4 Top Places to Shoot in Yellowstone National Park

Our nation’s first national park is full of geologic wonder that your camera can’t resist. From the expansive Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone to the literal hot spots around Lower Geyser Basin, there’s endless mist and steam to catch the first and last lights of the day. 

We asked Ken Hubbard, field services manager for Tamron, about his favorite spots to shoot in the park. Looking for more ideas? Hubbard is co-leading our new online Night Sky Photography course, which is full of additional advice sure to improve your shots.

1. Mammoth Hot Springs

Sunrise at Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone
Sunrise at Mammoth Hot Springs in YellowstoneKen Hubbard

If you get there just as the sun is rising over the mountains, you won’t be disappointed. It lights up the steam rising off the mineral-crusted hot springs. Hubbard suggests shooting from the Canary Spring Overlook. “It’s just incredible,” Hubbard says, “with the warm light and all the colors.”

2. Lower Geyser Basin

Steam rising over Fountain Paint Pots in Yellowstone's Lower Geyser Basin
Steam rising over Fountain Paint Pots in Yellowstone’s Lower Geyser BasinKen Hubbard

Hubbard says he almost always ends up at Lower Geyser Basin for sunset when he can catch steam rising off the paint pots through the colorful sky. “It’s one of my favorite spots for sunset,” he says. He suggests coming here for wildlife, too—bison often gather in the grassy area of the basin. If you don’t see them after waiting for a bit, take a drive around the area. If you get stuck in a major traffic jam, you’ve probably found them.

Clepsydra Geyser from the Fountain Paint Pot Trail
Clepsydra Geyser from the Fountain Paint Pot Trail. Image details: Sony 7RIII camera with Tamron 28-75mm Di III lens 1/160 sec, f/22, ISO 200 @ 28mmKen Hubbard

When shooting directly at the sun to backlight a geyser or water, Hubbard recommends to always meter for the brightest area surrounding the sun, not the sun itself. The sun is too bright to expose and maintain any detail. By picking the bright area just outside the sun, you can properly expose for a setting sun. 

3. Artist Point

Yellowstone River's Lower Falls as viewed from Artist Point at sunrise
Yellowstone River’s Lower Falls as viewed from Artist Point at sunrise.Ken Hubbard

At sunrise, head to Artist Point, along the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Face toward the waterfall for stunning shots full of color. “The sunrise goes right down the valley there,” Hubbard says. Center the waterfall in your frame and capture the reflected hues in the water once the sun starts to rise.

4. Great Fountain Geyser on Firehole Lake Drive

Yellowstone National Park - Great Fountain after a rainstorm by John Bowman
Great Fountain after a rainstorm during a Night Skies Photo Workshop taught by Ken Hubbard and Andre CostantiniJohn Bowman

This geyser, easily accessible from the one-way Firehole Lake Drive, is one of they most popular sites in Yellowstone to photograph because the sun sets directly behind the steam. 

Take Hubbard’s advice: Creating a beautiful sunburst in your image is all based on the aperture you use in your lens. The more you stop down your aperture to f/16 or f/22, the more of sunburst effect you will create.

Sunburst at Great Fountain Geyser
Sunburst at Great Fountain GeyserKen Hubbard

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Photographer Ken Hubbard
Photographer Ken Hubbard

Ken Hubbard is the field services manager for Tamron and responsible for Tamron’s Tailgate Tour and consumer workshop series. His work has appeared in numerous galleries. 

Want to improve your game on starry nights? Sign up for our online, 9-part Night Sky Photography course, taught at your own pace by professional photographers André Costantini and Ken Hubbard.