Nature Photography Blog

John Slonina is a professional nature photographers. His company Slonina Nature Photography leads instructional photo tours and workshops throughout the United States. His photo tours visits several national parks which include Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, Mt Rainier, Olympic, Acadia, Great Smoky Mountains, Mt Rainier, Olympic, Arches, Canyonlands, Everglades, Big Cypress, Katmai and Lake Clark.


Best time of year to photograph and see the Great Smoky Mountains


When is the best time to photograph or visit the Great Smoky Mountains?

There is always something unique going on in the Smokies year round to photograph.

If I had two pick my two favorite times it would be April and October. There endless subjects to photograph. We lead instructional photo tours and workshops during this time period.

 Why April?

 Lush Greens

Spring is arguably the best time of the year. April is the height of spring.  The forest and the beautiful mountain ranges are lush. Temperatures are usually mild, insects are still at a minimum, the trails are often lined with beautiful wildflowers and the typical spring rains make for a heavier flow of water at the various falls.

Peak Waterfalls and Rivers

So the biggest problem is which river and waterfall do you photograph. The water will be at peak so if you go in the summer some locations will be dried up. The Smokies has several miles of photogenic waterfalls which are at peak water level this time of year.

Peak Wildflowers:

The Great Smoky Mountains has the best wildflower displays in the East. Mid-April is the best time to enjoy the Smokies’ spring blossoms, including orchids, irises, violets, and 1,500 other wildflower species. They are in brilliant display.

Dogwoods and Red Bud

The Dogwoods and Red Buds should be in bloom. Both are incredibly beautiful and add a dramatic element to your photos.


The Great Smoky Mountains has a lot of wildlife photography opportunities. We commonly photograph black bears, white tailed deer, elk, coyote, and wild turkey. In the springtime, black bear cubs emerge from their dens and can be seen out and about with their moms. Turkeys are in the middle of breeding season. The Males are constantly gobbling and displaying for the females.

Great Weather

Although the summer times is the most popular time to visit. It is hardly the most comfortable season. Weather in April can get hot or cold but it is usually in the 60-70’s.

Fewer Crowds

You come in the Smokies to see bears, elk, turkeys, wildflowers, rushing rivers, mountain views not people. Get rid of the Crowd by going in April. Less people more time to yourself and more wildlife sightings.

Cheaper Accommodations

There is less demand in April than the summer so the rates go way down.

The other time I love is October and that will be the subject of a future article.

Here are the links for our Instructional Photo Tours and Workshops in the Great Smoky Mountains. Our group size is small 6 participants max. All skill levels are welcome from beginner to pro. I hope you can join us.