Utah in Pictures: 15 Beautiful Places to Photograph
Utah is home to some of the most stunning landscapes in the country, and it's where photographers come to capture compelling images of the American Southwest. Canyons, rock spires, sand dunes, lakes, and rivers create dramatic scenery that can easily translate into stunning photographs. Many of the most scenic areas are found in Utah's national and state parks.
As is almost always the case, try to photograph in the morning or late day for the best quality of light. Buy a park pass, pack some hiking boots if you're feeling adventurous, and clear your mind before you head out for a day of sightseeing and photography.
1. Bryce Canyon National Park
Bryce Canyon National Park is an incredible sight, and it can be photographed in two ways. All visitors to the canyon see the natural amphitheater and rock pinnacles from the rim of the canyon, from the multiple overlooks that you can stop at along the road. For a completely different perspective, try one of the numerous hiking trails in Bryce that lead down into the canyon, and wander below the giant spires.
2. Zion National Park
Beautiful views of the canyon can be had from the high cliff walls. Hiking trails and lookouts take you to dizzying heights, offering fantastic opportunities for photography. If you aren't interested in heights, come to Zion in the spring to photograph the waterfalls when they are at their peak, and the new growth on the trees glows a bright green.
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3. Arches National Park
As you probably guessed, Arches NP is the place to come to photograph natural arches. They come in all shapes and sizes. The most famous is Delicate Arch, one of the most photographed places in Utah. But this is just the start. Plan for silhouettes of arches against the sky, or zoom in on hikers standing on the rock formations. There are endless possibilities here.
4. Canyonlands, Island in the Sky
Canyonlands is divided into different districts. The Island in the Sky area offers a look over the canyons and rugged landscape and is also where you'll find the park's famous Mesa Arch. Come in the early morning or late afternoon to capture the warm colors created by the sun when it's low in the sky.
Moab may not look like much when you first pull into town, but this is the gateway to Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, and other great areas you may not have even heard of before. Take a drive along the backroads near Moab to discover places like Thelma and Louise Point and the White Rim Road, clinging to a cliff wall.
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6. Canyonlands, Needles division
About two hours south of Moab is Canyonlands National Park, Needles Division. This is a completely different landscape than what you'll find at Island in the Sky. Some of the most photographed sights in this area are rock pinnacles, colorful vistas, and interesting anomalies like the "potholes."
7. Deadhorse Point State Park
Deadhorse Point State Park offers a fantastic view over a huge gooseneck in the Colorado River. The muddy river and lush green banks are surrounded by sheer rock walls that glow orange in the sunlight.
8. Bonneville Salt Flats
Drive your car on the fastest race course in the world. This huge salt flat, also called the Bonneville Speedway, hosts races and has produced a number of land speed records. Although you may not be visiting on a race day, this area is equally appealing when you are the only one out here. The flat land stretches out to the distant mountains and can be a fun place to photograph.
9. Flooded Flats near Salt Lake City
The Bonneville Salt Flats and the entire surrounding area are sometimes covered in shallow water. Although this will put an end to your dream of driving on the salt flats, it may get your creative juices flowing when it comes to photography. The still water serves as a reflecting pond for the surrounding landscape, including the often snowcapped peaks.
10. Salt Lake City's Temple Square
Temple Square is where you'll find the incredible Mormon Temple, Salt Lake City's most iconic image. Walk through Temple Square to find the best place to photograph the temple. In the spring, the blooming fruit trees add a splash of color.
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11. Great Salt Lake
On calm days, this huge body of water becomes a mirror, reflecting the shore, clouds, and surrounding landscape. Find a nice patch of shore and set up to capture some outstanding images.
12. Snow Canyon State Park
This park is a photographer's dream. Just outside the town of St. George, a little over an hour from Zion National Park, this state park delivers spectacular scenery without the hordes of tourists you find at Utah's national parks. The park is home to canyons, incredible rock formations, lava tubes, petrified dunes, and much more.
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13. Capitol Reef National Park
This park may seem a bit out of the way, but after one glimpse of the colorful cliff faces in the late afternoon sun, you'll be glad you came. The scenic drive through the park has multiple lookouts with views over the changing terrain.
14. Wasatch Mountains
While the Wasatch Mountains are well-known by skiers who frequent the area, they are also a great place to capture images of mountain scenery. The jagged snow-covered peaks on a sunny day are an awesome sight. From Salt Lake City, you can be in the mountains in under an hour.
15. Coral Pink Sand Dunes
This is a wonderful place to photograph dunes. The sand is more orange than pink, but the time of day can really affect the sand's appearance. If you want to capture the snaking ridges of the dune, avoid coming at midday. Climb a dune while you're here for the best views.