Header image by Janessa McLean (@jesnessa on Instagram/ravencreative.ca)
Hot chocolate, hot cider, and peppermint-spiced lattes are just a few of the reasons why winter is one of our favourite times of the year – but your sense of taste isn’t the only one that should benefit during the season. Winter means no mosquitoes, less crowded trails, and incredible landscapes that can be found all around our area, dressed up in a thick blanket of pristine snow. So, if you’re searching for a perfect Insta-worthy backdrop to light up your social media, look no further than these 10 best photo spots around the Grande Prairie region!
The cross-country and snowshoe trails just south of the city are open throughout the winter, offering incredible opportunities to get some fresh air, exercise, and exclusive views. Bundle up the whole family, get a day pass, and spend some time with the gorgeous scenery, under the rich blue skies.
There aren’t many grain elevators like this one left in the province, and this towering relic from the past in Sexsmith makes for a great photo backdrop, especially when the sun is just rising or setting. You can also stop at the historic train station nearby to take some pics and learn about the deep history of this part of northern Alberta.
The Muskoseepi Park trails stretch across a large part of the city, but for a truly picturesque location, check out the South Bear Creek trails near the ball diamonds. The Bear Creek valley that winds through the area provides a wonderful backdrop for a wintertime photo shoot, and it doubles as an excellent choice to leave behind some of the noise of the city and enjoy a quiet moment.
Find yourself surrounded by natural wilderness and wide open skies while hiking the trails around Saskatoon Mountain. Located off the highway as you travel west toward Beaverlodge, the trip there is a short one from Grande Prairie, but well worth it to capture some unbeatable sunsets, views of the immense prairie, and a new sense of appreciation for the area we live in.
Famous for its whitewater rafting, the Smoky River near Grande Cache is usually frozen solid during the winter. While you won’t be able to shoot the rapids the same as you would in the summer, the area is still full of opportunities for amazing photos by the riverside, with some daring photographers even venturing out onto the ice for those one-of-a-kind angles. (We don’t recommend that, though!)
Located a little over an hour west of Grande Prairie, Red Willow Falls is another unique location for some winter hiking. In the warmer months, the water rushes over rocks as it makes its way down the Redwillow River, but in the winter it freezes into delicate crystals of ice that catch the sunlight. There’s something to be said for the stillness and silence of the area in the winter, so if you’re seeking a quiet place to think, bundle up and head out to recharge a bit.
Walking through downtown Grande Prairie, all lit up on a winter evening with the snow slowly falling, can remind us that sometimes the best moments can be found right in your own backyard. With the recent downtown rejuvenation, now is the perfect time to take some pics that highlight our beautiful city centre!
Designed by renowned architect Douglas Cardinal, Northwestern Polytechnic (formerly GPRC) is the perfect site for photos with a bit of a “twist”. The twisting, curving architecture of our local post-secondary institution makes an interesting focal point that goes beyond the traditional straight lines we’re used to seeing in our architecture. Plus, the contrast of the beautiful brick structure against a backdrop of freshly-fallen snow really makes it stand out in the winter.
While this list only covers winter visits, this particular location has made it into other articles of ours for summer as well – and for good reason, as it’s a jewel of the Peace Country. Looking like a miniature version of California’s Golden Gate Bridge, the Dunvegan Bridge, and the surrounding valley makes for a great backdrop at any time of the year, but it’s irresistible when combined with the serenity of a winter landscape and fresh-fallen snow.
Finally, this last entry is a little less specific, but one of our favourites. The skies of the region are beautiful at any time of the year, but during the winter is when they really shine. Take a short journey out of the city in almost any direction to find a wide-open area and turn your camera skyward. The winter skies make for a terrific photo, especially if the northern lights are putting on a show.
Plus, thanks to the shorter daylight hours of winter, you have a better chance of catching an amazing sunrise or sunset without having to be up too late or too early. Head east towards Valleyview or west towards Beaverlodge for some great, unobstructed views of our big prairie skies!
Do you agree with our picks for great winter pics? And were there any we missed? Grab your phone or camera, get out into the winter wonderland, and show us your best pics of the region. Make sure to tag us on Instagram so we can share our favourite shots!