Six Must See Reflections

Written By : Dalton Johnson 

Have you ever noticed the stillness during those chilly morning hikes? The hikes where your hands are cold, your nose runs, and you hunker down under three hoods. For some reason, this is the space I begin to thrive. Because of that, I am often up before the sun rises, camera in hand, waiting for first light. As a kid, I grew up in the foothills of Lake Tahoe, so being by a body of water sends a wave of calm over me. What happens when you put the calm of a cold morning and body of water together? Scroll down below and find out for yourself!

Lake reflecting the mountains and tree line

#1 Mount Moran

Location: String Lake in Grand Teton National Park
Best Season: Fall
Time of Day: Morning

Personal Story: After seven weeks around Jackson Hole, WY I had come to love String Lake in Grand Teton National Park. If you beat the crowds to this mirror like lake you are often rewarded with low hanging fog, the morning alpine glow, and a beautiful hike all to yourself. If I had to guess, I hiked around String Lake at least seven times throughout my time in Jackson Hole.
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Waterfall coming down rock face and reflecting lake

#2 Yosemite Falls

Location: Yosemite Loop in Yosemite National Park
Best Season: Late Spring on a high water year
Time of Day: Morning

Personal Story: Yosemite National Park is a national icon that attracts a record number of tourists annually. Luckily, most tourists enjoy their morning cup of coffee, warm shower, and time with a significant other. If you are chasing the sights, skip the shower, convince your partner to join you, and hike with your coffee to see the beautiful reflections that are abundant during a flood year in the late spring of Yosemite Valley. Most likely, you will only see a few others who brave the morning chill.
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Rocky mountain dusted and reflecting on a lake

#3 Mount Tyndall

Location: Shepard’s Pass in the Eastern Sierra
Best Season: Early Fall (or dead of winter if you are courageous!)
Time of Day: Early Morning

Personal Story: If you enjoy suffering, then this lake is for you! Sheppard’s Pass has been one of the most difficult hikes for me in the Eastern Sierra. I have now done this hike three times and every time I question my motives. From the parking lot to this lake is 13.6 miles and over 10,000 feet of vertical gain. This hike could have been 9,000 gain, but there is a random 1,000-foot decline around 1/3 the way to the pass. If you can secure a backcountry permit, take advantage of the opportunity and spend a few days up here. You can summit Mount Tyndall and Mount Williamson, both of which are 14,000-foot peaks!

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Sunrise on a rock face reflecting on a lake

#4 Palisade Range

Location: The North West aspect of the Palisade Range
Best Season: Late Summer
Time of Day: Evening

Personal Story: Ansel Adams coined the Eastern Sierra the “Range of Light” and for all those whom venture into the glacial carved range, they will surely agree. In the mornings, the light bounces off the east-facing walls, and for sunset, the west-facing aspects glow in a golden light. Hues that range from burnt orange to purple are often a single frame. The views are unparalleled to any I have experienced thus far.

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Picture of a forest and rock face reflecting on lake

#5 Grand Teton


Location: String Lake Trail Head
Best Season: Fall
Time of Day: Morning

Personal Story: Grand Teton National Park has unquestionably been one of the few places to grab my heart. The accessibility to striking peaks are uncommon in the lower 48 and thankfully, they are not overrun with people like many of the mountains in Colorado and California. If you can, be at string lake trailhead for sunrise and watch the alpine glow cascade down the north aspect of the Grand Teton and surrounding peaks. 

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Rocky mountain dusted with snow reflecting on a lake

#6 Lake Sabrina


Location: Bishop, California
Best Season: Early Winter
Time of Day: Morning (the water will be most still)

Personal Story: The thermometer read 10F, my snot was starting to freeze to my nose, and I was bundled in four layers. My gloved hands held the camera as steady as possible, but I made sure to have a high shutter speed because the shivering was inevitable. I have never been a fan of the cold, however, I have come to enjoy being warm in cold places. There is something magical about the muted sounds of a snow-filled environment. The head is quiet. The lungs fill with crisp air. Often, you have these typically busy places to yourself.

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