With a combined size larger than both Rhode Island and Delaware combined, the Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks cover an area just shy of 4,000 square miles. With an endless number of great picture locations available at both National Parks, we’ve selected five great photo locations for each Park.
Grand Teton National Park
Take the free shuttle boat across Jenny Lake from the Jenny Lake Visitor’s center, accessible via the South Jenny Lake Junction off the Teton Park Road. Once you’ve reached the other side of the lake, take the 1.5 mile trail to Hidden Falls. On the way to Hidden Falls check out Inspiration Point. For the best pictures we suggest the early morning hours for this location. At Inspiration Point there are great, elevated views of Jenny Lake and Jackson Hole.
Lakeshore Trail offers unobstructed views of the Grand Teton mountains right at the shores of Jackson Lake. Great pictures of the lake and Mount Moran are best taken between early to mid-morning. You can reach the Lakeshore Trail from the Colter Bay Visitor Center. Park at the Visitor Center and the trailhead begins and returns just behind the Center’s main facility. Our favorite location for pictures on this trail is lakeside roughly midway down the trail on the southwest side of the point. The Colter Bay area is off the Teton Park Road at the north end of the park.
Schwabacher Road offers up close and personal access to the Snake River, beaver dams, with glassy water, Mount Wister as the backdrop and pine trees at the river’s edge. Utilize the eastern road through Grand Teton, Highway 191, to access Schwabacher Road. Watch for the turnout to Schwabacher as it’s easy to miss (we did). For the best pictures at this location we suggest either early morning (sunrise) or late afternoon hours.
Snake River Overlook:
If you’re headed to the Schwabacher Road location, via Highway 191, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t stop at the Snake River Overlook. This historic picture spot, made famous by Ansel Adams iconic picture of Mount Owen and Snake River back in 1942, offers an elevated panorama of the Snake River valley. We suggest late afternoon or sunset (golden hour) for this location.
Looking for the quintessential mountain lake and coniferous tree pictures? Check out the Leigh Lake Trailhead. Take the roughly 1 mile long Leigh Lake Trail, which is accessible from the North Jenny Lake Junction just off the Teton Park Road. This easy hike offers intimate views of the northern end of String Lake and Leigh Lake. Our favorite spot is at the Leigh Lake Canoe Portage located at the south end of the lake. We arrived at the portage late afternoon, after stopping to see a few moose along the way. The late afternoon sun offered great light for pictures of Leigh Lake and Mount Moran.
Yellowstone National Park
Grand Prismatic Spring:
If you want the feel and look of traveling to another planet without the antigravity issues, check out the Grand Prismatic Spring located just off the Grand Loop Road within the Midway Geyser Basin. The landscape and colors of the Grand Prismatic are bold, and begging to be explored by your lenses. Given the nature of this location, the perfect time of day is hard to define. The sunlight will play with steam and hot water throughout the day.
This hidden gem tucked away roughly a mile hike off the Grand Loop Road, near the Norris Junction, is worth a visit. The paintpots, or steaming mud geysers, will transport you to another world. Located on the side of small hill, the paintpots offer a visual adventure in a monochromatic landscape. Got video capabilities with your camera? Take this opportunity to change your still image adventure to capturing a few minutes video of the hissing, hot, spewing mud. The time of day to visit this particular area is less important given the up-close nature of this particular feature.
Nicknamed the ‘Grand Canyon’ of Yellowstone, the lower falls of the Yellowstone River are a must see. Though crowded in high season, take the time to see the falls at Lookout Point just off the North Rim Drive. This elevated viewpoint offers commanding views of the Yellowstone River’s canyon and the lower falls. For the best pictures we suggest either early to mid-morning. Canyon Village is on the northern side of the Park via the Grand Loop Road.
West Thumb Geyser Basin:
Located at the eastern section of the Park, the West Thumb Geyser Basin offers the unique culmination of Yellowstone Lake fronted geysers with the backdrop of Mount Doane beyond. West Thumb is accessible via the Grand Loop Road due north of Grant Village. As you drive along the edge of the road in this area of the park you will witness multiple geysers at the lake’s edge. The West Thumb location offers easily accessible locations that are best viewed in the late afternoon.
Old Faithful Area:
A visit to Yellowstone is not complete until you see the punctual Old Faithful geyser. See Old Faithful, check the box, and then head out on foot away from it to view some of the other geysers in its shadow. Check out Geyser Hill, the Castle Geyser and the Grand Geyser as well. Not sure when Old Faithful next show time is? Take a quick detour over to the historic Old Faithful Inn; awe at its beauty and near the front desk there’s a daily anticipated Old Faithful schedule.