Zion & Grand Staircase Southwest Utah Photo Tour
WHEN: Oct 18 – 24, 2020
WHERE: Starts & Ends in St. George, UT
FEE: $2,385 (deposit $1,000)
SINGLE SUPPLEMENT: For private hotel room is available for an additional $600.
GROUP LIMIT: 6 Maximum
WHO: Advanced beginner and above
FITNESS LEVEL: Moderate
Registration Deadline: Sep 13, 2020
Capture some of the most inspiring and colorful scenery in Southwestern Utah during this week long tour featuring both iconic and lesser known, but just as majestic, locations that afford the best photographic views and experiences found in the region.
This adventure is designed to stimulate creativity with maximum engagement in target rich locations.
Guides do not photograph while on this tour except for demonstrating a technique.
We are here to support you and help you capture the images you dream of taking home from this trip.
✓ Small group, stimulating and relaxed environment.
✓ Group transportation from St. George in executive 4WD Sprinter Van.
✓ Comfortable, highly rated, nightly accommodations.
✓ Outfitted and guided slot canyon hikes.
✓ Constructive critique sessions with post processing instruction and guidance.
✓ Led by photography guides with over 20 years working in Zion.
The adventure begins in St. George, Utah, at the St. George Shuttle office, about 40 miles southwest of Springdale, the gateway town to Zion National Park, where we find ideally lit subjects all day long. Our exploration will take our small group to close by and easy to access iconic locations as well as to beautiful hidden gems off the beaten path in and around the park including a 4WD trip to stunning and sweeping views of Zion’s towering walls and an outfitted slot canyon hike into the Virgin River Narrows (or an equally compelling canyon also with flowing water) that offers an intimate canyon experience.
Each night we return to our comfortable accommodations (Trip Advisor’s ‘Certificate of Excellence’ recipient) close to the park entrance and conveniently located near a coffee shop, market, and restaurants.
The second part of our journey is based out of Kanab, Utah, where we explore a section of one the longest and deepest slot canyons in the Southwest, where reflected light beautifully accents the often narrow, twisty canyon walls creating visually appealing images even this time of year. This canyon is non-technical, but it does require a little scrambling or a taking a slightly longer side-trip to avoid the 8′ scramble. Water and mud may also be present so we recommend bringing shoes you don’t mind getting wet or muddy.
While based out of Kanab, we will explore the colorful Candy land feature on Cottonwood Canyon Road – an upturned layer of Entrada Sandstone Formation, the Toadstool Wilderness area – a location where there are balanced rock formations that look like mushrooms, and the Movie Set – a location with multi-colored cliffs comprised of alternating red, white, purple and grayish-blue strata, forming an interesting and photogenic backdrop.
On the final morning, we leisurely return to the St. George Shuttle office in time for your afternoon flight or follow-up itinerary.
DAY 1: ARRIVAL IN ST. GEORGE AND ON TO ZION
Arrive on your own in St. George, UT no later than 1PM Mountain Time in order to catch our group shuttle from St. George Shuttle office or your hotel located within 5 miles of the shuttle office. Settle in to your room at Cable Mountain Lodge and prepare to meet the group at 3:00PM in the West Temple conference room for introductions and 2 hour orientation about the details of our adventure. Afterwards, we will break for an evening shoot in the group’s executive van and dinner afterwards.
If you wish to arrive a day or two earlier to explore the area, we will be happy to assist you with booking additional lodging in St. George or in Springdale.
DAY 2 & 3: SHOOTS IN THE ZION AREA
Exact locations will be dependent upon where the best fall colors are, but the day will typically unfold something like meeting at roughly 6:30AM to travel to the morning’s location shoot, returning for lunch, and then meeting again for the afternoon and sunset shoot locations, returning for dinner around 7:15PM.
DAY 4: THE NARROWS HIKE (Up to 6 miles Round Trip)
The long awaited day has arrived: photographing in the Narrows where you will see some of the most spectacular and narrowest parts of Zion Canyon. We will catch a sunrise shoot before boarding the Zion Canyon shuttle to the Temple of Sinewava bus stop where the adventure begins.
