Saturday, April 27, 2013

Yellowstone Photo Spots

Thinking about our U.S. national parks always conjures up a certain warm, nostalgic, almost campy feeling in me. I'm not sure if it's the natural splendor of the locations, the freedom found in the outdoors, or just the thrill of travel, but they have a very special place in my heart. I love to visit these national treasures, and visit them as often as I can, happily feeding my love for landscape photography in these wondrous settings. Since this week is National Parks Week here in the United States (which by the way means free admission), I thought I'd write a bit about one of my most recent adventures at America's first national park, Yellowstone National Park. While I was there I did a lot of location scouting, and here are some of the best Yellowstone photo spots I found while there.

Grand Prismatic Spring
GPS: 44.5212492529, -110.838124752

Grand Prismatic Spring 

 This festival of color found at Grand Prismatic Spring is quite impressive, and unsurprisingly draws hordes of visitors. But while wandering around I noticed people climbing the hillside overlooking the chromatic pool. It took a bit of sleuthing, but I figured out that if you park at the next pull off just south of Grand Prismatic Spring, you can hike in toward the pool, then a strenuous climb up the side of the hill, until you're finally rewarded with an outstanding arial view of the color spectacle. Be warned though, that the trail up is steep and possibly not an official trail.

Fishing Cone Geyser at West Thumb Geyser Basin
GPS: 44.4175132092, -110.570665598

West Thumb Geyser Basin

There are a number of geysers packed into this small area of the park hugging the westernmost side of Yellowstone Lake. A few, like Fishing Cone Geyser, are actually in the lake, and make a wonderful foreground to a sunset photo of Yellowstone Lake.

Old Faithful

Well, I couldn't write about Yellowstone without mentioning Old Faithful, right? If you can time it right (and get lucky), you can catch some low orange sunset light in the steam from the eruption. Just be aware that, while it may be called Old Faithful, the eruption timings are still only guidelines and prone to be off by several minutes. If the eruption is just a bit late, it's possible that the sun will duck behind the surrounding terrain before the steam spews out. Regardless, the area is also a hotbed (literally) of geysers, and you could easily wander for a few hours around the other lesser known geothermal features. A particular favorite of mine was the Castle Geyser, a short walk from Old Faithful.

Artists' Paintpots
GPS: 44.6921490584, -110.737724304

Artists' Paintpots

The Artists' Paintpots area (and for that matter nearly everywhere I visited early in the day) was amazing in the early morning light. The cold frosty mornings, mixed with the heat from all the geothermal activity, created some incredible scenes. It's a short, level walk from the parking lot to this geyser basin.

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

If you find yourself tiring of geysers, head over to the canyon region of the park. Here you'll find sweeping vistas of the enormous 800-1200 foot deep Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, several waterfalls, and many great scenic overlooks to take it all in and relax at.

Mammouth Hot Springs Terraces
GPS: 44.9710374689, -110.704421997

Mammouth Hot Springs Terraces

On the far northwest side of the park, you can explore the Mammouth Hot Sprintgs Terraces, covered in stunning white, chalky mineral deposit cascades. Many of the terraces were dry at the time I went, but the overall effect of the terraces is still quite photogenic.

If you'd like to see more of my Yellowstone favorites, check out my Yellowstone National Park Photo Spots guide for all the spots I found while exploring the park. What were some of your favorite Yellowstone spots? I'd love to hear some of your recommendations in the comments!