Yoho national park is known to some as Banff’s quieter “sister” location. Yoho boasts similar landscape and is located just 20 minutes from Lake Louise in Banff. One of the many attractions in Yoho includes Natural Bridge. Natural Bridge is a a small waterfall that has cut through the river bed creating a small canyon that can only be explored during winter.
The Natural Bridge
The river and waterfall rage on for three seasons of the year. During the winter the river slows and the waterfall eventually freezes over, including the river beneath it. We enjoyed an especially brutal cold snap the week prior to us arriving at Natural Bridge. I was fairly confident the river and the falls would be frozen and safe to walk on.
If you don’t know for 100% certainty that the ice is safe to walk on, do not attempt to go inside the Natural Bridge. The river underneath the ice continues to rage on all winter long. Falling through ice here would be fatal.
The Natural Bridge is located just a few minutes from the parking lot which makes it a great photography or sightseeing objective in the winter. You can can leave your car and be in the natural bridge quickly. First you have to cross the foot bridge over the river and then walk around to the far right side of the lookout. From there you descend into the wood and make a left towards the river.
Once on the ice in front of the canyon, you get your first glimpse of how extraordinary the natural bridge is. The scale seems to be larger than you might expect once you walk inside. From the inside of the canyon you can see incredibly unique shapes in the rock where the raging river has been breaking down for thousands of years.
Walk right to the back and find a large curtain of frozen ice hiding the moving waterfall just behind it! The roaring sound of the river behind the ice is enough to freak you out. Looking up and you can see how far the waterfall would jet out in the spring. It’s hard to believe that in the just a few months the Natural Bridge will be full of glacier melt explosively shooting out from the small canyon.
Photography tips for shooting Natural Bridge
You’ll need a very wide angle to capture the canyon. It’s a strange place that feels large yet small at the same time. I find the wider you can shoot the canyon, the better. Another option might be stacking multiple images in Photoshop afterwards. Image stacking creating a panoramic is always a great option here.
The canyon is pretty much the same temperature as outside. Be sure to pack enough layers and keep yourself warm so you don’t have to make multiple trips back to your vehicle to warm up in between shooting the natural bridge!
There’s something extra special about night time photography in the natural bridge. Try getting creative with lights, headlamps, and exposure times!