Canyons of the American Southwest Photo Itinerary
Day 1: St. George, Utah
Our photography adventure begins in the red rock country of St. George, Utah. This evening we meet for an informal welcome dinner at one of the local restaurants. Our Expedition Leader offers a brief orientation to the history, wildlife and ecology of the Colorado Plateau, as well as the photographic opportunities and challenges that lie ahead, as we explore the region in depth in the days to come.
Days 2 & 3: Bryce Canyon National Park—Scenic Helicopter Flight
Bryce Canyon is like another world. Its pink pinnacles, limestone formations and natural amphitheaters capture the imagination with endless geological surprises. Red rock walls create deep channels while whimsical hoodoos, rock spires carved eons ago by erosion, rise hundreds of feet into the sky. The arresting sights of Bryce Canyon offer wonderful opportunities for photography as we traverse them in our specialty North American Safari Trucks with double-wide pop-top roof hatches. Capture a stunning array of colors as the light reflects off of the canyon’s rock formations, natural bridges, cliffs and waterfalls. Rising early to watch the sunrise or lingering over a radiant sunset, experience the grandeur of this astounding landscape. We'll also take in the scenic drama during a 30-minute helicopter flight, allowing for unusual aerial shots of the colorful sandstone hoodoos. We stay at Bryce Canyon Lodge, a classic national park hotel set amid ponderosa pines on the canyon rim. The lodge is one of few places to stay inside the park and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Restored to its original 1920s splendor, it is replete with Old West atmosphere right down to replicas of the vintage hickory furniture.
Days 4-6: Zion National Park
Early Mormon pioneers gave Zion its name—so stunning was its beauty that it evoked images of the Promised Land. The U.S. government agreed and made it a national park. With three full days in the park, we’ll have the luxury of truly exploring the larger landscape as well as photographing the minute details that captivate the eye. We'll take advantage of multiple vantage points from which to photograph Zion's multi-hued sandstone cliffs that tower above the valley floor, the Virgin River flowing below among the cottonwoods and carving a deep canyon over millennia. Trails along the river and rock walls lead to quiet recesses, where we may hear and photograph many birds unique to the American West. Listen for the haunting cry of canyon wrens, look to the skies overhead for golden eagles and prairie falcons, and find American dippers and phoebes in the willows along the riverbanks.
Days 7 & 8: Grand Canyon National Park—North Rim
The Grand Canyon is one of America’s most iconic national parks. Its fame exists for good reason, and no photographer of the West should miss a chance to capture the image of its mile-deep chasm in the glow of sunset. The Grand Canyon's popularity can mean many visitors, too, so we avoid the crowds by traveling to the less-visited but no less spectacular North Rim. We have plenty of time to explore, walk along the rim, and shoot photos of one of the earth’s most spectacular natural landscapes, watching it change as the light shifts throughout the day. Stay near the rim in the pine forest at the venerable Grand Canyon Lodge, a classic national park hotel with limestone walls and heavy timbers that complement the rustic beauty of the North Rim. For those who are interested, a favorite traveler’s adventure is available: an optional mule ride into the canyon.
Day 9: St. George / Depart
As we bid farewell today to the red-rock wonders of America’s canyon country, we leave a piece of our hearts behind—yet take a multitude memories home in the form of our stunning photographs. Our canyons photo tour concludes as we arrive back in St. George for our afternoon flights home (1:30 pm or later).
Please note: This itinerary is subject to change, as departures may visit Grand Canyon, Zion and Bryce in a different order than what is outlined above. Your precise itinerary will be communicated to you once your trip dates are confirmed.
Physical Rating: Easy to Moderate
This adventure does not require a high degree of physical fitness. However, in order to participate, travelers should be able to walk at least two miles unassisted over uneven terrain and inclines, with some altitude gain, and at altitudes up to 9,115 feet above sea level. An optional mule ride is available for participants weighing less than 200 pounds. Most of the trip takes place in an arid desert environment, and the sun can be intense at times. Our days generally start quite early and are