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BACK TO ALBERTA

North America


Alberta Travel

I had been to Alberta once before. For one day. It had all started with a road trip. Quin was driving from Colorado to Alaska with a bunch of photographers and had contacted me to see if I was interested in riding along for part of the journey. Quin was a complete stranger at the time, and I’m still not sure why I agreed, but as I sat on the plane flying back to where it all began I couldn’t help but smile.

That day in Alberta was over a year ago now, and it still doesn’t feel real. I’d often wondered if the dream like quality of that day was due to the circumstances surrounding the trip, or if the mountains in Alberta really were a little bigger, the lakes a little bluer, and the sky a little brighter.  All I knew is that I had been trying to get back ever since I left.


Alberta Travel


Alberta Travel

This trip was bound to be a lot different than the first trip. Quin was no longer a stranger, we would have an entire week to explore, and we were tasked with photographing some less known areas during the off-season. In short, I had no idea what to expect. And I was surprisingly nervous.

The first couple days didn’t exactly go according to plan. The weather was grey, roads were closed, boats weren’t running, and light was in short supply. But it didn’t matter. There are some places where the earth speaks so loudly that you can’t hear yourself think. In other places nature speaks so softly that its whispers still float through the air long after you’re gone. And sometimes, somehow, it manages to do both. Alberta is one of those places.


Alberta Travel


Alberta Travel


Alberta Travel


Alberta Travel


Alberta Travel

We packed every minute of that week chasing light and iconic views. But it only took about a day for me to realize that the magic of my first trip wasn’t due to sleep deprivation, the euphoria of meeting new people, or the adrenaline rush of polar plunges. Alberta really was special. From the most popular views in Banff, to the smallest mountain town in Crowsnest Pass, the experience will leave its mark on you, and before you even leave it will be calling you back.

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  1. K.P. says:

    I love this website and your photography. I aspire to some day travel like you one day.

  2. Lily says:

    Your photos are so inspiring and vibrant! I’ve been looking for a good camera that’s good for backpacking/hiking trips – what do you use?

    • Jess Dales says:

      Hi Lily! Thank you so much, I really appreciate that. I currently use a Sony a7rII. But I also own a Sony a6500. I love the a6500 for backpacking/hiking trips due to its more compact size. Best of luck!

  3. Jessie says:

    First of all. I just wanted to say thank you 🙂 I completely stumbled across your page today (I don’t have instagram whoopsies) by accident and I am so happy that I did. I cannot tell you how much your quote about what it meant to be home resonated with me. It made me cry in all honesty.

    For the past two years I have been talking myself "into" a profession that I am not even passionate about…each day digging myself deeper and deeper into this pit of what everyone around me keeps promising will work out. Your words hit me like a brick wall and have really helped me realize the depth of my unhappiness. I know it sounds dramatic but it’s every bit true and I cannot thank you enough for sharing your honesty with the world.

    • Jess Dales says:

      Hi Jessie. Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment, and sharing a little about yourself. Everyones journey is unique, but there are some very human experiences that bring us together – uncertainty is one of them. I know what it’s like to be stuck in the middle of a career path that doesn’t feel right. And I think the hardest part is knowing – even while it’s happening – that as time moves forward you are becoming more invested in your current situation. I truly believe that there is rarely if ever an easy time to make a big decision, and change generally only gets harder. It’s never too late to be happy. Best of luck in whatever path you choose to travel!

  4. Elisha says:

    Hi! Love your site and Instagram! I’m heading out to Alberta for a road trip in September – may I ask the location of the photo where you on a rock with a town and lake in the background? Looks amazing!

    • Jess Dales says:

      Hi Elisha! So sorry for the delayed response. That photo was taken at Waterton Lakes National Park. I hope you have a wonderful trip. September should be beautiful up there!

  5. Rachel says:

    Hi Jess,

    Where are your boots from in the first photo? I love them! Also, I would love if you did a post on your travel gear!