There are several photo opportunies along the mile long, paved Riverside Walk trail before the river crossings begin. After the mile long paved trail, you reach the Gateway to The Narrows where you will want to don your waterproof pants and river shoes (provided by our outfitter – Zion Guru) if you haven’t done so already. From here, we can travel upstream as far up as Orderville Canyon (2 miles) spending time along the way photographing at Mystery Falls, Narrows Alcove, Grotto Alcove, and points in between.
While it’s natural for the group to spread out on this hike, one of us will act as the ‘sweep’ person and one who will act as the ‘point’ person so that no one will be left behind.
If you have a water proof backpack for your camera gear, bring it along. If you don’t, they are available to rent from Zion Guru. We have a couple of our own we can share.
DAY 5: FLEX DAY – TRAVEL TO KANAB & SUNSET AT HOODOOS
After breakfast, the group will meet in the lodge’s lobby with all our luggage and check-out of our rooms. We travel to Kanab and once we arrive in Kanab, we will check-in to our rooms, grab some lunch, and head to the grocery store for any last minute food and snacks for the slot canyon and sunset shoot on Day 6.
After some time reviewing images you’ve shot so far, we’ll head out for a sunset shoot at the Toadstools wilderness area – a location where there are balanced rock formations that look like mushrooms. These formations are accessed via an easy to moderate 1.5 mile round trip hike. As this is a great location for some night time photography, be sure to bring a flashlight.
DAY 6: SLOT CANYON & LANDSCAPES
We depart from the hotel lobby to head to today’s photo adventure, Buckskin Gulch, where we’ll experience reflective light bouncing on the tall, curvy canyon walls.
The first few miles of the trail follow an open sandy wash. As you travel further, sandstone walls appear on both sides of the wash as it enters the narrows. Here we run into an obstacle which requires some scrambling to climb over. We will assist people to climb down the obstacle safely. There is a bypass route anyone can take if they are uncomfortable with the down climb.
Aside from the obstacle, the trail conditions range from easy hiking on sandy bottom to walking on rocky terrain to possibly wading through several pools of standing water. The pools are usually less than mid-thigh deep, but can be quite cool this time of year. Please be sure to bring a pair of pants and shoes you do not mind getting wet and/or muddy. We will have extra trekking poles for those who prefer to use them for extra stability.
By late afternoon, we’ll return back to the van and head to our sunset location, the Movie Set, a location with multi-colored cliffs comprised of alternating red, white, purple and grayish-blue strata, forming an interesting and photogenic backdrop.
DAY 7: FLEX DAY – TRAVEL BACK TO ST GEORGE (OR SPRINGDALE)
Today is the end of this adventure. After enjoying breakfast together, we take you back to St. George by 11AM in time for your late-afternoon flight or follow-up itinerary (which may include some more time in Springdale/Zion National Park).
The official group meeting location will be at 1:00PM at the St. George Shuttle office (1275 E Red Hills Parkway, St George, UT, 84770). From here, we will shuttle you to our first location’s accommodations in Springdale, Utah – the gateway town to Zion National Park.
The airport options below are provided to give you a couple of options of airports to fly into. From any of the airports listed, you may wish to take a shuttle to the main St. George Shuttle office instead of renting a vehicle especially since picking you up and dropping you off at the shuttle office (or at a St. George hotel located within 5 miles of the shuttle office) in the group’s Executive Sprinter Van is included as part of the photo tour fee.
There are several airports you can fly to. The closest airport is located in St. George, but we understand the flight schedule may not work with your departing city. See the Airport options that the National Park Service lists, their distances, and how to get to Zion from the various airports.
There is a shuttle service from these airports to the main St. George Shuttle office as well as to Zion National Park should you miss our group pick up time. Check shuttle times, locations, and make your reservation with them at:
The 2018 tripod restrictions implemented on photography workshop participants has been modified and continues to be evaluated. The good news is that tripods are again allowed (up to 8 tripods which works perfectly for our max group size of 6) for workshop participants in The Narrows and other areas previously restricted in 2018.
