Utah Hiking and Photography Workshop

Photography Workshop in Southern Utah

Special partnership with Kerrick James

This exciting trip to Southern Utah combines a photography workshop by acclaimed photographer Kerrick James with a guided hiking and camping trip through Southern Utah’s most unique wilderness areas. Perfect for avid photographers looking to build their outdoor photography skills, this trip provides photography instruction and access to those iconic and hard-to-reach wilderness areas. Gear, food, permits, and the complex details are taken care of so you can relax and enjoy your vacation.

Price:  from $1,995

Why travel with AOA?: Find out more
Length:5 days, 4 nights

Trip Rating

Hike Bryce, Zion and Escalante over 5 days

Dates: August 10-14, 2017

TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence

Visit two of Utah’s national parks, explore the unique patterns of light and shadow in Bryce Canyon’s hoodoo-filled rock amphitheaters, and hike below sheer canyon walls in Zion National Park. In addition to the national parks, you’ll get the chance to explore virtually undiscovered spots while hiking at Snow Canyon State Park, camping among fanciful formations at Kodachrome Basin State Park, and venturing into the incredible slot canyons of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, a wonderland of slender gorges, native history, and idyllic canyon gardens!

Kerrick James will provide insight into the art of photographing this incredible landscape while AOA’s expert wilderness guides ensure you see the best there is to see. This trip involves comfortable camping each night after active days of hiking and photography in the national parks of Southern Utah.

Utah Photography Workshop details

Price & Inclusions

Price:

4-5 people: $2300 pp

6-7 people: $2,145 pp

8-10 people: $1,995 pp

 

INCLUDED IN COST: 

  • In-field photo instruction as well as during and after trip critiques from Kerrick James
  • Round-trip ground transportation from Las Vegas or St. George
  • 4 nights camping (2 in Kodachrome Basin State Park and 2 in Zion National Park)
  • Tents, double occupancy
  • Sleeping pads
  • Trekking poles complimentary upon request
  • Basecamp gear (kitchen equipment, hand washing station, dish washing station, solar shower, camp chairs, etc.)
  • All park entry fees, permits and camping fees
  • Meals starting lunch Day 1 through lunch Day 5, water and snacks
  • Professional Wilderness First Responder certified guide

NOT INCLUDED IN COST: 

  • Personal insurance and expenses
  • Air transportation to and from Las Vegas or St. George
  • Pre- or post-trip lodging
  • Breakfast Day 1
  • Dinner Day 5
  • Sleeping bag (available to rent from AOA)
  • Day hiking pack
  • Optional gratuities to AOA guides

Trip Overview

Highlights

  • Photography instruction by accomplished photographers
  • Incredible narrow slot canyons, hanging plateaus and rock ampitheaters
  • Starry skies untainted by the lights of any city
  • Extremely comfortable camp and excellent food

Itinerary

DAY 1: DEPART LAS VEGAS – KODACHROME BASIN STATE PARK

Drive north from Las Vegas (or St. George) to beautiful Snow Canyon State Park. Snow Canyon is at the crossroads of three distinct natural biomes and its plants and animals are influenced by all three: Mojave Desert, the Great Basin Desert, and the Colorado Plateau. Don’t let the name fool you as it rarely snows here. The park was named after early Mormon settlers in the area. Red and white Navajo Sandstone covers much of the park, however volcanoes were common in the area as recently as 10,000 years ago. Kids and adults alike will enjoy picking the extinct volcano cones out of the park’s landscape. Here, we’ll embark on a fun hike past sand dunes and across sandstone slick-rock with amazing views of the Virgin River Valley.

Following a delicious lunch, climb in the van for the second leg of today’s journey, past quaint mountain villages, lakes, and ancient volcanic formations in Utah’s high country before descending 2,000 feet into fertile Long Valley which marks the entrance to our backcountry playground. Our camp will be surrounded by a palette of warm shades of red, yellow, pink, white and brown which, against the deep blue sky and rare green vegetation, led the National Geographic Society to name the area Kodachrome Basin (with the consent of the Kodak Film Corporation). The park is known for it’s unique spires, or “chimneys”, of rock known as sand pipes. These are thought to be solidified sediment that filled ancient springs or geysers, left standing after the softer surrounding sandstone rock weathered away. After dinner, prepared for you by your guides, relax in our comfortable camp while the setting sun turns our red rock home into a glowing amphitheater.

