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Location suggestions for a few days in the US, please?

Location suggestions for a few days in the US, please?

Old Jul 8, 17, 6:29 pm
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Question Location suggestions for a few days in the US, please?

Hi folks

On my next work trip to the US in early August I'm planning on taking a few days of annual leave to have a little bit of a vacation before I fly home. I'd be bringing my photography gear and drone, and wanting to visit somewhere pretty epic and spectacular.

On a previous trip when I had a long weekend to fill, I flew to Arizona and loved it - crazy, surreal, mind-bending landscapes, with obvious attractions of places like the Grand Canyon and Horseshoe Bend. But it's a bit hot out there at the moment - would've liked to spend some time in Utah too, but that's too hot as well.

So I'm looking at more northern states - so many options I'm not sure where to begin, which is why I'm asking here for any experiences or recommendations. There's Yellowstone, Yosemite, Tetons, or the landscapes and mountains around Denver or SLC... those are just the ones off the top of my head, I'm sure there are loads more brilliant options.

Where would you head for some photography (both traditional and drone) if you had 4-5 days in early/mid August?

I'll be coming from St Louis, which is where my work is in the US.
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Old Jul 8, 17, 7:07 pm
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Of the places you mentioned, I'd look at Grand Teton National Park or go even further north to Glacier N.P. If you have easy access into Canada, consider Banff NP.
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Old Jul 8, 17, 7:31 pm
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Originally Posted by TownCar View Post
Hi folks

On my next work trip to the US in early August I'm planning on taking a few days of annual leave to have a little bit of a vacation before I fly home. I'd be bringing my photography gear and drone,
On a previous trip when I had a long weekend to fill, I flew to Arizona and loved it - crazy, surreal, mind-bending landscapes, with obvious attractions and wanting to visit somewhere pretty epic and spectacular.
of places like the Grand Canyon and Horseshoe Bend. But it's a bit hot out there at the moment - would've liked to spend some time in Utah too, but that's too hot as well.

So I'm looking at more northern states - so many options I'm not sure where to begin, which is why I'm asking here for any experiences or recommendations. There's Yellowstone, Yosemite, Tetons, or the landscapes and mountains around Denver or SLC... those are just the ones off the top of my head, I'm sure there are loads more brilliant options.

Where would you head for some photography (both traditional and drone) if you had 4-5 days in early/mid August?

I'll be coming from St Louis, which is where my work is in the US.
I recently completed a 15-day, 2700 mile road trip to the Pacific Northwest (norther CA., OR, WA), purely for the enjoyment of photography. I am not sure if what I experienced was epic or spectacular to you, Id be happy to share that experience with you and this forum, and let you decide.

I have these two links to my BLOG (no worry, no ad and nothing to sell), where I share my own photo journeys with other photographers like you.

https://stefanofoto.smugmug.com/Trav...e-n-Waterfalls

https://stefanofoto.smugmug.com/Trav...g-Oregon-Coast

With 4 to 5 days, I would highly recommend the Oregon Coast, from north to south. More days will be better as you want more time to shoot during sunrise and sunset. The temperature will be quite nice in August.

Hope this help. If you have other questions, shoot away!
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Old Jul 9, 17, 7:55 am
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Thanks for the comments/suggestions!

Originally Posted by abmj-jr View Post
Of the places you mentioned, I'd look at Grand Teton National Park or go even further north to Glacier N.P. If you have easy access into Canada, consider Banff NP.
Yes, I've spent a couple of hours today just researching the area online and combining the Grand Teton with Yellowstone looks tempting. How busy is it likely to be around the second week of August? I mean, I know the touristy must-see sites like Old Faithful will always be packed, but does the Grand Teton park have the same hotspots of crowds and queues? Is it busy enough that accommodation is likely to be fully booked in most places, or do I still have a chance of being able to choose where to stay?

Although then I looked at Banff... wow. And I could return direct to Heathrow from Calgary, which would make life easier. However, staying within the US may be *much* cheaper if I can get to Jackson Hole using my Avios on AA.

Originally Posted by allset2travel View Post
I recently completed a 15-day, 2700 mile road trip to the Pacific Northwest (norther CA., OR, WA), purely for the enjoyment of photography. I am not sure if what I experienced was epic or spectacular to you, Id be happy to share that experience with you and this forum, and let you decide.

