Hi! I'm Brian, a photographer based in San Francisco that has an avid love for the outdoors, travel, hiking, redwoods, astronomy, guitar, cameras, and writing.

Bucket list hike that's no joke.

I hike a lot, I'm in shape, and this hike still kicked my ass. Nearly a mile of elevation gain and 14 miles round trip is serious. That being said, the reward is incredible - I still feel like it's one of my biggest outdoor accomplishments. We hiked it in a day from the Mist Trailhead. Make sure you bring at least a gallon of water per person, if not more, and plenty of high calorie snacks/food to keep you energized throughout the day. There is a ranger posted at the foot of the "stairs" so don't even think about going without a permit. We started at 5am and got back at 7pm, and spent about an hour at the top of Half Dome. The views up there are unreal but if you're day hiking it like we did, the light for photographs is quite harsh and I didn't get many good photos from the top. You could be crazy and start hiking around midnight to arrive in time for sunrise, but hiking in the dark is not advised unless you're very experienced. We used gloves (brought our own, used some $5 work gloves with rubber grip) but didn't clip in. It was definitely a bit on the scary side but as long as you're careful, focused, and take your time, you'll be fine. Absolutely unreal hike. Best advice I can give: WEAR GOOD HIKING BOOTS. I saw so many people in sneakers and even sandals that were having a real hard time on the smooth granite. If it started raining at all, they'd be toast.

Not really much of a place for hiking.

Hume Lake feels like a small village that's run by a Christian Camp there. There's a cafeteria, chapel, general store, among other things. I haven't fished there but I imagine it's decent. What this place is not, however, is a quiet escape into the woods. It's pretty much guaranteed that you won't be alone if you visit Hume Lake, no matter what time of year it is.

Unreal hike with stunning views the entire way.

The hike to Grinnell Glacier is a nice little butt-kicker and has an incredible reward at the end. It's surreal to see a glacier in the middle of summer. Sad to think that this may not be a glacier in 50 years or so. If you're ambitious, bring a bathing suit and take a 30-second plunge into the glacial lake, but make sure you do it as soon as you make it to the top when your body is still hot. It will feel refreshing for about 10 seconds, and then you'll start to feel the pain of a lake just above freezing temperatures :)

Rewarding Short Hike

For how short this hike is, it's pretty rewarding. Hiking through the cave is a neat, unique aspect to this hike. Make sure to bring a headlamp or flashlight! The reservoir has some great rock climbing and beautiful views. Tip: go just before sunset to beat the crowds and watch the golden hour light dance on the rocks.

Thank you Rhea!

I have updated the post with more thorough directions to avoid the downed trees mentioned in another review. These directions should be very accurate.

Beat The Crowds, Go in the Fall

Go in the fall (late September, first week of October) to truly enjoy Moraine Lake at its finest and to avoid most of the crowds. If you're lucky, you'll get to see the larches in their full yellow beauty during about a week in late September. In early October, Moraine usually gets its first snow. Do bear in mind that they usually close the road to Moraine for cars on or around Canadian Thanksgiving or so, and does not open until spring. Some daring cross-country skiers might want to make the 20-mile round trip trek from Lake Louise in the winter.

Stunning Views Right Outside of Town

Vermillion Lakes are an incredible view right outside the town of Banff. If you're staying in Banff town, make sure to catch sunrise here once or twice. The views are unforgettable.

GET THERE EARLY!

If you haven't reserved this campground in advance, definitely get there as early as you possibly can on the day of your stay. We got there at 8:30AM and were told that there were no spots left. We got lucky because one opened up randomly, but this doesn't always happen. I recommend getting there no later than 7AM in the summer. There is also a website (google "glacier campground status") that will tell you what time it has filled in recent days. This campground is pretty grand, not necessarily for its views or seclusion, but for its easy access to everything in the Many Glacier area. Grinnell, Iceberg, and Ptarmigan Trails are all very close by, as well as Swiftcurrent Lake. There is also the Many Glacier Lodge nearby complete with a convenience store, coin-operated showers, and laundry, which is all available to the campground guests (and anyone else) as well.

One of the best places I've ever camped.