  • Hiking:  3-6 miles
  • Meals: Breakfast on own, lunch (included) on the trail, dinner (included) in camp
  • Lodging: Established campground in Kodachrome State Park

DAY 2: ESCALANTE NATIONAL MONUMENT

Today we head into the wild expanse of Escalante National Monument. Our action-packed exploration continues as we hike along the Escalante River’s clear flowing waters and canyon walls so picturesque, you’ll want to build a cabin here. So it will be no surprise when you guide leads you to ancient petroglyphs and the Anasazi Ruins on this world-class hike. This hike is a favorite of adults and kids alike.

Grand Staircase-Escalante is America’s outback! This region was explored by the legendary Fredrick Samuel Dellenbaugh. He travelled the world as an artist and writer, and in 1904 helped to found the esteemed Explorers Club, now located on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. At the tender age of 18, Dellenbaugh embarked on a formative trip in May and June of 1872 and entered this raw desert with a group of amateur explorers on the last great voyage of exploration in the Old West, perhaps laying down the framework of his life. He and his friends found the first route through southern Utah’s maze of canyons, discovering the last unknown river in the continental United States, the Escalante, and the last mountain range, the Henry’s. They were also the first group of westerners to peer into the awe-inspiring expanse of Bryce Canyon!

  • Hiking: 5-8 miles
  • Meals: All meals included; breakfast at camp, lunch on the trail, dinner in camp
  • Lodging: Established campground in Kodachrome State Park

DAY 3: BRYCE CANYON NATIONAL PARK – ZION NATIONAL PARK

After a hearty breakfast in camp, we head to Bryce Canyon National Park. Words cannot describe the sweeping views before us as we start our easy walk along the rim. After viewing this wild land of rock from the rim, we’ll hike down into the canyon through a surreal maze of pink hoodoos and rock windows all the way to the mouth of the Bryce amphitheater. Enjoy your own perspective of what some describe as both “a scientist’s laboratory and a child’s playground.” We like to think of it as a playground for children of all ages! The erosive force of frost-wedging and the dissolving power of rainwater have sculpted the colorful limestone rock into bizarre formations including slot canyons, windows, fins, and spires called “hoodoos.” After our adventurous hike in Bryce, we hop in the van to make our way to Zion National Park.

Zion’s unique geographic location and diverse life zones combine to create habitat for a surprising array of plant and animal species. Located on the Colorado Plateau but bordering the Great Basin and Mojave Desert Provinces, Zion is home to plants from each region. Ancient cultural artifacts show evidence of Ancestral Puebloans, known as the Anasazi, dating from 2,000 years ago; Paiutes from about 800 years ago and more recently Mormon settlers who arrived in the 1860s. In the Mormon religion, Zion means “the pure in heart” or in this case, a place where people with pure hearts live. Inspired by the beauty and purity of their red rock home, the early Mormon settlers named the area Zion. Once in Zion, you’ll have the chance to explore close to camp while guides prepare a delicious meal. Tonight, we’ll hang out around campground together playing fun fireside games and getting excited for tomorrow’s adventures.

  • Hiking: 8 miles
  • Meals: All meals included; breakfast at camp, lunch on the trail, dinner in camp
  • Lodging: Established campground in Zion National Park

DAY 4: ZION NATIONAL PARK

Observation Point is one of the best viewpoints offered by the list of Zion’s classic trails, with dizzying drop-offs and eye-popping scenery looking down into Zion Canyon. Though not the most family-friendly trail in Zion, this challenge is worth the effort. The maintained trail zigzags its way up the steep mountainside beside familiar reddish Navajo Sandstone before venturing through Echo Canyon, a deep gorge filled with water-gnawed sandstone pockets. Beyond Echo Canyon the walls drop sharply, giving way to spectacular views. At trail’s end is a spectacular display of stone sculptures contrasted by the bluest of skies – thanks to the clean air of southern Utah. The West Rim Trail can be seen to the right as well as lofty Angels Landing. The Virgin River forms a lush river valley below, where water skirts around Angels Landing and the Organ, forming Big Bend. The challenge of hiking to Observation point may not be for everyone, if you have qualms about this hike they should be discussed with the AOA staff when planning your trip.

After lunch we will board the park shuttle to the upper reaches of Zion’s main canyon to explore the world famous Zion Narrows, a National Park classic. On this hike we will wade through the knee- to waist-deep water of the Virgin River while 2,000 foot Navajo Sandstone towers overhead on either side of us. Exploring the Narrows is a favorite of all of our travelers, but is often especially fun for kids. Tonight we celebrate our week of adventure and relaxation with a final dinner.

