Tip 01

Travel by Foot

with Garrett King

Traveling by foot is the best way to see our national parks. It is a good challenge to move around and get a unique shot, but can be tricky as you need to be respectful to the trails and environment around you. Hike those long hikes and put in that extra effort that pushes you and your photography to the next level. It's worth it to blister your feet and create memories that last beyond the photo.

Glacier National Park
Arches National Park
Great Sand Dunes National Park
Canyonlands National Park

Tip 02

Weather Through It

with Scott Kranz

Don't run away from so-called “bad” weather. While safety is paramount, variable weather systems can often produce some of the most exciting and dramatic visuals. Clouds can be a useful element to set the tone mood of an image. When they open up to reveal a peak or a tree, they can serve as natural framing. On days of transition from a period of cloudiness or fogginess to a period of sunshine, you can often find low-hanging clouds or fog, which can create beautiful scenes in valleys and around alpine lakes.

Yosemite National Park
North Cascades National Park

What's Your Advice for Making the Most of a National Park Visit?

Learn how each national park is unique, and be sure to explore new areas within the park. So many people limit themselves to specific spots that happen to be very popular or photographed — branch out and find your own “hidden” gem. And always leave the park better than you found it.

Glacier National Park

Tip 03

Early Bird Gets the Shot

with Renee Hahnel

Sunrise is the most magical time of day in the national parks, and often my preferred time to get out and explore for the perfect shot. The early hours attract less visitors, resulting in a more peaceful and enjoyable setting. The soft morning light also provides the perfect opportunity for landscape or portrait photography. Try shooting towards the sunrise for a beautiful glow and colorful skies. I find many photo seekers leave as soon as the sun comes up. Be sure to stay around a little longer because sometimes the best light is within the 30 or so minutes after sunrise.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Bryce Canyon National Park
Zion National Park

Tip 04

Photograph People

with Matthew Hahnel

At times, I like to incorporate people into landscapes because it helps the viewer to imagine that they are there in the scene and experiencing the moment for themselves. Make sure to have the person situated somewhere in the scene that they will stand out against the backdrop. Pay attention to the wardrobe of your subject (e.g. blue clothing will not pop if the person is standing in front of water).

Grand Canyon National Park
Big Bend National Park

What's Your Advice for Making the Most of a National Park Visit?

Spend some time planning your trip before you arrive. If you are going to purely get out and enjoy nature, research some hikes that look interesting to you and are within your abilities. If you are going for a photography trip, research the park and find features that you would like to photograph. Figure out where will be the best place to photograph them from, and what time of the day the light is going to be best, then make notes so you are prepared. I often have a list of places I want to shoot for either sunrise or sunset before arriving to a national park.

Yosemite National Park

Tip 05

Find Your Blues

with Bryan Daugherty

There's something about shooting water that is so alluring to me. Blue has always been my favorite color, and it's a very dominant color in the majority of my photos. Capturing reflections in water can be difficult when you're working against the elements. If you shoot early in the morning, you'll often find less wind, which makes for ideal conditions.

Mount Rainer National Park

Residing in the Pacific Northwest, I'm surrounded by mountain lakes, the ocean, and countless waterfalls. The surrounding lush greenery you find in the Pacific Northwest contrasts with the blue of the water making for unique tones you can't capture otherwise.

North Cascades National Park
Olympic National Park

What's Your Advice for Making the Most of a National Park Visit?

Go right after the busy season. I almost always go to national parks in early fall or in the spring time to avoid the summer crowds. Also, chat with park rangers, as they can give you recommendations for where to stay/camp, hike, and see unique scenery.