Photography by Zygmunt Spray.
A trip to the Canadian Rocky Mountains offers lucky visitors more than 8,000 square miles of beauty. Visitors wind through miles of craggy, snow-capped mountains nestled against bright, turquoise glacial meltwater lakes, and are treated to wildlife viewings of elk and caribou, and even grizzly and black bears.
The beauty of the Canadian Rockies was recognized by the Canadian government early on. Banff became the nation’s first national park in 1885. At the time, it was only the third national park in the world. (Yellowstone became the first park in 1872, followed by the Royal National Park in Australia in 1879.)
With its easy accessibility from Calgary, Alberta, the area has been a hotbed for ecotourism. Banff National Park alone had 3.6 million visitors in 2014. Such demand for tourism has created challenges with commercial development as locals look to strike the right balance between maximizing business opportunities and minimizing tourism’s environmental impact. Part of this debate has included a push towards sustainability. Banff’s local government is aiming to run off of 100 percent renewable energy by 2050.
While the sheer number of visitors does have consequences, a visit to the Canadian Rockies also has an undeniably profound impact on the traveler.
For those who want to deny climate change or believe it’s alarmist propaganda, this area provides a rude awakening. Just take a visit to Athabasca Glacier in Jasper National Park. A walk to the edge of Athabasca can feel haunting as markers document the glacier’s dramatic retreat over the last 150 years. Every year the glacier loses 5 meters at its surface, and Athabasca’s disappearing act is no exception. Other glaciers in the area are retreating and, according to a study released in 2015, 70 percent of the glacier ice currently in Western Canada will disappear by 2100.
For those who already understand the stakes of climate change and are simply looking to savor nature, the Rockies has no shortage of rewards. Here are 12 images to inspire you.
Zygmunt, or "Ziggy" to family and all of you friends, travels the world, breathing visual storytelling. He lives behind a camera lens capturing the inexpressible moments that, in summation, become our life's story and a larger narrative on the human experience. He started The Wayward Post with Christina to share amazing travel photography and to inspire other people to travel and do good in the world.
When he's not behind a camera, you'll find him moving to a spot... where he'll then use his camera. Indulge yourself in his beautiful work at Zygmunt Spray Photography and 500px. Follow him on Twitter.