Best photo locations very near Phoenix?

Discussion in 'Travel' started by l_obryan, Aug 25, 2004.

  1. I am attending meetings in Phoenix/Scottsdale for 4 days in September
    and wil have a couple of hours early morning and towards sunset to
    try and get in a few shots. Can anyone give me advice on some
    specific locations within about a 30 minute drive? I will actually be
    staying in Scottsdale.
    I thought about Sedona but it sounds too far for the time I will
    have. Any thing closer? Where would you go? Best in morning or
    I saw some red peaks just west of the airport as I flew over once,
    with water and a park in front. It looked promising for an early
    morning shot. Is that at Papagos Park, does anyone know?

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated as I wont have much time to
    explore things.

  2. I used to go out there frequently for business, but not so much recently. Personally, I
    always enjoyed a drive up South Mountain, which has an overlook at the top.

    I don't know the area parks very well, but here's a link for some of them.

    The Desert Botanic Gardens could be worth a visit. The Heard museum is very much worth
    visiting, unfortunately they have limited hours (maybe go for lunch, even without a

  3. you could drive straight North to the Cave Creek area, and head down to Seven Springs. Or you could hop on the 101 to 60 and go out to the Superstition Mountains (east) some of the most fabulous desert on earth; or take the 101 from Scottsdale to the 202 (heading east) and go (north) up the Beeline Highway to Saguaro Lake, the Salt River or Four Peaks. Or the Apache Trail out of Apache Junction is fabulous desert and an incredible drive. All are within 30 to 45 minutes drive from Scottsdale.
  4. If you are in north Scottsdale, you will see the mountains to the north and east. Heading towards them gets you into some nice areas, much of it Pima Indian Reservation lands, but you can find some nice stands of creosote and such to create some nice morning color. If you head a bit east, you can visit the exit of the Salt River from the Superstition Mountains which have some amazing cliff faces just before you get to the damn at Saguaro Lake. There are also several pull-off/city parks along the river which provide nice habitat and/or sunsets.

    Papago Park has the red sandstone and yes, they turn all shades of color in the sunset. Very nice actually. In Papago Park is also the Desert Botanical Garden, which can be quite something when it first opens (I think as early as 7 AM.) I have seen everything there from coyotes to fox to quail and rattlesnakes and owls. They are also often open late for photo opportunities, and in the summer, I think they can sometimes be open until 10 (this may have changed though.)

    I will double the encouragement to visit South Mountain. This is the largest city park in the country and is full of things to see. In the evening, quite a few people head up before sunset to watch the sun go down and the lights of the city come on. And to make out and smoke dope and so forth.

    Be aware that on hot days with wind (or even with no wind) photo-chemical haze can be a real problem as far as visibility - smog I mean, but also just dust in the air. It is the desert. But it can also create pretty astounding sunsets. Plus in September you might still get a monsoon - a big thunderstorm. Those can be pretty dramatic. And dangerous.

    Finally, check to see if there is a rodeo or livestock event at the state fair grounds near the downtown on Grand and McDowell. I used to live right next door and it was quite something to walk over and watch the cowboys (and girls) do what they do. Plenty of photos there.
  5. The Superstitions (nice, rugged desert landscapes) and Tonto National Monument (rugged landscapes + cliff dwellings) are easily reached to the east of Phoenix. Taliesin (sic?) West, Frank Lloyd Wright's winter studio, is on the very northeast corner of town. White Tanks Park on the west side of Phoenix is very nice, especially if the waterfall is actually flowing (though the dry falls is nice by itself); the park also offers scores of great, accessible native rock art. Vulture City is a large ghost town complex near Wickenburg, a little ways NW of Phoenix on US 60. That might tide you over, and you'll barely need to drive outside of town for any of these things.

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