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DPChallenge Forums >> Out and About >> Looking for tips on Photography Road Trip out West
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03/29/2005 01:39:24 PM · #1
Howdy Folks,

This summer I am planning an approximately one month road trip out West and am looking for input on places to photograph. I am really interested to hear your favorite places, must dos, etc. Specifics are very welcome. Basically, I am graduating this May, and will (still tentatively) be heading into Central America with the Peace Corps in late August. This gives me plenty of time to make some cash, and then spend it in the way I like the best: Road Trippin.

The fundamental necessities:
I am definitely going to be traveling sometime between mid-June and mid-August. I know I am going to be mostly moving around alone, although I will be stopping by lots of friends’ places and doing little legs with various people. I will definitely be hitting up Colorado, Arizona, and Texas, and will be using these places as a starting point.

For some other details: I love the outdoors and landscape photography. I am a fan of doing things without a set schedule, but am also certain of the power of research and planning. I am also really inspired by the outdoors, and will be traveling cheap. I love getting into real wilderness and tend to stay away from typical tourist areas.
Some things I am already pretty sure I am going to do include…

-Some hiking and other random stuff in CO
-Mesa Verde
-Arches National Park – I have no idea how much time is necessary to hit up this place. Is there good camping? Can you pretty much see it all in a day or two?
-Grand Canyon (I have heard to skip it as its too touristy – this will be mid-summer too. Any thoughts???)
-Moab – again not really sure on any specifics
-One of my goals is to spend more time in the wilderness then I ever have, so I am looking for a good place to do a 5 day trip. Possibly 2 days out, set up camp and explore for a day, then 2 days back.. thinking of Sierra Nevada as I have never been there… any input?
-There are some Hot Springs in Arizona that sound really amazing
-Yosemite – Again is it too touristy and overcrowded in mid-summer, or can you get away from the crowds?
-If time permits, I would love to jet up the West coast (on The 1 of course) visit some redwood forests, and possibly OR & WA. I have always wanted to check out Olympic National Park…
03/29/2005 01:48:26 PM · #2
Yes, the Grand Canyon & Yosemite are touristy, and you're probably picking the busiest time of the year to visit them, but you can't not see them. They are famous for a reason. Go anyway, tourists or not.
03/29/2005 02:06:52 PM · #3

Hi!

I did a big year long zigzag cross country trip when I was 17. Unfortunately, my old grandad's 35mm pooped out. So most of the photos never came out! But I'll tell ya my fave places (if I can remember...!)

Nawlins! Interstate 10 (?) cuts across the bottom of the country, and I hit up Nawlins, then trucked it round the gulf (which is beautiful!), went into the deserts of AZ/NM/NV etc. Monument Valley is a must must must see. I didn't care for the Grand Canyon :p

I scooted up towards Colorado. Took Route 50, or 550, or something, that goes thru Purgatory (thru Silverton, Uray, to Durango and Grand Junction). AMAZING sites. WOW. I stayed in Boulder, Colo for a bit with family (ended up moving there for five years!) and there are some must-sees in that area. Take I70 into the mountains - Glenwood Canyon is a must, and the ski resorts (in the summer) are just amazing. Think Maroon Bells in Aspen. Oh, and there's fab hot springs in Uray and Silverton.

I cut into Utah for the salt flats. Spectacular, but a bit bo-ring. Then I drove straight to San Fran. First time I saw the pacific, whew boy! Then I drove up thru the Redwoods, all the way thru the Oregon coastline (which is TO DIE FOR) and up to Seattle. Check out Mt Hood and Portland. Then after staying for a bit, I drove straight down Route 1 to San Diego. Skipped LA, shivershiver. And found myself back in deserts!

I zigzagged so many times that I have visited every state except for North and South Dakota, Hawaii and Alaska. I was tempted to drive to Alaska, trust me :)

In the beginning of my trip I did New England, all down the east coast - go to Savannah, GA! Beautiful! And the Florida Keys too :)

I did the midwestern states, but got truly bored ahah. No offense! But...oy vey...

I did the whole trip by myself, sleeping in my car, eating pb&j's. It was fab. :)

Have a great time!

Katy
03/29/2005 02:11:26 PM · #4
Grand Canyon, YES YES YES! You will want to be there at sunset and sunrise and most of the tourist types are still in bed or gone by then. If you're a hiker, hike down a mile or two. 99.9% of the tourist never leave the rim. Also, the North Rim gets much less traffic then the south rim.
Or... you want to do a backpack trip, get Phantom Ranch reservations today, hike to the bottom and spend a few days at the bottom of the canyon. (Plan on hiking out in the dark as it will be really hot in June-August and people die hiking out that time of year)

Also, plan on spending a few days around Page AZ and Lake Powell. Truly amazing landscape. Take the boat trip to Rainbow Bridge, or get permission from the Indians and spend 2 days hiking to it. Park your car anywhere between Page and Kanab UT and walk (anywhere, any direction), and you will find amazing things.

