Best Photo Locations: WA
I just discovered this garden after answering a trivia/photo question and think it would make a great place to take photos. I haven’t heard of other members talking about it, so thought to post it here.
This is a place where art, technology and nature join in a unique way.
Along with trails, public art, native plants and wildlife, the ponds and marshes of Waterworks Gardens filter and clean stormwater from the treatment plant’s 50 acres of roads, parking lots and hard surfaces.
Waterworks Gardens is designed as a series of garden “rooms.” The Knoll is the entry to Waterworks. The path then passes through a series of leaf-shaped ponds, an inlaid mosaic Grotto and wetlands.
Waterworks Gardens opened in 1996. The gardens are open between dawn and dusk year-round.
1200 Monster Road S.W.
Renton WA 98057
Instead of turning into the plant main entrance, continue on Monster Road S.W., go around the corner and up the hill. As you come down the incline, Waterworks will be on the right, just before you get to “T” intersection at Oakdale Avenue S.W.
If photographing wildlife floats your boat, here’s a list of places along I-5 in Western Washington that will give you plenty of places to visit and start taking pictures.
Semiahmoo Park and Museum
Habitat: 1.5 mile-long sand spit; tidelands, sandy beaches, mud flats and saltwater.
- Year-round: Harbor seals, clams, crabs, barnacles, sea stars, juvenile salmon and bald eagles
- Fall-spring: Observe Pacific, common and red-throated loons; red-necked, western and horned grebes; oystercatchers, Wilson’s snipe and dunlins.
Viewing: Follow boardwalks from parking area to viewpoints along either side of sand spit. Visit during low tide to look for intertidal species.
Access: Whatcome County park, I-5 exit 270. West to Birch Bay/Linden Rd., 3 miles. North onto Blaine Rd., 1.9 miles. West onto Drayton Harbor Rd., 3.3 miles. Right at “Y.” North onto Semiahmoo Pkwy., .4 mile to parking lot and trail access.
Birch Bay State Park
Habitat: Gravel beach, saltwater/freshwater estuary and wetlands on 194 acres with views of the Canadian Gulf Islands and Cascade Mountains.
Wildlife: In tidelands find clams, crabs, oysters, sculpins and sea stars year-round. See deer, elk, rabbits, skunks, squirrels and migrating shorebirds in the spring/fall. Coho salmon run in fall.
Viewing: Enjoy .5 mile self-guided trail through forest and marsh environments while looking for songbirds and waterfowl. Explore 1.5 miles of saltwater shoreline for intertidal species and shorebirds.
Access: State Park lands, I-5 exit 266. West onto Grandview Rd., 7 miles. North onto Jackson Rd., .8 mile, west onto Helweg Rd., .6 mile to park.
Point Whitehorn Marine Reserve
Habitat: Forest, beach, tidelands and bluff overlooking the Strait of Georgia.
Wildlife: Look for orca whales and harbor seals throughout summer, or spot bald eagles feasting on salmon in fall. Also, look for migrating birds in spring and fall.
Viewing: Enjoy spectacular views while walking on the .75-mile interpretive trail. From bluff, walk forest path to the cobble beach and explore the tidelands.
Access: Whatcom County Park. I-5 exit 266. West onto Grandview Rd., 8.5 miles. Continue as road curves and becomes Koehn Rd., .5 mile to parking area on left.
Watcom Wildlife Area: Lake Terrell Unit
Habitat: A shallow lake with peat bog, marsh, forest, grassland and agriculture areas covering 1,500 acres.
- Year-round: Black-tailed deer.
- Fall-spring: river otters, beaver, painted turtles, northwest salamanders and rough-skinned newts.
- Winter: trumpeter and tundra swans, bald eagles.
Viewing: Twenty-four hunting blinds allow opportunities to view waterfowl and other wetlands wildlife during non-hunting seasons. Closed to wildlife viewing from September-March, however viewing is available from the fishing pier year-round.
Access: WDFW Lands. I-5 exit 262. Southwest onto W. Axton Rd., 1.5 miles. Continue on Mountain View Rd., 3.4 miles. North onto Lake Terrell Rd. to Wildlife Area Headquarters.
Tennant Lake Interpretive Center and Fragrance Garden
Habitat: Lake is in the Nooksack River floodplain with shallow peat bog, wetlands, river front and agriculture.
Wildlife: Butterflies, beaver, river otters, long-tailed weasels, coyotes, black-tailed deer and over 150 bird species. Also look for Pacific chorus frongs and northwestern salamanders in spring.
Viewing: View wildlife along .5 mile boardwalk winding through wetlands and climb the 50-foot viewing tower. Boardwalk is closed from October-January due to hunting. Best viewing from mid-May to mid-August.
Access: WDFW Wildlife and Watcom County Park. I-5 exit 262. Southwest onto Main St./Axton, .6 mile. Sharp souteast turn after RR tracks onto Hovander Rd., .1 mile. South onto Nielsen Ave., .8 mile to Tennant Lake parking area.
Sehome Hill Arboretum
Habitat: 180 acres of forested area supporting a wide variety of native plants and trees
Wildlife: Year-round: black-tail deer, coyotes, raccoons, black-headed grosbeaks, northern flicker, red-breasted sapsuckers and pileated woodpeckers.
Viewing: Walk 5.5 miles of gravel trails through wooded terrain. At the hill’s summit is an 80-foot observation tower. Trail map available at parking lot.
Access: Bellingham city park. I-5 exit 252. Northeast onto Samish Way. .2 mile, Northwest onto S. Samish Way, .2 mile. Southwest onto Bill McDonald Pkwy., .9 mile, north onto 25 St. to parking and trailheads.
Larrabee State Park
Habitat: Froest, lakes, streams, saltwater coves, rocky tide pools and mountain views.