Not only was the view stunning, but the people I met here were amazing. They fed me hamburgers and hot dogs and even gave me a Keurig Machine. So kind. I made it up to this road in my Honda Insight, so if I can do it, you can do it. Word of warning: Read the fire warnings!!! They have planes that fly around in high fire season and spot fires. The forest service came up while we were there to make sure we weren't burning anything.

Pretty great spot for nature in the Bay

Redwood Regional Park is a fantastic place to get away from it all, without actually having to drive too far. These are mostly second and third growth redwoods, meaning there aren't as big of giants as there are at Muir Woods or even farther north, but it's still a great local spot to enjoy nature. If you're into astronomy and space, Chabot Space & Science Center is right nearby. They offer free observing through their telescopes on Friday and Saturday nights - a great spot to go on a date.

Absolute must do In Iceland

This canyon should be seen by everyone, it is that stunning. There are endless photographic opportunities in the area. Do understand that there is a short section of gravel road to get here, but it is far worth it.

Great, easy redwood hike

This is a sweet little loop if you're looking for a nice taste of Redwood National Park. It's conveniently located just a few miles off the 101, so it's great if you're just passing through. The wooden bridge is a sight to see in itself, let alone the stunning trees beyond it. If you're looking for the tallest trees in the world, though, check out Tall Trees Grove, which isn't too far from here. You'll need a permit from the Visitor Center. Oh, and don't forget! Bring your rain jacket!

Felt like Iceland

This waterfall felt like many of the falls in Iceland, with basalt columns and an area you can walk behind. It is stunning. That being said, get here a little after sunrise on a weekday for the best chance at having it to yourself. It can get very crowded on the weekends. And as someone else said: if you're a photographer, bring plenty of lens clothes to keep your glass dry!

Gorgeous but Crowded

If you go here during the summertime after 8am, you can forget about having a photograph without a bunch of other tourists in it. But if you go around sunrise or at odd hours, you can have this beautiful waterfall mostly, if not all, to yourself. Also, don't miss Gljufurarfoss, which is just around the corner from Seljalandsfoss and located in a canyon, making for stunning photos! DEFINITELY bring a raincoat/wear clothes you'll be prepared to get wet in, because you will get soaked. Photographers: bring a lens cleaning cloth to keep your lens dry as it will get misted.

Pretty, but crowded

This natural bridge is stunning but located on a crowded Santa Cruz beach, which takes away the fun. If you go at sunset, there will almost always be some photographers there. However, it's still a very beautiful spot and great to just take in. Tip: go at night during the summertime to snag a photo of the Milky Way behind/through the arch.

Extra Rewarding Hike

Every hike is rewarding, but this has an extra treat at the end. Unlike other intermediate backpacking trips, you have the hot springs to look forward to at the end of a long day of hiking. Once you make it to the top and set up camp, getting in the hot springs is one of the best feelings there is. Be warned that it is not uncommon for people to go nude into the hot springs. This is a great spot to train for a longer backpacking trip as it has a solid length (18 miles) and moderately challenging elevation gain. A must do if you find yourself in western Colorado!

Best Escape from the City

Mount Davidson might be my favorite place to get my nature fix in all of San Francisco. If you go on a foggy morning, it can feel magical. Forests of towering eucalyptus trees, a 100-foot-tall cross in memoriam of the Armenian Genocide, and #thatSFtree can all be found on Mount Davidson. For a small area, there is a surprising amount of landscape to explore. Great place for a dog walk, too.

Where All The Dog Walkers Go

If you go here midday on a weekday, you'll probably see upwards of 50+ dogs. It's amazing. Many of the dog walkers in SF take them here, and each of them will usually have around 5 dogs on or off leashes. If you want to meet some pups, this is your best bet. Also one of the best spots for hang gliding if you're into that, as it's very windy most of the time.

Low Effort, High Reward

Yosemite Falls, as with most waterfalls in Yosemite, don't always flow year round. The best time for seeing it in its full glory is definitely around April or May, right when the snowpack is melting and therefore the falls are in full force. However, Yosemite Falls usually flows almost year round. The view of the falls is stunning. It's a very easy hike (more like a walk) to the falls, and can be done by most people of all ages. Do be aware that it gets very crowded.

