A Complete guide to the best photography locations in Washington State

Updated: Mar 8



A perfect reflection of Mt. Shuksan as seen from Picture Lake


The State of Washington is a photographer's paradise. It is the home to three beautiful and breathtaking National Parks - Mt Rainier, Olympic and North Cascades. In this post we will look at some of the most spectacular locations that offer the most unique photo opportunities . If you are a landscape photographer, then you don't want to miss this!


1. KERRY STATE PARK, SEATTLE


Kerry state park is a small public park in Seattle which is famous for it's iconic views of the Seattle skyline with the prominent Space Needle at the center and the beautiful Mt Rainier in the background on a clear day.


Location : https://goo.gl/maps/scAPktVHQNEy96as7

There is plenty of street parking available nearby the park so don't worry about finding a paid parking space. However on popular days, when the weather is clear you might have to park a bit further because of the crowd!


On a really clear day you can see upto Mt. Rainier in the background!

2. PIER 55, DOWNTOWN SEATTLE


Pier 55, located in downtown seattle is a wonderful place to hang out if you are visiting the city on a sunny day. It offers great views of the Seattle great wheel.

Don't forget to go on the Great wheel to get spectacular views of Downtown Seattle from above.

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/Cbfy3zThsDc1oqg86







Views of Seattle from the Great wheel



3. SNOWQUALMIE FALLS, SNOWQUALMIE


Snoqualmie Falls is a 268-foot (82 m) waterfall located east of Seattle between Snowqualmie and Fall city, Washington. It is one of Washington's most famous attractions. The falls hosts more than 1.5 million visitors come to the Falls every year, where there is a two-acre (0.8 ha) park, an observation deck, and a gift shop.


There are two parking lots near the area and one of them is Free, so try to find a space in that lot first and if you can't find one the paid parking lot is just near by.

Free Parking lot: https://goo.gl/maps/WRQnKZ3T7JryCrWR7

Gift shop parking lot (paid) : https://goo.gl/maps/Htg2ujmY92XXbVKb7



The observation deck is just a few minutes walk from the parking lot!

4. DIABLO LAKE VISTA POINT & TRAIL, NORTH CASCADES NATIONAL PARK


Diablo Lake is a reservoir in the North Cascade mountains of northern Washington state, United States. Created by Diablo Dam, the lake is located between Ross Lake and Gorge Lake on the Skagit River at an elevation of 1,201 feet above sea level.


You can get incredible views of the lake from a vista point which you can drive up to. The other option you have is to hike on the Diable lake trail which is a 7.6 mile roundtrip hike that takes you through impressive cascading waterfalls and stunning views of Ross Lake and Colonial, Pyramid, Davis Peaks, as well as Jack Mountain.



Vista Point : https://goo.gl/maps/2kdgJwZhi69hstC57


Trailhead : https://goo.gl/maps/pPjGjQ2RJHiXXemz6



Diablo lake with it's unique and intense turquoise hue




5. PICTURE LAKE, MT BAKER-SNOWQUALMIE NATIONAL FOREST


Picture Lake is the centerpiece of a strikingly beautiful landscape in the Heather Meadows area. The classic alpine vista of Mt. Shuksan mirrored in Picture Lake is one of the most photographed mountain scenes in North America.


A backdrop of mountains, wildflowers and colorful plant foliage makes this one of the best places to photograph in Washington.



Location : https://goo.gl/maps/zm75WVC5ybEtyxiv6



A glorious reflection of Mt Shuksan as seen on Picture Lake



6. WASHINGTON PASS, NORTH CASCADES NATIONAL PARK


The overlook at Washington Pass is one of the most gorgeous viewpoints you will ever visit. The views that you get to witness at this place are absolutely breathtaking and this is not a place that you should miss if you are visiting the North Cascades national park.



Location : https://goo.gl/maps/K8XBENMQp9MQs6jw9



It's amazing that this view is just a quarter mile from the parking lot!

