Photographing Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton is one of the most photographed parks in the National Parks System, and for good reason. Its collection of beautiful mountain peaks, surrounded by pristine lakes and wide open spaces makes it an excellent choice to take some award-winning images. Keep in mind that you're going to get the best pictures during the two "magic hours," from a few minutes before sunrise until about two hours after sunrise, and from an hour before sunset until about a half an hour after sunset. Essentially, anywhere you turn is a good photograph....but try the following for starters:

Snake River Overlook: This overlook, on highway 89 near the Moran park entrance, was made famous by Ansel Adams, who shot from here on assignment for the National Parks Service. It is crowded each evening by photographers, who watch the sun go down. Try getting here before sunrise for a better shot...when the sun comes over the eastern mountains, it illuminates the range with almost perfect light. Slide film is best for sunrise and sunset shots, but if you shoot print film, make certain to tell the lab it's a sunrise/sunset shot. Amateur labs will sometimes color "correct" the warm colors that "magic hour" shots render.

Oxbow Bend: Another famous spot to take pictures. On the Snake River, just inside the Moran entrance, you'll see photographers milling around here...and for good reason. It's spectacular. Again, early morning or late afternoon/evening are best. Mosquitos are murder here.

Jenny Lake: Everybody loves Jenny, but it's sometimes a difficult place to shoot if you are trying for the Grand....the angles are usually too steep. Turn northward and shoot Mt. Moran, instead. Walk along the shoreline, or take the Jenny Lake scenic loop to get farther away from the main Jenny Lake campground, and the angle on the Grand improves. An example is this shot, taken by my wife, Judy.

Signal Mountain: You owe it to yourself to shoot from Signal Mountain at least once. The elevation brings the whole valley into focus. Watch for the road just south of the dam.

Jackson Lake Dam: Nice place to photograph. Go to the south of the dam and park your car. Walk out onto the dam to photograph the lake and mountains in the background. Watch out for the birds.

Teton Point: Head on to the Grand. An interesting angle for sunset photos, and it doesn't usually attract the same number of photographers as some of the other points.

South Entrance. On highway 89, right by the sign.

Windy Point: Just inside Moose entrance to the park. Allows a southerly angle to the Grand Teton.

Mormon Row: Another oft-photographed point. Away from the park to the east.

Dornans: A personal favorite. Shoot and eat at the same time. An excellent chuckwagon (during the summer months) near the Moose entrance to the park.

Developing photographs: There are several labs in Jackson; most are quite good, and offer one-hour photo developing. For a pro lab, try Jackson Hole Custom Color, (307) 733-6456.

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copyright 1999, Daryl R. Gibson