Utah is a great place to head for photography, with plenty of opportunities across the state for picture-perfect moments. Photographers enjoy the wild landscapes as well as the animals which call the natural areas their home, as well as the potential for impressive sunsets and sunrises. Here are ten places you will want to head to if you’re ready to head out on a photographic trip.
1. Antelope Island
Sunset shots going out across the water are a great opportunity here, with the vibrant colours reflected in the still surfaces. This area is a State Park, which means that it is also home to some fantastic animals such as deer and even bison. Plus there’s the Great Salt Lake, and with mountains rising behind it you can find some really stunning vistas looking in either direction. You might even get lucky enough to capture a herd of bison crossing over the man-made roads from one area to another.
2. Arches National Park
This has to be one of the most iconic locations in Utah – after all, you’ll even see the rock formation known as Delicate Arch on license plates. This area also includes another much-photographed formation in the form of Balanced Rock, which looks as though it is about ready to fall off the cliff and plunge down below. The best time to hit this location is during the golden hour, either at sunrise or at sunset, when orange light bathes the rock and makes it stand out from the blue tones of the shadows. Then again, if you want to do something a little different, arriving at a different time of day will give you something unusual compared to most photographs taken here.
3. Coyote Buttes
This is the home of a beautifully sculpted formation known as The Wave, where wind has carved out a swirling pattern over the course of millennia to leave what hardly looks like a real place. The sandstone is textured in such a unique way, providing you with leading lines built in to your photograph no matter how carelessly you frame it. It’s hard to take a bad shot of this scene. Depending on the angle you take, you can show the wave rising above you in the sky, stretching out ahead, or plunging down into a valley, with a great contrast against the bright blue above.
4. Kennecott Copper Mine
While this might not be as natural a formation as some of the other landscapes on this list, it’s still a definite option thanks to the fact that it has such a distinctive appearance. Ridges travel down the land as it descends into a pit, where the copper has been dug out for many years. On a clear day, you can see right across the distance towards mountainous rock formations, while on the other side of the mine there are lush green hills carpeted with trees. Move up closer, and you’ll see the texture and colour of the ridges on more of an individual scale, with vehicles and other signs of man working in the mines to provide context.
5. Bryce Canyon National Park
Another spot which is often popular with photographers during sunset and sunrise, this canyon area is a gorgeous set-up with rocks appearing to stick up out of the ground like fingers. The relatively open landscape allows you to look out over a vast swathe of formations, giving you an impression of scale and the majesty of this natural phenomenon. Lines of colour and depth on the hoodoos and cliffs give you something a little extra for every shot.
6. Dead Horse Point
Scale is also the name of the game at Dead Horse Point. Here, you will find yourself looking out over a large horseshoe bend in the river, as well as valleys and ridges carved out over thousands of years by the raging waters and rushing winds. It’s the sheer vastness of the view that often creates the strongest impression, while the weather can have a big impact on how it appears. Sunset, for example, gives you a much different look to a midday scene with clouds scudding across the sky and leaving patches of shadow on the ground below.
7. Monument Valley
Not only is Monument Valley one of the most photographed sites in Utah, but it’s also one of the most shot in the whole of the USA. It’s hugely popular as a movie set, particularly for Westerns, and you’ve probably seen enough images of it in the past that you can picture it with your eyes closed. The unique formations here are what draw so much attention: clear, empty, vast spaces dotted with hills and mounds, on top of which large and dramatic rock formations stand out alone, the last survivors of the wind.
8. Bonneville Salt Flats
This vast, open area is nestled under looming mountains, so far away you can barely get your eye to comprehend it. Under their watchful gaze are the salt flats, stretching out into the distance ahead of you. It can be such a forbidding landscape when photographed at the right angle, with the white cracks appearing from the salt and the sky bearing down above everything. It’s very popular with tourists, and you might end up visiting on the same day as a wedding party or race car shoot thanks to the impressive speed possible here.
9. Mirror Lake
Here’s a place that really lives up to its name. The lake is wide, almost perfectly still a lot of the time, and has such a dramatic shoreline that the mirror has something interesting to reflect. Whether you capture a snowy mountain peak or the trees lining the shore, you will get an interesting shot that has so much dimension to it. Best of all is when the bright blue sky contrasts strongly with frosty white branches and frozen reeds.
10. Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
We’ve already touched on The Wave, but there’s more to be found in this national monument area. You can see rocks seemingly balanced delicately on tall fingers which have been shaped by the wind, archways and doorways made of natural formations, and rushing waterfalls and oases. All of this is on such a grand scale that it is hardly imaginable until you visit.
There are plenty more gorgeous landscapes to photograph in Utah, but these have to be our pick of the top ten. You can’t go far wrong with any of them! As well as getting the popular shots, try doing some research before you visit to get something a little more unique as well.
Photo license link: CC0