The Pacific Northwest has long since been associated with incredible landscape photography, and it’s no wonder why. The plentiful natural beauty is accentuated by some of the most iconic weather in the world — the moody PNW mist and fog.
Social media is inundated with photos of gorgeous places like Vance Creek Bridge, La Push, Mt. Rainier National Park, and Snoqualmie Falls. This time, we wanted to highlight some of our favorite lesser-known spots, so we sent Nathanael Billings (@nathanaelbillings) on a little road trip to showcase these five great locations to capture the moody PNW.
Hurricane Ridge, Olympic National Park
The birthplace of the moody PNW photographic style, this place lives up to its suggestive name. Come here in the fall or winter, and you will likely be treated to all four seasons in one day. It’s this ferocious weather that makes this place really shine for those classic shots. I’ve been coming here for years, and every single time, I see something new.
Wild, brutal, beautiful…. These are just a few words to describe this rapid ascent into the heavens. Unmatched views of Mt. Rainier come into view within 30 minutes and get better with each foot of altitude gained. With this trail starting in a mountain pass, the weather changes on a dime. Be prepared for fog, fog, rain, and more fog — which makes this some of the best moody shooting around. (Since you’re up here, don’t forget to check out Franklin Falls, just a short drive away)
Mt. Pilchuck Lookout Overnight
With the shutters closed, many a soul have been led to believe that this place is closed during the colder months. The lookout actually stays open year round, and you’ll likely be the only one up there past sundown. The light seems to take on a pastel personality at that elevation. The valleys dark are as night, as everything is slowly bathed in golden hour light.
Sol Duc Falls
If you’ve been to Olympic National Park, you probably came to see these very popular falls. Seeing them in fall and winter, you might as well be transported to another world. Not a soul is in sight, and with the falls at max capacity, you’ll be grabbing northwest bangers left and right. Don’t forget to have your friend stand on the bridge in your shots to give a sense of scale. (Hint: bright red or yellow jackets stand out best against moody landscapes).
The longest trek on this list — if you venture out late enough in the season, you’ll be donning snowshoes by mile 3. But if seclusion is what you’re after, then look no further. Mountains tower over the lake on all sides, and this time of year, there’s a constant stream of clouds being ushered up the valley. Sunrise here is where you’re going to find your moody shots. Dense fog typically lines the basin well into the morning, and with the early sun hitting the mountains, it’s perfect for getting moody sunrise shots.