January is a good time to photograph herds of bison in Yellowstone’s
Old Faithful thermal basins. Moose and elk are easy to find in the Tetons.
If you want to escape cold weather, Death Valley National Park plus Red
Rock Canyon, and Valley of Fire in southern Nevada are great locations for
mid-winter explorations with no crowds. Snow covers red rock formations
on the high desert across the Colorado Plateau. Arches, Canyonlands, Zion,
and Bryce are great winter destinations. January sees the peak of the migratory
bird population in refuges along the Louisiana Coast.
The Everglades, Sanibel and Captiva Islands, plus Big Cypress and
Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary are best visited in the winter. Migratory
birds can be photographed from December through February in south
Florida. Northern Florida's best weather arrives in mid-winter along
the coastline from Tallahassee to Pensacola. Hundreds of new elephant
seal pups can be photographed each February at Ano Nuevo, 50 miles
south of San Francisco.
Anza-Borrego State Park and Joshua Tree National Park in southern
California are often covered with wildflowers that may start blooming
in late February and arrive in waves through mid-April. Desert wildflower
color in the Phoenix and Tucson area usually peaks during the third week
of March. Big Bend National Park sees the best wildflowers and cactus
blossoms in March and April.
April brings the best weather to the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
Loggerhead turtles arrive in the summer, during mosquito and hurricane
season. Poppies cover Antelope Valley between Lancaster and Gorman,
California, during the second week of April. Austin is the center of Texas
wildflower country. The peak of the season is usually in mid-April. Late
April is wildflower season in the Smokies.
Snow has melted and the waterfalls at Ricketts Glen, PA, are at
their fullest in early May. Skies over Monument Valley are best in
May. The dirt roads are dry and summer heat has not yet arrived.
Slot canyons along the Colorado River are usually dry and free of
mud by late May. Hills along northern California's Coastal Range
are still green and the rhododendrons are blooming in the redwood
groves. Waterfalls are at their fullest in Yosemite Valley. Hundreds
of thousands of horseshoe crabs arrive in late May onto the beaches
of Delaware Bay to spawn. Huge flocks of migratory birds heading
north arrive to feast on the eggs in Bombay Hook National Wildlife
Refuge. Late May and early June are the best times to photograph
streams and waterfalls in deep canyons eroded through Indiana's
Turkey Run and Shades State Park, it's cooler, fewer bugs and no
summer crowds in a countryside filled with covered bridges.
There may be some rain showers still falling in the Olympic rain
forests, but if you wait until mid-summer, the place looks too dry.
There is lots of water in the Columbia River waterfalls, east of
Portland and Silver Falls State Park, east of Salem, Oregon.
Desert slot canyons may still be cool although the temperature
is over 100'F up on the surface.
Snows have melted and the Going-To-The-Sun Highway over Logan
Pass is usually open by late June or early July. Alpine wildflowers are
seen on the peaks of Glacier National Park in northern Montana. The
last week of July brings the peak of alpine wildflower color to the Yankee
Boy Basin in the San Juan Mountains near Ouray, Colorado. Oklahoma's
Tall Grass Prairie Preserve is at it’s best in mid-summer. The wheat
harvest across the Palouse continues through July and August.
Mid-summer is the peak of the tourist season in Jasper and Banff
National Parks in the Canadian Rockies.
Early August usually brings alpine wildflowers and good weather to
Mount Rainier and Mount Baker in Washington State. There are
fewer mosquitoes in Alaska and the bears are out in the rivers eating
the spawning salmon. Drive up the Cassiar Highway to Hyder, Alaska,
in August for the peak of the salmon run and lots of bears on Fish
Creek. Dall sheep and herds of caribou can be seen in Stone Mountain
Provincial Park, west of Fort Nelson, along the Alaska Highway. August
is the best time to photograph Lake Tahoe's Classic Wooden Speedboat
Concours de Elegance is held in mid-August every year Orcas in the
Johnstone Straits between Vancouver Island and the mainland. Santa
Fe's Indian Market, in the Plaza, is always held on the third weekend
of August. Swan Island Dahlia Farm, south of Portland, holds its open
house the last week of August.
