There are 7 best places to photograph Grand Teton National Park to capture the jagged peaks of the mountains complimented by the surrounding landscape and wildlife. There are numerous iconic scenes to photograph in this park.
We have visited the park in early June when the trees and grasses were vibrant greens, the wildflowers were in bloom, the mountains were snow-capped and the wildlife was abundant. Another visit in mid-October was a bit too late to capture the explosion of bright fall colors, but the early winter landscape was stunning nonetheless.
No matter what time of year you visit, there are endless opportunities to photograph nature at its best. Here are a few of our favorite locations to shoot within this scenic national park.
The reflection of the mountains in the bend of the Snake River is the objective at this location. It is usually best photographed at sunrise before any wind begins to blow. It is always worth a stop at sunset as well because if you can catch vibrant colors in the sky in the still water, you end up with a magnificent photo!
I feel the best vantage point at Oxbow Bend is along the river. Walk a bit north of the parking area and follow the trails to the water’s edge.
PHOTO TIP: Always be aware of the scene in front of you AND behind you. At this location, everyone faces the Teton mountains hoping to get that perfect reflection in the water. I wonder how many people missed this amazing show of color and reflection in the river behind them!? At sunrise and sunset, color appears all over the sky. Keep an eye on all parts of the scene so you don’t miss something spectacular!
There are numerous places along the river to photograph the reflection of the Tetons in the water. If this is your first time here, we suggest going to the main parking lot at the end of the road first. From there, walk down the path about 100 yards and you will see a beaver dam. Just past that is a pool of calm water (usually) that provides excellent reflections of the distant mountains.
PHOTO TIP: If the weather doesn’t cooperate and the water is choppy, take advantage of photographing a stunning landscape scene with water, trees and majestic mountains.
To reach the other location, head back along the road and turn into the smaller parking area to the right. Walk down to the river and look for various spots where the Tetons reflect into the water. Many people stay in the area near the parking lot, but we prefer to walk along the river a bit farther to the south near another beaver dam that has created a section of calm water.
PHOTO TIP: The morning light right after sunrise is ideal for photography. The soft light makes the mountains and the reflection stand out since the river and surrounding landscape are still in shadow. We have photographed this location during the day and at sunset, but feel sunrise is the best since it creates a ‘pop’ of color in the scene.
This overlook is the spot where Ansel Adams photographed the bend of the Snake River over 70 years ago which brought attention to Grand Teton National Park. The trees have since grown and obstructed the view so you can’t recreate the famous image. Use your own creativity and photograph what appeals to you when you see this scene.
These two photos taken at the Snake River Overlook show the contrast of colors and scene from June to October.
PHOTO TIP: Make a point to Document the Journey by taking photos with YOU in them. Use a tripod and timer – Dave has mastered pushing the timer button and running to be in the shot before the click. If people are watching you and you feel silly…so what!? Will you ever see those random people again? OR better yet, use a wireless shutter release. But I’ve been keeping that gadget a secret because it’s fun to see Dave get his exercise by trying to beat the timer.
The Antelope Flats area is where Mormon settlers built their farms in the 1890’s. The relics of these farms are considered a Historic District and provide wonderful photographic subjects.
There are actually two Moulton barns. The John Moulton barn is to the north of Antelope Flats Road and the T.A. Moulton barn is to the south. We usually photograph the T.A. Moulton barn because there is more area to walk around to get creative compositions, and not as many people visiting this barn to get in the way of our shots.
Here’s another set of images of the Moulton Barn area to show the contrast of colors and scene from June to October.
Drive along Gros Ventre Road for about 10 miles to reach Red Hills. Enjoy the scenery as you travel along the road in the Bridger-Teton National Forest (no fees). At the base of the hills is the Red Hill ranch that produces top quality horses. We would recommend you turn and go back once you reach the Red Hills. There was really nothing of interest past that point.
PHOTO TIP: Be sure to photograph the scene behind you where only the tops of the Tetons can be seen. It’s a scenic drive back toward the park.
The area around the Pilgrim Creek Road is a good place to look for bears in early spring, usually late May to early June.
PLEASE FOLLOW the guidelines for viewing wildlife at the parks and listen to the rangers. Bears are emotional, with varied personalities and tolerance levels around their cubs and prey. Give them space.
PHOTO TIP: You CANNOT get a photo on your cell phone or tablet of a bear that fills the frame image at the designated 100 yard rule set by the National Park Service. Images you see like this are taken with telephoto lenses, typically 400-600mm. When you encounter wildlife and don’t have a telephoto lens, simply enjoy the scene.
We like to drive around this area each morning. Even if we don’t see wildlife, we have wonderful scenery surrounding us!
There are numerous overlooks to capture images of the Teton mountains. Take advantage of stopping at each one. Also stop at pullouts along the roads to photograph the various lakes in the park. This is one park where it’s best to relax, slow down and enjoy the beauty that surrounds you!
PHOTO TIP: Sometimes the best photographs occur up to 30 minutes AFTER the sun actually sets. The afterglow produces soft light that reflects on the scene. Your eye may not see it, but the camera captures this magnificent light and color.
PHOTO TIP: Be prepared when a photographic opportunity presents itself – it’s not every day you see a double rainbow! Dave captured this wonderful image while driving toward the Tetons from Idaho.
We rely on our Camera Gear Checklist to make sure that all necessary, and possibly needed, equipment is packed in our camera bag ready to go.
Don’t forget to purchase the US National Park Pass – it’s a good deal!
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