Greatest American Photography Destinations
By Kimberly Graf. Published on October 29, 2018
Do you love getting out and getting the perfect shot while experiencing nature? You don't have to leave America to get that kind of beauty! These six locations are hand-picked for their photographic value. From cultural centers to forests, mountains, and deserts, there's something here for everyone no matter what type of scenery you like to photograph.
So grab your camera, hop in the car, and go get that perfect shot!
New Orleans, Louisiana
The first photogenic location we chose was New Orleans. There's so much on offer here. There's the Gulf, with plenty of coastal-town culture, beaches, and seagulls. When you're doing taking photographs of the sunset over the water, take a trip into the city. The French Quarter alone is one of the most unique places in the country. The architecture here is always worth photographing, even when there isn't a festival going on.
The blend of French-Creole, American, and African culture also make this a great place to photograph people. There are street vendors, performers, and fortune tellers sprawled all over the city, and the vast majority of them are really friendly! Not to mention the spires and cast iron work of some of the French-inspired architecture. You could spend days just wandering around the city, taking pictures of fountains, historic buildings, and people.
Let's switch gears entirely. Tucson is a bustling metropolis with a hot downtown area that always seems to be busy. But besides that, there is so much more to take in in the surrounding areas. Adobe architecture features heavily on the outskirts of town. But heading outside of town is really where the magic begins for Tucson.
There's a heavy western influence here. It's close to several mountain ranges, and there are different types of cacti everywhere you look. Long highways dominate the landscape, dotted with ghost towns and abandoned places as well as thriving little towns determined to survive.
The Saguaro National Forest hits the edge of town near Mount Lemmon. You usually think of cacti as an isolated occurrence, right? Here, the Saguaro cacti (native only to Arizona) grow in forests, just like trees do. It's amazing to see armies of them stretching over the hills around the mountain. Head up on Mount Lemmon for a greatly diverse ecosystem. Start out in the desert, and soon you'll be on a two-lane highway on the side of a mountain with sweeping views and pine forests all around you. You won't want to miss this drive!
Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
Grand Teton is one of those places that should be on every photographers bucket list. The terrain is Alpine, the lakes pristine, and you can reach all of it by throwing your gear on your back and hiking one of the miles and miles of trails. The one thing about hiking here – it's never a dull view! You'll get mountains and hill covered in snow, as well as deep gorges with rivers running through them. If you go in the late spring, you could very well still see everything covered with a thick crust of ice and snow – perfect for your wintery photography.
But the Tetons are also amazing in the summertime, covered in towering trees and forested hills. It's gorgeous anywhere you look in this park, no matter what season it is. You're going to want to take a trip to the Grand Teton National Park to get some of these shots!
Niagara Falls, New York
What photography trip would be complete without seeing Niagara Falls? These three thundering waterfalls are a top tourist destination for a reason! Surrounded by dense New York countryside, there's something to look at even when you aren't on the edge of the Falls.
You're going to want to go up to the Observation Tower at Prospect Point to get the best views of all three frothy waterfalls. Take in the sights here, and when you're finished, you can go 175 miles down behind the falls to get a sense of what it's like in a hurricane. Make sure to take a waterproof camera if you take this route. You're going to get soaked! But you're also going to get some amazing pictures.
Monument Valley, Arizona – Utah
When you think of the Painted Desert, you think of red sands and towering buttes that stretch into the sky from the desert floor. That's exactly what Monument Valley is! The buttes make this place famous. And when the sun comes out and hits them just right, there is a spread of red and orange across them with the gorgeous, bright blue sky in the background.
There's no place quite like Monument Valley. It's part of the Navajo Cultural Land as well. So many women have set up jewelry and rug booths on the side of the 17-mile Valley Drive. Stop and get some pictures of them as well – they are as much a part of this place as the sand and the rocks. Along this road are numerous pull-offs and the best pictures you could hope to get here.
Mount Rainier, Washington
Looking for glaciers? Mount Rainier is your place. This is the most glaciated peak in the world, and some even call it the most beautiful place in America. There's something about the sweeping vistas everywhere you look, sparkling crystal lakes, and snow-covered mountains that make this place magical.
What always seems so amazing about places like this is the peacefulness. It's so quiet in these places. It seems as though the entire world has stopped to allow you to get your perfect shot in. So take a moment, breathe in the fresh mountain air, and line up your pictures.
Take your time here. Sometimes the 14,000-foot peak of the mountain is visible, and sometimes the clouds are hiding it. It might take some time to get that perfect picture. But in the meantime, there are six major flowing rivers here, so check those out while you wait for the skies to clear. You won't be disappointed or feel like you've wasted time here.
America is beautiful – and most of it is just waiting to be captured on film. So grab your camera (preferably waterproof!) and head to some of the most photogenic locations in this great country. You can get it all, from desert vistas, long highways, and forests to snowy peaks and thundering waterfalls. Go see what America has to offer!