I know what you’re thinking. How can one possibly narrow the list of beautiful landscape photography locations down to just three spots?
Well, the answer to that question is by getting very specific with the parameters. For this list, I’ve not only narrowed it down to locations in the U.S., but I’ve further narrowed it down to an area rife with beautiful landscapes of all kinds – Southern Utah and Northern Arizona. Home to numerous national parks, each with its own unique identity, the American Southwest is most definitely a landscape photographer’s playground.
So, not only are the locations I outline below clustered close to one another for easy travel between them, they are also easily accessible for photographers of all types.
There’s no need to be a triathlete or a rock climber to find the best views here – with short, easy hikes, you can find jaw-dropping vistas to document with your camera.
That being said, here are three of the best places for landscape photography in the U.S.
The Grand Canyon
Clearly, the Grand Canyon needs no introduction. The canyon is over 1,900 square miles in size, and at some points is over 18 miles wide and over 6,000 feet deep.
Not only do the millions of years of layered red rock impress, but so too does the Colorado River at the canyon floor, which, depending on the time of year can appear to be blue, green, or red. One of the best vantage points for photographing the Grand Canyon is from its North Rim.
As you travel along the North Rim, you’ll want to stop at Point Imperial, Vista Encantada, Roosevelt Point, Walhalla Overlook, Angel’s Window, and Point Royal. Each of these locations offers incredible views of the canyon and plenty of opportunities for you to get breathtaking photos. Here’s a quick tip – don’t just explore these areas during the daytime. Sunrise and sunset photos are a must!
Zion National Park
Located in Southern Utah, Zion National Park affords landscape photographers with many various types of landscapes to highlight in their photos.
The park is best known for its soaring red, pink, and cream-colored cliffs, but you’ll also find forests, streams, waterfalls, and otherworldly rock formations within the park’s boundaries.
Established in 1919 as Utah’s first national park, Zion is a place where you can explore breathtaking landscapes while also walking in the footsteps of ancient native peoples that lived in the area for millennia.
While exploring the park, be sure to save time to visit the Canyon Overlook, where you’re rewarded with fantastic views of the canyon below after a short and easy hike to the overlook.
Another spot you don’t want to miss in Zion is the Emerald Pools, which include three pools along a stream that might be raging in the spring but down to a trickle in the fall.
No matter when you visit, you’ll love the interesting variety of plants and animals that make the landscapes found here – which are usually found under bright, blue skies – all the more appealing for your photos.
Arches National Park
Like the Grand Canyon and Zion, Arches National Park’s claim to fame is its breathtaking red cliffs.
But what sets Arches apart from the Grand Canyon and Zion is the fantastic shapes that erosion has created in the red sandstone.
While some areas of Arches have tall, thin sandstone spires that seem to reach forever towards the heavens, the park’s namesake arches – which number more than 2,000 – are what most photographers come here to document.
From Delicate Arch in the eastern reaches of the park to the Landscape Arch in the north to the Courthouse Towers in the south, there is no shortage of dramatic landscapes to photograph.
But don’t think that Arches National Park is just about rock formations…
Instead, you can photograph the Colorado River, which forms the park’s southeastern boundary, and you can find some of the darkest skies in the United States to capture stunning shots of the night sky, too.
And, as noted earlier, since Arches, Zion, and the Grand Canyon (as well as other must-see locations like Horseshoe Bend, Antelope Canyon, Canyonlands National Park, and Moab) are so close in proximity, you can explore more areas that you can imagine, and snap gorgeous photos along the way.