Tuesday, August 2, 2016

National Park Service Centennial: Landscape and Nature photographs of Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons

"The parks do not belong to one state or to one section.... The Yosemite, the Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon are national properties in which every citizen has a vested interest..." 
Stephen T. Mather (first Director of the National Park Service)

This month marks the centennial of the United States' National Park Service, the governing body of our country's 58 diverse and wonderful national parks.  Early this summer our family spent a week in Yellowstone National Park and its neighboring Grand Teton National Park.  Our days were devoted to sightseeing and enjoying the outdoors (biking, whitewater rafting, kayaking, etc.) and in the evenings we experimented with local foods which often included the words "bison" and "huckleberry!"

Our first four nights were in Yellowstone:  two nights near the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and two nights near Old Faithful. Our last four nights were in Grand Teton National Park, near Jackson Lake.  Each morning, hours before my wife and sons woke up, I left our cabin or hotel at about 5:20 to photograph the landscapes in the 5:40 sunrise as well as the early morning light.

Both the Tetons and Yellowstone offer magnificent landscapes, including mountains, valleys and water of all kinds, such as waterfalls, rivers and lakes.  They also offer an incredible range of animal life, in their natural environment.  We saw hundreds of bison, as well as antelope, bears, elk, and moose.  In addition to classic landscapes, Yellowstone (particularly in the early morning when the air still has a chill) offers some other-worldly scenes. As I drove through the Upper Geyser Basin (in the Old Faithful area) at about 5 a.m., I felt as though I landed in a science fiction movie, with steam from geysers and other geothermal features rising all around.

For the past month, since we arrived home from our Wyoming adventure, I have gone through and edited my thousands of photographs. As my own celebration of the Park Service's centennial, below are 27 of my photographs of Yellowstone and the Tetons.  If you are interested in photography locations within Yellowstone and the Tetons, I have included some suggestions at the bottom of this post.

Bird landing on Bison's back, Grand Teton National Park,
Jackson Hole 
(U.S. Highway 26 / Route 191, 
between Jackson and Moran).
Herd of Bison, Grand Teton National Park,
Jackson Hole (U.S. Highway 26 / Route 191, 
between Jackson and Moran).
Lower Yellowstone Falls and the Grand Canyon of
the Yellowstone River, just after sunrise, from Artist's Point.
Close up of Lower Yellowstone Falls in
early morning light (from Artist's Point).
Lower Yellowstone Falls with Late Morning Rainbow (about 9:40 a.m. on June 26th) from Lookout Point.
Palette Spring and Devil's Thumb.
Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone National Park.
Old Faithful Geyser
Yellowstone National Park.
Fisherman at Nez Perce Creek (between
Madison and Old Faithful, Yellowstone National Park).
Sunrise at Biscuit Basin
Upper Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park.
Firehole River Before Sunrise
Upper Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park.
Terraces of the Great Fountain Geyser, in
Lower Geyser Basin, just after sunrise
(on Firehole Lake Drive), Yellowstone National Park.
White Dome Geyser in Lower Geyser Basin 
(on Firehole Lake Drive), Yellowstone National Park.
Sunrise at Schwabacher's Landing, Snake River,
Grand Teton Nation National Park.
This is another view of Schwabacher's Landing,
just after sunrise, Snake River,

Grand Teton Nation National Park.
T.A. Moulton Barn, Mormon Row, Antelope Flats,
Grand Teton National Park, Jackson Hole.
Wildflowers and the Teton Range, Antelope Flats Road,
Grand Teton Nation National Park, Jackson Hole.
Snake River Overlook, Grand Teton National Park,
Jackson Hole (U.S. Highway 26 / Route 191,
between Jackson and Moran).
Bison and Grand Teton MountainsGrand Teton National Park, Jackson Hole (U.S. Highway 26 / Route 191, south of Moran).
The Teton Range with a Clearing Evening Storm, from
Glacier View Turnout (
Grand Teton National Park,
U.S. Highway 26 / Route 191, just north of Antelope Flats Rd.).
Rutting Bisons, Grand Teton National Park,
Jackson Hole 
(U.S. Highway 26 / Route 191, 
between Jackson and Moran).
Oxbow Bend Before Sunrise, Snake River,
Grand Teton National Park.
Oxbow Bend just after sunrise, Snake River, 
Grand Teton National Park.
Schwabacher's Landing in morning light,
Snake River, 
Grand Teton Nation National Park.
Chestnut Brown Horses and Mount Moran,
Triangle X Ranch, Grand Teton National Park.
Sunrise at Colter Bay Marina
Jackson Lake, Grand Teton National Park.
Early Morning Light in Colter Bay Marina
Jackson Lake, Grand Teton National Park.
For those who may be vacationing in the parks, here are a few great photography locations near each of the three areas where we stayed: 

1)  Yellowstone's "Grand Canyon" area.  a) Artist's Point (great view of the Lower Falls and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River.  Sunrise and the very early morning offer beautiful golden light, while late morning - around 9:30 or 9:45 in late June - offers a beautiful rainbow in the mist of the falls); b) Hayden Valley and the Yellowstone River (beautiful landscapes as well as bison and elk); c)  Mammoth Hot Springs (this is about 55 minutes away, but it offers strangely beautiful hot springs and colorful terraces).

2)  Old Faithful area.  For much of the day, this area is really a zoo with tourists.  That said, Old faithful is an American icon, and you have to see it erupt at least once.  Here are a few other possibilities within a short drive from Old Faithful: a) Biscuit Basin (this is part of the Upper Geyser Basin); b) Grand Prismatic Spring (although if you go too early, you are likely to see only rising steam rather than the beautiful colors); and c) Great Fountain Geyser (the terraces are beautiful, even when the geyser is not erupting) and Firehole Lake Drive. 

3)  Jackson Lake area, in Grand Teton National Park. a) Oxbow Bend (at sunrise and soon after, this offers a terrific view of Mount Moran reflected in the Snake River); b) Colter Bay Marina (in the early morning you see Mount Moran and the Tetons reflected in the lake with picturesque boats in the foreground; c) Schwabacher's Landing (this is a location along the Snake River, about 30 minutes south of Jackson Lake Lodge, and it offers incredible sunrise views of Grand Teton and the surrounding peaks reflected in the river; d) Mormon Row and Antelope Flats Road (historic barns, like the T.A. Moulton barn, or summer wildflowers with the beautiful Tetons behind them); e) U.S. Highway 26 / Route 191, between Antelope Flats Road and Moran (there are various turnouts like Glacier View Turnout, Snake River Turnout and others.  Also, there are wide open valleys which are often filled with huge herds of bison.

The photographic possibilities in the two parks are really endless. If your vacation plans include Yellowstone and the Tetons, bring your camera, tripod and your creativity.