Wildlife: Douglas squirrels, black-tailed deer, coyotes, foxes, rabbits, skunks, porcupines, and Townsend’s big-eared bats in forested area. Beaver and river otters by lakes and sea stars, octopus, Dungeness crabs and sea cucumbers in rocky tide pools.
Viewing: Hike up to 15 miles of trails; then explore the shoreline for intertidal species. Scan waters for orca whales year-round.
Access: State Park lands. I-5 exit 231. Northwest onto Chuckanut Dr., 14.4 miles to park entrance.
Padilla Bay Shore Trail and Breazeale Interpretive Center
Habitat: The 8-mile long and 3-mile wide bay includes 11,600 acres of marshes, beaches, tide flats, uplands and estuaries.
- Year-round: river otter, harbor seal, coyote, salmon, shore crabs, bent-nosed clams, littleneck clams, great blue heron.
- Fall-spring: Pacific chorus frog, Dungeness crab, violet-green swallow, purple martin.
- Summer-winger: black-tailed deer.
- Fall-winter: bald eagle, northern pintail, American widgeon, peregrine falcon, rough-legged hawk.
Viewing: Hike .25-mile downhill from the interpretive center on a paved accessible path to a platform with a viewpoint of the beach; beach access via spiral staircase (closed in winter). 2.25-mile Shore Trail is three miles south of the Interpretive Center. Endless opportunities to look for birds in the tidal slough and open mud flats.
Access: Department of Ecology
- Interpretive Center: I-5 exit 231 onto Chuckanut Dr., .1 mile. West onto Josh Wilson Rd., 5.5 miles. Continue on Josh Wilson Dr., 6 miles. North onto Bayview-Edison Rd.. Center on right.
- Shore Trail: From Interpretive center, go south onto Bayview-Edison Rd., 1.2 miles. North onto 2nd St. to signed parking. Walking back to Bayview-Edison Rd. and walk south to trailhead.
Skagit Wildlife Area: Johnson-Debay’s Swan Reserve
Habitat: Seasonal ponds, sloughs, wetlands and agricultural fields.
- Year-round: beaver and river otter.
- Winter-spring: tundra and trumpeter swans.
- Fall-spring: black-tailed deer, northern pintails, American widgeon, Swanson’s thrushes, Bullock’s orioles and wood ducks.
Viewing: Swans feed in the fields during the day and roost in sloughs at dusk. The great number of waterfowl on this site during winter attracts bald eagles and other raptors.
Access: WDFW lands. I-5 exit 227. East onto E. College Way, 1.2 miles. North onto N. Laventure Rd., .7 mile. Road turns slightly right and becomes Francis Rd., 1.8 miles. North to stay on Francis Rd., 2.4 miles. At 90 degree corner by sign, northwest ontl DeBay Isle Rd. If gage is close park on Francis Rd. and walk in.
Habitat: Woodlands, sloughs, wetlands and agricultural fields.
Wildlife: This site provides food and shelter for elk, primarily during the late fall-early spring. Beaver, songbirds and waterfowl are also present.
Viewing: From winter-spring, it is common to view more than 60 elk on the property. Cows and calves can occasionally be seen during other seasons.
Access: Skagit Land Trust. I-5 exit 232. East onto Cook Rd., 4.3 miles. Northwest onto SR 20. Drive 20.6 miles to pull out on right.
Skagit Wildlife Area: Fir Island Farm-Hayton Snow Goose Reserve
Habitat: Agricultural land with fields of winter wheat grown for snow geese.
- Winter-spring: dunlin.
- Spring-summer: yellowlegs.
- Fall-spring: snow geese, widgeons, gadwall, mallards, green-winged teal, and pintails.
- Year-round: bald eagles.
Viewing: Thousands of snow geese begin arriving in October. Walk along the dike to scan for waterfowl and shorebirds, as well as views of the Skagit Bay Estuary.
Access: WDFW Lands. I-5 exit 221. West onto Pioneer Hwy., .2 mile. Northwest onto Fir Island Rd., 3.2 miles. South at WDFW sign to parking.
Landly-Whidbey Island Shoreline
Habitat: Public access sandy beach shoreline
- Spring: gray whales.
- Year-round: bald eagles, herons, birds, harbor seals, sea stars and sea otters.
Viewing: Gray whales begin arriving as early as March. The whale bell will ring when a whale is sighted to alert visitors to take a look. Walk along the Langley Shoreline and scan for whale blows. Gray whale viewing March-June and August-October. Orca whale viewing June-September.
Access: I-5 exit 189. West onto SR 526, 4.8 miles. West onto 84th St. SW. Go .5 miles north to SR 525 to ferry. North onto Langley Rd., 2.6 miles. Continue on Camano Ave., .7 mile. North onto Cascade Ave., .3 mile. Sharp east onto Wharf St. to Langley Marina.
Bob Heirman Wildlife Preserve
Habitat: This preserve has 425 acres of meadows, lakes, wetlands, river and riparian areas.
Wildlife: Winter attracts trumpeter swans, ringnecked ducks, green-winged teal, and ruby- and golden-crowned kinglets. Raptors include bald eagles, American kestrels, red-tailed hawks and northern harriers; also hairy woodpeckers in woods, great blue herons along shore, belted kingfishers by river.
Viewing: Follow old road to the lake at the bottom of the hill and continue to the river. Dawn and dusk best
for shorebird and waterfowl viewing.
Access: Snohomish County lands. I-5 Exit 186. East onto 128th St SE, 3.2 miles. Northeast onto Seattle Hill Rd, continue east on Hwy 96. At 1.8 miles becomes Broadway Ave. Continue .8 mile. Southeast onto Connelly Rd, .7 mile to preserve.
Richmond Beach Park
Habitat: Rocky shoreline and bluffs with madrona, pine, alder and willow trees.
Wildlife: Year-round: encounter clams, oysters, mussels, crabs, intertidal fish, harbor seals, bald eagles,
great blue herons.
Viewing: Viewing trails can be accessed from the upper parking lot, or continue down to terrace parking.
