Top 10 Photographs of 2017

2017 Photos

2017 was a crazy year for me, so it was really hard to select just 10 photographs. While I was trying to showcase a variety of locations, all of the photos came from my family’s month of touring the National Parks and from my 10-day hike of the John Muir Trail. I haven’t blogged about these adventures yet, so look forward to reading those posts in 2018.

#10 – Fly fishing in Lyell Canyon
Yosemite National Park, California

A friend of mine is big into fly fishing and was pumped to bring his rod with him on our John Muir Trail hike in August. We didn’t stop to fish very often, but on day four of the hike we took a break so he could try for some Brook Trout in the Lyell Fork of the Tuolumne River. I caught him mid-cast in this photo. The river was crystal clear and in the background the snow-covered mountains that form the border between Yosemite National Park and Ansel Adams Wilderness can be seen. Overhead storm clouds were gathering which would rain on our lunch.

Man fly fishing next to clear brook with snowy mountain in the background

Fly fishing in Lyell Canyon

#9 – Sunset near Corona Arch
Moab, Utah

After traveling across the country in the first five days of July, my family’s first stop of our National Parks Tour was in Moab, Utah. The evening before exploring the nearby national parks I brought them to Corona Arch, my favorite hike and arch in the area. As we were returning to our car, I took this photo of sunset reflecting off nearby rock formations. I love the warm colors and the dark and twisted tree in contrast.

Stunted tree in desert with sunset glowing off rocks

Sunset in Moab, Utah

#8 – Going-to-the-Sun Road
Glacier National Park, Montana

One of the surprises for me from my family’s National Parks Tour was how beautiful Glacier National Park was. Although it was crowded, the Going-to-the-Sun Road definitely earns its title as one of the world’s most beautiful scenic roads. On our way up the twisting road that clings to cliff walls, passes through tunnels and below waterfalls I saw an incredible view and made sure we stopped at it on the way down. Remarkable!

Snow covered mountains with river running through valley

Going to the Sun

#7 – Tetons over Jackson Lake
Grand Tetons National Park, Wyoming

Visiting Grand Tetons was high on my bucket list. I was not let down as we approached it from the north and got our first view of the jagged peaks rising from the waters of Jackson Lake. We had to pull over and take a photo.

Snowy mountains rising above a calm lake

Grand Tetons over Jackson Lake

#6 – Half Dome from Glacier Point
Yosemite National Park, California

Knowing how crowded Yosemite National Park could get, we debated whether or not to attempt to drive to Glacier Point prior to heading into the valley. The risk was not being able to find parking in either location, or even being diverted away due to traffic. We lucked out and had an amazing lunch overlooking Yosemite Valley from Glacier Point. Half Dome rising above the valley was one of the most amazing sights I’ve ever seen.

Granite domes above a forested valley

View from Glacier Point

#5 – Moulton Barn in Mormon Row
Grand Tetons National Park, Wyoming

Moulton Barn is one of those classic photography spots you have to visit if you get the chance. It is credited as the most photographed barn in America; as the dusty, hard-packed path through the nearby field attests. I’ve always wanted the opportunity to photograph it and my wife loves the history of the area so it fit perfectly into our itinerary.

Old barn standing in front of a snowy mountain range

Moulton Barn

#4 – Half Dome and Vernal Falls
Yosemite National Park, California

Day one of our John Muir Trail hike was very memorable. We woke up in the valley and then climbed up its steep walls past waterfalls and granite domes. Shortly before crossing above Vernal Falls, the John Muir Trail has an incredible view of Half Dome, Liberty Cap and Vernal Falls. It’s totally worth the stop to photograph these features.

Granite domes standing tall next to a rushing waterfall

Half Dome to Vernal Falls

#3 – Banner Peak and Garnet Lake
Ansel Adams Wilderness, California

After spending ten days on the John Muir Trail, I can honestly say that Ansel Adams Wilderness is the most remarkable terrain I’ve seen in person. I think my only regret from a near-perfect hike was that we did not stop and spend the night at Garnet Lake. Banner Peak rising above Garnet Lake was one of the view I most looked forward to and I wish we had spent more time soaking it in. As you can see from the photo, it is all-around impressive. I know I will be returning some day.

Thunder clouds and sun rays over snowy mountains and a lake

Storm clearing from Garnet Lake

#2 – Banner Peak over Island Pass
Ansel Adams Wilderness, California

Just off the John Muir Trail at Island Pass is a small lake dreadfully infested with mosquitoes. But the mirror-flat waters create the most stunning view of Banner Peak. If this was the only photo that survived from our John Muir Trail adventure I would be happy with it.

Mountains and clouds reflecting off flat lake surface

Island Pass reflection

#1 – Thor’s Hammer at sunrise
Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

After spending the afternoon driving up and down Bryce Point Road, I was not overly impressed with Bryce Canyon National Park. But, the next morning I got up with sunrise and did a trail run into the canyon. Everything about the run was phenomenal, especially the early morning sun roasting the hoodoos near Thor’s Hammer. It’s probably not surprising to hear, but our national parks are much more impressive from the trail than from the road.

Sun rising over spire rock formations in a desert canyon

Thor’s Hammer at sunrise

Looking back on the year through photos makes it hard to comprehend the things that my family, friends and I experienced over the last 12 months. Some of them seem like photos from a magazine. I have to really think back on the moments to remember that I experienced the views first-hand. It’s hard to imagine that I’ll have a more exciting and wander-ful year than 2017, but I look forward to the challenge in 2018.

Previous years’ lists:
Top 10 Photographs of 2016
Top 10 Instagram Photos of 2015
Top 10 Photos of 2014

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