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National Park Photo Contest Winners – 2020

National Park Trips received 4,500 spectacular photo entries to the 10th Annual National Park Photo Contest presented by Tamron. It was a difficult task to choose the winners because of the high quality of entries, but the judges have selected this year's top photos.

The top photographer in each of three categories is awarded his or her choice of a Tamron lens: Tamron SP 15-30mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2 ($1,299 value), Tamron 17-35mm F/2.8-4 Di VC OSD ($599 value) or Tamron 35-150mm F/2.8-4 Di VC OSD ($799 value). Their photos will be featured in National Park Journal magazines hitting newsstands in late fall through summer.

In addition, 30 honorable mention winners receive certificates and are featured on our national park websites.

Landscape Winner

Bruce Herwig from Redlands, Calif.
An amazing sunset at the Cholla Cactus Garden in Joshua Tree National Park

An amazing sunset at the Cholla Cactus Garden in Joshua Tree National Park
Bruce Herwig

Bruce Herwig has always loved the desert, especially at night. Living in Redlands, Calif., he’s able to visit Joshua Tree National Park frequently, a haven for dark sky enthusiasts.

“I’m jealous of photographers who have the Aurora Borealis in their backyards, but they’re jealous of me,” he jokes. “Joshua Tree is a photography destination. I’m lucky to live so close.”

Redlands is a perfect home base for Herwig. Recently on his 50th birthday, he and his friends went to the beach for breakfast, the mountains for lunch and the desert for dinner. He was able to experience all of his favorite ecosystems in one perfect day.

Especially in the summer, Herwig loves to head to the park when the sun goes down. The higher elevation makes the air cool, and it’s always calm and peaceful in the park at night.

On the evening Herwig took his winning shot, he had brought a friend who had never seen Joshua Tree’s chollas. While practicing social distancing, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, he figured that there was no better way to isolate than in the desert.

He and his friend lucked out. The sunset turned brilliant and Herwig couldn’t stop snapping.

Wildlife Winner

Isabel Guerra Clark from Phoenix, Ariz.
The running of the bulls [bison] in Yellowstone

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Isabel Guerra Clark

Isabel Guerra Clark and her husband are big national park people. While her husband’s not a photographer, the two love to travel.

A retired doctor, Clark sees travel photography as a way to bring home lifelong souvenirs.

Clark was born in the Caribbean and loves snow.

“It’s just pristine,” she says. “It’s so gorgeous to witness.”

Her husband, on the other hand, grew up in Buffalo, N.Y., and hates the snow.

One week in January, the two headed from their home in Phoenix up to Yellowstone National Park. There, they took snow coaches (specially equipped vans that can drive on the snow) which Clark described as “outrageous” into the interior of the park.

They came across a dozen bison near the road and two youngsters were running around in the snow. This behavior is unusual for bison in the winter, as they try to conserve their energy while food sources are scarce. The juveniles, however, were having a blast. They spent half an hour running back and forth and managed to coax an older bison into chasing them. That was the moment Clark snapped the shot.

Night Skies Winner

Judi Kubes from Yelm, Wash.
The Milky Way glows brightly over mountain climbers with their headlamps in Mt. Rainier National Park

Milky Way glows bright over the headlamp lights of mountain climbers in Mt. Rainier National Park
Judi Kubes

Judi Kubes had never picked up a camera until she moved to Washington state eight years ago. As she began to explore her new home and get out in the trails in the Pacific Northwest, she began to take pictures.

Kubes loves night photography, but living in Washington, it can be tricky. Much of the year is cloudy and rainy, but July through September there’s usually a magical, clear window to see the stars. She and a colleague took a photography workshop at Mount Rainier National Park in the summer and, at the time, Kubes didn’t even notice the lights from the climbers on the mountain.

Back at home, she noticed their headlamps, looking like ants in a line, heading towards the summit.

“I love night photography because any problems you have, you don’t think about them when you’re out there,” Kubes muses. “It’s like meditation.”

Kubes is always shocked at how many people she meets who live in Washington and have never been up to Mount Rainier. Seeing it from far away is nothing compared to being up close and personal with it, according to her. She does warn that it gets cold up there on the mountain, even in the summer, so bring a jacket.

Landscape Honorable Mention

Vince Condella, Thomas Moors, Isabel Guerra Clark, David Shield (2), William Nylander, Bon Koo, Ronnie Sue Ambrosino, Taylor Newlun and Jelieta Walinski

