Good people of the web, we need your help. Particularly those of you living in, or with a strong acquaintance with the city of Phoenix, Arizona, the US of A.
Coz, let’s face it, we all know DearSusan is the best travel photo blog ever to grace the interwebs. Yet, it suffers from one serious shortcoming. I know that’s a terribly shocking revelation, but let me explain:
You see, over the years, we have discussed how to reach and best photograph spontaneous fires from the depth of the Earth and glorious places of Turkey …
… the sheep of Wales …… the snowy landscapes of Iceland …
… and Norway …
… the various faces of Provence …
… and Japan …
… and England …
… Oz …
… Denmark …
… Paris …
… KL …
… Italy …
… Lapland …
… Egypt …
… Africa …
… but there is one glorious country that is all too absent from these pages : the USA!
Apart from a quick Frisco stopover in between planes by Philippe …
… nichevo, niente, zilch, nada !
There is nothing we have to show or say about the legendary plains, peaks, cities, roads and people of the US.
It is now time to right this wrong. Starting with Arizona, which we will soon be visiting.
And we need your help !!
We’ll probably not be going to the canyons, grand or slot. Or visiting any other of the major attractions. Mostly because we’re far more interested in less frequented and renowned places, partly because we want to focus on 2 or 3 specific areas rather than give in to the usual road trip in-between national parks.
So, if you had to suggest 3 top photo spots that haven’t been photographed like a billion times in Arizona, what would they be ? What are the most interesting parks, reservations, suburbs, mountains, little cities, deserts, lakes, architectural features, dams, roads, plants, cafes, waterfalls, sports, theatres, rock formations & other attractions … in your mind ? Places like the Salton Sea (not Az, I know 😉 ) or Havasu Falls.
Please leave comments or write privately. I’m really looking forward to hearing from you guys who live close-by or have visited.
Thanks in advance.
#1212. Roadside Attractions – Arizona State Route 79
#1158. What I did on my Covid Vacation – Part 2
#1125. What I did on my Spring (Covid) Vacation – Part 1
#464. DS HotSpot: 4 tips to photograph the Grand Canyon (duh!)
#454. Valerie Millett interview
#427. Canyon de Chelly on horseback. Travel photo the hard way ;)
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Thanks for including some of my photographs.
If you are venturing into AZ, then Flagstaff is a must do. It’s small town south west with a hugely busy railway junction – for me that alone makes it worthwhile. The streets are full of potential images and a Tex-Mex breakfast (usually sufficient for six or seven of our more realistic European appetites) not to be missed.
Eastwards, I’ve not spent much time there, but Albuquerque strikes me as being a bit missable.
Don’t miss Santa Fé – its lively, full of photo opportunities and both the Coyote Café and Café Pasqual will definitely fuel your inner self while you’re there. Go see the Georgia O’Keeffe museum and make sure you hit the White Rocks to see the real thing.
Taos and its art community? Give it a miss – I’ve been there twice and struggled to find anything photo-worthy on both occasions.
Page – I know it’s home to the Antelope slot canyons, but don’t write it off – instead head for Lake Powell or Water Holes Canyon.
Otherwise you’re into visiting (along with a million other summertime tourists) Black Canyon, Arches National Park, Monument Valley and/or Tent Rocks. Good luck!
Finally, if you can bear a long drive into Colorado, the Great sand Dunes are an absolute must-see.
thanks for posting them in the first place 🙂 And thanks for the suggestions. Flagstaff and around is my fist choice. Santa Fe sounds very tempting but that’s a long way away. We shall see. If I do go, how could I miss cafe pasqual ? 😉 😉 Is lake Powell worth the drive. From here, it just feels like an oversized recreation area. I think the sand dunes are out of reach for us. I dnt want to drive that far. Nex time.
Photographing in Arizona, at a place that isn’t a national park, isn’t a canyon (Grand or Slot), or something already well covered!?! THAT is a challenge!
I have a few areas you may want to consider.
1. Lake Mojave, particularly the stretches of the Colorado River down stream of the Hoover Dam.
2. The rock formations east of the Hoover Dam off the old highway to Kingman, AZ. There are rock arches and big horn sheep in this area. Go explore.
3. For something really different try the airplane graveyard at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base at Tucson, Az
4. Just about any place at sunrise or sunset.
5. The San Xavier Mission outside Tucson.
6. The Old Tucson Studios, outside Tucson of course. This is an independent studio location that has been used for several Westerns and a lot of fun to visit.
7. Forgive me, but I have to recommend the Saguaro National Park outside Tucson. It generally gets over looked by the “Grand” park to the north.
Just one word of warning, particularly for #2 above and any place you are going into the hinterlands (off road) of Arizona. Take lots of water, even in winter/spring, and consult with people that know where you are going. As the Arizona desert is an unforgiving place.
Thanks Paul, very interesting !! The airplain graveyard is high up my list but I wasn’t really sure we’d be allowed inside. Anything around Tucson is a must for me, particularly San Xavier Mission. It was the photographs of that church by Ansel Adams that started me on my photo path 🙂 It will be like a pilgrimage for me. And I didn’t know about lake Mojave, thanks a lot 🙂 🙂 !!