Early September in Washington’s North Cascades can offer the
start of autumn color and snow on higher peaks Larch Valley near
Moraine Lake in Banff National Park is filled with yellow larch, a
deciduous conifer. Aspen covering the San Juan Mountains of
Colorado are all yellow by the last week of September. You can
find autumn color in Utah around Park City, Mt. Nebo, along the
Aquarius Plateau between Boulder and Torrey, and over the Cedar
Pass, near Cedar Breaks National Monument. The east side of
California's Sierra Nevada Range is bright yellow above Mono Lake.
Michigan's Upper Peninsula reaches the peak of color across the
Porcupine Mountains State Park in late September and early October.
The last ranger-led hikes of the year are available into the Anasazi
ruins called Betatakin in northern Arizona's Navajo National Monument.
There is a large grove of aspen along the trail. Autumn color on the
North Rim of the Grand Canyon is a great reason to visit Arizona in
late September. Late September is usually the peak of the autumn color
in Upstate New York, northern Vermont, and northern New Hampshire.
Autumn color moves into southern Vermont, New Hampshire, and
along the coast of Maine during the first two weeks of October, a
good time for lighthouse photography. Fly in and out of Rochester,
NY to photograph New York's Finger Lakes District from October 5
to October 20. Allow several days to photograph autumn color in
Letchworth State Park, not far from the Rochester Airport. Acadia
National Park usually sees the peak of fall color by October 10, about
the same time New York's Lake District and Nova Scotia's Cape Breton
reaches the peak of color. Mid-October is the best time to drive the
Skyline Drive through Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. State
Parks, like Macedonia Brook, in northern Connecticut see their peak
color during the third week of October. Autumn color spreads south,
along the Blue Ridge Parkway, to The Great Smoky Mountains National
Park, where the color peaks in late October. Nevada has four great
autumn color locations: Rainbow Canyon, Mt. Charleston, Lamoile
Canyon, and Wheeler Peak in Great Basin National Park. Cottonwoods
in Arizona's Canyon del Muerto and Canyon de Chelly are bright yellow
during the last week of October. Most of the cottonwoods along the Virgin
River through Zion National Park are bright yellow in late October.
The river level is usually low enough to safely wade up the Zion Narrows.
Most of the cottonwoods along the Virgin River through Zion National
Park are bright yellow in early November when you can drive your own
car into the park. The river level is usually low enough to safely wade
up the Zion Narrows. Napa and Sonoma Valley vineyards turn red in
early November. Drive to the high overlook at Artesa Winery for a
panoramic view of red and yellow vineyards. The deep canyon at
Georgia's Cloudland State is full of autumn color--reserve a cabin
on the rim. It's the best month for bald eagle photography on the
Chilkat River near Haines, Alaska. Indian summer brings great weather
to the San Francisco Bay Area and Point Lobos/Big Sur on the California
coast. November is the mating season for bighorn sheep along the
Shoshone River, west of Cody, Wyoming. Millions of monarch butterflies
arrive at Natural Bridges State Park in Santa Cruz, California. Most of
the sandhill cranes, snow geese, ducks arrive in New Mexico to spend
the winter in Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge by late
November and leave in mid-February.
Weather in the Hawaiian Islands is best through the winter. Late
spring is the rainy season and summer gets warm in Hawaii. Santa
Fe and Taos are decorated with luminarias and winter snow blankets
the Taos Pueblo. The North Rim is closed but you will find great snow-
covered scenes of the Grand Canyon through the winter. Trails through
Nevada's Valley of Fire State Park are very quiet, a good time to
explore the backcountry and photograph remote red rock formations.
Carlsbad Caverns, in southern New Mexico, is always 56'F, all year.