Check the wooded area next to the RR tracks for songbirds, then follow path to the beach.
Access: City of Shoreline lands. I-5 Exit 176. West onto NE 175 St. Go .8 mile. North onto Aurora Ave, .5 mile. West onto N 185th St, .2 mile. Continue on N. Richmond Beach Rd, 1.7 miles. South onto 20th Ave
NW, .3 to parking.
Habitat: Deciduous forest, meadows, wetland, creek and rocky beach.
Wildlife: Sea stars and moon snails find the sand flats ideal. Acorn barnacles, jingle shells, long-armed brittle
stars and orange sea cucumbers live under smaller boulders; littleneck and macoma clams dominate the
beach. Chum salmon arrive in late fall.
Viewing: An extensive network of trails provides many opportunities to view wildlife. A walkway leads to a
sand beach teeming with tidal species.
Access: Seattle city park. I-5 Exit 173. West onto N Northgate Way, .5 mile. Road turns slightly right and becomes N 105th St, .8 mile. Turn north onto Greenwood Ave N, .3 mile. West onto N 110th St .4 mile. Continue on NW Carkeek Park Rd, .5 mile to park entrance.
Habitat: Mixed woodlands, streams, meadows, rocky and sandy beaches.
Wildlife: Year-round: observe harbor seals, orca whales, bent-nose manila clams, and tidepool sculpin. River otters, mountain beaver, song birds and owls are seen fall-spring. Winter brings shorebirds.
Viewing:Explore 8 miles of hiking trails and 8 miles of beaches for intertidal species. Scan the water for marine animals. Bald eagles and hawks hunt within the park. The Kiwanis Ravine hosts a great blue heron rookery. The herons nest there from February-August.
Access: Seattle city park. I-5 Exit 167. North onto Fairview Ave N and keep left. West onto Valley St .1 mile. Northwest onto Westlake Ave N 1.7 miles. Continue on Nickerson St 1.2 miles. Slight left at W Nickerson St. At .2 mile turn left toward W Emerson St. Go .5 mile. West onto W Emerson St .5 mile. Northwest onto Gilman Ave West .5 mile. Continue on W Government Way .2 mile. Slight left to stay on W Government Way into park.
Habitat: The peninsula supports a prairie community of Garry oak and old growth forest.
Wildlife: Year-round: river otters, beaver, muskrats, bald eagles, barred owls, northern flickers, pileated
woodpeckers, Anna’s hummingbirds and rainbow trout; summer-fall: Big brown bats.
Viewing: Visit the Environmental & Audubon Center for trail maps and wildlife lists. Walk the paved Loop
Trail to view aquatic wildlife. A bald eagle nest can be seen from the Amphitheater
Access: Seattle city park. I-5 Exit 161. Northwest onto Swift Ave S, .1 mile. East onto S Graham St, 2.1 miles. South onto Wilson Ave S, .1 mile. Sharp northeast onto Seward Park Ave S for .4 mile. East onto S Juneau St, .1 mile. Continue onto Seward Park Rd.
West Hylebos Wetland Park
Habitat: 120 acres of wetland, forest and riparian streams.
Wildlife: Spring-fall: red-legged frogs, northwest salamanders, painted turtles, banana slugs, northwest
alligator lizards, muskrats, minks, weasels, beaver, Douglas squirrels, Townsend’s moles, little brown bats,
spring-fall. Year-round: various bird species.
Viewing: Follow interpretive trail into the forest for redlegged frogs in the peat sinkholes, pileated woodpeckers and great blue herons resting in the treetops.
Access: Federal Way city park. 1-5 Exit 142-B. Merge on SR 18 W. Go .5 mile. Continue west on S 348th St. Go .7 mile. South onto 4th Ave S into park.
Point Defiance Park
Habitat: This park includes old-growth forest, saltwater beaches, open fields, formal, floral and native gardens and Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium.
Wildlife: Look for black-tailed deer, Douglas squirrels, fox, pileated woodpeckers and nesting bald eagles in
spring–fall. Seabirds, migratory and resident songbirds and orca whales in winter. Humpback and gray whales, California sea lions and harbor seals can be seen in the spring.
Viewing: Hike trails to various viewpoints. River otters can be seen at the south end of Vashon Island, sightings of harbor seal are common.
Access: Metro Park Tacoma. I-5 Exit 132, Hwy 16 W. Take Exit 3, continue straight .3 miles. North onto N Pearl St, 3 miles to park entrance.
Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge
Habitat: 3,000 acres of salt and freshwater marsh, mixed forest, estuary, mudflats, riparian, woodland and brush habitats.
Wildlife: Scores of raptors and songbirds utilize this habitat year-round; thousands of ducks and geese are
present from October through March. Black-tailed deer, mink and coyotes are at the forest edge. River otters, harbor seals and chinook salmon are in the Nisqually River during summer. Find Pacific tree frogs and shorebirds in spring-fall.
Viewing: One-mile trail provides access to many habitats and numerous observation decks. Bird migrations from mid- March through mid-May and September-December can be extraordinary.
Access: National Wildlife Refuge lands. I-5 Exit 114. Follow signs to Refuge, .6 mile to parking area.
Woodard Bay Natural Resource Conservation Area
Habitat: Two small bays on Henderson Inlet with mature forests, wetlands and natural shorelines.
Wildlife: Douglas squirrels, Townsend’s chipmunks, river otters, harbor seals, big brown and Yuma myotis
bats, nesting bald eagles and ospreys year-round. Many wintering shorebirds.
Viewing: 1-mile forested loop trail with boardwalks leads to overlook at Chapman Bay and platform with views of wetland. The pier hosts a colony of bats; harbor seals rest on old log booms.
Access: Department of Natural Resources. I-5 Exit 108 onto Sleater-Kinney Rd SE, 4.5 miles. Slight left, continue on 56th Ave NE, .4 mile. North onto Shinke Rd NE, .6 mile. Northwest onto Woodard Bay Rd NE,
.3 mile. North to stay on Woodard Bay Rd NE, .3 mile across bridge then north into parking area.
