While we were only there overnight, Ontario’s Rainbow Falls Provincial Park served up some fantastic photo opportunities during our short stay. The park is near the northern shore of Lake Superior, just a few minutes west of the small town of Shreiber along the Trans Canada Highway, and about 80 km east of Nipigon. The park has two parts which are quite different. The small Rossport Campground is immediately beside Lake Superior, while the larger Whitesand Lake Campground and day use area is five km farther east along the highway and slightly inland.
We chose to stay at the Rossport Campground because of the spectacular setting – our campsite was on a nice grassy area right next to the beach on the world’s largest lake. The beach is a mix of sand and pebbles with dazzling colours, and flat rocky outcroppings jutting into the lake. Add the scattering of trees on the shore and the setting is reminiscent of a Group of Seven painting.
The sky was overcast and moody when we arrived, not the best for photographing the shoreline but the diffused light was ideal for photographing whitewater under the forest canopy. So we headed over to the Whitesand Lake section to find the park’s namesake – Rainbow Falls.
The Whitesand Lake section is much larger, with the main draw being the lake itself, its warmer inland waters a popular spot for swimming and other watersports. Hiking trails head into the hills with panoramic views over Lake Superior, and you can link up with the 52 km Casque Isle Trail which runs between communities on Lake Superior’s north shore.
The Rainbow Falls Trail is short but outstanding. It starts at the outlet of Whitesand Lake and follows the numerous drops of the falls, which are so extensive that you can’t see them all at once. The trail is mostly a series of stairways with viewing stands and places where you can get right beside the water. It ends at a footbridge over the falls, although you can walk further along the trail systems. The falls were named “Rainbow” because of the various shades of colour in the rocks and lichen.
Even Light under Cloudy Skies
If you like photographing waterfalls and other whitewater features close-up, these easily accessible spots are ideal. The falls cascade along a narrow creek through thick forest, so we were pleased that the overcast sky was cooperating with nice even light.
We returned to our Rossport campsite to find the cloudy sky looking more threatening, and were relieved to see a picnic shelter nearby where we could retreat in case the skies opened up while we were making supper. But as often happens, a threatening sky can provide the most dramatic conditions for photography. Fortunately, the rain stayed away, and for a short time the sun peeked through the dark clouds and washed a surreal light across the beach. These magical scenes remain some of our fondest memories of our Lake Superior travels.
For more information, check out the Rainbow Falls Provincial Park website.