Close to the road in Yellowstone

Easy-to-access spots in perhaps the best national park for photography

Good morning. And good news! I’ve just confirmed that I will be speaking at the “Out of Chicago” photography conference in New York City next October. I’ll pass along the details and a link as soon as they’re announced.

Also, please be advised that today is the last day I can take orders for a signed copy of my book to arrive before Christmas. Everything will be shipping first thing tomorrow morning, so if you’d like to order a signed Photographing National Parks as a gift, please do so today at the following link:

I’m happy to inscribe anything you’d like—just mention it in the payment notes, and I’ll write it in the book!

And of course, if you need an unsigned copy at any point, you may order one at Amazon or via other online and brick-and-mortar booksellers.


This Week’s Question

Grand Prismatic, Yellowstone

Q. We are planning on going to Yellowstone in September. I am walking-limited. One mile is pushing it. What do you recommend as “must do” away-from-the-road trails for me? Also, I watched a presentation you gave on YouTube—where is the secret spot that your brother told you about where you took the beautiful picture from above of the colorful spring/pond?Laura Engshun

A. Your question is a tough one. Must-see’s at Yellowstone? There’s a ton! With your one-mile limit in mind, I can say that you can still walk around a good number of the geothermal features, and they’re all the ones I would suggest to any photographer. In particular, I recommend the Norris Geyser Basin, Mammoth Hot Springs, the Upper Geyser Basin and the Fountain Paint Pot area. As a bonus, all of those have boardwalks, which makes for pretty easy walking.

For landscapes, I highly recommend the Lamar Valley, the drive through Dunraven Pass, the views of Grand Canyon of Yellowstone (particularly from Artist Point), and the Hayden Valley. Plenty of wildlife to see along the way, particularly bison. The Pelican Creek Trail is nice, as are the Wraith Falls Trail and Trout Lake Trail.

I can say this for Yellowstone: As great as it is to get into the backcountry, there is so much to see within a short hike from the road. It’s a huge park with a lot of visual variety. Even without long hikes, you can spend a lot of time there without running out of photography subjects and inspiration. If I were you, I would go to a visitor center and talk to a ranger for a few minutes—explain your situation, and ask his or her advice about even more photographic places that are easy to hike to.

The spot my brother showed me is at Grand Prismatic. (The presentation Laura refers to is “Photographing National Parks,” which I delivered at the B&H Event Space in 2014.) The location is amazing, but impossible to photograph as a whole from ground level (though you can do plenty of other work).

For the spot my brother brought me to: If you park near Tire Pool, take the path across the bridge and keep heading toward Fairy Falls Trail. In about a quarter-mile or so, you pass between Grand Prismatic on your right and a high hill to your left. You have to climb to the top of that hill, through trees and over logs, and there is no trail or path. Of course, you’d have to decide if your limitation allows for that. I can tell you this, though: If you can get up there, the view is spectacular.

Please let me know how the trip goes!

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