McLane Creek Nature Trail
Habitat: Mixed woodlands, freshwater wetlands, ponds, and marshes.
Wildlife: Chum salmon migrate up stream in fall. Springfall: rough-skinned newts, dragonflies, coyotes, beaver, wood ducks, common and hooded mergansers, downy, hairy, and pileated woodpeckers.
Viewing: Follow .6-mile ADA path or 1.1-mile forested trail to look for signs of beaver in ponds year-round.
Rough-skinned newts easiest to spot Apr–Oct. Spawning chum late Oct-Dec.
Access: Department of Natural Resources. I-5 Exit 104. Merge onto US 101 W, 3.3 miles. Exit for Mud Bay Rd, .3 mile. Keep right at fork; west onto Mud Bay Rd W, .2 mile. Southwest onto Delphi Rd SW, 3.3 miles. Southwest at trail sign to parking.
Mima Mounds Natural Area Preserve
Habitat: Mounded grassland prairie bordered by forest.
Wildlife: Abundant black-tailed deer, coyotes, garter snakes, meadow voles, western meadowlarks, western
bluebirds, northern harriers and kestrels. Spring–fall: butterflies include great spangled fritillaries, anise.
Viewing: Trailhead kiosk shows paths and provides background on the area. Begin on paved .5-mile nature
trail looping onto the prairie. From here, another 2-mile unpaved loop continues. By mid-May, the camas and other blooming wildflowers attract butterflies.
Access: Department of Natural Resources. I-5 Exit 95, .2 mile. West onto Maytown Rd SW, 3.1 miles. Continue on 128th Ave SW, .8 mile. Northwest at “T” onto Waddell Creek Rd SW, .9 mile. At preserve sign, turn left, go .3 mile to parking.
Millersylvania State Park
Habitat: Old-growth Douglas fir forest on freshwater lake.
Wildlife: Year-round: look for black-tailed deer, Douglas squirrels, red foxes, Pacific chorus frogs, rough-skinned newts, northern alligator lizards, pileated woodpeckers, purple finch, American goldfinch, bald eagles, red-tailed hawks, ospreys, great-horned and barn owls.
Viewing: Scan the edges of the lake for waterfowl. Access 8.6 miles of forest trails. Naturalists lead walks on the interpretive trail in summer.
Access: State Park lands. I-5 Exit 95. East onto Maytown Rd SW, 2.4 miles. North onto Tilley Rd S, .9 mile. Park is on left.
Lewis and Clark State Park
Habitat: Old-growth forest of Douglas fir and western red cedar, streams, wetlands and wet prairie comprise this environment.
Wildlife: Spring-fall: bald eagles, red-tailed hawks, barn owl, black bear, coyotes, blacktail deer, Douglas squirrels and salamanders.
Viewing: Walk the .5-mile interpretive trail to learn about old growth trees in the park, then branch out onto 8 more miles of trail. Scan the forest floor and up to the canopy for varied species of birds. Open Apr 15-Oct 1
Access: State Park lands. I-5 Exit 68. East onto US-12. Go 2.5 miles. South onto Jackson Hwy. Go 2 miles to
Mount Saint Helens Visitor Center
Habitat: Forest and wetlands set beside Silver Lake. State Parks.
Wildlife: Spring-fall: beaver, chipmunks, blacktailed deer, porcupines, coyotes, elk, big brown bats, garter snakes, rough-skinned newts.
Viewing: Find a beaver den and migrating waterfowl along the .8-mile boardwalk. Enjoy views across Silver
Lake to Mount St. Helens.
Access: State Park lands. I-5 Exit 49. Northeast onto Hwy 504, 5.6 miles. South into visitor center parking.
Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge
Habitat: Columbia River floodplain with marshes, grasslands and woodlands.
Wildlife: Year-round: see waterfowl, raptors, coyotes, river otter and herons. Winter brings thousands of
waterfowl to the refuge including tundra swans, Canada geese, cackling geese and many duck species. Each season brings new things to enjoy including painted turtles, bald eagles, hawks, sandhill cranes, great egrets, shorebirds and songbirds.
Viewing: Take the Auto Tour Route of the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge from November-March to
enjoy the spectacle of waterfowl that call the refuge their winter haven. The 4.2-mile tour is open daylight
Access: National Wildlife Refuge lands. I-5 Exit 14. West onto NW 269th St, 2.7 miles. South onto S 9th
Ave, .6 miles. West at Refuge sign for the Auto Tour Route.
Habitat: East Fork of Lewis River, surrounded by forest, wetlands and riparian area.
Wildlife: Beaver, red-tailed hawks, great blue herons, garter snakes, coho salmon, salamanders, damselflies,
coyotes, otters, and migratory waterfowl.
Viewing: Walk along the .7-mile trail that runs along the Lewis River. Stop along the way to read the
interpretive signs and sit in either of two wildlife blinds to look for beaver and waterfowl.
Access: Clark County park. I-5 Exit 16. East onto NW LaCenter Rd, 1.9 miles. Northeast onto East 3rd St.
South onto Aspen Ave and continue to parking.
Vancouver Lake Unit: Shillapoo Wildlife Area
Habitat: Restored wetland habitat around Vancouver Lake.
Wildlife: River otters, painted turtles, western tanagers, common yellowthroats, belted kingfishers,
sandhill cranes, great egrets, American kestrels, roughlegged hawks, Canada geese and other waterfowl.
Viewing: Wildlife can be viewed from La Frambois Rd along the lakeshore and by walking down the gated
road adjacent to the lake. Also visit the north and south units off Lower River Rd.
Access: WDFW lands. I-5 Exit 1D. West onto Fourth Plain Blvd, 1.5 miles. North onto Fruit Valley Rd, .5
miles. Northwest onto La Frambois Rd. Road dead ends at lake.
