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5 West Coast Hot Spots for Nature Photographers

July 2, 2019

If you’re a nature photographer at heart and always on the hunt for an amazing location, we’ve got a few ideas that will have you looking through the lens at some of the hottest nature photography destinations on the West Coast. With impressive coastlines, waterfalls, and towering mountains, each location has its own unique qualities that create a perfect landscape for those of you seeking to capture the moment! So, grab your camera, and possibly your hiking equipment too, and start your photo journey through these epic West Coast locations.


1. Bandon Beach, Oregon

Bandon Beach is an incredible Oregon coastal area that can easily have you shooting the entire day until the sun comes down. However, you may not want to leave after sunset because this is when all the fun begins. After dark, this area offers amazing long exposure astrophotography of the night sky, along with moonlight reflections on its unique rock formations (also called stacks). These seacoast stacks are what make this West Coast nature photography location so popular. Start shooting at Face Rock State Scenic Viewpoint and work your way down the beautifully rugged coastline of Bandon Beach to see what nature offers up at this picturesque location.

Sea stacks on Bandon Beach, Oregon
Photo credit: John Fowler / Flickr  

2. Death Valley National Park, California

We didn’t add this one to our “hot spot” list because of its extreme temperatures; it landed in our top West Coast photography destinations because of the incredible images it can produce. So, if you’re ready to conquer the desert, pack your camera, along with your sunscreen and sunglasses, and head out to Death Valley.

Once there, you will want to check out some of its well-known areas that attract numerous photographers throughout the year. Popular spots include Badwater Basin, Zabriskie Point, West Side Road, Dante’s View, and Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes. These areas offer desert landscape photography like no other place, and will fill your portfolio with artistic shots of ever-changing sand dunes, unbelievable patterns created within cracked salt flats, textured canyons, and desert wildflowers.

If you need some inspiration, have a look at the National Park Service’s photo gallery. It’s filled with images that clearly showcase why Death Valley is a West Coast favorite among photographers.

Badwater basin in Death Valley, California
Photo credit: Tanya Nevidoma / Unsplash

3. Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve, California

For all you flower lovers out there, this is the place to be, come springtime. These eye-catching fields of poppy flowers attract photographers from all over the West Coast. So, adjust your camera settings to take on the vibrant burst of colors of this floral paradise.

The Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve is located in Los Angeles County, in a well-protected area that naturally grows these picture-worthy flowers. The best time for shooting would be midmorning since the flowers tend to open up during this time. If you’re running late, you may drive up to a field of closed poppy flowers because of the afternoon winds—so be sure to set your alarm! If you want to check the blooming status before making your drive, you can call the Poppy Reserve Wildflower Hotline at (661) 724-1180. That’s right, these flowers are so awesome, they have their own hotline.

Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve in Lancaster, CA
Photo credit: Mike Ostrovsky / Unsplash

4. Yosemite National Park, California

Some say that you’re not an official nature photographer unless you have tackled Yosemite. Outdoor enthusiasts who live for those great outdoor shots can spend months taking pictures of this enormous park and still not cover everything. It spans over 750,000 acres of wilderness and offers up some of the most spectacular landscape views that even the most experienced nature photographer can be in awe of.

It has everything from majestic waterfalls, unique rock formations, flowing streams, high mountain tops, colorful meadows, and much more. Yosemite National Park is said to be one of the top locations for serious nature photographers, and for good reason. See for yourself why this is the case by checking out some of the most photographed locations within the park: Glacier Point, Taft Point, Sentinel Dome, Yosemite Falls, and Mirror Lake.

Yosemite Valley, California in the US
Photo credit: Quentin Dr / Unsplash

5. Palouse Falls State Park, Washington

Nature Photographers seeking out the best locations on the West Coast will want to put this state park on their radar. After all, it’s not every day you see a waterfall of this magnitude, and with such a rich history. Palouse Falls State Park is located in LaCrosse, Washington and houses a picturesque waterfall that drops almost 200 feet. This photography worthy waterfall happens to be the last remaining flowing waterfall that was on the Ice Age flood route. The area surrounding this waterfall is worth hiking with your camera for the day to record everything this beautiful area has to offer.

Palouse Falls in Eastern Washington
Photo credit: Atanas Malamov / Unsplash

Whether you’re a professional photographer or a photo hobbyist, these nature photography West Coast hot spots will allow you to expand your horizons. Before heading out to your next outdoor photo shoot, grab a pair of polarized Knockaround sunglasses so you can protect your eyes from the sun while you take your next award-winning photo!

Written by Jeanne Romero for Knockaround.


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