Home · Register · Search · View Winners · Software · Hosting · Software · Join Upload & Sell

Moderated by: Fred Miranda
Username   Password

FM Forum Rules
Landscape Posting Guidelines
  

FM Forums | Landscape Photographer | Join Upload & Sell

  

Archive 2012 · Utah/Arizona trip
  
 
helenica
Offline
• • •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Utah/Arizona trip


My husband and I are planning a trip to the canyons and parks of Utah and Arizona and possibly also Death Valley. When is the best period (photographically speaking) to visit these places? After two holidays with little decent light, I feel much in need of some decent sunsets and nice light.

Tips for unknown photographic gems in this area are also appreciated.

cheers,
Helen



Nov 25, 2012 at 04:25 PM
stanparker
Offline
• • • •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Utah/Arizona trip


Helen, your question just may be too big for a simple answer. I've accumulated many months in those areas over a period of years and have yet to see many of its wondrous places. Depending on the time available, you might consider staying in one or two bases (such as Page, AZ or Kanab, UT) and visit the many sites within easy driving distance. That would minimize driving time and maximize photography time. I think anytime from March through November is good, unless you want to avoid summer heat (some triple digits). Death Valley has a much smaller window, say November through March. For Utah and Arizona, late summer has more clouds/rain...good for sunsets, not good for canyon hikes.

If you drive a 4WD vehicle and have camping gear, you can get to many more places and be there for sunrise/sunset. Most of the "gems" are known, many are icons, all are worth shooting. Google is your best bet for identifying places that appeal to you, whether it be canyons, waterfalls, desert views, etc. My website is organized by state, so feel free to look at it for ideas of places you might like to visit. www.pbase.com/sparker1



Nov 25, 2012 at 04:46 PM
gempixel
Offline
• •
Upload & Sell: On
p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Utah/Arizona trip


I like the middle of August because of the monsoons. It make's for beautiful skies! If you can don't forget to visit Sedona Arizona!


Nov 25, 2012 at 04:47 PM
Genes Home
Offline
• • •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Utah/Arizona trip


This one's gonna be fun to watch....

In reality, many people spend a lifetime photographing this part of the country and NEVER see it all or run out of "hidden gems."

My first suggestion is to use this site and the search bar to look for photographs of areas you will be visiting. That should give you some ideas. Then come back to this forum and ask for specific guidance.

My second suggestion is to visit the websites of the specific parks you are interested in visiting. These have trip planners and event schedules and (most importantly) links to lodging reservations. Many of these places are some distance from the nearest public lodging (with the exception of Arches National Monument, which is just outside Moab), and their lodging generally fills up 4-6 months in advance.

My third suggestion is to go to your nearest library which subscribes to "Arizona Highways" magazine and spend some time paging through the last several years of their photographs, notepad in hand.

Fourth, both Arizona and Utah (and New Mexico) have vacation trip planners you can either download or order in hard copy from their state websites. Highly recommended.

Some short notes:

1. Death Valley. Winter or spring, anytime before the end of May. Not at all from June through September due to heat and people crowding. A 4wd vehicle is needed to get to some of the better landscape photography sites. Photography here takes a lot of work to get unusual and interesting shots. Due to the distances you have to travel within the park to do photography, plan on at least 3 days.

2. Bryce Canyon. Lovely in winter. Pretty any other time of the year. Be prepared to walk up and down a lot. Morning and evening light can be just unreal and simply beautiful.

3. Zion. Wonderful in late spring and autumn, pretty all the rest of the year. Definately research the park seric ewebsites and other information on this as well BEFORE you visit. Several of the more iconic photo sites are difficult to reach, needed all day or overnight hikes replete with up and down walks and river wading. These require permits (even for day hikes) and they may be closed in the spring due to high water (same after later summer rains). Lots of trails have big elevation changes. Popular all year long. Worth 3 days at a minimum.

4. Arches. Good any time of the year. Most of the popular arches and scenery is within a 2-4 mile round trip walk across sandstone paths. Fairly busy all year round due to the good road system in the monument. There are two nice 4wd routes in from the north to sites that are not normally visited. Easty to spend a week here, though the average tourist is in and out in less than 5 hours.

5. Monument Valley. Anytime is good. It is very popular and a major stop on the tour bus route. Operated by the Navajo tribe on tribal land. Stay at the hotel there, it was built specficially to capture the best views of some of the prettiest parts of the valley. Shoot one morning and one sunset from the overlook then head out on the loop drive EARLY and take your time (very rough road and lots of neat photo angles). You can generally walk short distances from the road without getting into trouble. Most of the valley is off limits unless you hire a guide to do specific photography work (including staying out overnight).....which I recommend. Another easy place to spend 3 days or more if you are in love with landscape photography.

