's too warm to complain. After this, we headed back to the Prince of Wales hotel to enjoy the rest of the sunrise on the cliffside, then enjoyed a delicious Canadian breakfast. Spending the morning overlooking the mountains and the water was honestly the most calming, joyful experience I have had in a long time. It really made me feel small but in the best way.
Heading back to the states, I think I spent less than 30 seconds at the border. It was weird. And although the trip was short, it was definitely worth it. In hindsight, I wish I had known these things before heading north:
Stay for More Than One Night! Honestly, Waterton isn't a huge town on its own, but there is supposed to be some incredible hiking around. A few hours of daylight and one evening just doesn't cut it!
Bring Bear Spray & A Hiking Buddy. I don't feel the need to explain this one.
Pack a Coat. Even though it was early August, which is super hot in Montana, Canada is surprisingly a lot colder than I expected for the time of year! Better to come prepared than to risk it.
Slow Down. I have no idea if it was just me, but I felt like I was driving at a snail's pace. They drive a lot slower up there! Switch your car into KM, sit back, relax, and enjoy the views. This place is beautiful. There is no need to drive fast. Just take it all in.
I hope this inspired you to take a mini-road trip of your own! Maybe not. Who knows. Either way, I would love to hear below in the comments places you wish to road trip to, the craziest place you've ever driven to for a night, or where you would like to see me travel to next!