Participants should be comfortable walking varying distances but up to at least 1 mile one way on well-defined trails with occasional rocky or sandy ground to MOST shoot locations. A couple of locations are up to at least 3 miles on sandy trails alternating with moderately sized rocky sections.
Although this tour is in a desert location, we will be seeking out water ways as they often lead to more compelling images. Bring water shoes for crossing short muddy pools and/or shallow river crossings.
The Narrows location shoot (or an equally compelling canyon with flowing water if conditions do not permit us to go into the Narrows) requires a hiking distance up to 3 miles one way which includes walking 1 mile on a well-defined paved trail and up to 2 miles of multiple river crossings, walking in the river itself, and walking amongst moderate sized rocks, using a hiking staff (provided). We utilize assistant guides so that the entire group will benefit from photo advice and guidance up and down the Narrows.
A more detailed list of gear to consider will be provided to registered participants.
RECOMMENDED CAMERA GEAR
- At least on camera body (second camera body highly recommended)
- Wide angle lens (24mm or wider)
- Medium telephoto lens such as 70-200mm
- 300mm lens for wildlife
- Macro lens or extension tubes (100 macro or 25mm extension tube for a regular 100-200 range)
- Good, sturdy tripod and ball head (arca-swiss style clamp, camera body plates, and lens plates recommended)
- Filters: Circular polarizer, ND (6 stop), and graduated ND (soft or hard step, 2 and/or 3 stop)
- Extra memory cards
- Extra batteries for camera and flash
- Speedlite with wireless capability (optional)
- Rain protection for camera (plastic bags or umbrella)
- Daypack capable of carrying camera gear, extra clothes, snacks, water, and tripod. (We recommend a pack designed for hiking and not necessarily a photo pack.
- OPTIONAL: Waterproof soft dry bags. (Recommended Dry Bags: Watershed or Sagebrush Dry Bags.)**
** Our Outfitter may have rental dry bags for the Narrows hike.
- Comfortable, sturdy hiking shoes with good ankle support
- Water shoes (or an extra pair of shoes that can get wet and muddy) or knee-high waterproof boots
- Small pad for kneeling on wet ground
- Rain pants/rain jacket with hood
- Insulating jacket
- Warm hat and gloves
- Sunglasses, Sunscreen, Hat
- Non-cotton layers – base and insulating
PAYMENT TERMS: A minimum deposit is due at registration to reserve your space. Required deposit amount is $450. Final payments are due 60 days prior to tour start date.
SINGLE SUPPLEMENT: Lodging is based on double occupancy. Single supplement for private hotel room is available for an additional $600.
When a participant cancels a reserved spot in a regularly scheduled (i.e., non-custom) photo tour, it takes time and effort to fill the vacancy. Please be sure to check your personal schedule well ahead of the dates of the trip to make sure there are no conflicts. If you discover that you will not be able to attend we would very much appreciate knowing this as soon as possible.
The following fee schedule applies:
- If your cancellation is received more than 60 days prior to the beginning of a tour, we will refund your registration fee less a 5% (up to $50) cancellation fee. Any fees paid up to this point can be applied to another scheduled tour or converted to a private photo tour or private photography instruction session.
- If your cancellation is received less than 60 days prior to the beginning of a tour, we will retain the entire balance paid to date unless you are able to locate someone who will fill your position.
No refund of any fees will be made for cancellations after the tour begins.
In the event that a tour must be cancelled due to inadequate enrollment, all registration fees received by us will be refunded in full or, if you prefer, your registration fees paid up to this point can be applied to another scheduled tour or converted to a private photo tour or private photography instruction session.
We are not responsible for reimbursement of non-refundable airline tickets or lodging arrangements you made in the event of a tour cancellation. Please do not make any travel arrangements until you have received notification that the tour has met its minimal participant requirement which will be known at least 60 days prior to the start date OR consider the purchase of trip insurance.
We highly suggest TravelGuard® or similar travel insurance policies to assist you in case of last minute plan changes and emergencies.
Capture scenes like these on a Zion & Grand Staircase Southwest Utah Photo Tour
Zion & Grand Staircase Southwest Utah Photo Tour
DeYoung Photo Workshops, LLC