Glacier National Park is an area of unmatched beauty.
From soaring peaks to wide-open valleys, pristine lakes to thick forests, wildlife to glaciers, there is no shortage of beautiful scenery to capture with your camera. That’s why Glacier is considered one of the crown jewels of the National Park System.
When planning a trip to this incredible area, it can be difficult to determine where you should spend your time – there’s simply too many gorgeous areas to take in.
In this quick guide, I offer up a few of my recommendations for what to photograph in Glacier National Park.
One of the most popular hikes in all of Glacier National Park, the trek to Avalanche Gorge is certainly worth the physical effort. The payoff is a river of crystal blue waters flowing rapidly through a narrow gorge. The gorge, in turn, is covered in lush, green plant life in the summer, and that combination of deep greens and electric blue is one that makes for a highly dramatic photo.
But the journey to the gorge reveals even more fodder for your camera. Winding through the forest, the trail takes you through the easternmost cedar forest in the U.S. The 100-foot red cedars – some of which grow to seven feet wide – stand as testament to the striking beauty of this area.
Stop along the trail amongst the cedars to practice using a frame within a frame.
By positioning something (i.e., bushes and other plants) in the foreground of the shot, you give the image more depth.
Try different types of frames, too – the branches of a tree hanging down along the top of the frame or a tree trunk on the left or right side of the shot.
If you want to experience Glacier National Park without as much of a crowd, Iceberg Lake is a prime spot. The hike to the lake covers nearly 10 miles roundtrip, and with an elevation gain of nearly 1,200 feet, it’s also more strenuous than other popular hikes in the region.
The scenery makes the workout to get there well worth it. Not only is the lake itself beautiful, but the soaring peaks that surround it are also quite impressive. To the south is Mt. Wilbur, and to the east is Iceberg Peak, a steep tower that rises 3,000 feet above the lake.
Use a wide-angle lens to incorporate both the lake and the surrounding peaks into one shot.
To add more detail, position yourself near the edge of the lake and assume a low shooting position to bring some of the rocks along the shore and underneath the water into the photo.
Hidden Lake is one of the best locations in Glacier National Park for landscape photographers. There’s good reason for this, too. The hike to Hidden Lake begins at Logan Pass, a saddle nestled between Reynolds Mountain and Clements Mountain at an elevation of 6,646 ft.
Below the peaks of the surrounding mountains, fields of wildflowers seem to extend for miles.
Venturing along the trail to Hidden Lake, you encounter the Hanging Gardens Meadow where you can get up-close views of wildflowers in the summer. This is also a prime area for seeing wildlife, particularly mountain goats, as well as bighorn sheep and a grizzly bear or two.
Less than 1.5 miles from Logan Pass, Hidden Lake sits at the foot of Bearhat Mountain, a triangular-shaped peak that rises nearly 8,700 feet above sea level.
Bring a telephoto lens with you so you can get up-close photos of wildlife while maintaining a safe distance. A good option would be something like a 70-200 mm zoom lens to give you a wide variability of focal lengths.
The Best Way to See Glacier
If you’re a photographer and you love landscapes, there’s not a better way to experience the beauty of this part of the world than as part of a photography tour. Think about it – you get to see some of the park’s best locations, all the while being guided by an expert that can help you develop your photography skills.
Your workshop takes place in one of the most stunning areas on earth, too. What better way to learn how to improve as a landscape photographer than to be out in the majesty of Glacier National Park?
As far as photography tours and workshops goes, National Photographic Adventures has an excellent offering in Glacier from August 15-19, 2019. You’ll join Kevin Vandivier, a photographer with over 40 years of experience behind the lens, and no more than six other participants for a photo adventure you won’t soon forget.
The workshop takes you from West Glacier to Lake McDonald, Swiftcurrent Lake to Chief Mountain, with stops in between for sunrise and sunset shoots, wildflowers, wildlife, and even cowboys.
The value of this kind of photography outing is in the small group experience. This isn’t a tour where you’re lost on a bus with 40 people you don’t know. Instead, there’s seven participants at the most, that way you get to know one another, learn from one another, and get valuable one-on-one instruction with Kevin, too.