  • Hiking: 8-10 miles
  • Meals: All meals included; breakfast at camp, lunch on the trail, dinner in camp.
  • Lodging: Established campground in Zion National Park

DAY 5: ZION NATIONAL PARK – LAS VEGAS

After an early breakfast, we head to Zion National Park for a finale hike to Angel’s Landing! We begin the day’s hike strolling beneath shady cottonwood and sycamore trees by the Virgin River’s edge. Soon we begin the ascent, our goal will be to reach the top before the desert sun peaks over the canyon wall. Angel’s Landing is not just a hike; it is the pre-eminent trail of our National Park System and the perfect grand adventure to cap off our fantastic week of exploring the gems of Southern Utah. Named for Reverend Frederick Fisher in 1916 when he exclaimed, ”Only an angel can land on it”, this hike’s legend has been growing since its opening to the public in 1926.

The trail ascends 1,488 feet in 2.5 miles to the 5,790-foot summit of a monolith perched partway between the river and the canyon rim. It is flanked on three sides by the erosive North Fork of the Virgin River below. The payoffs to landing on this perch are sweeping north-south views of the Virgin River Gorge, Cathedral Mountain, Observation Point, Cable Mountain and the Great White Throne looming high above Angel’s Landing. After descending back to the canyon floor it is customary to take a cool plunge in the Virgin River and relax under a cottonwood tree for a picnic lunch, recounting the fun and adventure we have enjoyed during the week. Waving farewell to Zion, we arrive back to the bright lights of Las Vegas between 3:00 – 6:00pm.

  • Hiking: 5 miles
  • Meals: Breakfast and Lunch included; breakfast at camp, lunch on the trail. Dinner on your own.
  • Lodging: On your own

 

Planning for your Trip

Upon reserving your spot for the Utah Hiking Photography Workshop, you will be provided with an information packet including a detailed packing list and overview of what to expect on your trip.

Hiking trails in Zion, Bryce, and Escalante

Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks both have well-maintained trails book-ended with trailheads sporting modern conveniences (like restrooms and drinking water). Grand Staircase-Escalante is more remote but our guides know where to stop for restrooms and will brief you on what to pack for each hike. Many trails on this itinerary are steep, given their location in “canyon country,” where you are routinely hiking up and down. All the trails are approached by our guides with the whole group in mind. Slower and faster paces are available, although we do strive to find a group pace that allows everyone to enjoy the hike together whenever possible. If at any time you would like more or less of a challenge, are concerned with an aspect of a hike or route, or simply are curious about other option, just ask your guide!

Trip Accommodations

On this trip, we will be staying in public campgrounds in or near the National Parks we’ll be visiting. These campgrounds have restroom facilities and running water, although Watchman Campground does not have showers so we will walk to pay showers just outside Zion National Park for this part of our stay. AOA will provide comfortable, inflatable sleeping pads, as well as over-sized nylon tents with full-coverage rain flys. These tents are built for 4 people but will only house one to two people per tent. Your AOA Guides will set up a kitchen in which they will prepare all meals, which will be restaurant quality, served hot, with fresh produce to compliment.

 

Reservations, Payments and Cancellation

Southern Utah hiking tours are very popular and advanced planning is often necessary. We recommend making your reservations at least 3 to 5 months in advance. We can accommodate last-minute bookings provided space is available, so please call our office to check. Each trip requires a minimum number of participants for departure. Arizona Outback Adventures (AOA) reserves the right to cancel scheduled trips that do not meet minimum sign-up requirements (usually 4 guests).

We strongly recommend that you purchase “travel insurance”. This is a valuable tool that will protect your trip investment.

For more details please see our comprehensive Trip Policies and Payments page.

About Kerrick James

Kerrick James has photographed the American West and Pacific Rim for over 25 years as a travel journalist, with more than 200 magazine and book covers and hundreds of features illustrated. His credits include National Geographic Adventure, Arizona Highways, Sunset, Popular Photography, Conde Nast Traveler UK, Alaska Airlines Magazine, VIA, Delta Sky, EnCompass, Outdoor Photographer and many more.

Kerrick James in Montana

Kerrick James

In the past decade Kerrick has taught nearly 60 photo workshops in a wide variety of locations in Arizona, Alaska, Montana, Utah, New Mexico, Hawaii, California, Baja California, Costa Rica, Panama and Zambia. He’s taught for Arizona Highways Photo Workshops, on cruise ship based trips sponsored by Pentax, and now teaches for his own company, KJ Photo Safaris.

Kerrick is an active member of SATW (Society of American Travel Writers) and TEOE (Through Each Other’s Eyes). He resides in Arizona with his sons Shane, Royce and Keanu.

To see more of Kerrick’s incredible work, visit:

Photos

Check out this trip’s route

See the route on Ride with GPS here.
 

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