While you are in the area, spend a few days at Zion.

If you go to the Verde hot springs in AZ be prepared to see a lot of naked people :0
03/29/2005 02:12:52 PM · #5
My wife and I did an Arizona / Utah trip several years back. No photos to show you as I was shooting film at the time.

We loved it. In northern AZ you've got Antelope Canyon, a slot canyon that's incredible. From there it's not too far to Monument Valley and then onto Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon, both of which I thought were more than worth seeing.

Zion will be crowded but the farther you go away from the lookout points and parking areas, the less crowded it is. Most people go the minimum distance they can. The hiking and scenery there is phenomenal, especially the Narrows and Angels Landing. Nice little town there too.

Bryce is great too and while the views are not as diverse as Zion, it's pretty damned spectacular, especially sunrise and sunset. Do a search on the places I mentioned and see what you think.
03/29/2005 02:24:04 PM · #6
Thanks for the replies! I am impressed at the amount of activity this board gets. This was my first post, looks like I may get addicted.

"You will want to be there at sunset and sunrise"

That is a great point, thanks. Not only will there be less tourists, but that is when I love to photograph (don't we all??)

Thanks again! -Bryan
03/29/2005 02:27:37 PM · #7
Death Valley is nice too !

My Southwest gallery
03/29/2005 02:39:24 PM · #8
Rocky Mountain National Park in Estes Park, Colorado is quite nice. I went in August and didn't find it too touristy at all.

I did Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park in July and that was much more crowded although not unbearably so. I preferred Grand Teton although, given that they are right next to each other, there's no real reason not to go to both. If you plan on staying in a hotel/motel, it'd be wise to make reservations ahead of time. We didn't and it was quite difficult to find anywhere to take us, let alone at a good price. If you're going to camp, I don't think that's a problem.

My uncle has been to Arches to photograph and is planning to go back so I'll see what he recommends as far as time, etc.

One neat thing someone else just taught me is to carry your photography equipment in coolers. It keeps the equipment nice and cool, not to mention well protected in hard containers, but most importantly, no one looks into your car and wants to steal a cooler full of lunchmeat.

My advice outside of the photography realm would be to get a National Parks Pass. If you don't already know about these, they are $50 and get you unlimited national park access for a year. I think it takes about two park accesses to make up for the cost.

Good luck!
03/29/2005 02:42:26 PM · #9
One word:

New Mexico.

(OK, it's two words, but seriously, great state, lots to see. My favorite vacation destination)
03/29/2005 02:43:01 PM · #10
Couple of years ago took a loop trip that was fantastic... Flew into Las Vegas rented a car. Spent 2 days in Vegas (have to, but hated it), then on to Zion, then to Bryce, then to Capitol Reef, then to Arches, then to Canyonlands (One of the places I wish we had spent more time), then on to Mesa Verde, then to Painted Desert/Petrified Forest, then to the Grand Canyon and back to Las Vegas. We missed out on Monument Valley, but that just gives us an excuse to go back and do it all over again.
03/29/2005 03:06:46 PM · #11
Arches is the most wonderful place to go. I have been there 50 times anyway and I am still amazed each time my wife and I go. Most of the major sites can be seen in a long day, but it can be crowded as well. It will be hotter than hell mid summer so be prepared for that. Moab is a very touristy town but it is one place in Utah to find good beer.
03/29/2005 03:07:09 PM · #12
I agree with the New Mexico recommendation. White Sands is awesome, and the Taos and Santa Fe areas are very photogenic as well.

Have a great trip! I did the Out West road trip over Christmas holiday last year and loved it. The Grand Canyon is way less crowded when it's 10 degrees out.
08/27/2005 12:36:16 AM · #13
Thanks everyone for the tips on the road trip. It was an amazing time....

7 weeks long, 9000 miles driving, 2000 photos, lots of friends and family along the way.

Some of the photos from the trip are available in
My Portfolio

and also at My photos for sale

Thanks again!

On Monday I leave for Guatemala (as I have joined the Peace Corps). I wish I could stay longer. I have really been learning a lot from this site, and havent even gotten around to participating in a challenge yet. Ohh well. PEACE -Bryan
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