Photograph a Sunrise at Oxbow Bend

Oxbow Bend

Oxbow Bend is the most photographed spot in Grand Teton National Park, and for good reason. The reflection of Mt. Moran in the Snake River is one of the most stunning scenes park visitors will witness, especially at sunrise in the Fall.

A trip to Grand Teton National Park would not be complete without a visit to the iconic Oxbow Bend at sunrise. It is simply one of the most beautiful scenes on Earth, no matter what the conditions.

Prime time for photographing this spot is usually the last week in September and first week of October, when the golden glow of the aspens reaches it's peak, although it can vary from year to year. On any given day during peak Fall season, you could be sharing this place with hundreds of photographers, so a sense of humor and patience is definitely a requirement. My experience here was good however, with most people being extremely considerate of others.

Getting there early is a must, not only for parking and a prime spot to set up, but you will want to capture the alpenglow that occurs just before first light. For us, that meant arriving around 5:30 am and the place was already packed. There are several options for locations to set up your equipment. Many people will line the edge of the parking lot, and some will make the short hike down to the water's edge. There is also a hill you can climb, which is directly across from the parking lot.

There are so many weather factors that can influence your shot (clouds, fog, wind, snow, etc.) and that is what makes each image here a little different, despite the fact that it's been photographed millions of times. Conditions can change in minutes! A wide-angle lens will help you to capture more of the scene, but it's also nice to zoom in and get a close-up of Mt. Moran and it's beautiful reflection in the Snake River. Make sure you bring your tripod!

Wildlife sightings are common here including moose, elk, black bear, Osprey, and the playful otter. The morning we were there, we heard a bull elk bugling in the distance, which made it even more special.

Oxbow Bend is easy to find and you will know it right away when you see it. It's about one mile East of the Jackson Lake Junction.

Pack List

  • Appropriate clothing for conditions. Mornings in the park can be quite cold so plan accordingly.
  • Camera, lenses, tripod
  • Waterproof boots if planning to get into the water
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Activities Photography
Skill Level Beginner
Season Year Round
Features
Family Friendly
Scenic
Wildlife

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Great Spot, Get there Early

Really beautiful spot for a sunrise photo but make sure you get there early. It can get really crowded with people trying to get their perfect shot. I'd score it a 5 but cloud cover was really low when we went so I couldn't get the full shot of the mountain but definitely a solid location.

One of the best spots in Grand Teton National Park

Oxbow Bend is one of the best locations to photograph a sunrise in the entire park, especially during fall. The lighting is spectacular as it first hits Mt Moran. It's also easily accessible from the parking lot. There tend to be a lot of photographers there in fall, so arrive early if you want a good spot.

5 Stars for the View

The view here is one of the U.S. National Park classics, and it's easy to see why. I enjoy stopping here for night photography or sunset when the huge fall sunrise crowds are gone. I've seen moose and elk here almost every time and the occasional bear in the distance.


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