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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Photography Icons Of The NPS

Our quick guide to some of the best U.S. national parks for shooting

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Yosemite National Park, California
Best Times: The huge crowds that clog the roads in Yosemite in summer thin out in late fall and winter. While many roads in the park are closed in winter, you can still move around quite a bit. We've run more than one OP cover of Yosemite in winter, as the juxtaposition of fresh pillows of snow and hard granite peaks can make a truly special photograph. Spring blooms, summer storms and fall color are all magnificent in this most iconic of the U.S. national parks.

Most Iconic Locations: Perhaps no one explored and photographed Yosemite as completely, and certainly none more famously, than Ansel Adams. To see the most storied locations, flip through Adams' book Yosemite, and you'll find all of the best areas of the park. Tunnel View is probably the most famous vantage point of the valley, with its view of El Capitan and Half Dome. Tuolumne Meadows and Ahwahnee Meadow, with its view of Half Dome, are legendary sites for landscape photography. Go to Washburn Point and Glacier Point for views of Half Dome and the surrounding peaks from above.

Death Valley National Park, California
Best Times: During spring and fall, the conditions in Death Valley are at their best. Winter can see unpredictable rainstorms and flash flooding, and during summer, the temperatures can rise mercilessly. In 2013, a new June record was set when the park saw 134º F!

Most Iconic Locations: Many of Death Valley's best photo locations require getting away from the paved roads and parking areas. The Racetrack is the famous playa where you can see the mysterious sailing stones. The drive to the Racetrack is best accomplished with a 4x4 with high clearance, and when you're there, tread very carefully to avoid scarring the delicate mud flats. Sadly, in recent years, a number of the sailing stones have been purloined by unscrupulous visitors. Zabriskie Point and Eureka Dunes are other areas not to be missed.

Everglades National Park, Florida
Best Times: Everglades is best photographed in the dry season (December through April). Wildlife concentrates near "gator holes," temperatures are mild, and mosquitoes are fewer. Wet season (May through November) tends to be hot, humid and rainy, with lots of bugs.

Most Iconic Locations: The mangrove swamps of the Flamingo and Gulf Coasts certainly say "Everglades," as does the sawgrass prairie at Shark Valley, and, of course, the wading birds—you'll find 16 different species, including white ibis, wood stork and egrets.


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