Incredible landscapes at Washington Pass


7. HURRICANE RIDGE, OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK


The visitor center located at Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National park offers spectacular views of the Olympic mountains and is also renowned for many hiking trails and skiing activities.


The Hurricane Ridge visitors center offers several conveniences, including an information desk, gift-shop, restrooms, and a snack bar. The exhibits in the visitor center are open year-round, but limited to Friday through Sunday during the winter months.


This is one of the most popular destinations in Washington so be prepared for long lines during the drive upto the visitor center, especially during peak season & holiday weekends. If you like to beat the crowd then I would advise you to consider visiting during a weekday.

Always check current conditions here before visiting.


Location : https://goo.gl/maps/zDcENjjZoHgwExah6



If the weather is good, then you can get beautiful views of the surrounding mountains from the visitor center.

This place offers 360 degree views of the surrounding mountains on a clear day


8. LAKE CRESCENT, OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK


If you are visiting the Hurricane Ridge ( and you should definitely!) , then make sure you stop by Lake Crescent. This can be an ideal location to have a small lunch break or just sit and enjoy the serenity this lake has to offer.


This is also the location for the Storm King trailhead which is a 4 mile RT hike. More details can be found here

Location : https://goo.gl/maps/Wsm2oubfpABoNoC18



You can't see it here , but the water is really turqoise in color!

A more close up view of the colors of this lake!

9. RIALTO BEACH, OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK


The beaches in the PNW region are some of the most gorgeous and scenic beaches you will ever come across in this entire world. Olympic National park is home to many such beaches and one of the them is the Rialto Beach with views of giant offshore islands , also called "Seastacks" that remain the primary focus of this beach.


You will get plenty of opportunities to take photos of the beach with the Seastacks in the background, making up for an extraordinary frame! Also, this is a great location to watch the sunset, but during the summer time you might have to camp at the beach or stay somewhere nearby since the sun sets usually around 9PM.


Location : https://goo.gl/maps/z2RXG9VwHN7vskFQA


Rialto Beach is about 36 miles southwest of Lake Crescent, and about 75 miles from Port Angeles. More information on road conditions and campgrounds here.



10. SECOND BEACH, OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK


Situated just about 10 miles from Rialto beach is yet another beach famous for it's views of large seastacks and pounding waves - called the Second Beach. By the way, if you are wondering, yes, there is also a First beach and a Third beach, but somehow I preferred the views from the Second beach to be more scenic and it offered more photo opportunities. If you have the time , you should definitely check out the other two as well.


The hike down to the beach is about a 1.5 mile RT which involves a slight bit of elevation/climbing on the way back up, but the view is totally worth the hike!


Location : https://goo.gl/maps/Uv6wZuyrPr3eib248

The parking lot for Second beach is not a big one , so it gets filled up pretty quickly, especially during weekends and public holidays. Make sure you get there before time if you want to catch a sunrise or a sunset.





Some of the huge seastacks at Second beach


11. CHRISTINE FALLS BRIDGE, MT. RAINIER NATIONAL PARK


One of the first stops on your way to the Mt.Rainier National park is the Christine falls brige, which is just a short walk from the parking lot. This waterfalls offers a great photo opportunity for any photo lover with the falls in the center and the bridge directly above it, making the scene look completely out of a fairy tale!


Location : https://goo.gl/maps/sQTrA1x9wMZbWxy36




Doesn't this look straight out of a fairy tale?



12. RICKSECKER VIEWPOINT, MT. RAINIER NATIONAL PARK


You will come across many viewpoints on your drive in the Mt. Rainier National park, but I would strongly recommend a stop at Ricksecker viewpoint. You get incredible views of Mt. Rainier on a clear day and all you need to do is step out of your car and take a picture!


