Guest Post: Five Must-Have Shots to Take in Yosemite National Park

Happy Hump Day, everyone! Today’s guest blogger is Debi from Go Explore Nature.

Debi was one of my first blogging friends. I was new and timid, wondering “who on Earth is gonna read what I have to say?” Then Debi came along on Twitter, told me about the #playoutdoors hashtag and well, made me feel WELCOME into this great big blogging world. She blogs about getting kids and families outdoors and I know I can always go to her site for inspiration!


This post is 100 percent inspired by my lovely host, Melissa. Honest! I loved her post, Five Must-Have Shots to Take on Your Next Beach Trip so much, I wanted to share my own version for a favorite national park of mine, Yosemite.

How do you get terrific shots when visiting a place so picturesque it makes your photos look fake? I’m certainly no expert, but here are a few things I tried on our recent visit to the family cabin.

1. Where you hiked

If you’re visiting Yosemite, you’re going hiking. (And if you aren’t, you should be!) Taking a photo at the trailhead is an easy way to remember where you went, how far the hike was and who went with you. Word of advice: Take this shot before the hike, not after.

2. The waterfalls

Yosemite National Park is well known for its waterfalls – trust me, I have countless pictures of them to prove it. This year, I tried something a little different. I took some fun shots of the kids (and me, too, I swear!) goofing off in front of each of the falls we visited. No surprise that these pictures turned out to be some of my favorites.

3. The big trees

I love the trees in Yosemite. I swear they just smell good. But how to get a decent shot of one that captures their grandeur? This idea comes courtesy of our family’s biggest explorer, dad. He always takes self-portraits, but this one with our little explorer (2 years old) really gives you an idea of just how tall those giant sequoias are.

4. The river

My kids can’t even swim yet, but we spent two full days hanging out at the river.  The trick here is to focus less on the river itself and more on what your kids are doing. Mine loved hunting for rocks, then tossing them back in to see which made the biggest splash or how far they could throw them. I love the look of excitement on my little guy’s face in this picture. Musta been one huge splash!

5. The nature play

When you aren’t touring Yosemite Valley’s iconic natural surroundings, what are the kids up to? These are the moments you’ll want to treasure, trust me. I took a ton more pictures this year of my kids playing in nature than I did of the previous four items on this list. And I’m glad I did because among all those shots were some real winners.

I realize that not all of you have been to Yosemite National Park. But I’m hoping some of you have been to at least one national park (come on, people!). What are your favorite shots to take – you know, the ones that make you feel like you really captured your experience?

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  1. Fadra says

    I loved this post for so many reasons. First, I’m all about getting “the shot” which, unfortunately, I rarely do. But I also love to capture the moment. I love your advice about a picture at the trailhead. I did that when I hiked down the Grand Canyon. I also took one when I made it back up. Yeah, big difference. And I love perspective. That shot with your husband is so cool and people forget that some of the best shots are looking up or getting way down. Thanks for sharing!

    • says

      Thanks, Fadra! I’ve learned to take a ton of pictures — the basics & a few “just for fun.” Over time, I’ve found the “just for fun” shots turn out the best.

  2. says

    Great shot ideas for the summer! We live right by the park, but mostly go during winter for the snow. It’s my favorite time of year for the park. This December we’re booking a few nights at the Ahwahnee!

    • says

      So jealous that you live right outside the park!!! We have yet to take the kids there in the winter, but I agree the place is beyond gorgeous. Best of all, the crowds are at a minimum, so it’s much easier to find quiet moments. What a treat — December at the Awahnee! Have fun! :)

  3. says

    Love this! My Dad just got back from Yosemite and now I am dying to go. I need to take my son out to Umstead. Thanks for the great photo ideas!

    • says

      Rachel, I hope I have inspired you to plan a trip. Going to the park with my kids has allowed me to re-experience it all through the eyes of a child. Couldn’t be anything more magical. Go, go, go! :)

  4. says

    I love these! So often when I am in a beautiful place I take way too many “scenery” pics. I love that you and your family are IN the photos and you still capture the beauty of your surroundings. Great job!

    • says

      We take plenty of “scenery” shots, too, Andrea, but I also make a point of taking some unexpected ones, too. It’s one of the wonderful bonuses of the digital camera — I can always delete them. More than likely, I wind up loving the pictures with people in them — the less posed, the better!

  5. says

    There is something so great about photos. I don’t hike that much but plan on starting up fairly soon . I love taking pics of unique signs wherever we are as they bring back such great memories. BTW, Yellowstone is definitely on my bucket list.

  6. says

    Absolutely fabulous pics! And of course the scenery is awesome. I am a nature buff living in the suburbs and i love hiking in the mountains, which I don’t get to do very often!
    Oh, and about the kids playing at the river. My kids, which are all about grown, would STILL go play with rocks and splashing in the water and looking for cool things. They think they are grown up, but they have not lost that sense of wonder, and I hope they never do!

  7. says

    I’m thrilled to hear the kids won’t outgrow the river! Sharing time on the river with them definitely made me feel like a kid again! :)

  8. says

    Though I am not likely to visit Yosemite any time soon, I really enjoyed this article. Debi, you have such a beautiful family!

  9. says

    For hiking experience… I really go for Yosemite National Park. I also brought my kids here before and it is so amazing to see them very determined to walk and explore the beautiful nature. They even got the chance to chase a rabbit from the woods.