Best nature photo / hiking spots in Phoenix, Arizona area

Discussion in 'Nature' started by jonathan_sacks|1, Feb 9, 2004.

  1. Spur of the moment, my wife and I have decided to travel this coming
    weekend to Phoenix, Arizona for nature photography and hiking. We
    will have 3 full days and a car, and we can stay in any motel or
    hotel, but we must fly into and out of Phoenix. I think anything
    within a 5 hour driving radius of Phoenix is fair game.

    The question is, with 3 precious days, what national parks, state
    parks or other areas should we see?

    There are so many great places nearby and it is hard to know which
    ones to choose. I have been previously to Organ Pipe NM and Saguaro
    NP so was thinking of heading east and/or north from Phoenix.

    Any input is much appreciated. Thank you!
  2. Superstition Wilderness within the Tonto National Forest.
    40 miles east of Phoenix near Apache Junction, AZ

    An excellent spot.
  3. Phoenix itself is pretty ugly & over crowded.(It resembles Los Angeles,without the beach).On the other hand,within a 200 mile circle there is some of the most spectacular scenary in North America!
  4. Jonathon, As Rob mentioned, one area is the Superstitions. Head east to Apache Junction, then head for Tortilla Flat and Canyon Lake. I'll load a shot of the lake from the west side. It's okay but the best sunset color when I was there was shooting west from the other end of the lake. Unfortunately, the boat docks are there making access difficult. If you continue on past Tortilla Flat, the road turns to dirt but was two wheel drive accessible all the way to Roosevelt Lake. Tonto National Monument is just south on 188. You can then drive south to Globe and head west back to Phoenix. The dirt road section, I thought was pretty scenic. You gain elevation beyond the lake and have some nice vistas. good luck
  5. 1st day Check out the Vulture mine in Wickenburg NNW of Phoenix by about
    an hour and a half. You'll not want to leave the mine. They had to kick me and
    my brother out. Pictures galore! Afterwards eat at Anita's Cocina in town.
    Good mexican food.

    2nd day, Canyon Lake, lunch at Tortilla Flat and up to the Roosevelt dam.
    There's an old indian settlement (now a park) on the other side of the dam.

    3rd day, Sedona in a day easily with breakfast or lunch at the Coffee Pot
    restaurant, the local yokel place. A great hike is Slide Rock State park in
    spring but you'll be early. Still nice tho. Go north on 89A from downtown.
  6. Next time, come to Tucson! I moved here from Phoenix not long ago and this is THE place for outdoors, nature, etc. (and breathable air) - Lots of snow on Mt. Lemmon and the Santa Catalinas, Rincons and other ranges last week. SE Arizona is a world class birding area, habitat is gorgeous. Etc.

    But, from Phoenix, you could try Cornville area, not far southeast of Sedona if memory serves. East of there, Montezuma Well, Montezuma Castle. If you just want to drive north from Scottsdale, look in the area of Carefree (The Boulders is a beautiful resort near there) and Cave Creek, Horseshoe Dam, Bartlett Lake. Good shooting!
  7. J.W.

    Hey, any word on wildflowers this year. I've heard not too good news.

  8. Thank you all for your helpful responses (and the beautiful photo, Bill!). From your responses and from reading a number of other posts scattered on, we are going to stay centered around Sedona to spend less time in the car and more on the ground, as we only have 3 days.

    It sounds like the key spots for us to see are:
    -Oak Creek (west fork)
    -Apache Trail loop (incl. Canyon Lake, Superstition, Tortilla Flat)
    -Wupatki NM (preferably at Sunrise)
    plus an assorted few other things on the way (Slide Rock SP?).

    Also, I'm sure you've all seen it but I think the best map of such things in Arizona and all the southwest is:

    Thanks again.
  9. You have some good suggestions, especially the Sedona area. When I took the Apache trail about 20 yrs ago, it was an all day trip because the road was quite primitive--a rough dirt road. Check out Arizona Highways magazine on the Internet and see what they have to say. Joe Smith
  10. Photographers who seek just the "Best nature photo" sites are setting themselves up to come back with the 10,000th (1/000,000th ?) views of the same icons previous photographers have shot. The chance of their viewers having seen the subjects before is great and the chances of getting commercially worthwhile images from a single trip are low. These photographers are setting themselves up for failure, unless they are in Jack Dykinga's words: "a human copy machine," or they have a life list of places in which they want to emulate the images taken by the master's of photography (who used "lesser equipment").

    I suppose: "different strokes for different folks." But some brief research into past issues of Arizona Highways, at any of the Bookman's bookstores in Arizona, can lead one to discovering some locations which fit THEIR ideal of a fun place to shoot. I can't know, without a series of questions, what kind of subject matter my students are most motivated to shoot on any given trip. When that students shops around for recommendations and ends up choosing the most recommended sites, we are back to my argument: they are setting themselves up for a quick photographic high but little that will be noteworthy in the long run.

    There are enough variables from the weather itself that one should be prepared to lead to where ever the light/wind/clouds are best at any given time. A few reference books and an atlas and a partner who is willing is both read them out loud enroute, then enjoy the shoot with you, is a ticket to photographic nirvana.
  11. As several of you had suggested, I took a peek at Arizona Highways magazine and they have a terrific archive of hikes with descriptions and directions all organized by region of Arizona. I thought I would post the link for others:
  12. Bill - that is a beautiful shot :) Wish I could see it in more detail.
  13. Gloria,

    Thanks for your comment. I've played with it a bit. It's from a 4x5 and I used an 81B warming filter which caused the already yellow tinged sunlit rocks to go even more yellow.

    I'm not happy with the blown highlights on that rock wall.

    Is the image too small or too dark?
  14. Hi Bill. Obviously I'm not Gloria, but I'd like to see it larger. It's a nicely composed shot. Thanks...
  15. OK all, Im trying to be a good citizen here. We took the trip and had a fabulous time. Let me share my quick thoughts based on what we saw:

    1. Oak Creek Canyon: it may beautiful in summer, but in early March, it was snowy, full of leafless trees, and had harsh light. I would take a pass if its off season

    2. Apache Trail: this long dirt road was probably the scenic highlight of the trip. Beautiful mountains, cacti, and wilderness.

    3. Tortilla Flat: a crazy one block long town, tourist trap. Not good for nature photography, but a terrific band and BBQ, one of the cultural highlights of our trip.

    4. Sedona: we ended up spending most of our time in Sedona, which is beautiful and interesting. However, the city itself is quite developed so you need to go to the outskirts to see undisturbed nature. The best hiking and photography we did was on "Bell Rock", which is close to town and a very easy hike but photogenic with very nice views.
  16. Jonathon, Thanks for your report. You didn't mention if there were any flowers in bloom? Leif, here is a slightly different composition and tweaked a little to balance out the yellow. It's from a 4x5 Velvia trans. cheers,
  17. Sorry Bill, no flowers. I just checked my calendar and actually it was mid February when we went. No flowers, and everything was sort of dried out. That's probably why we like the pure rock and cactus scenery (Apache Trail, Bell Rock) over the streams and vegetation.
  18. Jonathan,

    Any plans to post any of the photos from the trip? :)

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