6. Page and the Slot Canyons and Horseshoe Canyon. Other than to see the "light beams" in Upper Antelope Canyon, anytime is good. There is a wealth of commentary and information on this forum. Hire a local guide to take you to the local scenic areas around the lake and such. There are too many to list here. It takes three days just to do Upper/Lower Antelope, Sheep Canyon, Owl Canyon, Canyon X and the sunrise/sunset at Horseshoe Canyon.

7. The Grand Canyon is its own thing, issue, event, population center, tourism carnival. From my viewpoint, go in Winter or early spring to the North Rim with a 4wd, with advance reservations for the lodge. Depending on the weather, you can spend a week with no problem, or a week being frustrated by the lack of good light. the South Rim has lots of travel/transport and access restrictions at certain time of the year due to the massive tourist load and I don't enjoy it anymore.

Others are going to jump in, I am sure. So I will stop there.

Gene



Nov 25, 2012 at 05:02 PM
ben egbert
Online
• • • • •
Upload & Sell: On
p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Utah/Arizona trip


If you click this link and then go to Icon Series, it will show several pages which include Zion, Capital Reef, Moab, San Rafael Swell and the Wastach Front. All Utah locations, plus Dinosaur which is in the corner.

Be sure to check out Zion 2012. I include what I know and show pictures from the better known Icons. Getting clouds and sunsets not guaranteed.

http://ben-egbert-photo.com/?page_id=483



Nov 25, 2012 at 05:35 PM
Henry W
Offline
• • • • •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Utah/Arizona trip


helenica wrote:
Tips for unknown photographic gems in this area are also appreciated.

cheers,
Helen


I think you are looking for the Holy Grail as no gems remain unknown for long.

Laurent Martres books "Photographing the Southwest" (vol 1&2) are the VERY BEST for your quest.



Nov 25, 2012 at 06:45 PM
helenica
Offline
• • •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Utah/Arizona trip


Thank you everyone for the info. It is much appreciated. The beautiful shots on this site are also a great inspiration. I had a chat with the boss today. If I want 4 weeks leave it has to be either between 6 May-25 June or otherwise from September-November.


Nov 26, 2012 at 05:54 PM
gdanmitchell
Offline
• • • • •
Upload & Sell: On
p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Utah/Arizona trip


helenica wrote:
My husband and I are planning a trip to the canyons and parks of Utah and Arizona and possibly also Death Valley. When is the best period (photographically speaking) to visit these places? After two holidays with little decent light, I feel much in need of some decent sunsets and nice light.

Tips for unknown photographic gems in this area are also appreciated.

cheers,
Helen


In my view:

Death Valley

I shoot here at least one week each year, so I'm pretty familiar with the place. (If you stay at the Stovepipe Wells Lodge, you'll find my photographs hanging in guest rooms. :-)

The good shooting times in Death Valley (DEVA) for most people are during the less-hot half of the year, roughly from November through perhaps the first half of April. If you are looking for the possibility of desert flowers, the timing can vary (as can the potential) from year to year depending on how much rain comes and when it arrives. Late March or early April have often worked for me. I love DEVA in the middle of winter, too, though it can get quite cold if you get up out of the Valley itself, and snow can close some of the higher areas in the Panamint range.

Utah

I'm a relative newbie to shooting in Utah, though not also a confirmed Utah fan. I spent over a month there this year on three visits, one in spring and two in the fall. Spring is, well, spring. Lots of new stuff coming to life and so forth. It is also part of the relative off-season, so the crowds can be a bit diminished, judging by what I saw. Fall is spectacular, and by going to different areas the fall shooting season can be stretched out quite a bit. I shot in the "core" of that season this year, but probably missed the very beginning and the very end. I went first in early October, and caught the tail-end of really astonishing aspen color. It was already well past peak at the highest elevations (we were near Brian Head and in the Boulder Mountains), but wonderful just a bit lower. I returned during the last half of the month, and the cottonwood color was really cooking at this point. Of course, from what I saw and from what I've heard, if you are looking for fall color in Zion Canyon, it can be more like the very beginning of November. (The Zion high country is colorful before that.)

Arizona

Can't help you much there, I'm afraid. I've barely touched Arizona at this point for a variety of reasons.