One of the Best Hikes in PA

I grew up hiking here and I can say with ease that it's one of the better, more scenic hikes in Pennsylvania. The waterfalls are beautiful, and seem like they never stop coming. Make sure to check out the abandoned train tunnel too! Fall is probably my favorite season to see Glen Onoko, as there are many kinds of trees and they turn to beautiful colors. If you have time, take the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway in Jim Thorpe as well.

One of Yosemite's Hidden Gems

Since the most popular sequoia grove in Yosemite, Mariposa Grove, is closed until Spring 2017, Tuolumne Grove is a great alternative. While it doesn't have a grove that's as big as Mariposa, it makes up for it with character. As you can see in the photos, trees like the Tunnel Tree and Big Red are unique sequoias to the area. Tunnel Tree was a landmark for horse and buggies passing through to Yosemite Valley in the late 1800s, and you can even see carvings from people of that era inside. My girlfriend and I did this in the dead of winter with about two feet of snowpack on the ground, and it was fantastic to see these giants all covered in snow.

One of The Best Travel Experiences You'll Ever Have

When I was 18, I took a solo day trip to Santorini by myself. I took a ferry from the island of Crete to get there, and if I recall correctly, it costed about 100 Euros round trip. Each way took four hours. I left at 6AM, so I got in at 10AM and explored the island until 5PM, when my ferry departed. Do keep in mind that you will need to take a bus from the port to the town of Fira (anglicized Thera), and then another from Fira to Oia, which is the island's main attraction. It takes about 45 minutes each way for that. However, once you're in Oia, it is absolutely breathtaking. All white buildings, beautiful blue doors and Greek orthodox domes, all built onto the side of an ocean cliff. The entire island of Santorini is actually the rim of an ancient volcano. I recommend spending at least one night on the island to maximize your time. Also, it is an island, and a tourist one at that, so any food/water/supplies you can bring yourself will save you lots of money. Let it be known, though, this place is incredible and I had one of the best days of my life here. If you are going to Greece, you must go to Santorini.

Must Have A Permit

You MUST have a permit to camp here, and you have to print it out in advance. The fee is $18 for up to 6 people that are non-Hawaii residents. There's basically this open grass field where everyone camps. It's nice, but don't expect privacy. The bathrooms here work, but the showers are outdoor and do not have hot water. Nevertheless, it's a good way to freshen up. Do not attempt to car camp here without an "authorized camper van." In Hawaii, that means a Westfalia with a camper top, a motorhome, or something similar. If you try to just camp in an SUV or something, the park ranger will come around to each car and make sure no one's sleeping in the parking lot. Also, GET THERE BEFORE 6PM! If not earlier! The parking lot fills up quickly and if you don't get a spot, it can be a pain to have to walk all the way to your car from the campground. Tip: hike down to the Black Sand Beach just northwest of the campground. You will see a small opening to a sea cave that you have to duck down to get into. Just after sunrise, this cave lights up with a beautiful golden color and is a great spot to photograph.

Magical Place

If you're a photographer, it's almost like a rite of passage to photograph Antelope Canyon. In fact, the most expensive photograph ever sold ($6.5 million) was taken here, called "The Phantom" by Peter Lik. So just be aware, it is a very commonly photographed place. However, this does not take away from it's beauty. Most tours will go to Upper Antelope Canyon. These will be cheaper. However, if you want a less crowded, more intimate experience, go to Lower Antelope Canyon. Word of advice - it gets pretty dark in there. Too dark to get decent, non-blurry iPhone photos. A point-and-shoot camera with a tripod is recommended at the very least. Obviously, a DSLR is preferred. In order to shoot at low ISOs and an aperture to capture the depth of the scene, your shutter speeds will have to be around 5+ seconds. This can make it very difficult to capture with people walking by on the tours as well as guides shining their laser pointers. As others have stated, there is a photographer tour which will be more suited to taking photographs. However, both times I've done this, I've done the regular tour and didn't have much of an issue capturing it. Come prepared!