10 Breathtaking Photography Locations Near Vancouver, BC

"Raincouver" has long fascinated outdoor lovers with its harmonious blend between a bustling urban city by the sea and its jaw dropping natural beauty in every direction. The city has a little for every outdoor lover out there, and some of the spots aren't as far as you might think!

By: Aaron Hagen + Save to a List

There are plenty of well-known adventures around Vancity, but if off-the-beaten-path is more your jam, Vancouver has those in spades, too. Here are a combination of both, and a few of my personal favorites!

The following is my list from close in proximity to about two hours out of town of beautiful photography locations for you to make use of that DSLR, because this city was made for photography if you ask me!

Close to Vancouver (within 1 hour or so)

1) Horseshoe Bay Overlook

I might get in trouble for this one, but it's an absolute hidden gem.

This wooden overlook platform of which nobody seems to know the origin of or why it was built there, makes for a beautiful night gazing out at the Coastal Mountains rising dramatically from the ocean. Also a great place to watch all the BC ferries come in and out, go figure.

How to get here? There is a little turn off right before a large rock pile that overlooks the ferry terminal on the old Horseshoe Bay Dr highway (parallel to Highway 99). You'll probably find some cars parked here, it's hard to miss!

2) Lynn Canyon Park

The "free version of the Capilano Suspension Bridge" as I like to call it is just as beautiful and has it all from rainforest boardwalks and trails, waterfalls, turquoise colored pools, and a selection of suspension bridges.

If you're visiting Vancouver and are trying to decide between the two parks, the choose was clear for me at least, save yourself $50 (per person) and check out Lynn Canyon!

Also come on, look at those ferns! Hard to pass up trails completely covered in rainforest scenery!

3) Cypress Provincial Park

This is one of the three north shore mountains that Vancouver sits at the base of, each with their own unique characteristics. Grouse is the touristy one with the largest village on the top, a gondola, a pet Grizzly Bear, as well as the home of the Grouse Grind Trail. Seymour is to the east of that, and has plenty of its own sweeping views, and countless trails. But i'm here to talk about Cypress, which is in this writer's opinion at least, the best of the three by a long shot.

There are three primary hikes that will give you this dramatic vista facing towards the Gulf Islands/Vancouver Island, and none of which are ridiculously difficult scrambles. These hikes being Tunnel Bluffs, Eagle Bluffs, and St Marks Summit (the one pictured here).

In the winter it becomes a ski resort. Nothing to the level of Whistler Backcomb by any means, but again as far as the north shore mountains go and being minutes from the city itself, Cypress holds its own pretty darn well if you ask me.

As a bonus there is a trail of hundreds of these little cabins, and you don't get much better for cabin in the woods vibes (the pleasant one, not the movie, for the love of god not the movie).

4) Cleveland Dam 

Oh Dam. Dad jokes aside (kind of sorry), the Capilano Watershed and Cleveland Dam area is easy to access, includes a great number of leisurely walks for high payout with photography, and gives you some amazing views of the nearby mountains. This including "The Lions", which are uniquely formed iconic mountain peaks just beyond the dam itself.

This is another location that you can simply pull the car up to (bonus you get free parking), and start shooting within seconds. Nothing to it!

5) Pitt Meadows

This is a true hidden gem at the moment, as in every time I've come out here over the past two years there are rarely any tourists or other photographers fighting over a shot. No one to block your shots, or anything else that might just grind your gears at the super busy locations (yes I'm looking at you Joffre Lakes).

The sunsets always seem to come through around Pitt Meadows, no idea why, but hey I try not to question it too much! 

There are roads with beautiful leading lines to make use of, epic mountains that surround you, a river, a lake, a large population of eagles that seem to hang around the area, the list goes on and on. Bottom Line; it's nature photography heaven.

Farther from Vancouver (over 1 hour)

6) Golden Ears Provincial Park (1 hr from Vancouver)

The greenest place you might ever see in Canada. Seriously, it's an overwhelming amount of green.

This park is filled with beautiful lakes, mossy rainforest hikes, and roaring waterfalls. 

Of all the Provincial Parks surrounding Vancouver I think that I have been here the most often. It's easy to get to, has a lot of easy hikes with huge payout for views, and there's always something new to discover!

7) Jones Lake (2 hrs from Vancouver)

Jones Lake (now called Wahleach Lake) has just about the most dramatic backdrop for a campsite as I've seen in I don't know how long.

The weather changes by the hour, and the road up requires a decent amount of vehicle clearance due to it being a semi-maintained forest road that's still in use by logging trucks to this day. But if you don't drive a smart car or a Prius your car would honestly be fine, it's not that Bad.

There are designated campsites here or long stretches of beach that you can pull your car right onto, just depends on how busy it is!

8) Cascade Falls (2hrs from Vancouver)

You've probably seen this on Instagram while aimlessly scrolling at some point. It's THAT waterfalls and suspension bridge shot.

Should this discourage you for taking a look for yourself? Of course not! As is the case with so many other photography locations, sometimes the places that are super packed and well known are just that for a reason, because they're so unique!

The bonuses for this location being that there are other waterfalls nearby (Steelhead for one), and that the "hike" takes about 5 minutes from the parking lot to the falls for those looking to simply add it as a stop to a road trip, as I would suggest!

9) "The Chief" and the Sea to Sky Highway (1hr from Vancouver)

The Chief belongs to the "best of Squamish' page but hey I love it so much I just wanted to chuck it in here anyway.

The Chief seems almost like a right of passage for residents of both Vancouver and Squamish, as the first stretch of the hike is a real grind with it being a long series of manmade stairs until you get to the dirt path itself.

Once you near the top, by using chains for assistance a few times, like a "choose your own adventure" game at some point in the hike you have the option of heading up to Peak 1, 2 or 3. Each has its own epic views and own things going for them, it's just up to you for which one you fancy and how much time you have of course! 

Part of my reasoning for putting it in here is the drive up from Vancouver to Squamish being the  legendary Sea to Sky Highway, a beautiful stretch of road that gives you jaw dropping scenery from start to finish and is constantly rated up there with the Icefields Parkway in Alberta for the best drive in all of Canada. So hey, huge added bonus for anyone who likes views that don't suck.

10) Garibaldi Provincial Park (1.5-2hrs from Vancouver)

Garibaldi is a place that is high on my list for exploring more and more of, as I have only really scratched the surface if being honest.

The snow capped mountains, endless miles of trails, and crystal clear lakes make up some of the most beautiful trails that BC has to offer. 

Fair warning though, most trails are only accessible June-September because of the insane amount of snow that this park receives (hint: It's a lot).

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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