I have these two links to my BLOG (no worry, no ad and nothing to sell), where I share my own photo journeys with other photographers like you.

https://stefanofoto.smugmug.com/Trav...e-n-Waterfalls

https://stefanofoto.smugmug.com/Trav...g-Oregon-Coast

With 4 to 5 days, I would highly recommend the Oregon Coast, from north to south. More days will be better as you want more time to shoot during sunrise and sunset. The temperature will be quite nice in August.

Hope this help. If you have other questions, shoot away!
Great photography and a nice blog, thanks! The Palouse trip actually appeals to me more than the Oregon coast, for some reason - what time of year did you go, and what kind of focal length was being used for the Palouse sunset images?

One other thing that concerns me is the fact I want to bring my drone for aerial photography and video. And of course, you're not allowed to fly it in national parks in the US or Canada. When I was in Arizona, this wasn't too much of an issue - you can just drive a bit further until you're in an area that is not restricted, and still photography nearly-as-astonishing scenery. But from what I've seen, in parks like Yellowstone, this might not be the case as they're so much bigger and everything you want to see is embedded well within the park - would that be a correct assumption?
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Old Jul 9, 17, 9:03 am
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Originally Posted by TownCar View Post
Thanks for the comments/suggestions!


Yes, I've spent a couple of hours today just researching the area online and combining the Grand Teton with Yellowstone looks tempting. How busy is it likely to be around the second week of August? I mean, I know the touristy must-see sites like Old Faithful will always be packed, but does the Grand Teton park have the same hotspots of crowds and queues? Is it busy enough that accommodation is likely to be fully booked in most places, or do I still have a chance of being able to choose where to stay?

Although then I looked at Banff... wow. And I could return direct to Heathrow from Calgary, which would make life easier. However, staying within the US may be *much* cheaper if I can get to Jackson Hole using my Avios on AA.


Great photography and a nice blog, thanks! The Palouse trip actually appeals to me more than the Oregon coast, for some reason - what time of year did you go, and what kind of focal length was being used for the Palouse sunset images?

One other thing that concerns me is the fact I want to bring my drone for aerial photography and video. And of course, you're not allowed to fly it in national parks in the US or Canada. When I was in Arizona, this wasn't too much of an issue - you can just drive a bit further until you're in an area that is not restricted, and still photography nearly-as-astonishing scenery. But from what I've seen, in parks like Yellowstone, this might not be the case as they're so much bigger and everything you want to see is embedded well within the park - would that be a correct assumption?
Flying drones in national parks is quite restricted; see https://www.nps.gov/orgs/aviationpro...ft-systems.htm

Grand Teton and Yellowstone NPs are extremely crowded and expensive in the summer; you'd undoubtedly have difficulty getting space, and access from major airports is very limited (look at Jackson Hole for Grand Teton, Bozeman for Yellowstone.)

My strong recommendation would be for the Columbia River Gorge and Hood River/Mount Hood area in Oregon/Washington.

You can fly into PDX and the scenery begins 10 minutes from the airport.

Google these places/activities:

Oneonta Gorge
Portland Women's Forum Viewpoint
McMenamin's Edgefield
Maryhill Museum and Stonehenge (look at night photography at Stonehenge)
Timberline Lodge
Hood River County Fruit Loop
Multnomah and Latourell Falls
Lost Lake
Bonneville hatchery and Herman the Sturgeon
Hood River wind surfing

... and many more. It's an ideal location for photographers for a few days - huge variety, all of it gorgeous, plus history and interesting towns.

The Palouse in August isn't at its best IMO - flat light, not much color variety, hot weather. Spring and autumn are far better times.
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Old Jul 9, 17, 9:18 am
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Monument Valley is certainly hot in August, but the most spiritual and breathtaking place. It's Navajo nation, so I would ask around about whether you can use drones. Best photo op ever, but even the rankest of amateurs can't mess up a shot of Mitten Butte. Only drawback is that every shot you take has been taken ten thousand times before - by ten thousand shutterbugs. I haven't been there in twenty years, but the beauty and spirituality of Monument Valley still overwhelms me. I can't describe it, other than to say overwhelming.

Another suggestion is to fly into SLC and take US Route 89 North (or fly into Jackson Hole and take 89). It's the most amazing road that people take for granted. Goes through or just past a number of National Parks, but some of the scenery outside the parks is just as remarkable.

