Starting with a series of questions, again… So in Glacier National Park, the main question is not whether to photograph or not photograph its raw beauty. The most importance topic is where to find those outstanding photo spots in different sections of Glacier National Park.
The Best Photo Spots in Glacier National Park (In No Particular Order)
It wasn’t even 10 minutes after we entered the western side of the Going-to-the-Sun Road, and we already longed for a little break to get out of the car and photograph the splendid landscape surrounding us. Gigantic Lake McDonald with majestic mountains reflecting in its calm water took our breath away first.
As we drove off after making an almost mandatory photo stop at a random pull-off near the West Glacier entrance, the scenery became even better and more photogenic. How can you keep your camera inside your backpack with such a captivating paradise around you? We needed a few more minutes to figure out that the biggest issue with Glacier National Park went far beyond discovered the iconic photo spots.
Quite the opposite, each section of Glacier abounds with the photo opportunities; parking spots, however, are limited. Thus, to photograph what you want and at a place you desire, you need to venture into this awesome natural photo studio early in the morning. Claim a parking space and enjoy some of the iconic photo spots in the favorite sections of Glacier National Park.
Keep in mind, though, these photogenic locations are scattered all around the park. So start shooting in the most popular places in Glacier National Park. Once done, venture into the lesser-known areas and continue to photograph Glacier’s untamed beauty there.
In this guide to the 8 iconic photo spots in Glacier National Park, we don’t prioritize neither the popularity of a place nor its outstanding surroundings. The destinations are listed in the order of how we discovered them. If you intend to start your photographic journey in East Glacier, venture to the photo spots listed at the end of the list and slowly move to the top.
TOP 8 PHOTO SPOTS IN GLACIER NATIONAL PARK
1. Lake McDonald
We started and ended our self-guided photography tour at Lake McDonald. One of the most popular photo spots in Glacier National Park, the place satisfies different photographic styles. Spread over 10 miles of pristine terrain along the western section of the Going-to-the-Sun Road, Lake McDonald boasts bountiful scenic overlooks and endless photo opportunities.
Furthermore, with a plethora of secluded coves along the shore, you can find some quiet photo spots to accentuate the natural beauty of Glacier National Park. No more striving for different perspectives of the same location. Now do you understand why the photos of Lake McDonald always look unique and preserve specific photographic styles of their creators?
2. Avalanche Lake
Avalanche Lake is truly one of the best photo spots in Glacier National Park. Sitting at the end of a 2-mile hike that starts near Avalanche Gorge – another photogenic place in West Glacier – the place remains pristine and unspoiled even when a horde of hikers happens to linger near its closest to the trail shore.
Similar to Lake McDonald, this photogenic destination conceals several hidden mini coves. Serving as temporary safe havens from all the hustle and bustle just a few feet away, these photo spots allow you to photograph irresistible greenish shades of the lake with the giant Glacier National Park’s mountains in the background.
3. Logan Pass
Where to find the best photo spots in Logan Pass, the highest point on the favorite Glacier National Park’s scenic drive? Anywhere you want. When it comes to photography in Glacier, this panoramic nook is the biggest reminder that you can capture the park’s pristine landscapes at any place and time of the day.
From the snow-capped mountains to blooming alpine meadows, and jaw-dropping overlooks, the epic photo spots in this part of Glacier increase in number as your proceed farther away from the parking lot. The simplest photography rule at Logan Pass is to point your camera and shoot whatever catches your eye.
If you want to add some physical activity to your photographic journey, go for a hike and don’t forget to bring along a wide angle lens and a telephoto lens. This part of Glacier is also home to some of the most interesting animals, such as mountain goats, bighorn sheep, and bears, and increases your chances of finding the best photo spots for wildlife photography.
4. Hidden Lake Overlook
The Hidden Lake Overlook is one of the most popular photo spots at Logan Pass in Glacier National Park. Perched on the hill overlooking partially frozen over lake (speaking about winter wonderland and early spring photography at the end of June) at the bottom of the snow-covered mountains, the place indeed looks like everything a landscape photographer can only wish for.
The captivating Hidden Lake Overlook adorns the final stretch of the Hidden Lake Overlook Trail in the Logan Pass area. Different perspectives and plenty of other photo spots to capture the unique Glacier National Park’s landscape are presented along the Highline Trail.
5. Lake Josephine
While researching the best photo spots in Glacier National Park, I never once encountered a single mentioning of Lake Josephine. What a shame! The place is a remarkable, overlooked gem. Nestled about one mile from the Grinnell Glacier trailhead, this not so secluded lake offers some of the best opportunities for outstanding reflection photography.
Hit the trail early in the morning and capture the dawning silhouettes of the towering mountains in almost complete solitude. Occasionally, shutterbugs emerge on the shore for a few minutes. But they leave in search of the more popular photo spots in Glacier almost as unexpectedly as they pop up at the lake.
6. Grinnell Glacier
One of the prime photo spots captured by all Glacier National Park’s photographers sits approximately 4 miles uphill from Lake Josephine. Reached via the 5.3-mile Grinnell Glacier Trail, Grinnell Glacier Viewpoint is the epitome of the natural beauty of the park depicted in a profusion of landscape photos and videos.
The panoramic views of Grinnell Lake below are one of central parts of the Grinnell Glacier photography. Yet turning around and pointing your camera at different subjects, such as glacier-fed waterfalls in the distance or sitting on rocks mountain goats (if you are lucky), improves your landscape photography tremendously. All in all, you can find so many unique photo spots in Glacier National Park even along its most popular trails.
7. St. Mary Lake
If water is your primary focus, your chances of finding the best photo spots around the second largest lake in Glacier National Park are unlimited. From numerous overlooks along the eastern part of the Going-to-the-Sun Road to secluded coves near Sun Point, St. Mary Lake attract shutterbugs and professional photographer alike.