    • Jess Dales says:

      Hi Rachel! Those boots are from The North Face. They are a few years old, but I think they come out with new ones that look more or less the same every year! A post on travel gear is on my to do list, so keep your eyes out. 🙂

  6. Tamara says:

    Awesome blog and instagram! I’m heading to Canada in January (I know cold). Do you think it’s still worth a trip to Alberta? I’d still love to visit the lakes even though most will be frozen over.

    • Jess Dales says:

      Hi Tamara! Thank you so much. I’m glad you like them! To be honest I’ve never been to Alberta past October, so I’m not sure what it would be like. I don’t think it’s worth going if you only want to see the lakes, because as you mentioned, they will be frozen over. Many are also not easily accessed during the winter when some roads closed down. Alberta is beautiful though, and I’m sure there are still plenty of things to do and see in the winter. Have an amazing time!

  7. Inga says:

    Hi Jess! Thanks for such an awesome blog, it makes me really excited for my trip to Alberta in september next year. Did you sleep in a tent or at hotels? And a post about your travelling gear would be perfect!!

  8. Sandrina Rehberg says:

    Hi Jess. I´m following you for a long time on instagram but I´m more the silent viewer. I just wanted to thank you for your stunning feed, especially your true words! For always being real and sharing your "dark sides" as well. I´m really into photography and you are a big role model for me. I will now read everything on the blog 😀

    P.S: I´m craving for Alberta now! Next one on my bucket list! Thanks.

    • Jess Dales says:

      Hi Sandrina. Thank you so much for breaking out of your silence and sending me this comment. It really means a lot to me, and I’m so glad that you enjoy following along. Thanks for checking out the blog! I hope that you get to go photograph Alberta soon. It’s one of my favorites!

  9. Ken Harrison says:

    Jess,

    I’ve read & enjoyed so many of your blog posts as well as the amazing photographs! I really enjoy your writing & "getting to know you." Your personality comes out in your writing.

    From your blogs, I have noted many places to add to my bucket list & a few of them I actually been too.

    I noted from these photographs, that I’ve been to many of these locations (Southern Alberta) many times as a child, teenager, on many dates, camping, hiking as well as with my children…all but grown now. My sister has a home about 15 minutes outside this park & we also have some family property at "the old homestead" also about 15 minutes away. It was the last place I went with my mother before she passed away least year. I have seen more bears here than nearly anywhere else with the exception of Yellowstone.

    I sincerely love this place with all my heart. That all said, visiting any time is great but my favorite is during the winter…unbelievably quiet & peaceful…but definitely can be seriously chilly. Hiking the red rock canyon area when frozen is a wonderland! I love seeing the view from the hotel in winter…it will figuratively & literally take your breath away when the gust hit you! The Bear’s hump is always a favourite anytime! There are so many sites & amazing hikes here.

    So…it is with great sadness that I report that much of the forestry in this entire area is…burned & gone least year.The town & fixtures were mostly preserved but much of the destinations, roads & sites are closed off due to unsafe access & trails. They are restoring it & will grow back eventually. The historic Prince of Whales Hotel was preserved. (Did you know it was built for him but ironically he never ended up ever staying in it.)

    That said it is still beautiful in its own way…the winter will still be amazing, silent, free of tourist & beautiful.

    All the best!

    TOU
    (Top-of-Utah)

    • Hi Ken. Thank you so much for the very thoughtful comment. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you taking the time to read through so many of my blog posts. It’s so motivating to hear that they have even inspired you to add some places to your bucket list.

      Southern Alberta must have been a beautiful place to grow up in. It’s so sad how many of our wilderness areas have been ravaged by forest fires the past few years. Even though I know it will likely scar the landscape for most of my life, I do hope that in the end, these beautiful ecosystems are able to grow back healthier than ever.

      Have a wonderful day. 🙂

      Jess

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Hi, I’m Jess, an outdoor enthusiast based in Seattle. I grew up exploring the Pacific Northwest, and early on was infected with the travel bug. I tried to suppress my wanderlust in pursuit of a traditional career path, but after a short stint as a lawyer, I left the confines of my office to get back in touch with my roots. Now, I wander the world taking photos, making memories, and sharing my love for travel with others!

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