Hanging out in Congaree National Park
Hanging out in Congaree National Park. Photo: Thomas Moors
Sunset reflection on pools in Badwater Basin at Death Valley National Park
Sunset reflection on pools in Badwater Basin at Death Valley National Park. Photo: Isabel Guerra Clark
Hoodoo sunrise at Bryce Canyon National Park
Hoodoo sunrise at Bryce Canyon National Park. Photo: Vince Condella
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“Flying High” Timing is so important and I was fortunate to pull into a side road at Grand Teton National Park just in time to see this gaggle fly over the magnificent Tetons! Photo: Ronnie Sue Ambrosino
A passing storm leaves Lone Rock State Beach bathed in lighting tones, not typically associated with the Southwest, Glen Canyon National Recreation…
A passing storm leaves Lone Rock State Beach bathed in lighting tones, not typically associated with the Southwest, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. Photo: David Shield
Hikers on a drift at Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve
Hikers on a drift at Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. Photo: Bon Koo
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“The Beauty and the Beast.” Clouds hover below the summit of Mt. Rainier in Mt. Rainier National Park. Photo: Taylor Newlun
Sunrise reflection at Swiftcurrent Lake in Glacier National Park
Sunrise reflection at Swiftcurrent Lake in Glacier National Park. Photo: William Nylander

A clearing winter storm, which resulted in being one of my favorite all-time moments at the South Rim, of Grand Canyon National Park
A clearing winter storm, which resulted in being one of my favorite all-time moments at the South Rim, of Grand Canyon National Park. Photo: David Shield
Sunset at Saguaro National Park
Sunset at Saguaro National Park. Photo: Jelieta Walinski

Wildlife Honorable Mention

Robert Wagner, Xiaoying Shi, Doreen Lawrence, Heidi Mason, Tom Roach, Jonathan McKenzie, Jake Kinzer, Norman Lathrop, Heather Spencer and Robert Godber

Grizzly bear 399 and her four cubs catch snowflakes in Grand Teton National Park
Grizzly bear 399 and her four cubs catch snowflakes in Grand Teton National Park. Photo: Tom Roach
A bull moose munches on young willows in Yellowstone
A bull moose munches on young willows in Yellowstone. Photo: Robert Godber
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“Better View.” Coastal Brown Bear at Lake Clark National Park and Preserve. Photo: Doreen Lawrence
Bighorn sheep greet the sunrise in Badlands National Park
Bighorn sheep greet the sunrise in Badlands National Park. Photo: Jonathan McKenzie
A black bear boar in Cades Cove, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, chased a sow up a tree to try and woo her, and she was not having any of it.
A black bear boar in Cades Cove, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, chased a sow up a tree to try and woo her, and she was not having any of it. Photo: Robert Wagner
A bighorn lamb makes a leap to join his brother at Badlands National Park
A bighorn lamb makes a leap to join his brother at Badlands National Park. Photo: Norman Lathrop
A large bull elk bugles during the rut in Rocky Mountain National Park
A large bull elk bugles during the rut in Rocky Mountain National Park. Photo: Heather Spencer
A grizzly bear and her cub meander among arrowleaf balsamroot flowers in Grand Teton National Park
A grizzly bear and her cub meander among arrowleaf balsamroot flowers in Grand Teton National Park. Photo: Heidi Mason
A bighorn sheep leaps from high places at Canyonlands National Park
A bighorn sheep leaps from high places at Canyonlands National Park. Photo: Jake Kinzer
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“Territorial Battles.” Two brown bears grapple in Katmai National Park and Preserve. Photo: Xiaoying Shi

Night Skies Honorable Mention

Thomas Moors, Jose Torres, Sunny Hwang, Aaron Rashid, Bruce Herwig, Matt George, Zach Goldberg, Marcin Zajac, Jay Huang and Nick Brown

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“Rialto Beach Insominia.” The Milky Way shines in Olympic National Park. Photo: Zach Goldberg
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“Breathing Life into the Milky Way.” Old Faithful erupts and drifts across the sky towards the Milky Way in Yellowstone National Park. Photo: Nick Brown
Milky Way reflection at Tenaya Lake in Yosemite National Park
Milky Way reflection at Tenaya Lake in Yosemite National Park. Photo: Jay Huang
The Milky Way over Joshua Tree National Park
The Milky Way over Joshua Tree National Park. Photo: Sunny Hwang
The Neowise Comet shoots over the Grand Canyon as viewed from the South Rim
The Neowise Comet shoots over the Grand Canyon as viewed from the South Rim. Photo: Jose Torres
Neowise Comet over Reflection Lakes in Mount Rainier National Park
Neowise Comet over Reflection Lakes in Mount Rainier National Park. Photo: Matt George
The Milky Way arches over Half Dome in Yosemite National Park
The Milky Way arches over Half Dome in Yosemite National Park. Photo: Marcin Zajac
Neowise is known for being the brightest comet in the northern hemisphere since Comet Hale-Bopp in 1997. Thousands of people came to Joshua Tree…
Neowise is known for being the brightest comet in the northern hemisphere since Comet Hale-Bopp in 1997. Thousands of people came to Joshua Tree National Park to see this amazing spectacle. Photo: Bruce Herwig
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“Monument to the Stars.” A sole hiker gazes up at the Milky Way arching over a sandstone column in Bryce Canyon National Park. Photo: Thomas Moors
The Neowise Comet appears to be shooting into a Joshua Tree cactus at Joshua Tree National Park
The Neowise Comet appears to be shooting into a Joshua Tree cactus at Joshua Tree National Park. Photo: Aaron Rashid