As for "unknown photographic gems," I'll instead encourage you to do two things:

1. If this is your first trip to this area, rather than trying to start out with the "unknowns," start by getting acquainted with the "knowns." They are tremendous, too, and they are renowned for good reason.

2. At the same time, while you are "there" (whether Death Valley or Utah/Arizona) keep your eyes and ears open and follow hints and your instincts. You'll learn the locations your own way, and the path of this discovery is, I have found, more rewarding than going to the supposedly "unknown" places that everyone tells you about!

Exploring any of these places - any place, for that matter - can fill many seasons. As we know, there are photographers who shoot almost exclusively in Utah and/or Arizona who don't find any end of things to photograph, and who have learned that by looking and poking around and being sensitive you can find wonderful and compelling photographic subjects almost anywhere - just about any mountain, valley, canyon, road, trail will lead you to many possibilities that you will discover and make your own.

Have a great trip!

Dan


Edited on Nov 27, 2012 at 07:48 AM · View previous versions



Nov 26, 2012 at 11:23 PM
Slabshaft
Offline
• •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Utah/Arizona trip


I can give you AZ/Page area pointers. It's best to just do some web searching. You can find GPS coordinates for most places. I'm a fan of the lesser visited spots. These have all been photographed, but aren't iconic. If you search them out and find them, you'll definitely feel like the only person to have seen them Most of the best places are in northern AZ and they take some adventuring to get to and explore, which makes them that much better. Check out:

Coalmine Canyon
Blue Canyon
Crosby Canyon (UT)
Mustard Point (UT)
Studhorse Point
White Pocket
Waterholes Canyon
Wahweap Hoodoos
Marble Canyon (as accessed from the indian routes)

Best time for photos is July/August and Jan/Feb. If you can catch some of the iconic spots like Horseshoe Bend, anywhere on Lake Powell, Grand Canyon, Sedona, Monument Valley etc after a snowstorm, you are in for an awesome rare treat.

I will say, please go see Horseshoe Bend. It's been photographed to death, but you will learn why the moment is comes into view. Plus it's like a 10minute walk off the highway. It really epitomizes the phrase 'photos can't do it justice'.



Nov 27, 2012 at 12:20 AM
lukeb
Offline
• • •
Upload & Sell: On
p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Utah/Arizona trip


You might want to pickup Photographing the Southwest series by Laurent Martres and for Death Valley, either Death Valley Photographer's Guide by Dan Suzio (2011) or, The Photographer's Guide to Death Valley (The Photographer's Guide) by Shellye Poster (2009)

All are outstanding.



Nov 27, 2012 at 12:40 AM
 

Search in Used Dept. 



Slabshaft
Offline
• •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Utah/Arizona trip


I would never count on good clouds in AZ because you can have an amazing light show one day and perfect cloudless skies the next. I would bet on cloudless skies. But that's OK. Our skies are clean and present an awesome pink glow almost every night after sunset. You can also do what I do and plan to be in certain spots specifically to get the moon in your composition. I tend to wait for full-moon phases to shoot our here. I specifically watch the rise/set times for the sun and moon to intentionally get the moon in my shot when the skies are at their most colorful state.


Nov 27, 2012 at 12:42 AM
Rajan Parrikar
Offline
• • •
Upload & Sell: On
p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Utah/Arizona trip


Check these out -

http://www.photographamerica.com/pdfs/000-catalog.pdf



Nov 27, 2012 at 01:55 AM
gdanmitchell
Offline
• • • • •
Upload & Sell: On
p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Utah/Arizona trip


Slabshaft wrote:
I would never count on good clouds in AZ because you can have an amazing light show one day and perfect cloudless skies the next. I would bet on cloudless skies. But that's OK. Our skies are clean and present an awesome pink glow almost every night after sunset. You can also do what I do and plan to be in certain spots specifically to get the moon in your composition. I tend to wait for full-moon phases to shoot our here. I specifically watch the rise/set times for the sun and moon to intentionally get the moon in my
...Show more

Shoot canyons and slots when the sky is clear. :-)



Nov 27, 2012 at 04:30 AM
Callisto
Offline
• • •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Utah/Arizona trip


In May into June DV will be heating up and nearer November will be cooling down. I would choose closer to November plus as the season changes toward winter you may see more clouds.
Here are a couple of gems:
If you travel from Utah to DV you will probably go down I-15 and that will take you very close to the Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada with its very colorful rock formations. Look for the road back to the wave formation hiking trail (ask at the visitor center).
If you go to Zion try to include Kolob Canyon - it's about 40 minutes north of St. George right off I-15 and it's part of Zion but only has one entrance by car.



