The American Southwest is the greatest landscape photography spot in the world. That’s a bold title and will cause hundreds to challenge it regardless of the location – but that’s okay because the subhead (which appears in invisible ink) says:
In Scott’s opinion
That’s right – it’s just my opinion. But it’s an opinion based on 15 years of research and seven trips around the globe.
While there are plenty of stunning, interesting and beautiful landscapes one could photograph, I’d argue that nowhere else but the American Southwest can you find such an unusual and amazing array of photographic subjects in such proximity to each other.
The high-desert region of Northern Arizona and Southern Utah offer access to a large number of US National Parks and Arizona and Utah State Parks. Whether it’s the Grand Canyon, Zion, Arches, Bryce, Canyon de Chelly, Natural Bridges, Antelope Canyon, The Goosenecks or Monument Valley, it’s hard to imagine any place more beautiful.
It’s a photographer’s paradise. And it’s a big reason that I recently relocated to Las Vegas. I am less than two hours from Zion and less than a half-day drive from most of these locations.
Here are a few of my favorites.
No trip to this area can be called complete if it doesn’t include Grand Canyon. North or South rim, take your pick. There’s simply no bad view. As with most of the locations in this part of the country, getting up very early with the sunrise and staying until the sunset will bring you the pretty light. There are lots of places to stay. You can camp, you can stay in hotels in adjacent towns or if you can afford it and have the time to plan in advance, stay at places like the El Tovar on the canyon rim. It’s old and it’s grand and it’s expensive and it will give you access to amazing views.
The Grand Canyon is a four and one half hour drive from Vegas. You can also fly into Flagstaff, AZ and rent a car if you want to spend less time driving.
Next on the list is Monument Valley. Fly into Vegas, or to be closer Moab, UT or Flagstaff, AZ. Monument Valley is located on Navajo land near the border of Utah and Arizona. The best place to stay if you want easy shots of the sunrise and sunset is Goulding’s Lodge & Campground. Hire a Navajo guide to get onto Navajo land in the area. Most will know where all the great scenic shots can be found.
I’ll mention one more iconic place that for me personally holds much magic. The “Slot Canyons” near Page, AZ are mystical and beautiful. Fly into Vegas, Flagstaff or Moab. There are two primary canyons. The upper and lower Antelope Corkscrew Canyons. There are plenty of chain hotels in Page. You’ll also find information about how to get into the canyons. You’ll have to pay a fee. Sometimes the fee is based on how many cameras you take in. Try to focus your efforts in the lower canyon. It’s harder to access and fewer tourists go there. The upper canyon can be so busy it’s impossible to get a good shot. Lake Powell is also nearby and offers its own brand of scenic beauty.
If you want the “trip of a lifetime” plan a week or two or three in the American Southwest. Bring lots of water, memory cards and vision. If you’re at all like me and those I’ve worked with in that area, you will return home a changed individual.