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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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Arches National Park, Utah
Best Times: Arches is open and accessible year-round. In winter, the tourist buses are somewhat less frequent, but the park's manageable size is both a blessing and curse for photographers. The blessing is that it's relatively easy to explore the majority of the park and all of the famous natural arches; the curse is that large tour groups find it just as easy to explore.

Most Iconic Locations: Delicate Arch is undoubtedly the most famous spot in the park, but it's also the most crowded, with tourists as well as other photographers. Consider hiking to spots like Turret Arch or Double Arch where you stand a better chance of solitude. Stay on the trails, and be particularly careful with tripods to protect the park's biological soil crust.

Yellowstone National Park, Montana & Wyoming
Best Times: Every season has its own treasures in Yellowstone. The park is open year-round, although at some 3,500 square miles in size, it's impossible to generalize about accessibility in winter, but controversial snowmobiling access can get you into unique areas. That said, between the incredible geothermal activity, magnificent landscapes and intense wildlife activity, there's something to photograph all year round. Summer crowds can make traversing the park difficult, so be prepared to move slowly.

Most Iconic Locations: While geysers, the famous Grand Prismatic Springs and free-roaming bison are top subjects for many visitors, the forces of water have left a distinct mark on the park, which has its own Grand Canyon carved by the Yellowstone River. Upper and Lower Yellowstone Falls are just two of the more than 300 falls in the park. You can photograph bighorn sheep at Dunraven Pass, and Lamar Valley is a good place to spot elk and maybe even a black bear or a grizzly.

Glacier National Park, Montana
Best Times: Glacier is best in the summer when temperatures are warm and vegetation is at its peak. Summer is also the time when you're likely to get big thunderstorms that create dramatic skies. For photographers, the mountains and lakes are the most popular subjects in the park. Winter is magnificent here, but conditions make it difficult, if not impossible, to get to the prime locations.

Most Iconic Locations: St. Mary Lake is a classic alpine lake that offers spectacular reflections of Little Chief Mountain. Grinnell Glacier is the most famous glacier in the park. It's a considerable hike to get to it, but well worth it. Hidden Lake is just a short walk from the road, but offers some of the most iconic views in the entire park. Hidden Lake is famous for being almost right on top of the Continental Divide.

Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park, California
Best Times: Yellowstone is famous for being the first national park in the U.S. Many people think that Yosemite was the second, but it was, in fact, Sequoia National Park. With the creation of Kings Canyon National Park immediately adjacent to Sequoia, the two parks have melded into Sequoia & Kings Canyon (SEKI). Located in the High Sierra, there's limited access in the colder months, but spring through fall are prime time throughout SEKI.

Most Iconic Locations: The giant sequoias for which Sequoia National Park was named are extremely popular with the throngs of tourists who traverse the main thoroughfares. Getting away from the massive trees, however, you can hike into the high country where you'll be greeted with magnificent alpine vistas, granite mountainsides and high mountain lakes. One of the most spectacular locations is Mineral King which, at 7,500 feet of elevation, is reached by a narrow 28-mile road and features some of the best scenery in the Sierra.

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