Nov 27, 2012 at 04:59 AM
Greg Campbell
Offline
• • •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Utah/Arizona trip


helenica wrote:
Thank you everyone for the info. It is much appreciated. The beautiful shots on this site are also a great inspiration. I had a chat with the boss today. If I want 4 weeks leave it has to be either between 6 May-25 June or otherwise from September-November.


The area offers literally endless opportunities, particularly if you are willing to hike a mile or two. Many of your 'hidden gems' that once existed within 1/4 mile of a paved road have long since been trampled to dust. Personally, I try to avoid places that I know are crowded. Icon or not, I can't properly enjoy the environment when surrounded by herds of tourists. Once possible exception is the gorgeous-but-shot-to-death-a-hundred-times-over Antelope Canyon. There are many dozens of unique, pretty slots in the general area, but IMO Antelope is sufficiently spectacular that it qualifies as a genuine 'must see' destination. (I detest that lazy phrase, but in this case I think it applies.) Even then, I'd head for the 'lower' section which is significantly less crowded. Bring a tripod and they'll let you roam free, without an otherwise mandatory guide, for 2+ hours.

Good reference books I've read:
www.amazon.com/Heart-Desert-Wild-Greer-Chesher/dp/1882054075
www.amazon.com/Hiking-The-Escalante-Rudi-Lambrechts/dp/0874806313/
www.amazon.com/Capitol-Reef-National-Park-Complete/
http://www.americansouthwest.net/slot_canyons/map.html

That's a tough call; IMO both of your windows correspond nicely with the more pleasant seasons.

Spring can bring blustery weather, and even a touch of snow. The clouds and blown dust can do wonderful things for the sky and light quality. Between storms, the nights are crisp and the days are about perfect - clear, sunny and warm. Endless climate info at http://www.wrcc.dri.edu/coopmap/

Early May is starting to get hot in Death Valley. If you opt for the Spring Fling trip, make DV your first stop. Get this book now and start reading!
http://www.amazon.com/Hiking-Death-Valley-Natural-Wonders/dp/0965917800/
If the valley is too hot during mid-day, head up into the Panamints via Wildrose Canyon road.
Dan M. has a big page all about DV. Well worth a visit.

Peak Utah fall color arrives from early October through early Nov., depending on the elevation. Zion, one of the lower areas, peaks around the first of November. Work backwards as you gain altitude.
Fall climate is also rather pleasant, but the skies are more likely to be 'clear blue boring' after the Monsoon fades in mid-late September. Mid November is close to ideal for Death Valley; the temps are very good and there is an increased possibility of early winter weather systems moving through, again providing interesting light and sky textures.

I've got a big google earth/maps list of potential photo opportunities in N. Az and S.Utah, most of which are off the beaten path. I used to share it freely, but after encountering a mob of loud, obnoxious photographers in a remote slot canyon earlier this year, I've had a change of heart. PM me if you like; I'll be happy to share if you promise to be discreet.

Enjoy!


Edited on Nov 27, 2012 at 03:38 PM · View previous versions



Nov 27, 2012 at 07:25 AM
roguecoolman
Offline
• • •
Upload & Sell: On
p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · Utah/Arizona trip


Helen,

I was in Utah and Death Valley last month. For utah, check out this thread I made.

http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic/1154071/0?keyword=utah#11011552

Greg gave TONS of advice. There was so much to see that I literally couldn't hit everything I wanted to. The one thing about death valley you really do NEED clouds. It is really beautiful and dramatic once you have some clouds. I would go when it rains and storms :P

Utah I think you can still shoot without clouds because if you go to the subway or the narrows its probably best if you don't have clouds to get that nice glow in there.

Bryce with snow is just magical.

By the way if you want lodging at death valley, you better book as soon as possible. Stove pipe wells gets booked up fast because its the cheapest lodging. If you want to tackle the racetrack, rent 4x4 jeeps at $175 a day. I think its worth it.



Jason



Nov 27, 2012 at 08:14 AM
Greg Campbell
Offline
• • •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · Utah/Arizona trip


Helen, are you going to spend the whole 4 weeks on the road?
If so, I think I'd have to go with early-mid October to early-mid November.




Nov 27, 2012 at 09:24 PM
Adam Schallau
Offline
• •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · Utah/Arizona trip


Helen,

The Grand Canyon was mentioned a couple of times already with one person mentioning visiting the North Rim during the Winter or the early spring. This just isn't possible as the North Rim is closed through the winter until mid-May.