Here is a list of Heritage Barns that one could photograph. There are many more throughout the state, but I’ve only included the ones closest to Seattle. I would recommend that you contact the owner to get permission before venturing out to each location.
The information below is public record, pulled from a state database, so don’t freak out about the contact info since it’s already on the internet.
I’ve been compiling a list of place/things to photograph around WA state. This is my list for the Olympic Peninsula area. Links go to Google Maps where you can get directions.
- North Olympic Peninsula
- If you like to photograph old architecture, there are a low of Victorian Homes in the Uptown are of Port Townsend. Many are local businesses or serving as hotels or B&Bs. A good starting point is the Ann Starrett Mansion on the corner of Clay and Adams.
- If you’re into wooden boats, head to Port Townsend on the second weekend in September for the Wooden Boat Festival.
- Kai Tai Lagoon is located in the middle of Port Townsend and has acres of natural areas, open water and wetlands. There, you will find a variety of birds, including green-winged teal, Cooper’s hawk, great blue heron, flickers, waxwings, and blackbirds.
- The Port Townsend Shipyard has a variety of fishing boats in dry dock. Photograph details and people working on the boats. Sunny mornings are good for reflections and foggy mornings are good for mood shots.
- Photograph interesting shapes, colors and textures of the old batteries at Fort Worden State Park. Take a flashlight with lots of candle power and experiment photographing light writing inside the dark batteries.
- The Point Wilson Lighthouse is situated on a small peninsula and has several ways to approach a shot. Walk down to either beach to see the possibilities. If you’re there at sunrise, try including the sun reflecting in one of the windows.
- Fort Flagler offers great views of the regions two major mountains. The best places to photograph wildlife are Marrowstone Point and a sand spit on the northwestern corner.
- The isthmus where Indian Island and Marrowstone Island meet is a good place to photograph bird habitat.
- The Sequim Lavender Festival is typically the second weekend in July, but to avoid the crowds and get better photos, visit the farms before or after the festival. Two favorites are Jardin Du Soleil and Purple Haze.
- Ediz Hook in Port Angeles offers extremes in photographic subject matter. Each of the large tanks there has a staircase spiraling up its side. This is a great noontime, sunny-day location.
- The Port Angeles City Pier offers flower displays and sculptures to photograph. There is also a viewing tower at the end of the pier that gives you a good view of the city and harbor.
- Tongue Point is located in the Salt Creek Recreation Area. It’s considered the premier location for tide pool photography on the peninsula. Use caution – the seashore is typically slippery and the rocks are sharp, making footing precarious. Consult a tide table for best times, typically in May-July. Start making your way to the tide pools an hour before the predicted low tide. Salt Creek is also a good location for sunrise and sunset photos.
- Cape Flattery is the most northwestern point in the continental United States. There are some interesting shaped trees along the trail to the point. When the forest is shrouded in mist, it makes for a magical scene photo. From the point, you have views of cliffs and Tatoosh Island. There are lots of birds and you have a good chance of seeing tufted puffins, auklets, bald eagles and oystercatchers. The Cape Flattery Lighthouse is just offshore on Tatoosh Island. It’s usually windy, so be aware of the vibrations when shooting your picture. In the Neah Bay area, it’s very possible to see and photograph bald eagles. Also, harbor seals are frequent at the marina.
- When you get to the top of Mount Walker, you have a choice of north or south viewpoints. You can see Mount Rainier as well as Tacoma and Seattle from here and on a clear day you might even see the Space Needle. Sunrise is a great time to shoot since the Hood Canal is often shrouded in mist or fog this time of morning.
- At milepost 3 on the Dosewallips Road, there’s a small bridge with a pull-out. Take the trail on the north side past a small power-generating building to view the 100-foot Rocky Brook Falls.
- The Whitney Gardens and Nursery in late April through May is a great place to photograph various species of rhododendrons in bloom.
- At the Heart O’ the Hills campground, drive to the large parking lot near the amphitheater. At the far end of the parking lot, opposite from where you park, and across from a picnic table, is an old stump partially covered with bunchberry. In late May and early June, these will be in full bloom and make a stunning setting to photograph.
- Along the 17-mile Hurricane Ridge Road, you’ll find several viewpoints looking both east and north. Mount Baker is visible in some spots along the road. From late spring through summer you’ll find lots of flowers along the side of the road. At the top, but sunrise and sunset shots are possible here. There is lots of mountain lupine in the meadows, as well as roaming deer, to photograph. Flowers are usually at their peak in mid-July.
- Deer Park has views of Port Angeles, Sequim, the Dungeness Spit, Port Townsend, the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the San Juan Islands, Vancouver Island, Anacortes, Mount Baker and the North Cascades, with the best being right from the parking lot. This is a great place to set up for a sunrise or sunset photo. Also nice burned out trees and sub-alpine wildflowers at campground; deer, marmots, high alpine phlox on Blue Mountain
- Madison Falls is on the way to Lake Crescent and isn’t as well known and is a lot easier to get downstream to the base of the waterfall.
- At Lake Crescent, stop at Barnes Point, park at the Ranger Station, and take the short hike to Marymere Falls. The falls are tall, so you can get close to it. There are two viewpoints from the trail: one below the falls and one from near the top. Also investigate the trail along the shore from the Lake Crescent Lodge. In the summer, this can be a great for early-morning photography since the lake is often shrouded in fog with streams of light outlining the trees. Lake Crescent has lots of potential for moody, early-morning shots as well as good sunset photos. Use the pullouts along the highway.
