When choosing a photo location, consider what time of year you want photos, what your family likes to do together and how far are you willing to drive.

First, consider what time of year you want photos. Are you hoping to catch the blossoms in Spring? Do you want to soak up the warm summer evening? Perhaps you want to stand in the stunning fall trees and golden grasses. The time of year is an important decision to make. The time of year is also going to determine the type of clothing you are going to wear, so keep that in mind. Maybe you love the layers, sweater, cozy clothing. Or maybe you want shorts, summer dresses, etc. Just something to consider.

Another question to think about is what does your family like to do together? Do you want to go out to a field with few distraction and possibly a new adventure? Maybe your family loves to work and play in your backyard. This would be an excellent place to capture your family doing what you love the most. Or maybe you just remodeled your kitchen and your family loves to bake. Let's bake some cookies and do an indoor kitchen session!

Some of us are stressed for time and others of us just don't enjoy being in the car. Taking into consideration how far the location is from your home is important too. Most of the locations I have showcased below are not more than 10-20 minutes away from the center of Ellensburg. Frenchman Coulee is a bit farther, but most of these are maybe 10 minute away.

Top 7 favorite photo locations near Ellensburg, WA

So, these top 7 favorite locations are not in any particular order. These are just a few amazing locations I have found and taken my family to since we have moved to Ellensburg. It is so beautiful here. Below I have described the park a bit and what to expect to see when you get pictures there. Obviously, there is going to be much, much more to see. Maybe I will have to do a little showcase of each location from a session I have done there.

Helen McCabe State Park

One of the main things that jump out to me when I come to this park is this nice open field. Imagine the beautiful photos this would create with a family and young kids running through the grasses... I love it! This location also has a great trail around the pond. There are trees and such beauty, especially if you want a water backdrop. So many possibilities here. Here is an article about Helen McCabe State Park if you would like to further research this great park.

tween girl in Helen McCabe State Park field
tween girl twirling in field with flower print dress and long brown hair

Howard's Way Trailhead

This place might be my favorite place to come. Not only for photos, but just to go on walks with my hubby and kids. It has big trees and it is along the river. Sometimes the river is low enough it opens up a huge area of just river rock. In early spring and (I am told), in the fall, the water goes down. During late spring and summer the river is high, so no rocks, but still stunning.

The trails are perfect and not crowded. As you walk along, there are areas that open up a bit and make a perfect photo set up. There are a couple bridges here as well. There are definitely lots of options here. These photos were taking mid-April. Here is a link to Howard's Way Trail with a details article about the trail.

boy with his walking stick in the woods
boy running across a wooden walking bridge

Frenchman Coulee

We drove out here in February, which was very golden and beautiful. The rock structures provide an amazing backdrop. (not shown here.) My kids loved climbing, running and exploring all around. I have heard that you do have to watch out for rattle snakes during the summer. This location is also 40 minutes away from Ellensburg. But it really is a site to see.

boy standing arms out on rock
frenchman coulee landscape

Umtanum Creek Recreational Site

Another beautiful area. This is about a 20 minute drive from Ellensburg, but worth the little drive down Yakima Canyon. There is an impressive walking bridge that takes you across the Yakima River. I will admit it is a little nerve racking if you are not holding your young child's hang while crossing. The slates on the sides are far enough apart that a person could fall and roll off. Luckily, my main focus does not have to be the bridge if you have young kids. The site itself, before even crossing the bridge, is amazing.

Below are just photos I took with my phone. I actually haven't planned a photo session here yet, but wanted to have some photos to give you an idea of what to expect. I plan to updates these. The photo on the far left is before you go on the bridge. So much beauty to be captured there. If your family wants to adventure further, check out the rest of the photos. This trail alternates between almost "jungle" to open area with sagebrush and grasses. Truly amazing.

boys sitting at umtanum creek recreational site
crossing bridge at umtanum creek recreational site
walking trail at umtanum creek recreational site
pointing at trees at umtanum creek recreational site

Manastash Trail

I love the variety here. You park on Cove Road, then walk up to the trailhead. Well, the walk up is just as wonderful as being on the trail. There is a dirt road, lined with trees and a wooden fence. It makes me so happy walking up here. I feel like in just a short amount of time, you get so many different looks. Again, the is here in Ellensburg, nice and close.

woman walking to manastash trailhead
women in front of apple blossoming tree
woman walking on trail at Manastash Ridge trail

Central Washington University

Central Washington University has some amazing old buildings. I just love them. This is such a different location than all the others I have mentioned, but just as lovely. The photos here were pretty much taken in the same area, but there area two or three more spots at this college that I absolutely love and can't wait to share. The Shaw building has these amazing pillars in font and will turn a boring photo into stunning. I also found this huge wall of brick and windows that just makes for the perfect backdrop or walkway. I am dreaming of a photo of a girl riding her bike next to this wall.

I have a senior session here and will be updating these photos, but until then, just dream about what I have told you about the CWU campus.

60s themed dress at central washington university
60s themed sitting on steps at central washington university

Reecer Creek Floodplain Restoration Site

Super long title, right?! I am just not really sure what to call this area or if it has an actual name. It is a location they have recently restored the Reecer creek habit area and added a walking trail through. It is beautiful. I took my daughter here for some evening sunset photos for a 60s theme photography challenge. I will definitely be going back here! Best thing is, it is right here in Ellensburg!

sunset 60s theme at reecer creek floodplain restoration
running through field at reecer creek floodplain restoration
60s vibe at reecer creek floodplain restoration site

That's a Wrap

Well, that's a wrap for now. Feel free to check back to see if I have added any new locations or photos to previous locations. Do you have any favorite Ellensburg or near Ellensburg locations? I would love to hear about it. Or if you have found your location and would like to book a session, click HERE.