National Parks Photography : The Top 5 Parks to Photograph
National Parks Photography
The first step to taking amazing national parks photography is finding a truly breathtaking subject for your image. If you, like many photographers, love to take photos of nature, then you don’t need to travel across the globe to find some of the most beautiful natural places in the world—you can stay right here in the United States. In fact, the US is home to dozens of stunning natural parks that not only make for a memorable experience, but can provide a truly unforgettable backdrop for your photos.
Of course, finding the right location is only half the battle. As any photographer knows, once you find the right scene, then the real work begins. Here are just five of the most photogenic natural parks that you can find right here in the United States—happy shooting!
Everglades National Park
While many think of amusement parks and beautiful beaches when they hear about Florida, this state is actually home to one of the world’s most breathtaking natural parks, and it has nothing to do with its sandy shores. The Everglades National Park is filled with native wildlife, particularly herons, pelicans, cranes and storks. One of the great things about these birds is that they are so approachable and used to humans being around that it makes taking really unique wildlife photographs a breeze.
The still water of the everglades almost acts as a mirror reflecting the unique marsh lands that are filled with trees, moss and swamp landscaping that truly can’t be found anywhere else. If you are a fan of unique landscape photography or of bird photography this place is for you. Plus, the mist and fog that seem to endlessly inhabit this national park will give your photos a unique mood and plenty of drama.
If you want a really special shot, make sure that you head over to Nine Mile Pond, it is a favorite spot for local alligators to hang out and it makes for stunning photos of the real local wildlife.
Smoky Mountains National Park
There are very few parks in the United States that have the same recognition as Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This massive park is one of the biggest draws of the eastern portion of the United States and is filled with stunning forest landscapes and wildlife, including a variety of plants. In fact, this natural park is home to more than 1,500 flowering species, 200 birds and 60 different types of mammals, so if you enjoy taking photos of wildlife this is the place to go.
As you walk through this famed national park, you will see waterfalls, flowers and stunning forest colors that make for really rich and deep photographs. One of the best times of year to photograph in this park is the fall thanks to the deep colors that emerge.
A great bonus for photographers shooting in this region: there is almost always a slight cloud coverage or light mist (hence the name smoky) which helps deliver the perfect lighting for your shots.
Mount Rainier National Park
Mount Rainier National Park is fairly isolated, but once you get there you won’t even believe you are in the United States anymore. This park makes up the largest mass of permanent ice in any of the lower states and it is complete with 25 major glaciers than span more than 100 miles. In the later summer, you can see wildflowers blooming in the meadows along the base or you can explore the ice caps for cool, crisp photos.
A true photographers dream, the unique landscape of this national park has created several environments ranging from rain forests to ice peaks and including everything from streams and rivers to reflecting lakes and waterfalls. This means, no matter what you are looking to shoot, chances are you can find it out in this national park.
If you really want to capture one of the true wonders of this area of the world, make sure to capture a photo of the cloud crown that forms along the major mountain in this park—it is truly something that must be seen to be believed.
Arches National Park
If you haven’t heard of Utah’s Arches National Park, then it is time you learned. This park is a true photographer’s dream as it has the largest collection of natural stone arches in the entire world with more than 2,000 different arches around the park.
These arches can create interesting frames and accents for the beautiful mountains and canyons that surround the park. If you aren’t as into landscapes and are more into taking closeups of the area wildlife there are plenty of lizards, wildflowers and desert animals around the area that are just as stunning of subjects.
Just make sure to prepare yourself with a reflector as this park is out in the desert which means harsh light. However, if you come prepared chances are you are going to come away with photos that are truly out of this world.
Yellowstone National Park
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Funny to think how thankful I am for getting a full 10 hours of sleep in my comfortable bed last night, in my apartment with a shower, a flushing toilet, and a stove that clicks on in an instant. And yet – I would trade all of that in a heartbeat to wake up here, in the back of my car, cold, hungry, and shower-less for 3 days again. Trading the comforts of home for the serenity of nature is something you’ll never understand until you actually do it.
No list of national parks would be complete without the first national park. While you may think this famed attraction is overshot or over commercialized, if you haven’t been or tried to shoot it yet, there is no better time than the present.
The hot springs and geysers provide a once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunity, while everywhere you turn there are new rivers, falls, lakes and canyons to inspire your next shot. Plus, if you are just as into wildlife as you are landscapes, Yellowstone is filled with one of the most diverse collections of animals when compared to any other national park. Elk, bison, coyote, swans, moose, sheep and antelope all call this park home.
While it may be a fairly saturated park when it comes to the number of photographers that find themselves in this area, it will be more than worth the crowd when you see the type of images that you walk away with after a few days in Yellowstone.