Location: https://goo.gl/maps/NSD6yirjKxGTBiCz5



Ricksecker point is one of the best viewpoints to get spectacular views of Mt. Rainier



13. REFLECTION LAKE, MT. RAINIER NATIONAL PARK


You don't have to be a genius to guess what the Reflection lake is famous for! Yes, you guessed it right! This lake offers spectacular views of Mt Rainier with a beautiful reflection over a lake. This view is obviously only possible on clear days and days when the lake is not frozen or covered with Snow.


The Lake will still have a lot of snow if you are planning to go during the Memorial day weekend so be aware of that. I would say the best time to visit this lake to get that perfect picture would be sometime between June and August.

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/zRFQn2Qb6i6W9ixB8



If you go during peak Summer the snow would have completely melted and you would get a perfect reflection


14. PARADISE, MT. RAINIER NATIONAL PARK


The Henry Jackson visitor center located at Mt. Rainier national park offers spectacular views of Mt. Rainier and the surrounding mountains. This place is also the location for many trailheads including the Skyline trail and Nisuqually vista trail


There will still be a lot of snow on these two trails if you are planning to go during the Memorial day weekend so be aware of that. However you will still be able to hike these trails with snow shoes or a good snow boot.

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/3euTBzp8YGDWRbBC8



Views of Mt.Rainier as seen from Paradise


The Skyline trail during the end of May. For a snow free experience I would strong suggest waiting till July at the very least

OTHER PLACES OF INTEREST


15. SUNRISE , MT. RAINIER NATIONAL PARK


At an elevation of 6,400 feet, Sunrise is the highest point that can be reached by vehicle at Mount Rainier National Park. On clear summer days, Sunrise provides breathtaking views of Mount Rainier, Emmons glacier, vibrant wildflower meadows. Sunrise Point offers nearly 360-degree views of the surrounding valleys, Mount Rainier, and other volcanoes in the Cascade Range such as Mount Adams. These views and an excellent trail system make Sunrise the second most visited location in the park


Please note that Sunrise area is open daily from early July to early September and closed in winter, so plan your travel accordingly if this is one of the main reasons you are visiting Washington.

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/VszCkoyqjZc62mG96


Check here for current road conditions in Mt. Rainier.


16. RUBY BEACH , OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK


If you are visiting the Olympic National Park and you have the time then make sure you check out Ruby Beach as well.

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/H9XWLnNd4oXvQRvCA


17. ARTIST POINT , NORTH CASCADES NATIONAL PARK


Artist point is one of the most beautiful trails in the North Cascades national park that offers seasonal hiking with views of Mount Shuksan & Baker. Please note that Artist point usually opens up during the first week of June. Check here for current road conditions.

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/3StPjveec6VmqysV6


18. LAKE ANN , NORTH CASCADES NATIONAL PARK


Lake Ann is a 8.2 mile RT hike in the North Cascades national park which lets you enjoy up-close, breathtaking views of Mount Shuksan’s west face, along with views of Fisher Chimney, the upper and lower Curtis Glacier, as well as Mount Baker. Check here for more detials abouy the trail.

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/RpoKJPfceZJ7QURM6


19. STUART AND COLCHUK LAKES , CENTRAL CASCADES LEAVENWORTH


Lake Stuart and Colchuck Lake Trail is a 11.7 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Leavenworth, Washington that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until October. Check here for more detials abouy the trail.

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/R1Zw51pKsjZcTVaJ7


20. LAKE WENATCHEE , LEAVENWORTH


Lake Wenatchee is a glacier- and snowmelt-fed lake situated in the Wenatchee National Forest on the eastern slopes of the Cascades Mountain Range. It's a great place to visit for chilling out on the lake or for a picnic lunch. There is however a $5 day fee to park/visit here so please keep that in mind.

Location: https://goo.gl/maps/MowPtEjdcjS67qna7




And that concludes it!


Have you been to Washington state before?

Do you feel that I missed anything on this list?


I would love to hear your experiences.

Please feel free to drop a comment, I would really appreciate it.

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