Photography Hikes: Glacier National Park
There are a handful of places in the US that feel more like a fairy tale. We’ve covered a few of them in this blog series. But there’s one specific location that might just top them all: Glacier National Park.
If you’re looking for a beautiful place to hike and to take some photographs for your Facebook page, then this destination is less of a children’s fairy tale and more of a full-blown Tolkien epic.
With mountains scattered about the landscape, and crystal blue waterfalls hidden in enchanted forests, it’s impossible not to feel like you’ve been transported to a fantasy world -- to the point where you may as well send your subsequent Facebook photo book to director Peter Jackson for research on his next project. That’s how special it is!
It helps, of course, that the hikes are also perfect. Throughout Glacier National Park, there are dozens of hikes that range in difficulty, catering to both the avid hiker and the hikers who want more of a relaxed gander. We’re going to look into one of the best trails below, and what makes it such a must for your 2024 hiking bucket list.
The Hiking Trail: Glacier National Park
We feel like we’ve been going a little easy during this blog series, so our ‘hike of choice’ for Glacier National Park is something for the avid hikers. It’s known as the Highline Trail, and it takes the hiker 11.6 miles from Logan Pass to the Loop.
The total ascent reaches around 800 feet and the descent is around 3,000 feet. For seasoned walkers, it can take around 5 to 7 hours to complete, but this shouldn’t put you off experiencing one of the most stunning trails in the country.
Why It’s Good
Although the ascent nears 1,000 feet, the elevation of the Highline Trail is comparatively minimal. This makes it perfect for those who want those glorious alpine views without having to climb up a massive mountain!
As well as this, because it takes around a day to complete, it gives you the best opportunities to photograph the entirety of the location. Some of the easier hiking trails might be beautiful, but they don’t give the full picture of what Glacier National Park is all about. The Highline Trail does this and then some.
What to Look Out For
Speaking of seeing the whole park, you’ll also be able to see all of the animals that this place is home to. It might be a little hard to photograph a few of them – we’ll talk more on this later – but it’s the best chance you’ll get of seeing the full range of wildlife the park has to offer. These include:
- Mountain Goats
- Bighorn Sheep
- Grizzly Bears
- Harlequin Ducks
- Great Gray Owls
- Boreal Owls
Now, you have the whole day to complete this hike, so that’s plenty of time to take some great photos. But if you want to upload something truly special to our photo book maker, it’s a good idea to know the local tips and tricks.
Bring a Tripod
You’ve probably seen a lot of wildlife photographers lugging a tripod around with them, and there’s a reason for that. A tripod can give the photographer maximum flexibility, helping to still their image in high winds and making it easier to pinpoint a certain subject.
They aren’t just for the professionals, though. Because you’ll be walking at 800 feet during parts of this hike, the wind can get a little severe, so it’s a good idea to purchase a specific Apple or Android tripod that can keep your phone in place and help you find the perfect angles.
Stay on the Trail
This might sound like an obvious point, but it’s worth noting because people have gone wrong before. The Highline Trail is a long trail, with plenty of avenues to explore, but not all of these avenues are safe.
For instance, at one point of the trail, some hikers take a spur trail that leads to the infamous Garden Wall – revealing a bird’s eye view of the Salamander and Grinnell glaciers. This is a beautiful spot, but it is precipitous, and should only be attempted by the most skilled of hikers. Make sure you stick to the Highline Trail and do not stray from it. There are plenty of beautiful views that can be spotted from there, trust us!
There are also plenty of challenges to have a go at. If you’re serious about photography and want to elevate your pictures in 2024, then here are two that can help you make the most out of your Highline Trail trek.
The Legendary Mountain Goat Challenge
The most iconic animal in the Glacier National Park is undoubtedly the mountain goat. You’re likely to see a fair few during your trail, but the ones you need to look out for are the goats with the bright white coats.
You’ll know them when you see them – or if you see them – as these are the animals that stand out of the crowd and shine against the backdrop. Photographing them can be tricky, however, so make sure you keep your eyes open!
This place is called Glacier National Park, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that there are going to be some glaciers to photograph! When it comes to actually capturing these glaciers, we would challenge you to do them justice.
A lot of the time, the blueness that we see in glaciers doesn’t come through on camera. To bring it to life, you need to increase the saturation of your image, and then increase the contrast, helping the color in the frame to really pop. If you do this, you can take some glacier pictures in this park that are true to how you see them. But be warned, it’s easier said than done!