When you think about eloping in the Canadian Rocky Mountains, there are endless options for locations. Whether you want to do a hike, say your vows by a lake, go canoeing, or find an intimate venue, there are so many! I photograph most of my elopements in Kananaskis. It is one of my favorite areas to shoot in. The landscape is so stunning, and the crowds are usually smaller than in more popular areas like Banff. So what are the best places to elope in Kananaskis? Let’s find out!
Best Lakes for your Elopement in Kananaskis
- Upper Kananaskis Lake – this lake is great for many reasons. First, it is very accessible for anyone, including elderly folks, such as grandparents, who you may want to include in your ceremony. You can drive right there, and it is a short walk down to the short. Depending on the time of year, you may be able to hike around to the island that jets out into the water. This makes for a unique photo opportunity. The shoreline is easy to walk along, so if the main area is too busy, you can always walk a little further down. The colour of the lake is stunning, and the mountains in the background are a perfect backdrop. The only downside to this lake is that it can get quite busy on weekends or hot days in the summer.
- Barrier Lake – this lake is also very accessible by vehicle, and it not far off of hwy 1 down hwy 40. There is a lot of shoreline here too, and it is a popular spot for water sports such as canoeing and paddleboarding. However, if you walk further down the shore, you can find some quieter spots for your ceremony. It can be windy, so be prepared!
- Spray Lakes – Spray Lakes is beautiful. It is a very long lake, stretching a good portion of the hwy 742 behind Canmore. There are many spots to stop, and lots of unique scenery and viewpoints. One of my favorite ways to use Spray Lakes for an elopement ceremony is after a sunrise hike. Some clients like to have photos taken on the summit for sunrise, and then come down and have an intimate ceremony with family on the shore of Spray Lakes. The many viewpoints along the road are great for this!
- Wedge Pond – this little pond is less popular, which is great for a private elopement ceremony. However, parking is more limited as well, and the water body itself is small. But the mountains towering directly behind the lake make for an epic backdrop. In the fall, the entire pond is surrounded by stunning yellow and orange trees, with a perfect reflection in the water. Definitely keep this one on your list for a wedding ceremony!
Best Hikes for your Kananaskis Elopement
Of course, if you want to do a hiking elopement, the hike you choose will depend on a lot of factors. The time of year, weather, and your fitness and hiking experience are some. These are a few of my favorite hikes for elopements in Kananaskis, based on my personal experience.
- Tent Ridge – the views from every part of this ridge are stunning. Some of the best I’ve seen. This hike is not for the faint of heart. The trail is a horseshoe loop, which means new views the whole way. It is incredible to do for sunrise, and watching the alpenglow on the peaks at dawn is something incredible. As you continue along the far side of the ridge, the mountains behind are layered in incredible patterns. Highly recommend this hike for the more experienced adventurers on your elopement.
- Smutwood Peak – this is a long one. It’s about 22km round trip, but if you’re used to hiking and long days, it is absolutely worth it. The majestic Birdwood peak jetting up into the sky from the summit of Smutwood is absolutely phenomenal. Not to mention the endless peaks behind you, and the lakes below. It is for very experienced hikers with lots of stamina. And if you’re up to hike it for sunrise, it is even more incredible!
- Sarrail Ridge – this one is steep. One option with Sarrail is that you could do a ceremony at Rawson Lake, which is partway, and then continue up for photos. The ridge looks over Upper Kananaskis Lake and is one of the best views I’ve ever seen. This is also for experienced hikers, as it is very steep going up to the ridge.
- King Creek Ridge – this hike is great. It’s relatively short compared to some, and the steep part is over quickly. Once you finish the climb, it’s a nice ridge walk to the summit. At the summit, the views are varied, with lots of unique backdrops. At sunrise, this hike is perfect for an elopement. The peaks to the east are very close. There are many lookouts and various places for photos up here, and it is definitely great for an elopement!
- Grizzly Peak – I like this one, because it has a lot of variety as well. The first part of the hike is steep, then it levels off as you go around the base of the mountain. The climb up to the meadow is a grind, but is it every worth it! The 360 views of the mountains from the meadow are unreal. Some of the best for sure. If you choose, you can go up to the summit for some more ridge-like views. Otherwise, the meadow is a great place to stop!
- Opal Ridge – this is one of the most interesting hikes I’ve done. The views are different around every turn and over every hump. The ridge walk is amazing, and the views from the ridge of the surrounding peaks is phenomenal. Do I say that about most hikes? Maybe, but it’s true. Definitely a stellar competitor for your elopement.
Any of the above hikes are stunning. The hike you choose really doesn’t matter as far as views are concerned, unless you have a very specific thing in mind. The photos you’ll get from any of them will be incredible.
Best Wedding or Elopement Venues in Kananaskis
While this list may seem small, it doesn’t need to be big.
- Mount Engadine Lodge – this is the most perfect mountain venue, nestled right in the heart of Kananaskis. There is no service. There are hardly any people out there. It’s so quiet. There’s wildlife. There’s calm, and just the beauty of nature. If you’re a mountain lover, but want to include family and friends for an elopement or small wedding, this is the place to go. You can check out more details here.
- Kananaskis Village Pomeroy – if you don’t want to be quite so secluded, Kananaskis Village is a great spot to stay and have your ceremony. The Pomeroy has a place they use for wedding ceremonies, and there are lots of amenities in the area for those who are less adventurous!
If you have any questions about any of these venues, hikes, or locations, please do not hesitate to contact me!