All the best, Pascal
Here is another idea if you have the time and no particular agenda. From Phoneix find Route 66, officially known as US66 on a map, and just drive on it heading east/north towards New Mexico. Prior to the freeway (Interstate) system being built in the southwest, this was the main highway between Los Angeles, CA, and Chicago, IL. Route 66 has largely been replaced by an Interstate highway (I-10 I believe), but many sections of the road still exist and this would be a great way to see and photograph small town Americana in the Southwest. As Route 66, like most highways in the old “US” highway system will take you straight through the center of every town on the city streets. So travel is slow, but you get to see a lot.
Out in the US west the Interstate highways will tend to bypass smaller towns, but will have an exit on both sides of the town. Larger towns will have more exits. Usually the signs that tell you the city name or exit destination over the road will say “Business Loop” or “Business Route” for the exits that join a road the will go into the center of town.
Remember, just like in Europe, the interesting things to see are in the center of town or off the small side road, not alongside the major highways.
Wonderful, Paul. I really wanted to photograph Route 66 but had no idea what was left of the original. That’s a great incentive to look around in the areas you describe. Thanks again, Pascal
Close to Phoenix consider the Superstition Mountains. Largely a wilderness area only 50 minutes from the airport, there are many remote trails with narrow canyons and rough rock details. The further east from Phoenix the less traveled. Consider the Rogers Canyon Trail (110) on the south side or the very rugged Fish Creek Canyon on the north side. At the eastern end of the range visit the old Arizona mining towns of Miami and Globe. Now economically depressed due to lost mining activity but photographically interesting. Be cautious: hiking in the Sonoran Desert is the summer is very dangerous due to severe heat. (Trails Illustrated Map #851)
For a 4-5 day destination on the Arizona Utah border consider a raft trip down the San Juan river from Bluff UT (5 hours from Phoenix) to the Clay Hills take out. This trip is all about the many canyons you can hike and photograph both geology and the many ancestral (Anasazi) ruins. Or take the three day backpack down Grand Gulch to the San Juan River (requires a permit and pick up by boat) (Trails Illustrated Map #706).
By the way, Havasu Falls may not have been photographed “a billion times” but its close. If you are interested in that, find a slow raft trip for photographers down the Colorado River that includes a stop at Havasu. 10 or 15 days on the Colorado will change your world. The view from the rim might be iconic, but the views from the river are sublime.
Oh wow, the old mining towns sound brilliant. As for the canyons in the Superstition Mountains, do you recommend hiring a 4×4 vehicle or will any car do the trick ? I wish I could spend 10 days on the Colorado, that’s really my way of discovering an area. But we will not have enough time for that. And the 5 day circule of Northern Arzona is most certainly on the charts. #1 destination for me.
Thanks a lot, Jim.
Good question Pascal, one I should have anticipated. The most interesting, least visited trailheads on the southern side of the Superstitions all require at least a high clearance vehicle for access. Most of the trailheads are a 20-30 minutes slow drive from Highway 60. The drive on the north side called Apache Trail, AZ highway 88, is very scenic with lots of drive-by and hiking opportunities, but is also heavily traveled and slow, due to mountain curves and gawking tourists. A nice loop is to drive east from Phoenix to Apache Trail in the morning, before traffic builds, visit the Globe, Miami and Superior mining towns, and return along Highway 60 to access the southern trail heads. Again, do not delude yourself about the danger of the summer heat; it is very likely you will be the only hikers on the remote trails.
If you are interested in a San Juan river trip, contact Wild Rivers Expeditions in Bluff Utah. Get a copy of San Juan Canyons: A River Runners Guide by Don Baars and Gene Stevenson, available on Amazon US. The route from Phoenix to Bluff passes through iconic Monument Valley. If visiting I recommend hiring a Navajo guide to help find the interesting and least photographed sites. On the way back to Phoenix you could spend a couple of hours in Canyon de Chelly; again with a guide and a high clearance 4WD vehicle you can drive into the Canyon and visit many seldom photographed ancestral ruins and beautiful rock formations, and learn about the Navajo people who live in the canyon. You can access the White House cliff dwelling site without a guide or permit and see another famous Ansel Adams photograph. Let me know if I can help.
that’s fantastic advice, thank you so much ! All of that is further away than I wanted to drive but your recommendations might just change my mind. I’ll get rid of some of the other excursions we had planned to make room for this instead. I’ll also inquire about 4×4 rentals in Phoenix. Thanks again,
1-Flagstaff (by the time you arrive they will either have a beer or coffee drink named after you)
4- Jackson Hole, Wyoming. No that wouldn`t be fair to the other 48 states and endings can be so much fun!
Thanks David ? I don’t get the Flagstaff joke (sorrrry 😉 ) but Flagstaff is at the very top of my list. Remains of route 66, proximity to loads of amazing places and hikes, not to mention Sedona vortexes 😉