The National Park system is this country is such an AMAZING treasure for all of us to hold on to and visit as often as we can. The foresight of those who came before us to preserve and protect these amazing landscapes cannot be overlooked….what they did is fantastic and was/is a model for other countries around the world. If you have’t visited a National Park in a while, please go out and get your nature on!
There is one downside to visiting some of the more popular national parks…….the mass of humanity that descends on the parks in the summer months. If you’ve ever been to Yellowstone in the summer you’ll know what I’m talking about…..traffic jams that can last for minutes and hours depending on the wildlife, motohome caravans blocking traffic, etc. It’s kind of crazy in the parks in the summer. Or if you’ve tried to get that iconic shot in the Tetons or Yellowstone and bus loads of tourists crowd in to your space and destroy what little bit of serenity you were able to eek out.
Have you ever thought of visiting a national park in the off-season? Like maybe, winter? Every year I make a trek out to the Grand Teton National Park for some wintertime photography with friends and clients. It is an AMAZING time to be in the park. Granted that not all roads are open in the winter, and well, it can be a little bit cold (-24 degrees last year), yet you have the park almost to yourself and it is one of the most serene and idyllic settings and can lend itself to some amazing photography or just sightseeing.
This is a shot at sunrise from Oxbow Bend. In the summer or fall, there can be 200 tripods all set up at this location, everyone wanting that iconic shot. On this morning, we were the only ones there! Had the run of the place and nobody but ourselves to offend 🙂
The Snake River Overlook where Ansel shot his famous image…..again we were by ourselves. No buses, no jam packed parking lot, no crying kids. Just peaceful serenity.
There is tons of wildlife to shoot in the winter as well
A bison we found grazing off the side of the road. Herds of buffalo roam the park and to see a herd in the snow, or leaping a fence….it’s an amazing sight to see
A red fox we found up near Jackson Lake off the side of the road. In the summer, there would be a massive traffic jam of everyone trying to see the animal, and possibly scaring it off. On this day, we were the only ones there and stayed with the fox for 30 minutes and filled out memory cards.
There are other really cool sites to photograph like the “Shane” cabins near Kelly. Normally tourists are flocking all over the sights in the park. In the winter, nobody around and we had the run of the place to compose and shoot as we wanted, not constrained by anyone else.
the other great thing about visiting the park in winter is the storms that regularly come in and leave the area. With the mountains, the storm clouds can add some amazing drama to a scene, something you don’t really get in the summer.
We are loving our National Parks an awful lot, almost to death sometimes, that’s why I can say go try it in the offseason. You will have a unique experience that you can’t get in the more popular months.