America’s best idea—our national parks—are probably best known for the outdoor activities they afford us. From hiking to fly fishing and everything in between, these well-maintained and preserved public lands open up a whole world of outdoor activities.
The active resources are easy enough to recall, but what about the less obvious resource these parks have in store—their natural beauty? The parks set all over the U.S. are about as diverse as the different regions themselves and each has something spectacular to offer. But when you can only see one or two parks, and you’re looking for the most picturesque and photogenic park, you need to know which of them are the very best.
Grand Teton National Park, Wyo.
Set just 10 miles south of Yellowstone, Grand Teton National Park has some major competition, but still manages to draw in nearly 2.8 million visitors a year—many of which visit to capture breathtaking images. The park provides ample opportunity for shooting large wildlife and dramatic landscapes, which are often most intense at sunrise or dusk. Named for the young mountains that shoot out from the ground and soar into the sky, Grand Teton National Park is perhaps most famous for the iconic barn photo, taken in Mormon Row, but there are no shortage of incredible vantage points throughout the park.
Arches National Park, Utah
“Nature never ceases in her capacity to surprise,” said photographer and guide author Mike Oswald of Arches National Park. Home to the largest concentration of natural stone arches on the planet, the red rock formations are popular subjects themselves, but also serve as natural frames for shots of the greater landscape. Photographers hoping to capture stunning images of a dark night sky will have a tough time finding a more perfect venue and time lapse photography is also an extremely popular option at Arches National Park.