Having your family photos at Bear Lake is an excellent option for those who live north of Spokane or want the gorgeous backdrop this Spokane County Park provides.
When I started a family photography business in Eastern Washington, it felt essential to offer great options outside of the main city of Spokane. I have never lived in the city, so I understand the frustration of driving into town for everything.
No matter what part of Spokane County you live in (or Lincoln, Stevens, or Whitman), there are great options for your family photos!
Why I Love Bear Lake for Family Photo Shoots
Overall, Bear Lake is pretty accessible for all families. You can head to the flat fields for photos, often with wildflowers in late Spring, adding that extra pop to your images. Or keep to a paved and wheel-friendly path around the lake. The most uneven terrain comes from early Spring when many things are flooded.
The sun is also perfect in the summer for creating dreaming photos. I often find a fabulous location, but I am disheartened when the sun sets over a busy road or parking lot. This is not true at Bear Lake Regional Park in Chattaroy, WA. There is a perfect combination of shade, low sun, and great skies.
Bear Lake is also easy to get to, even when you’re not located in northern Spokane County. While it is located in Chattaroy, the entrance is right off the main highway. Many families I take here for photos are from somewhere other than the north side but are looking for a location like this. The drive is totally doable coming from Spokane.
When I don’t recommend Bear Lake to Families
One word – Ticks. Are you an actual Inland NW resident if you aren’t fighting off ticks every Spring on local trails?
Bear Lake is not immune to the tick population, and all this gorgeous tall grass can be problematic for sessions in the Spring. If you come here in the Spring, back bug spray and do a tick check before heading into the car.
I’m sure you’re not reading this post for tick tricks, but here it is. After every session in the woods or fields, I use a lint roller on my pants to catch any hitchhikers. Often a roll-off several when leaving spots like this in Spring.
Another downside to Bear Lake is that it floods in the Spring. Parts of the trail are often underwater, and the ground can be super muddy until May. I walk my dog here, and we both come back pretty messy the first few months of the year.
While Bear Lake is pretty chill on weekdays in Spring and Fall, the Summer season gets busy. Many families spend summer evenings here, and other photographers bring people for the gorgeous scenery. This might not be a downside for everyone, but it’s good to be aware that occasionally it can be crowded.
4 Tips for Successful Family Photos at Bear Lake
- If you’re hoping for a sunset shot, be sure to show up early to give you and your photographer time to get in place.
- Don’t mark in the main lot by the playground. The light there is the worst, and taking kids past a playground for a session is brutal.
- Always bring dogs early to smell around. 15 minutes of free smells for dogs makes all the difference for a less distracted shoot
- Bathrooms are suspect at best. Porta-potties are available, but I’d suggest going before you come.
Overall, I think Bear Lake offers perfect options for families and couples. If you’re in North Spokane County or love this vibe, it’s a solid bet for your photos.
Here are a few other of my favorite spots to take families
I’m always looking to add more recommendations for Inland NW families. Is there a spot where you’d love to have family photos taken? Send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org