People travel from around the world to take pictures in Yellowstone. Where else can you witness the birth of a bison calf, see a grizzly bear steal a kill from a wolf, or watch the sun set behind an erupting geyser?
And we need your help to preserve these experiences.
While you’re in the park, protect the things you come to enjoy, as well as yourself and other photographers, by following these simple rules:
Zoom with your lens, not with your feet.
Stay on boardwalks and trails in thermal areas.
Park in roadside pullouts.
Carry bear spray.
Leave the drone at home.
Pack your patience if you intend to photograph any of these views during the busy summer months. Traffic can be heavy and parking limited to nonexistent at certain times of day. Before you visit any of these areas, check our current conditions page to learn about closures that might affect your trip.
Grand Prismatic Spring
Colorful bacterial mats radiating from a steaming, azure pool make Yellowstone’s largest hot spring an otherworldly scene and a bucket-list stop for many photographers. A short walk from the Fairy Falls Trailhead leads to the only overlook with an elevated view of the landscape (shown here). The boardwalks in the Midway Geyser Basin offer a ground-level vantage point. Off-trail travel is prohibited in this area (even on the hills overlooking the hot spring), and parking is very limited. Please park in designated areas only.
Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River
Capturing a photo of this famous waterfall may involve visiting several viewpoints depending on time of day and weather. Brink of Lower Falls, Lookout Point, Uncle Tom’s Trail, and Artist Point all provide equally great, yet different, perspectives. On sunny days, a rainbow forms in the spray below the falls. Off-trail travel is prohibited in the Canyon area.
Timing is everything when it comes to geysers, so check our Geyser Activity Page, our Geyser App or follow @GeyserNPS on Twitter to see predictions for Old Faithful’s next eruption. You can also call 307-344-2751 (option 2). Arrive early if you want a front-row seat, and be ready to shoot since Old Faithful reaches its peak height shortly after it starts erupting.
Other Subjects & Locations
Animals (Lamar Valley)
Geysers (Upper Geyser Basin)
Spend a day or two exploring the boardwalks in the Upper Geyser Basin and you’ll witness dozens of geysers. Stop by the visitor education center or download our Geyser App to get predictions for the handful of geysers with regular intervals between eruptions.
Lakes & Rivers
As winter gives way to spring, Yellowstone’s lakes and rivers swell with melting snow and provide unlimited opportunities to photograph water. Within the park you’ll find thousands of miles of streams, over a hundred named lakes, and nearly 300 waterfalls. Many waterfalls, including Firehole, Gibbon, Lewis, and Upper and Lower Falls of the Yellowstone, can be seen from roads or overlooks.
Night Skies & Hot Springs
On clear nights stars fill the skies over Yellowstone, and steam rising from hot springs can make a dramatic foreground. The Milky Way is visible over Yellowstone from April through October, and the aurora borealis makes an appearance once or twice a year (a K-index of 7 or more means it might be visible here). Be sure to bring flashlights, some friends, and bear spray if you’re exploring the park after dark.
Sunrises (Yellowstone Lake)
Watching the day begin at Yellowstone Lake often means a brilliant sky reflected in clear, calm water rimmed by jagged peaks. The Grand Loop Road hugs the western shore, providing great views across the water to the east from many pullouts. At the West Thumb Geyser Basin, geysers and hot springs add to the drama of the golden hour.
Sunsets (Lower Geyser Basin)
As the mid-summer sun drops in the sky, it backlights the steaming hot springs and geysers along Firehole Lake Drive and the boardwalks at Fountain Paint Pot. By waiting to visit until the end of the day, you might even have the place to yourself!
Wildflowers (Dunraven Pass)
Wildflower season begins in April at lower elevations (Mammoth Hot Springs) and reaches the mountains in July when slopes around Dunraven Pass become a carpet of yellow flowers.
With snow and ice clinging to every surface, subzero temperatures transform Yellowstone’s landscape into a winter photography paradise. You’ll find trees draped in rime ice, steaming rivers and hot springs, and foxes making acrobatic leaps as they chase rodents under the snow. Access to the park is limited during this time, so read more about the logistics of planning a winter visit.
Looking for inspiration? Take a look at our Flickr albums to get a sense of places like Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, Hayden Valley, Lamar Valley, Lower Geyser Basin, Mammoth Hot Springs, Norris Geyser Basin, Upper Geyser Basin, West Thumb Geyser Basin, and much more.
Share Your Pics
If you intend to profit from images or videos taken in Yellowstone, please review the information about commercial film and photography permits.
Last updated: September 24, 2018