Famed photographer Ansel Adams said, “You don’t take a photograph, you make it.” For photography enthusiasts, making that photo requires inspiring landscapes, natural wonders and outdoor venues. In the United States, there is no shortage of enchanting landscapes that provide the best photo opportunities and scenic views. For the those who seek to “make” photographs, here are three destinations ripe with photo ops.
The Grand Canyon, Arizona
History: It shouldn’t be surprising that this cavernous wonder made the list. With its brilliant sunsets and vibrant wall coloring, you have to try pretty hard not to capture the natural beauty of this scenic spot. At a mile deep and 18 miles wide, the canyon spans more than 275 miles across northern Arizona. The area is home to artifacts and ruins that date back as far as 12,000 years ago. A result of erosion by the Colorado River, the layered rock of the canyon walls serve as a record of the Earth’s evolution. The U.S. government sent out expeditions in the 1800s to explore, report and map the many facets of the canyon, which was later awarded the status of Federal Protection in 1893. In 1919, the Grand Canyon received National Park status.
Seasonality & Climate: The Grand Canyon is open year-round, but the weather will vary greatly from season to season, sometimes from day to day. At 7,000 feet above sea level, the popular destination of the South Rim receives snow in winter, but even summer nights can be brisk. If exploring the canyon in the summer during the day, down in the canyon along the Colorado, temperatures can creep up to 120 degrees. No matter the season, the canyon’s climate is sure to vary.
Cost: An individual pass to enter the Grand Canyon is $15 and an annual pass is $60.
Ala Kahakai, Hawaii
History: Native Hawaiian tradition and culture await the curious traveler here. Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail was established in 2000 and runs across more than 170 miles of beautiful Hawaiian greenery. The corridor is packed with historic and cultural significance, and those with camera in hand can snap shots of settlement sites created by the Native Hawaiians hundreds of years ago.
Seasonality & Climate: The preserve is open year-round, but like the canyon, the weather on the island is unpredictable, and all visitors should be prepared for rain, shine or both. Though non-government facilities’ hours at the preserve vary, the park is officially open from sunrise to sunset everyday.
Cost: Entrance to the trail is free.
Denali National Park, Alaska
History: For the rugged photographer, Alaska is host to a multitude of wildlife and landscape. From Wonder Lake in Denali National Park, the view of Mount McKinley is reason enough to grab your camera and go. In the Kantishna Hills rests Camp Denali, which allows for unrivaled access to wildlife like grizzly bears, wolves, moose and caribou all set in the breathtaking tundra scene.
Seasonality & Climate: Spring is a very short but cold season, with temperatures just above freezing. Summers in this part of Alaska are usually wet and cold with temperatures ranging between 40 and 60 degrees. In August, the fall colors that pull so many to the area begin blooming and changing along the alpine tundra. If trekking during this damp season, be sure you come prepared with waterproof camera equipment and a solid set of boots. It’s recommended to stay away in September when the temperatures begin to drop below zero, as well as the beginning of the year, which can be as low as -40 degrees.
Cost: An individual pass is $10 and can be used for up to seven days.
When you want to travel with your camera, pick destinations that offer you experiences rich with history and culture. These magical locales are perfect for making — not taking — photographs.