I will never forget the emotions I had stepping off of the plane at the St. George airport and taking my first ever look around Utah in 2013. Breathtaking would be the first word that comes to mind. Feeling the warm sun on my face and taking a deep breath of fresh air, I immediately knew that I was hooked.
Now, every year in November I fly back and take a group of workshop participants to witness the beauty for themselves.
Utah never gets old. There is always something new and exciting that I missed on the last trip. Anytime of the year is a great time to visit. However, if you wish to catch the Cottonwood trees in full bloom, you need to be there in the Fall. Trust me, yellow foliage with red rock backdrops towering into the sky is worth the trip alone.
Our workshop runs for a full week making it tough to break away and get out on my own, so I always arrive a few days earlier – that way I get the opportunity for personal photography.
One of my favorite locations while visiting this area is Zion National Park. So much subject diversity to photograph there, and an endless amount of activities for any age. What activities you wish to participate in the park will depend on your physical shape. Some of the hikes at Zion, such as ‘Angels Landing’, are very serious and shouldn’t be taken lightly. On the other hand, if you don’t feel like hiking, you can always take it easy, relax and photograph alongside the Virgin River. Nothing wrong with relaxing, enjoying the scene and taking it all in. Besides what’s the rush? Photography in Utah isn’t the only thing to do while visiting. There is a wide variety of activities that pretty much anyone can enjoy. Hiking, camping, biking, rock climbing or eating sand as you race a dune buggy around Pink Coral Sand dunes are just a few things off the top of my head that are there to excite. There is always something happening and plenty of people to help you along the way.
One of my favorite memories of Zion is getting up extremely early and driving into Springdale to photograph the stars over the mountain peaks. One morning we also witnessed the sun rising above the mountains. Then, we headed over to the outfitters to pick up water gear for the journey into the Narrows. The brilliant orange walls towering over you as you traverse through the stream photographing along the way are a spectacular subject to photograph. You never really know what new treasure will be around the next turn.
Last year we drove cross country hauling an A-Frame camper almost 3000 miles, in order to visit some of the locations we had never been before. Just south of the border, in Arizona, you can find Monument Valley. Another amazing place that took my breath away as the sun peaked the horizon and lit up the valley. Arizona holds some very similar locations that are spectacular to photograph and, if you ever get a chance, Navajo Nation lands hold many secrets that are waiting to be explored.
Slot canyons are also a list topper. Antelope Canyon, Secret Canyon and Canyon X in Page are a photographer’s paradise, with beautiful beams of light, textures, lines, amazing colors and twisting walls. It doesn’t get much better than that.
Some of the most exciting times during our trip are when we get lost in the desert. There is nothing like the great unknown. The silence of being a few hundred miles out in the middle of nowhere is pure bliss. One can really stop and think about life.
My advice? Give it a go. Take some time and visit the west. See everything you can while you are able. Take your family or your dog and enjoy the trip. I promise you won’t regret it.