- From the west end of Lake Crescent, take the Sol Duc Hot Springs Road to the Sol Duc Valley to the Salmon Cascades where the Sol Duc tumbles through boulders for flowing water shots. There’s a viewing platform on a short trail from the parking area where you can photograph leaping salmon. Spawning season is in the fall, so you can also get some fall color. For forest photograph, look for fingers of light along the Ancient Groves Nature Trail. At the end of Sol Duc Road, take the Sol Duc Trail to Sol Duc Falls. Between early May and into June, there will be lots of flowers along the trail. As you cross the footbridge, stop and turn around. The backlit leaves of a maple branch overhanging the end of the bridge makes a fine photo. You’ll find the Sol Duc Falls packed int he summertime, so you best bet is to visit mid-week and early in the morning. A rainy or cloudy day has an advantage because the light is great and there are no tourists. A good spot to photograph the falls is just as you walk onto the bridge.
- Another good place for tide-pool photography is at Rialto Beach. It’s also a good place for sunsets and moody, foggy landscapes. From the beach, cross the stream where it enters the ocean (you may need to use a log bridge). Beyond this area is the rock formations and Hole in the Wall, a large sea stack witha big hole in it.
- The Hoh Rainforest offers many hotspots if you like forest photography, especially along the Hall of Mosses. Besides moss and trees, look for ferns, mushrooms, nurse logs, and undergrowth plants.
- Ruby Beach is one of the most photogenic beaches on the coast. You can photograph sea stacks, tide pools and nice sunsets (bring a flashlight to find your way back in the dark).
- On the east side of the Olympic National Park, take the Staircase Rapids Trail to photograph the Staircase Rapids. Also look for trillium, bunchberry and calypso orchids. About a mile up the trail, there is a small campground where you might find some harlequin ducks to photograph.
I’ve been compiling a list of place/things to photograph around WA state. This is my list for the Kitsap Peninsula area. Links go to Google Maps where you can get directions.
- For the travel photographer, there is the Bremerton Harborside. There is a stair-stepping fountain with water that leaps from one level to the next in stead streams. Try to get a picture of the fountain with a docked ferry in the background.
- In Port Orchard along Beach Drive, there is a good place to set up to get early-morning shots of Bremerton and the Manette Bridge with the Olympic Mountains in the background.
- Elandan Gardens is a gem of a place to spend an afternoon photographing and admiring what artists can do with gardens. In May, the rhododendrons and azaleas are in full bloom, while in October, the Japanese maples add fall color.
- In Poulsbo, across the bay, there is a great shot of the marina with Mount Rainier right behind it.
- The Point No Point Lighthouse is easy to get to and makes a great sunrise or sunset photo location.
- Port Gamble is an old mill town near the mouth of the Hood Canal. Here, you can photograph New England style homes. Once a year, the town hosts a Civil War Re-enactment with living characters to photograph.
- You can photograph the sunrise on distant peaks from Scenic Beach State Park any time of the year, but be there in May for the rhododendrons.
- Kitsap Memorial Park is another good place to capture the mountains and canal at sunrise.
- Bainbridge Island
I’ve been compiling a list of place/things to photograph around WA state. This is my list for the south sound area. Links go to Google Maps where you can get directions.
- The Museum of Glass is known for its collection of blown glass by Chihuly. Photographed from inside and out, the museum offers the photographer plenty of colors, shapes, and graphics. While you aren’t allowed to photograph the exhibits, you may photograph things in the museum store, the educational studios, and the hot shop. You may also photograph the Chihuly Bridge of Glass.
- Snake Lake Nature Center is a great place to photograph wood duck in the spring. You might even see a turtle or two sunning on a log.
- You can get great views of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge from Titlow Beach.
- Point Defiance
- On a rainy or overcast day, take the one-way road of Five Mile Drive to photograph the forest. From Owen Beach, you can view the marina and the Tacoma waterfront. When the tide is out, you can get shots of Mount Rainier towering over the trees. One of the best views of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge is at milemarker 3.
- Fort Nisqually has opportunities to photograph volunteers and staff in historical costumes, a working blacksmith shop, and historical re-enactments. If you enjoy photographing shapes and colors, Camp 6 Logging Museum offers gears, wheels, pulleys and chains, many of them covered in rust.
- The Point Defiance Gardens is great if you enjoy photographing flowers and gardens. You’ll find something hear nearly all year long.
- The Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium is a small zoo with nice displays. My favorite is the Rocky Shores, which replicates the rugged coastline of Cape Flattery and has tufted puffins.
- Gig Harbor offers a classic northwest shot with a marina in the foreground and Mount Rainier in the background. Best spot is at the Ruth M. Bogue Viewing Platform.
- The Van Leirop Bulb Farm is perfectly situated for the photographer. The daffodils usually start showing up in late March and peak by mid-April.
- Northwest Trek Wildlife Park is not quite a zoo or a game farm, but offers natural looking enclosures for it’s animal inhabitants. Special photo tours happen several times a year with the trams’ windows removed and parking the tram to get better shots of the wildlife.
- Olympia Area
- Capitol Grounds and Capitol Building
- The Tivoli Fountain, the Winged Victory Memorial, a formal garden and more are areas of interest and offer the photographer things to shoot. For the Capitol Building, shoot from the main entrance on the north side, standing inside the building and facing south, shooting in the early morning or late afternoon. The south side of the building offers better lighting. The marbled interior of the Capitol Building also make great shots.
- Tumwater Falls offers a series of cascades and a couple of good-sized waterfalls. One of the best views is on the east side of the river near a bench. In the spring, the rhododendrons will make a good foreground with the falls in the background. On the west side of the river, you get a good view of the fish ladders at Middle Tumwater Falls.
- The small Yashiro Japanese Garden deserves a visit in late April through May for blooming azaleas and rhododendrons. Visit in the fall for colorful maples.
- Capitol Lake at the north end has some great views of the Capitol Building. Plus, in April, the cherry trees at this end of the lake are in bloom and make a great framing element.
- The Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge is probably the best birding location in the south sound. The combination of saltwater from Puget Sound and freshwater from the Nisqually River creates a nutrient-rich estuary that attracts birds and other wildlife.
