Lesser-known parks for LF photography

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The other day I was exploring a very large and highly detailed map of the U.S. I was focusing on the various parks, and after drooling over famous ones that I haven't visited (all of the ones in the Southwest) I began to think about how many beautiful but lesser-known parks there are.

So, my questions are:

1. What are your favorite lesser-known parks (outside the U.S., too) for LF photography and photography in general?


2. Why are they your favorites (what makes them special for you or what about them do you enjoy photographing)?

I have some favorites:

Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Minnesota and Canada On the border of Minnesota and Canada, this collection of interconnected lakes is one of the least trampled parts of Minnesota (which is where I grew up). One of my favorite images (alas, not on film) is of a tiny, rocky island with scraggly pines. Iíve seen loons, at least one bald eagle, a beaver, and a moose with her calf. In the forest there are birch trees, pinecones, and soft light. Iíd go there again in a heartbeat.

Cape Hatteras National Seashore, North Carolina Sand dunes line the road that runs along the beach. Sand sometimes blows off of the dunes and covers the road. There are some very gnarly trees in near some of the dunes.

Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, Wisconsin I havenít been there in a long time, but I remember bear tracks on the beach (big tracks). Also, the air there is very, very pure.

Virgin Islands National Park, U.S. Virgin Islands Rounding the bend and seeing Hawksnest Bay (on St. John) is like arriving in the South Pacific. Near the center of the beach is a large outcropping of rock that looks (to me, anyway) very Polynesian. The reef is full of fish, squid, and Elkhorn coral. While Trunk Bay is one of the most photographed places in the Caribbean, it is probably one of the most worthy of being photographed. The water is such a saturated turquoise that you need to see it to believe it.

-- Matthew Runde (actorm@hotmail.com), May 10, 2002



I'm in East Tennessee, and here are some candidates nearby.

Frozen Head Natural Area, near Oak Ridge Tennessee. More varieties of wildflowers in the spring than the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.

Fall Creek Falls State Park near Crossville, TN. Nice waterfall, hiking.

Big South Fork National River and Recreational Area. Large area with nice trails, becoming very popular.

Roan Mountain State Park, near Erwin, TN, especially during the laurel and rhododenron bloom (June).

In Western North Carolina:

Joyce Kilmer/Slickrock Creek Wilderness Area, near Robbinsville.

Shining Rock Wilderness Area, off the Blue Ridge Parkway near Waynesville, NC. The Pigeon River is very scenic, balds along the crest of the mountains above.

The Blue Ridge Parkway, especially during spring flowers, laurel and rhododenron bloom, and fall colors. A nice driving tour.



-- Steve Hamley (sahamley@netscape.net), May 10, 2002.

Well, ALL of Arizona and New Mexico are LF heaven. Of unique beauty is Upper (and Lower) Antelope Valley slot canyons. Also Northern California (the redwood forests), Oregon and Washington coastlines.

Darn! Now you made me want to pack up and go now. Let's see, LF camera, tripod, 25 holders, 4 lenses, cases, loupe, extra GG, 50 sheets of B & W film. A strong assistant to help carry would be good. Oh yes!, money. OOPS! Have to stay home and shoot rocks.

-- Steve Feldman (steve@toprinting.com), May 10, 2002.

I'm from the East Coast. The landscape is generally of a smaller scale here, but nonetheless affords some good image making possibilities, but perhaps on a more intimate level. Some of my favorites:

Acadia National Park, Maine White mountain National Forest (so much...) Halibut Point State Park, Cape Anne, near Boston Shawangunk Mountains, New York State (kind of spooky) And then the various cityscapes...


-- Chris Jordan (Boston) (postmaster@jordanphoto.com), May 10, 2002.

In California:

Kelso Sand Dunes, Red Rock Canyon, Vasquez Rocks, Devil's Postpile, Joshua Tree National Park, King's Canyon (Cedar Grove area and the road there...) - just a few to wet your appetite...


-- Per Volquartz (volquartz@volquartz.com), May 11, 2002.

Well, when you ask of lesser known parks I won't mention any National Parks in the US. They are all pretty well documented and information about them is fairly accessible. If you are looking for new places to discover try looking at state parks, national forests, wilderness areas and just try going to any green spaces you see on a map. When I lived in Chicago Illinois I frequented the waterfront of Lake Michigan, you could be surprised what you may find where urban areas border natural ones. Some other specific areas in that region are Starved Rock State Park that borders a river I think the fox river and I loved going there for some fall colors and Matthiesson State Park which had some small but interesting cavernlike features about 90 miles southwest of Chicago. The Indiana Dunes area in Indiana and the Sleeping Bear Dunes in Michigan. The obvious attractions are sand dunes and water with forests and some marshlands. In my present state of Oregon, most any place along the Oregon coast, the Columbia River Gorge and a favorite spot I'm just begining to try and photograph is Smith Rock State Park in central Oregon.

-- Saulius Eidukas (landscapefoto@yahoo.com), May 11, 2002.

If I knew of a less known, less used park, why on earth would I tell thousands of people on the internet about it? Lets keep our lesser known areas that way.

-- Wayne (wsteffen@skypoint.com), May 11, 2002.

I would like to add two to the ones Per mentioned, even though they are not officially considered to be parks. They would be the Lake Arrowhead / Big Bear Lake area and Point Mugu. Oh, and ANY desert in the spring, right at sunrise.

-- Steve Gangi (sgangi@hotmail.com), May 11, 2002.

If I'd mention a Natl. Park one that maybe is somewhat overlooked but I've always thouroughly enjoyed whenever there is the Badlands of South Dakota.

-- Saulius Eidukas (landscapefoto@yahoo.com), May 11, 2002.

Myakka State Park, near Sarasota Florida (West Coast). You can walk anywhere in the park you want to, without restrictions. This is NOT the Everglades, but I've seen Clyde Butcher giving workshops here (you do NOT have to stand up to your arse in swamp water.)

-- Willhelmn (wmitch3400@hotmail.com), May 11, 2002.

One of my favorites in California is the Hoover Wilderness, just North of Tioga Pass after leaving Yosemite. Pass the cappuccino stand (hey, this is California) and look for the dirt road to Saddlebag Lake (the highest lake in CA that you can drive to, 10,300') The store at the lake has a ferry service to the North end(beats lugging the 8x10!) which is in the Hoover Wilderness. Its got glaciers, summer storms, snowcapped peaks, meadows, an old mine,honk'in trout, and mosquitos that are so big the FAA gave 'em "N" numbers. Well, six out of seven isn't bad! At that altitude you get lots of mileage out of your wine, too!

-- John Kasaian (www.kasai9@aol.com), May 11, 2002.

Wow, those places sound very beautiful. Thanks for sharing them!

Another place that I thought of, although one which I haven't personally visited, is White Sands National Monument in New Mexico. For a long time I've wanted to go there and see the sunrise and sunset colors in the dunes.

-- Matthew Runde (actorm@hotmail.com), May 12, 2002.

Goblin Valley State park in Utah. You can get lost in the rows of weathered sandstone rock formations that look like giant petrified mushrooms. If you want to see what it looks like, rent the movie Galaxy Quest. They crew goes on search for a fuel source and the mine is set in the park.

Kadachrome State Park and The Valley of the Gods both in Utah are nice areas. In the off seasons very few travelers.

-- Pat Kearns (pat.kearns@coopertsmith.com), May 15, 2002.

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