The lake, famous for its aquamarine color at one point and bluish hues at the other, makes you redefine your photography standards and styles. It tempts you to find the unique vantage points in areas brimming with lush greenery and locations with plain, almost barren background.
One of my favorite photo spots in this part of Glacier National Park nestles near the 0.7-mile Baring Falls Trail in the Sun Point area. This secluded photo location astounds with its lush greenery and aquamarine shades of the lake.
Dramatic shape of tiny Wild Goose Island is another must-photograph subject. The overlook is, however, among the most popular photo spots in Glacier. It’s been shot from all possible angles. Nevertheless, you can still try to add your twist to it and capture the island in such a way that makes it look unique and inspiring.
8. Swiftcurrent Lake
Don’t underestimate Swiftcurrent Lake, one of the most photographed places in Glacier National Park. Famous for the Many Glacier Hotel, the area prides itself as one of the most outstanding destinations for reflection photography. The majestic mountains with tiny waterfalls in the background entice the photographers of all levels and further inspire their creativity.
The Best Spots in Glacier National Park for a Smashing Water Reflection Photo
It’s not a surprise that the alpine lakes and water reflection photography go hand in hand. Capturing the flawless images of the towering giants as they glare in still, watery “mirrors” is a mastery every respectable photographer strives for. The best reflection photos, however, don’t need a bachelor’s degree in photography. All they ask for are precise time, a sharp eye for details, and a bit of luck.
I heard people saying that in Glacier National Park even an amateur photographer can look professional. I must agree, at least partially. And for those who want to refine their photography game, here are some of the best spots for a perfect reflection photo in Glacier.
- Avalanche Lake
- Lake Josephine
- Lake McDonald
- St.Mary Lake
- Swiftcurrent Lake
- Two Medicine Lake
- Kintla Lake
- Bowman Lake
The Best Photo Spots for Sunrise and Sunset Shoots in Glacier National Park
For the best spots for a sunrise and sunset photo look no further than… again, the pristine Glacier National Park’s lakes. Early morning hours are usually ideal for the stunning reflection photographs. Furthermore, an early bird aka photographer often has the whole place for herself.
Top Places for Sunrise Photography in Glacier National Park
When it comes to the sunrise images, explore the following photo spots when you visit Glacier next time.
- Swiftcurrent Lake
- Two Medicine Lake
- Lake Josephine
- St. Mary Lake
- Lake Sherburne
Top Places for Sunset Photography in Glacier National Park
The best spots for a smashing Glacier National Park’s sunset photo include the following:
- Lake McDonald
- Kintla Lake
- Grinnell Glacier
- Hidden Lake Overlook
- Bowman Lake
- Wild Goose Island Overlook
TIP: You can capture the beautiful sunrise and sunset images pretty much anywhere along the Going-to-the-Sun Road.
The Best Photo Spots for Capturing Wildlife in Glacier National Park
Unlike the lakes and overlooks, the wildlife is the hardest subject to photograph in Glacier. The animals never wait for you to adjust your camera settings. Neither do they pose at a specific time or location. While Glacier astounds with its rather frequent opportunities to photograph the wild inhabitants in their natural habitats, this type of photography still often depends on luck and persistence. Some of the most possible photo spots to shoot the wildlife in Glacier National Park include the following:
Logan Pass. Keep your camera always ready for unexpected encounters with the mountain goats, bighorn sheep, and sometimes bears.
Swiftcurrent Nature Trail. The Swiftcurrent Nature Trail is one of the popular spots to see bears and capture the cutest photo of chipmunks in Many Glacier.
Grinnell Glacier Overlook Trail. The splendid views from the Grinnell Glacier Overlook entice not only the adventurous photographers. The seemingly relaxed mountain goats also like to soak up the morning sun on the massive rocks perched above the vantage points. Occasionally, mama bear and her cubs cross the trail, presenting additional photo spots to capture the wild animals in Glacier.
East Glacier. We didn’t see any bears neither along the Swiftcurrent Nature Trail nor at Logan Pass. One of our favorite and most successful photo spots turned out to be the Sun Point area in East Glacier. Rangers insists that you can also photograph moose in this not so popular corner of the park.
Fishercap Lake. In Many Glacier, the moose are more likely to strike a pose and devote a few minutes to a photoshoot at Firshercap Lake. If you are looking for more photo spots to capture these hoofed mammals, visit Bowman Lake in the North Fork section of Glacier.
Glacier National Park Photography Tips
1. Arrive early to secure your photo spots and parking spaces in the most popular areas of Glacier National Park
Normally, you don’t see here hordes of photographer clustered at one location like they do in Grand Teton National Park. Yet although the professionals and amateurs spread all over Glacier National Park, giving each other enough room for long photo sessions, parking spaces fill up quickly. So be sure to arrive early, especially if you want to find the epic photo spots at Logan Pass or Many Glacier.
2. Photograph in the morning for flawless reflection images
Most water bodies are usually calm in the mornings, offering the ideal conditions for the dramatic water reflection photos. Wind disturbs the water surface later in the day. Therefore, be sure to set up your tripods at the above-mentioned photo spots before Glacier National Park changes its mood from peaceful to playful.
3. Always photograph wildlife at a safe distance
Never approach the wild animals. The general rule is to photograph the large mammals at a safe distance of 25 yards. To capture the images of bears and wolves, increase this distance to 100 yards. If you are after the close-up shots of Glacier National Park’s inhabitants, venture to the the above-mentioned photo spots with a telephoto lens and wait until your “model” arrives.
Furthermore, never feed the animals in attempt to allure them closer so you can photograph them at the most preferable angle. A fed bear is a dead bear. And Glacier National Park makes sure that none of its “locals” gets hurt.
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