Best National Parks for Photography in the Pacific Northwest
- The Going-to-the-Sun Road
- Lake McDonald
- Grinnell Glacier
- Iceberg Lake
- Logan Pass
- Two Medicine Lake
- Hidden Lake Overlook
- Swiftcurrent Lake
- Sourdough Mountain Lookout
- Cascade Pass
- Heather Meadows
- Table Mountain
- Lookout Mountain
- Skyline Divide
- Washington Pass Overlook
- Park Butte
- Best National Parks for Photography in the Southwest
- Grand Teton National Park Photography and Travel Guide
- Drive the Rim Drive loop
- Watchman Peak Overlook
- Discovery Point
- Watchman Peak Trail
- Sun Notch Viewpoint
- Cleetwood Cove Trail
- Mt. Rainier National Park
- Olympic National Park
- San Juan Islands National Historic Park
- Colchuck Lake and Alpine Lakes Wilderness
- Three Sisters Oregon
- Mt. Hood National Forest
- Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area
- Giant Springs State Park
- ND Filter Kit
- Travel Tripod
- Canon EOS R5
- Canon RF 15-35mm F2.8 L IS USM
- Acratech GP-SS Ball Head
- Haida M10 Pro Filter Kit with Drop-In Circular Polarizer
- Haida M10 ND Filter Kit
- Peak Design Everyday Backpack V2
photo by Dean_Fikar via iStock
The Pacific Northwest boasts some of the most spectacular nature in the country and is made up of Washington, Oregon, and parts of Idaho and Montana.
It’s home to five national parks featuring magical glaciers, towering mountains, hidden alpine lakes, dormant volcanoes, pacific coastline, and even wild grizzlies.
My top overall tip for national park photography that applies to every park is to arrive early and stay late. Sunrise and sunset are two of the best times for photographers to capture sensational images, and on top of that, you will avoid the crazy crowds.
Two other important things to keep in mind when visiting national parks are that some of the most iconic destinations require permits to visit, which must be booked months in advance, and that drones are strictly prohibited inside the borders of every park unless you have a special use permit.
Keep reading this ultimate Pacific Northwest national parks photography guide to discover which parks are the best to visit for photographers, where the top photo spots are in each park, and much much more!
Best National Parks for Photography in the Pacific Northwest: Glacier National Park
photo by Boogich via iStock
Located in northwestern Montana, Glacier National Park is a giant 1,583 square mile wilderness area that pushes up against the border with Canada. It’s not often mentioned side by side with the most famous national parks, but it absolutely should be! In my opinion, this is the best national park for photography not only in the Pacific Northwest but in the whole country!
Driving the Going-to-the-Sun Road and visiting Lake McDonald are the two most popular things to do in the park, but they are only the tip of the iceberg! If you have time to hike into the backcountry, you will be rewarded with some truly amazing views that most people don’t get to see.
Additionally, if you are a fan of wildlife, Glacier National Park is one of the best national parks for photographers. Moose, bighorn sheep, and grizzly bears all call this nature sanctuary home. For the best chance to see any of these majestic creatures, head out with your telephoto lens at dusk or dawn. Please make sure to always respect the animals and keep a safe distance away, though.
Photography Tip: Visit as soon as you can if you want to see a glacier! Unfortunately, due to global warming, the glaciers are shrinking in size every year and may one day disappear completely.
Here’s a list of some of the most popular spots for Glacier National Park photography:
Best National Parks for Photography in the Pacific Northwest: North Cascades National Park
photo by dszc via iStock
North Cascades National Park is an off-the-beaten-path gem many people haven’t even heard of. It’s nestled away in the North Cascade mountain range a little more than two hours north of Seattle and is a remote alpine wonderland! It’s full of picturesque jagged peaks, cascading waterfalls, and over 300 glaciers.
Peak season is summer, and it’s the best time to visit unless you are experienced in alpine environments and ready to be fully self-sufficient. All park visitor and information centers close in late September or early October and don’t open back up until late May.
Photography Tip: Bring your backpacking gear! If you want to leave North Cascades National Park with the best photos possible, staying a few nights in the backcountry and exploring the trails by foot is the way to go.
Here’s a list of some of the most popular spots for North Cascades National Park photography:
Best National Parks for Photography in the Pacific Northwest: Crater Lake National Park
photo by Ron and Patty Thomas via iStock
Crater Lake National Park is one of the most unique National Parks for photography in the United States. Formed inside an massive ancient volcano that last erupted some 7,700 years ago, the water of Crater Lake is exceptionally clean and has a beautiful blue hue that stands out in photos thanks to the fact that it all comes from rain and snowmelt.
The unquestioned star of Crater Lake National Park is Wizard Island! It’s actually another small cinder cone volcano that pops up in the middle of the lake and looks stunning in photos. Also, there's the tiny Phantom Ship Island which is rough and rugged and lots of fun to shoot.
The best way to see the whole lake and capture all the different angles is by completing the Rim Drive. It has 23 viewpoints to stop at, each offering special views.
Photography Tip: Pack a lens for astrophotography! The top of the crater has an elevation of 6,173 feet, and there’s almost no light pollution which makes it a terrific place to take photos of the stars on a clear night.
Here’s a list of some of the most popular spots for Crater Lake National Park photography:
More National Parks for Photography in the Pacific Northwest
photo by arshad ullah via iStock
Those may be the most picturesque National Parks for Photography in the Pacific Northwest, but they are far from the only ones! Here are the rest of the beautiful National Parks, plus a couple bonus photo destinations in Washington, Oregon, and Montana!