My bucket list includes taking 89 from its beginnings in Arizona on up to Canada. The sky is big out there, the distances are vast, and the land is wondrous.
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Old Jul 9, 17, 10:39 am
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TownCar

I was in Palouse just 4 weeks ago.

I understand that the colors and shades of the landscape change constantly depends on lighting conditions, and of course seasonality.

Most of the sunset shots came from my Nikon full frame 28-300mm f/3.5 zoom lens on the D750. Although I did try to extend the range with my 300mm Tamron on my Nikon D90 (DX cropped), but the quality was not satisfactory.

Be sure to do bracketing. I also used bracketed shots in panorama. Due to extreme hazy conditions, PLD filter is needed.

Re: Drone use. Others have pointed out. Yes, I did notice the signage posted in State Parks prohibiting the use of drones. Also note that some State Parks in Washington require admission fees.
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Old Jul 9, 17, 11:03 am
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Oh, one more thing: Bring ND filters for long exposure in case you see moving clouds. I had no such luck. I saw hardly any cloud.
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Old Jul 9, 17, 12:11 pm
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Palouse will be hot

The Palouse will be hot in mid August. Often 1-2 weeks of 100 degree temps or more. Look elsewhere.

Yellowstone is unique in that it is super crowded, about 1 mile off any major road. Walk further away from the road than that, and it seems like a different place.

I would probably choose Glacier National Park if it were me.
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Old Jul 9, 17, 12:12 pm
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Man I'd love to take a week or two and do a photography based trip like that! Heck even a short trip would be amazing.

Anyways just to expand a bit on what Gardyloo said about flying drones in national parks. In a single word: *DON'T!* If you're caught you can be fined $10,000 USD for doing so. There was a loophole that if you launch and land outside of the park you could overfly it but I honestly don't know if you can still do that and I'm certainly not going to risk a $10k fine ti find out later this summer while at the Grand Canyon.

The FAA also restricts flights to under 400 feet (120m) in altitude and within a 5 mile (8km) radius of an airport, heliport, seaplane port, or balloon port. You'd be surprised how far that radius can extend from an airport when extended in a straight line. If you're going to be on tribal land be aware that some Native American tribes also prohibit the use of UAVs on their lands without permission or in some cases at all.

One other thing while the northern states might not be hitting 100+F (~40C) daily like southern Arizona they frequently hit the upper 80s and 90s (30+C) with oppressive humidity levels at times so be prepared. (FWIW SLC is supposed to hit 98 today and Denver 90)

Anyways enjoy your trip and be sure to post some of your shots when you get back!
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Old Jul 9, 17, 1:11 pm
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To follow up on my recommendation of the Columbia Gorge and Mount Hood areas (which aren't national parks hence looser drone restrictions) here are a couple of videos to illustrate.

Here's Maryhill Stonehenge, around 2 hours east of Portland airport. East of Hood River along the Columbia River the landscape changes from forest and waterfalls to more arid "old west" sagebrush country (the Cascade Mountains stop the rain.)


This one starts in the eastern part of the Gorge, around Maryhill, then moves west and ends with Lost Lake (views of Mt. Hood) and Multnomah Falls -


Here's one of Multnomah Falls itself -

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Old Jul 9, 17, 2:24 pm
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Originally Posted by LtKernelPanic View Post
... Anyways just to expand a bit on what Gardyloo said about flying drones in national parks. In a single word: *DON'T!* If you're caught you can be fined $10,000 USD for doing so. ...
Since some idiot crashed his drone into Grand Prismatic Spring hot pool in Yellowstone they have been very cranky about drones in national parks. Rightly so.
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Old Jul 9, 17, 3:58 pm
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Excellent aerial videos! The Columbia River one is gorgeous. After trying to figure out the best way to get my Phantom 3 4k to Arizona (friend has 9 acres there we can fly on) I'm almost tempted to sell it and buy a Mavic Pro instead.
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Old Jul 9, 17, 4:20 pm
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Regarding drones, don't get me wrong, I wasn't advocating flying in National Parks. I know that's clearly prohibited. What I meant was that at the places I visited in Arizona, it didn't prevent you still getting some good shots because you could fly just outside the perimeter of the restriction and still have cool landscapes and features to film and shoot. When I went to Monument Valley, there were "no drone" signs everywhere so I didn't fly... until I left the $20 circular track and drove north on the main road for 10 mins to the edge of the reservation where I could fly and still see some amazing colours and buttes. But places like Yellowstone etc. it doesn't look like you can drive to the edge of it and fly. You'd be driving a long way and you wouldn't be able to capture the iconic bits. I heard about the drone crashing into the Prismatic spring and yes, it's things like that which give rise to the bans and regulations. It's frustrating because I'm super careful with mine - I keep away from people and cars, don't get it into silly situations and generally err on the side of caution. I'd love to fly around the Prismatic spring and capture the colours from the air, but I can't, thanks to the idiots.

