5 National Parks That Will Inspire Your Photography

Are you a beginner, intermediate or advanced photographer that wants to focus more on landscape shots and travel to new destinations? If you have a love for nature and a passion for photography, take a scenic drive to one of the many beautiful and accessible national parks in the United States. Many national parks have breathtaking views that you can photograph with your wide-angle lens, tripod, or even your phone. 

You can explore national parks throughout the year to capture the different seasons, and there are so many iconic attractions that you will find on your photography journey. According to the National Park Service, be prepared to pay at least $30 per vehicle or $20 per person as an entrance fee. Tip: If you are planning to visit more than one national park in a year, consider purchasing an annual pass for $80. Some sites and trails within national parks require reservations or permits, so be sure to check the official National Park Service website, current conditions and weather alerts for the park you are visiting when planning your trip.

Zion National Park

Zion National Park - Photo Credit: Asif Islam/Shutterstock

Located in southwestern Utah near the town of Springdale, Zion National Park is Utah’s first national park. It is known for its Navajo sandstone, high mesas, deep canyons, trails, hot springs and emerald pools. You can find the largest flying bird in North America, the California Condor, at this national park along with unusual plant and animal diversity; in fact, you’ll find more flowers there than anywhere else in Utah.

There are many opportunities to capture the orange, red, and pink textured sandstone formations throughout the canyons. Check out these locations:

Zion Canyon

The Narrows

Canyon Junction Bridge

Observation Point

Emerald Pools

Hampton Inn & Suites - Springdale Zion National Park

Hampton Inn & Suites Springdale/Zion National Park

If you are planning a visit to Zion National Park, Hampton Inn & Suites Springdale/Zion National Park is a great place to stay with less than a 30-minute drive to the park. The town shuttle makes a stop right outside the hotel and will take you to shops, galleries and the Zion National Park Visitor Center. Enjoy a free hot breakfast daily before exploring the wonders of Utah, then relax at the outdoor pool and fireplace at the end of your day.

Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park – Photo Credit: Sean Xu/Shutterstock

Visitors to Rocky Mountain National Park have many opportunities for adventure, from hiking and horseback riding to fishing, camping and more. While you explore the Rocky Mountains and hiking trails, you will notice an abundance of wildlife such as the bighorn sheep and American elk. Rocky Mountain National Park has diverse wildlife to serve as a photography subject - adjust your shutter speed for the ability to capture wildlife in their environment.  

For landscape photography, travel to the following locations:

Trail Ridge Road

Sprague Lake

Alberta Falls

Emerald Lake

Dream Lake & Nymph Lake

Old Fall River Road

Alpine Visitor Center

Bear Lake

Embassy Suites by Hilton Boulder - Atrium Lobby

Embassy Suites by Hilton Boulder

Embassy Suites by Hilton Boulder will allow you to experience both mountain views and the city with a fun night out in Downtown Boulder. Wake up early and get ready for hikes with a made-to-order breakfast and relax at the end of the day with a complimentary Evening Reception. If you want time to work out aside from hiking, exercise in the two-story fitness center or swim in the outdoor pool.

Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park – Photo Credit: Martina Birnbaum/Shutterstock

Take a drive to the mid-section of the Maine coast to experience the beauty of the highest rocky headlands along the Atlantic coastline of the United States. Acadia National Park is the perfect place to see the first sight of the sunrise in the U.S., so it is important to start your day off early. See the shoreline and overlapping small towns as you drive down the broken-stone carriage roads and take advantage of the photo opportunities at sunrise and sunset on top of Cadillac Mountain or along the water at Boulder Beach. 

Other unique photo spots to include on your visit to the park are:

Jordan Pond

Thunder Hole

Hadlock Ponds

Bass Harbor Head Light Station

Bubble Rock

Hampton Inn - Bar Harbor - Exterior

Hampton Inn Bar Harbor

If you are looking to visit Acadia National Park between May to October, Hampton Inn Bar Harbor is the perfect match for you. This seasonal hotel is less than a mile away from the national park, and two miles away from downtown and the waterfront. Unwind in the rooms with gorgeous views of the mountains and Bar Harbor.

Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park - Photo Credit: Chones/Shutterstock

Two deserts meet in Joshua Tree National Park, located east of Palm Springs in southern California. Every photographer’s dream is to capture the iconic Joshua Tree. Did you know that the unique trees the park is named after are actually a type of yucca plant? As you walk through the park, look around for the iconic flora or look up to see people rock climbing, a popular activity in the park.

The nighttime also presents an opportunity for you to take pictures of the stars, as Joshua Tree National Park is an International Dark Sky Park. 

Scenic spots to visit during your time in the park include:

Arch Rock

Skull Rock

Cholla Cactus Garden

Hall of Horrors

Lost Palms Oasis

Lost Horse Mine

Barker Dam

Homewood Suites by Hilton - Palm Desert - Exterior Dusk

Homewood Suites by Hilton Palm Desert

After exploring the park, unwind in the outdoor swimming pool at Homewood Suites by Hilton Palm Desert. If you want to be more active, spend time at the fitness center. Enjoy a complimentary evening social every Wednesday and breakfast every morning. There are also opportunities to explore The Living Desert Zoo nearby or more than 120 golf courses in the Palm Springs area.

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park - Photo Credit: Asif Islam/Shutterstock

Look up and see the giant sequoia trees of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park, including the largest tree on Earth by volume, The General Sherman, in the southern Sierra Nevada east of Visalia, California. America’s second-oldest national park is home to the tallest and largest trees on the planet. It has over three hundred species of animals, plus cave resources, deep canyons, mountains and meadows.

When thinking about different camera angles, try tilting your camera up and pointing it to the top of The General Sherman. You will capture this massive sequoia tree surrounded by smaller trees to highlight the main attraction in the park. 

For more diversity in your photo subjects, check out the following areas: 

Kings Canyon Overlook

Redwood Mountain Overlook

Moro Rock

Crescent Meadow

Cedar Grove

Hampton Inn & Suites by Hilton Tulare - Lobby Dining Area

Hampton Inn & Suites by Hilton Tulare

Drive an hour to Sequoia National Park, Kings Canyon or Kaweah Lake from Hampton Inn & Suites by Hilton Tulare. After your travels, return to your cozy Hampton bed to edit photos and enjoy a good night's sleep. Aside from spending time in nature, you can take a swim in the pool, exercise in the gym or shop at nearby outlets.

Hilton Honors Double Points

From May 2 to September 2, 2024, Hilton Honors members can earn 2X Bonus Points on every stay with the Double Points Promotion.  Hilton Honors members who register for the promotion and stay at any Hilton brand property during those dates will earn double Bonus Points. There is no limit to the total amount of Bonus Points that may be earned during the Promotion Period with this offer.

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