One Photographer and Nine Outdoor/Travel Writers Pick the Best National Parks for Spring

Moon Over Balanced Rock, Arches National Park, Utah.

Moon Over Balanced Rock, Arches National Park, Utah.

Are you planning a spring photography trip to some U.S. national parks? Where should you go? Which parks will provide the best photographic opportunities ?

National Park Photography by Tim Fitzharris

National Park Photography by Tim Fitzharris

You can start with National Park Photography by Tim Fitzharris. It is my favorite guide book to 24 of the best national parks. Tim provides you with a lot of specific location recommendations in each of these national parks. He gives you photo suggestions and tells you the best season or seasons to photograph in each national park. Because Tim’s advice is so on target for the places I have already photographed, I trust Tim’s advice for the places I haven’t been to yet. His recommendations are the first column in the spreadsheet that follows.

The Best National Parks in Spring.

The Best National Parks in the Spring. Click for a larger version.

I found several online articles recommending the best national parks to visit in the spring. If an article recommends a park I put an X in that article’s column opposite that park on this spreadsheet. You can quickly see which national parks are the most recommended.

So how do you decide where to go? I suggest you give the most weight to advice from photographers. They are more likely to know what other photographers are going to like. On the spreadsheet above I would give the most weight to Tim’s suggestions in the first column.

I picked this set of articles because they are better than most of the others I found. With some exceptions, the advice they give is going to send you to the best places to be.

Your location has a lot to do with where you go. If you live in Florida it makes great sense to go to Everglades and Biscayne even though only one author recommends either of them  because you are already in Florida.

There are other articles out there but a note of caution is in order about travel and photo location advice on the internet. I’ve had people recommend “wonderful” places to take pictures which often turned out to be average at best. I bet that has happened to many of you too. The same is true for internet articles. Be cautious about the advice that is given. Does it come from a well known photographer or a highly respected publication like Outdoor Photographer? If it does that is a good sign. If it is an unknown photographer or publication, be more cautious.

You could go by the pictures that accompany an article to see if it really is a worthwhile location, but that could be misleading too. An article I read on the beautiful scenery in Montana was headlined by a photo of the Grand Tetons in Wyoming. I’ve seen several other examples recently of photos that didn’t match the locations in the travel articles. Some photo editors are clueless.

After you read an article recommending a particular place, it would be a good idea to do a Google Image search of that place and see what you turn up. Of course the photos you find are no more reliable than the people who posted them on the internet. Well captioned photos by professional photographers (“Maroon Bells photographed from Maroon Lake in Colorado in December”) are more reliable than descriptions like “this is somewhere in Wyoming”.

All of this is important so you don’t waste precious time. We all have limits on our shooting time, so you want to make the most of it. As National Geographic photographer Jim Richardson says, “If you want to be a better photographer, stand in front of more interesting stuff!” There is more to it than that of course. After choosing a great location, Jim went back eleven mornings in a row to the same location to get the very best light. And even an average location can look great in amazing light.

Lonely Planet's guide to the best time to visit the National Parks.

Lonely Planet’s guide to the best time to visit the National Parks.

It helps to know which month in spring is the best to go to a particular park. That why this chart from Lonely Planet is so useful. If you are going to Bryce Canyon in the spring, April is the best month. On the other hand if you are going to Grand Teton in the spring, May is a better month.

So look at the spreadsheet above and the links below. Think about getting Tim’s book or one of the other excellent scenic location guides linked below. Then go exploring at one or more of our beautiful national parks this spring.

Where would I go in the spring? That will be my next article.

Some of my favorite photo location guides.

Some of my favorite photo location guides.

Some of the best location guides for photographers are linked below in my  best scenic location guides.

My Article Links

The Best National Parks to Photograph in Spring

When is the Best Time of Year to Photograph the National Parks?

The National Park Series: Where to Go and When

Articles: The Best National Parks in Spring

10 Best National Parks to Visit This Spring – Fodors

Top 10 National Parks to Visit During Spring – US Parks

8 national parks that are perfect for spring trips – Business Insider

Best National Parks to Visit with Kids in the Spring – Trekaroo

10 National Parks Worth a Visit This Spring – NBC News

16 Most Spectacular Parks to Visit in the Spring – The Active Times

10 Great National Parks to Visit in the Spring – The Active Times

The Best National Parks for Spring Break – Travel Pulse

The Best National Parks for Each Season – Airfare Watchdog

Spring’s Best National Park: 5 Tips for Hiking Big Bend – Backpacker

Article and Book Links

Nature Photography Books: The Three Essentials. If you only read three nature photography books, put these on your “must read” list.

My Favorite Introduction to Landscape Photography. If you only read one book on landscape photography, this should be it. This is my favorite to recommend to new landscape photographers.

The Best “How To” Nature Photography Books

These links take you to my Amazon powered photography store. You get the same great Amazon.com prices, service, and guarantee. And you help support my web sites. Thanks.

National Park Photography by Tim Fitzharris

The best Scenic Location Guides for photographers.