- The Mima Mounds is a rather unique location. The “mounds” are regularly spaced bumps that are 6-8 feet tall. The main attraction for photographers is the butterflies and wildflowers in late May through the summer.
- Capitol Grounds and Capitol Building
I’ve been compiling a list of place/things to photograph around WA state. This is my list for the north sound area. Links go to Google Maps where you can get directions.
- Whidbey Island
- Fort Casey State Park has some great architectural photography possibilities along with great views. The Admiralty Head Lighthouse may be the most photographed in the late afternoon. The best view is from the south side of the lighthouse with the north sky as a background. There are also gun batteries worthy of photographing because of the lines and curves, texture and shadows.
- Historic Coupeville Waterfront is worth a stroll with many old buildings to photograph, including the wharf, which juts out into Penn Cove. When you’ve had your fill of the waterfront, head out to Ebey’s Landing, a mixture of farmland, high bluffs and rocky beaches. There are several barns in this area worthy of shooting. Some openings along Hill Road will let you take photographs of the curve of the beach and the high bluffs above.
- One of the premier rhododendron gardens is at Merkerk Gardens. It’s not a big place, so take a stroll before digging out your gear. There’s great design work put into the garden, which makes good patterns in your photos.
- Deception Pass State Parkis one of the most popular state parks in Washington. It’s popular with photographers due to the dramatic Deception Pass Bridge. Bad weather can make great, dramatic photos at this location. Other areas of photographic interest, like North Beach, which gives a great view from below the bridge. Rosario Beach and Bowman Bay are also good places to get great photos. Cranberry Lake has still waters that make great reflections during sunrise and sunset.
- Tulip Fields of the Skagit Valley
- The Skagit Valley Tulip Festival is every April and offers some fantastic photographic opportunities of fields of colorful tulips.Roozengaarde and Tulip Town are the two big farms to visit. If the weather is rainy, Tulip Town has an indoor pavilion with many tulips groupings for close-up shots.
- One of the very best places to photograph snow geese is on Fir Island, near the tulip fields of Skagit. On the road to the island, you can also get good views of Mount Baker. The fields along Mann Road are also good locations for snow geese and trumpeter swans. Look for raptors in the trees.
- Padilla Bay Reserve is good for bird viewing and photography and you can use your car as a blind.
- If you want to photograph falcons, eagles, short-eared owls and shorebirds, head to Samish Island and the Samis Flats. You’ll need a recreational use permit from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to park at “The West 90″ parking lot.
- Near Mount Vernon is the Johnson-DeBay Swan Reserve. Here, you can photograph trumpeter and tundra swans. The area is fenced so the birds aren’t disturbed.
- Every winter (December-January), hundreds of bald eagles flock near the Skagit and Nooksack Rivers. SR 20 from Concrete east to Marblemount is probably the best bald eagle viewing. Good view sites are at mileposts 99 and 100. Best to have a big lens of 500-600mm for the best shots.
- Nootsack River and Deming Homestead Park, where the Mount Baker Highway follows the Nooksack River, is one of the best places to view eagles in the lower 48.
- Anacortes Area
- Wander around the marina looking for interesting colors, reflections and thing nautical at Cap Sante Marina.
- Mount Erie has the best views from Fidalgo Island. Cloudy evenings are best to capture stunning sunsets from the top of the mount.
- Washington Park is a popular spot for photographers. Take the one-way scenic loop road for good views of the San Juans and Olympic Mountains.
- Far-North Sound
- Chuckanut Drive offers scenic views over Samish Bay toward the San Juans. The best views are from pull-outs at milemarkers 11 & 12.
- The west-facing shoreline of Larrabee State Park features rocky coves and weathered rocks. Low tide offers the best things to photograph since it exposes purple starfish, barnacles, and anemones.
- Mount Shuksan and Picture Lakeis one of the most recognizable sites in Washington. This is one of the best locations for fall color in late September to mid-October. When the air is still, it’s possible to get a perfect mirror image of Mount Shuksan in Picture Lake. Head to Heather Meadows to capture views of both Mount Shuksan and Mount Baker (mid-morning is best).
I’ve been compiling a list of place/things to photograph around WA state. This is my list for the greater Seattle area. Links go to Google Maps where you can get directions.
- Seattle Center- Includes:
- The Space Needle is iconic Seattle and is one of the most photographed structures in our fair city. Ride to the top for stunning views of the surrounding city, Puget Sound, the Cascades, Olympics, Lake Union, Lake Washington, and Mount Rainier. Wander around Seattle Center’s grounds for different views/angles of the Space Needle.
- The Experience Music Project (EMP) is uniquely shaped and multi-colored, which offers great reflections.
- The International Fountain between Key Arena and Memorial Stadium offers shots of kids playing in the fountain. At night, lights at the base add a colorful touch. Place Key Arena or the Space Needle in the background for a distinctly Seattle shot.
- The Pacific Science Center is distinguishable by it’s arches from a long way off. These arches make great subjects that include lines and curves against the blue sky. Inside the Pacific Science Center is the Tropical Butterfly Exhibit and is a good place to shot butterflies all year long.
- University of Washing (UW) Campus is a great place to photograph in April when the cherry blossoms are in bloom. There are 30 cherry trees in the Quad (the university’s Liberal Arts Quadrangle). The classic buildings are also great to photograph.
- The Washington Park Arboretum and Seattle Japanese Gardens have so many photographic opportunities that you will never run out of things to shoot. The best time to shoot is in the spring and fall. In May, the rhododendrons and azaleas are in full bloom. In October, the maples provide spectacular color. Tripods are ok in the park, but not allowed in the Japanese Gardens. The garden opens early several times a year for a limited number of photographers with tripods.
- In Greenwood, photograph a variety of classic cars from the early 1900′s to more recent at the annual Greenwood Classic Car & Road Show.