The South Rim can be a crazy place to visit due to the number of people visiting the canyon. If you are willing to do a little exploring, there are many places available where you can get away from the crowds. I'm a guide and workshop instructor at the canyon and often find locations that are incredibly photogenic and away from the crowds.

As for "travel/transport and access restrictions" on the South Rim, the Hermit Road, which runs west from Grand Canyon Village, is closed to private vehicles from March 1st to November 30th and is accessible via the 'Red Route' of the free shuttle bus system. As for the rest of the South Rim, there is only one other spot that is closed to private vehicles and that is the road to Yaki Point. A short ride from the Canyon View Information Plaza on the 'Orange Route' shuttle bus will get you there. The good news about the shuttle buses is that they beginning operating early enough for us photographers to get to our sunrise shoot!

I love to photograph the Grand Canyon throughout the year, and each season has it's own set of challenges and rewards. Winter can be fantastic due to the lack of crowds, and if you are lucky enough to get a storm then the canyon can take on a whole new look. The challenge in winter is that the canyon may not be visible for a couple of days if it clouds-up below the rim. It can also be quite cold and windy at times.

In July and August, and sometimes even into September, the monsoon is in effect. This means thunderstorms are common from mid-day on through sunset which makes for dramatic skies, and typically lightning and rainbows. The challenge is that many people visit the canyon during the summer months. And...despite what you have probably heard, the canyon doesn't get too hot as long as your up on the rim which depending on where you are in the park can be anywhere from 6,700 to 8,800 feet above sea-level.

The autumn months can also be very nice. We typically experience a slow down in visitation near the end of September, but then October is busy again as many people are in the park to hike to the bottom of the canyon. Autumn also brings with it a change of color in the leaves of the trees on the North Rim. The challenge in autumn is that the Park Service and Forest Service tend to do prescribed burns during this time. The smoke can filter into the canyon, but I believe this can also add to the photo opportunities, especially at or just before sunrise.

Don't forget to take some time to photograph our amazing night sky!



Nov 27, 2012 at 11:58 PM
Charlie Shugart
Offline
• • • • • • •
Upload & Sell: On
p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · Utah/Arizona trip


Helen- you are being bombarded with great suggestions, and you will continue to be.
Rather than list my favorites places, let me mention a few other things:
1. Most of the southwest is desert, and summers are dangerously hot in places like Death Valley.
Wherever you go- at any time of year- get a large container and fill it with water for possible emergency use. Have emergency food also. Look at it like this: if your vehicle broke down in the worst possible place, do you have enough water and food to survive until help finds you (NEVER try to walk out of remote desert areas. Stay with your vehicle- someone will drive by). Oh, and raise the hood (bonnet?)- the sign of distress.
2. That said, spring and autumn are by far the best times to make a general southwest trip. September-November is perfect!
3. You'll be renting a car, presumably. Rent a 4-wheel drive with high road clearance. A Jeep isn't necessary because you won't be taking THOSE kinds of dirt roads. But you should take the main dirt roads that lead to some of the best places. SUVs are better for your purposes than pickup trucks because all your stuff is inside the vehicle.
4. Your best sources of advice will be at the main ranger station at each of the parks. Their staff knows local conditions that might affect your decisions. ALWAYS check with them as soon as you enter a park.
Finally, please remember that you can't visit everywhere and do a good job of exploring them- so don't even try. Choose a pace that suits you both, and enjoy yourselves. You'll be visiting some of the best (of the easily accessed) desert locations in the world. So enjoy them.
Charlie



Nov 28, 2012 at 01:04 AM
Genes Home
Offline
• • •
Upload & Sell: Off
p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · Utah/Arizona trip


Re the Grand Canyon North Rim.

1. It is true that the visitor services for food and lodging generally are not available in the spring until about 15 May and that they shut down after mid-October. However, Rim access along with the main campground and the trails remain open with limited services through Nov 27 of each year (which covers your fall timetable) or until Arizona closes the highway after that date. Several of the last five years the highway did not close till February and Rim access was simply a matter of driving in, parking, and then walking the trails.

2. It is easy to check both the NPS Grand Canyon information center for North Rim conditions, as well as the Arizona DOT for road conditions (updated nearly hourly).

3. The North Rim is an entirely different, and much more relaxed, experience than the South Rim.

4. If visiting before October 15 you need to reserve lodging by sometime this coming February, and camping slots need to be reserved by May or June.

Gene



Nov 28, 2012 at 03:30 AM





FM Forums | Landscape Photographer | Join Upload & Sell

    
 

You are not logged in. Login or Register

Username   Password    Retrive password