2014 Washington

Photo Notes

Print out all TPE maps for National Park shots in case there is no Internet access!

Print GoogleEarth and GoogleMap maps for hikes if there is a possibility of no Internet access.

Columbia River Gorge

Wahclella is a fabulous waterfall but it has to be shoot on bright, overcast day. A sunny day makes the stream way too bright for the waterfall back in the dark alcove. Be sure to shoot the falls to include the bridge in the foreground. When hiking, take the high trail at the junction. It's a loop but the high trail is much easier.

Wahkeenah is also a great fall. Be sure to take the trail to the right of the parking lot/viewpoint. It's only a very short walk, and the trail crosses right below the falls. Be sure to bring something to clean off your lenses.

If there is a bright, overcast day, make Multnomah Falls and Wahclella Falls top priorities. They both really require these conditions to photograph well.

Elowah Falls is best photographed from the stream below the bridge and giant rock on the left. This works best in spring or early summer when the flow is strong enough. By August, it was down to a trickle.


We shot the traditional Gig Harbor shot from the platform, but I think there may be a better angle more over the marine/yacht club. The building in the foreground from the platform was a little distracting and may require a lot of Photoshop hours.

Try shooting the Japanese Garden as soon as it opens or very late afternoon. Best time of year is autumn.

Time permitting, add Poulsbo Shot and Fort Robinson Lighthouse (if Rainier visible) to itinerary.

Park with boat launch at Alki Point is better than Hamilton Viewpoint Park for Seattle Skyline.

Move Dr. Jose Rizal Bridge up in priority for next trip.

Olympic National Park

Plan two full weeks for Olympic. Although the mileages around the park are relatively short, the actual travel time averages less than 40 MPH. Driving to Cape Flattery or Shi Shi Beach is a full-day's outing from La Push or Port Angeles. You also have to plan in fog days. We had 3 fog days of our 7 when we couldn't get much along the coast.

Marymere Falls needs to be shot in the late afternoon. We were there around 11:00 and the sun was directly above the falls. It was nearly impossible to shoot in that light.

We missed Sol Duc Falls and the Merriman Falls near Lake Quinalt. We should have also planned to shoot the lighthouse with Mt. Baker behind it at Port Townshend. The mountains were visible our entire time in the Port Angeles area.

Hurricane Ridge

Hurricane Ridge wildflowers peak in mid to late June, at least a month before those on Mt. Rainier. It would be nearly impossible to plan a trip that includes both parks at peak wildflower blooms.

Climb to Sunshine Point at Hurricane Ridge for a 360-degree panorama that includes the Straits of Juan de Fuca as well as Mt. Olympus.

Hurricane Ridge is a good place for shooting the Milky Way. The main challenge is the headlights as people come and go. One option might be the patio outside the Visitor Center where the building protects you from the headlights.

The deer are famous for their friendliness. We had lots of opportunities to shoot very young fawns in July.

Hoh River Rainforest

Skip the nature trails and hike a couple of miles on the Hoh River Trail. We saw no wildlife, no nursery trees, and no trees "on stilts" on the nature trails. Mineral Creek and Falls is 2.6 miles from Visitor Center.

La Push Beaches

Second Beach was fabulous and has a window that shows sunset color through it during summer months. The farther you move to the right (when near the formations), the more open the window appears. The trail down is only 0.7 miles, so it might be worth it to shoot twice: once from close up and to the right and the other time out far enough to get the entire formation into a single frame. Second Beach is extremely flat and stretches for 2 miles south toward Third Beach. There is a "needles" formation about halfway toward Third Beach.

First Beach is right out in front of the Quileute campground. It's also an excellent place to shoot sunset and couldn't be more convenient.

Rialto Beach was fogged in but should be a high priority sunset location. Hike the 1.5 miles to Hole-in-the-Wall and the sea stacks at the point beyond it. Check tides because you can get cut off.

We skipped Ruby Beach because it didn't look as photogenic as the others. We saw gorgeous images from tide pools around sea stacks. Move up on the priority list.

Lake Quinalt probably wasn't worth the drive. If we do the drive, we should build in time to see the rainforest there?

Mt. Rainier National Park

The subalpine wildflowers (Stevens Canyon, Reflection Lake, Sunshine) peak at the end of July. Paradise doesn't peak until second or third week in August.

Reflection Lake

Still the best place for sunrise. Be sure to set up one camera to do time lapses to catch fog overflowing Stevens Canyon and covering Reflection Lake. It usually returns to Stevens Canyon within two hours.

There are also areas along trail at the far end of the lake for shooting great reflections right at the lake level.

Upper Lakes Trail

This trail should be done only in clockwise direction, not only for aesthetics but also so you are going down the long slope of steps below Faraway Point. All those steps would be a horrible way to start this hike. The Upper Lakes Trail had one spectacular wildflower area about halfway across the ridge above Reflection Lake, but the mountain was in hiding and we don't know if it lines up with Rainier.

Mazama Ridge (Lakes Trail)

If there is no shuttle available, one option is to hike up to Myrtle Falls and then take the Skyline Trail to the Lakes Trail. The trail drops down to a valley above 4th Crossing, and then you have to climb up to the Lakes Trail. The valley above 4th crossing has a good place to eat lunch and photograph local marmots. The trail junction to the Lakes Trail is to the right when you climb to the top of Mazama Ridge. The top 1/2 mile was pretty barren and probably won't peak for another two weeks (Aug. 15 - 23?). A good turnaround point seemed to be just before the trail dips into the trees.

Tipsoo Lake

Consider this a sunset location. It is pretty dark area for sunrise because the ridges hide it from the sunrise.

Hiking the Naches Peak Loop Trail backwards to reach the tarn earlier doesn't really save that much mileage; perhaps a 1\2 mile. Parking lot is no longer at the pass. You either have to park in the main parking lot or along the road.

Sunshine & Sunshine Point

Sunshine Point is one of the very few places in the park where you can get cell service.

At the end of July, the Shadow Lake loop that uses the service road and then the cliff-side trail back toward the Emmons Glacier Viewpoint is an excellent wildflower hike. The views across to the Emmons Glacier with wildflowers in the foreground are some of the best in the area.

Waterfall Hike

If you can work out the logistics, make the Paradise River Trail a high priority. Start near the junction of the park road that goes to Paradise or Stevens Canyon. There is a tiny parking place just above the river. Hike down along the river, past Paradise Falls, Narada Falls, and Madcap Falls across the Nisqually River and exit just below the Cougar Rocks Campground. The entire length of the hike, the river should be a series of cascades and waterfalls.

Subalpine Wildflowers

Great area for shooting subalpine wildflowers is near Reflection Lake and has a big parking pull-out (46, 46' 11.010000" N, 121, 44' 14.080000" W).