- Kerry Park offers the best view of Seattle and the Space Needle. This location is good for both sunrise and sunset. Mount Rainier can sometimes be lost during mid-day in the summer. If you go during a full moon, get there early for a good spot since dozens of photographers show up for the same reason.
- The Seattle Waterfront should appeal to the travel photographer. Besides the Ye Old Curiosity Shoppe and the Seattle Aquarium, go to the rooftop of the Odyssey Maritime Discovery Center with a wide-angle lens to capture a panorama of the city and the waterfront.
- Pike Place Market and Steinbrueck Park are other iconic Seattle destinations. The market is a treasure trove for travel and lifestyle photographers. Photograph salmon-tossing fish vendors, Rachel the Pig, vegetable and fruit displays, flowers, and the original Starbucks. Tripods are discourage due to the crowds, so a monopod is best. For great views of Elliot Bay, the Olympic mountains, and the Seattle skyline, go a couple of blocks north of the market to Steinbrueck Park. You can also get good views of the ferries, container ships and cranes, the sports stadiums and sometimes, Mount Rainier.
- Pioneer Square is where to go to photograph character studies, old buildings, an iron and glass pergola, and a totem pole.
- Some of the best views of Seattle are from the Washington State Ferries. The ferries vibrate a lot, so you probably don’t want to use a tripod. On a clear day, there’s a good chance of getting pictures of a ferry with Mount Rainier in the background.
- From several vantage points at Myrtle Edwards Park, you can line up shots that contain a container ship, cranes and Mount Rainier.
- The Olympic Sculpture Garden has many pieces of art to photograph. One of my favorites is a transparent “wall” that has a design painted on it. If the light is just right, you can get some really cool shots of the Space Needle showing through behind it.
- Go the the Montlake Cut for the opening day of boating season, where you can photograph dragon boats, crew races and a parade of boats.
- The Woodland Park Zoo is a wonderful place to practice your wildlife photography. Overcast days are best to avoid shadows. Plus, it’s not as crowded on dreary days.
- Gasworks Park is packed with photographic opportunities. You can get a great view of the city with Lake Union in the foreground, or colorful machinery of the old gas plant. You might capture a float plane as it takes off or lands and there’s always kite flying on top of the hill.
- Candy Cane Lane has been a staple in Seattle since the 1940s. It is a neighborhood Christmas light display on Park Road and Ravenna Boulevard near Ravenna Park. The local residents put on quite a display with music and several mechanical decorations in the traffic circle island in the middle of a large cul de sac on NE Park Road. Nearly all of the homes in the area are adorned with Christmas lights and holiday figures. Come prepared to shoot night photography.
- Magnolia Park offers views of the city, West Seattle, Elliot Bay, Mount Rainier and the Olympic Mountains. This is a good location for sunset photos.
- Explore funky Georgetown – an interesting old Seattle industrial neighborhood, now an artist haunt. Tully’s (the old Rainier Brewery) has a wild new paint job. Catch the afternoon light on sights from Georgetown’s past: the old ice house, City Hall and a cute Vespa shop.
- Discovery Park has finds like the West Point Lighthouse and the annual Seafair Indian Days Powwow (held at the Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center). A permit is required to drive the road down to the lighthouse, otherwise you have a nice hike in each direction. You can also photograph the colorful and mysterious world of wild mushrooms and kin (best in October).
- The Center for Wooden Boats on Lake Union is best photographed in the morning since the light is not only better, but it’s quieter. Besides the boats, you can photograph chains, gears and propellers in various stages of restoration.
- Fisherman’s Terminal is one of the best places in the city to photograph a working harbor. It’s a great place to shoot on either a clear or foggy day. Morning and evening light offer great boat reflections in the water.
- The Hiram Chittendon Locks (also known as the Ballard Locks) is a must-see site. You can photograph the botanical garden or boats traveling through the locks. Depending on the time of the year, you may even capture salmon as they make their way from Puget Sound to Lake Union via the salmon ladders.
- Go to Golden Gardens during a low tide to photograph herons fishing, gulls, and other tideland inhabitants.
- The Boeing Museum of Flight is a great place to take photos of various aircraft, including rare WWI and WWII planes.
- The Kubota Gardens is a must-visit location for landscape and nature photographers. You’ll find ponds, streams and waterfalls among hills, valleys, rock gardens and the Moon Bridge. The best time to photograph are in the spring and fall.
- The Rizal Viewpoint from the Jose P. Rizal Bridge is one of the best views of the city, especially at night. Long exposures will cause headlights and taillights to streak into white and red curves with the lights of the city adding an extra splash of color. You can also get nice sunset or sunrise photos here.
- Probably the best overall view of the city can be found on Harbor Avenue SW in West Seattle. From here, you can get great view of the city from across Elliot Bay and get the best panoramic shots. At sunset, the warm light falling on the skyscrapers reflects in Elliot Bay. Twilight is one of the best times to photograph from this location. The beach at Alki Point also offers interesting subjects to photograph. Photograph the Alki Point Lighthouse; walk the beach at Charles Richey Sr. Viewpoint to photograph seastars at low tide; and visit the Log House Museum.
- Lincoln Park, in West Seattle, offers great views across the sound to the Olympics, views of the ferries, and madrona trees.
- Federal Way is the home of the Rhododendron Species Garden and the Pacific Rim Bonsai Collection. The best time to visit is March through May when things are in bloom. You may only photograph the bonsai collection for person use since each piece is a work of art. The Weyerhaeuser Company Headquarters is a great place to photograph lupine.
- The Mukilteo Lighthouse is a pretty light lighthouse to photograph along with the ferries that come and go adjacent to it.
- The East Side has lots to offer as well. The Bellevue Botanical Gardens, the region’s most creative nighttime holiday displays (December), with thousands of tiny lights formed into fantastic sculptures around the gardens. Spring is another good time, which things are in bloom. Bellevue Downtown Park has a waterfall that is fun to photograph, as well as views of bridges crossing the canal.