@ Homerjay - when I was at Monument Valley in late May, it was spectacular although I can't say it was a spiritual experience. But maybe that was due to the precautions I was having to take to avoid bottoming out my hired Mustang on the rough dirt road, and the various tourists who seem not to grasp the concept of a one-way road.

Thanks Gardyloo for the list of places, certainly looks like plenty to do although most of the accommodation you linked to is already fulled booked on most days, which makes me concerned if I can't get accommodation here, let alone in a national park... I'm also wondering about the weather, how frequently is it likely to be cloudy/overcast or wet in Oregon and Washington? If I were to return to Seattle instead of Portland then I can fly back to the UK direct/non-stop - would there be much to see on a round-trip along the Columbia River and then head north-west back to Seattle?

Bit concerned too at the mention of the humidity in the north west states. It's the humidity that's the killer when I'm visiting our St Louis office in the summer. I think I'd prefer temps in the high 30s in the bone dry desert heat, rather than lower temps in humidity!

I need to look more at options of Glacier NP and Banff. Not sure how I'd get to Glacier, from STL? Being up in Montana, is it quieter than the other National Parks, or is it still likely to be packed in various places? Do I need to be worried about bears in such places or is it really just a case of using common sense?
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Old Jul 10, 17, 9:25 am
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Originally Posted by TownCar View Post
Thanks Gardyloo for the list of places, certainly looks like plenty to do although most of the accommodation you linked to is already fulled booked on most days, which makes me concerned if I can't get accommodation here, let alone in a national park... I'm also wondering about the weather, how frequently is it likely to be cloudy/overcast or wet in Oregon and Washington? If I were to return to Seattle instead of Portland then I can fly back to the UK direct/non-stop - would there be much to see on a round-trip along the Columbia River and then head north-west back to Seattle?
In August the chances of wet or cloudy weather are minimal. Of course at high altitudes in the mountains anything's possible, but in August the chances of sunny and hot weather (with low humidity) are excellent everywhere.

Here's a loop route out of SEA that is a big favorite among family and visitors alike. It's easily doable in 4 days and will offer incredible variety. Map - https://goo.gl/maps/uMK3GpEBEtM2

Head south and east from SEA to Mount Rainier. Visit the Paradise Visitor center, then drive past the Reflection Lakes on the Stevens Canyon Road to the Grove of the Patriarchs, a stand of enormous old-growth trees.

Reflection Lake -


Then continue east over White Pass (more amazing scenery) on US 12 and down to the Yakima Valley vineyard and orchard country. Continue south on US 97 through the Yakama Indian reservation through near-desert followed by fabulous "old west" scenery - cottonwoods and creeks - like this for example - https://goo.gl/maps/i4BN4zJm8Ls - then down to the Columbia at Maryhill. Visit both the museum (funky and eclectic with some amazing exhibits like lots of Rodin) and Stonehenge.

Continue west on the north (Washington) side of the river (better scenery including Mt. Hood in the distance) to Hood River. Spend a day around Hood River including stops at Panorama Point in the Hood River Valley and a drive up to Timberline Lodge.

Then farther west to the heart of the waterfalls along the historic highway and on to Portland before returning up I-5 to Seatac.

I'd look at timing like this -

Day 1 - Seatac to Yakima via Mt. Rainier
Day 2 - Yakima to Hood River via Maryhill
Day 3 - Hood River to Portland via Hood River Valley, Mt. Hood and Columbia Gorge historic highway
Day 4 - Portland to SEA.

You won't have any trouble finding accommodation in Yakima (it will be very hot) and if you have trouble in Hood River, look at The Dalles (east) or Troutdale/PDX (west.) If this requires some "doubling back" just use I-84 which is very quick. Look at McMenamin's properties - https://www.mcmenamins.com/ - for fun accommodations throughout the Portland region, or there are many affordable places around PDX airport, all with immediate access to the Gorge via I-84 or via the Historic Highway, accessed from Troutdale.
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