Some Tips on Northern Arizona
I noticed that there isn’t much information here about Northern Arizona, so I thought I would write something about some of my favorite areas, some would be a bit unsuspecting for some and right up the alley for others.
I lived in Flagstaff for a year and a half but my job led me all over the northern part of the State, as I drove over 200 miles a day in the most remote areas of the state. I really enjoy the textures of old buildings and the old west. So if you are interested in seeing a little more than the Grand Canyon, I’ll point out a couple places which are full of photographic opportunities.
Probably the best times to photograph in Northern Arizona are in August during the monsoon season or during the winter months if you have a 4x4 vehicle. I am partial to the monsoon season because of the dramatic light, so plan accordingly.
1. Flagstaff. In the old town area, you will find some unique opportunities. I would often go into old town with my 645 and look for interesting shots in the alleyways, behind old buildings, and storefronts.
2. Head just south of Flagstaff on Lake Mary Road (Hwy 3) and the are a series of lakes (Upper and Lower Lake Mary, Morman Lake, Ashurst Lake, Marshal Lake, and Vail Lake just to name a few). and some old structures which are fun to shoot. There are some small communities in this area which also present great photo ops. For nature photographers: During the start of the monsoon season herds of Elk can be photographed at dusk along the Upper and Lower Lake Mary areas. You’ll need some big glass to capture decent shots though.
3. Just north of Flagstaff, off Highway 89, Forest road NF-552, there is a nice area called Lockett Meadow, which has some aspen trees and makes for some nice landscape opportunities. N Schultz Pass Rd (NF-420F) will take you back into Flagstaff from the Lockett meadow area. A nice detour.
4. Further north via the 89 on Highway 264 going east there are plenty of areas of photographic interest. Tuba City has a lot of old buildings, the vast northern stretch along the 264 to Kykotsmovi, Jeddito, and Ganado offer plenty of landscape and the rural lives of the native populations in these areas make for interesting and challenging photography.
5. An out of the way place where cattle and horses share space with vehicles on paved roads can be found about 50 miles north of Winslow in the Navajo town of Dilkon. For Landscapers, this is known as the Hopi Buttes area and would be worth spending some time, google it.
6. West of Dilkon at the junction of Hwy 15 & 99 is the town of Leupp, pronounced “Loop.” Right around this area is an old wooden barn and there are other structures worth photographing. Nearby is Grand Falls of the Little Colorado which is worthy of some creative landscape photography and is one of the few waterfalls in the state.
7. Canyon de Chelly National Monument near Chinle is another of my favorites as you can get access the lower canyon fairly easy and the vistas are incredible and the area is a lot less traveled.
8. In between Kaibeto and Shonto on highway 98 (Just west of a dirt road which runs parallel with hwy 16) is a series of dirt roads that take you into small mountain area with steep cliffs and rock formations. You’ll see local natives raising mountain goats living in relative obscurity and a rock formation that looks like a giant amphitheatre. In the winter this area is spectacular.
9. Near the north rim of the Grand Canyon, one can find awesome views in the Vermillion Cliffs area off highway 89. Stopping in the small border town of Fredonia there are some interesting buildings to photograph. For example, there is a gas station that also sells guns. “Ya, fill me up on number 5, and give me a box of 12 gauge double aught buck.” Further into town there’s some agricultural equipment and vehicles which might interest some photographers. I should mention this town is in the habit of parking a police car on the side of the main road with a mannequin inside.
10. A bit further southeast is an interestingly small town of St. Johns on highway 180, which I’ve always found to be a fun location. In this area you’ll be able to find windmills and some other older buildings. The last time I was there I watched as a police officer and a woman chased a full grown bull around the streets. Apparently, the bull had made its way loose and was running free on the streets of St. Johns, I only wish I had my camera ready to capture the hilarity of it all—I thought I was living out a scene from a Reno 911 episode.
11. A little west of St. Johns on Hwy 61 and 180A is the small town of Concho. Concho is a little gem waiting to be documented. There are several old and interesting abandoned structures in this area going back to the late 1800s. There is an adobe structure located right off the road which is not a common site in AZ.
12. Hwy 260 east towards Springerville offers some great grassland shots right around the Greer area.
13. Also I should mention the mining town of Globe and Miami on Hwy 60 and Hwy 188, that area has a lot of character and is still an active mining operation. Further north out of Globe on Hwy 60, there’s another opportunity to see a waterfall at Salt River Canyon. Under the bridge there take the road heading north and you’ll have over 30 miles of primitive road fun leading to some old abandoned structures. You might see a couple real cowboys in this area as well.
Well that’s it for now, if anyone is interested in other areas of Northern Arizona just shoot me an email as I’ve been to most places on the north end.
Can you embed some images and turn this into a location blog?
Being on the Rez in Arizona is different than BLM or Forest lands. Your rights as a US Citizen (or foreign visitor) are quite different on the Rez. You are a visitor to the Navajo NATION or Hopi Nation or White Mountain NATION. Treaties exercised long ago set this up. Should you receive a ticket, its a federal court you'll be visiting (not county or state).
Originally Posted by dperez
For instance, within the Hopi Reservation (starts 40 miles N of Winslow), you have no right to make images even while along the paved highway. This is no different than San Miguel Reservation in New Mexico, by the way.
Navajo Rez is quite different - inquire locally. Permits, available from local chapter houses, are sometimes required for you to be on the dirt sideroads within the Rez. Enforcement is spotty -- I've been run off the paved highway near Agathela Peak while using an 8x10 along the highway by tribal police (which patrol all the paved highways, not county sheriffs nor state troopers).
Before trekking across the Navajo Res on dirt roads, check in at the chapter house. They're BIA roads, not public highways. And you'll definitely need a photography permit if you sell your work or intend to in the future...
Ask before you make an image of that hogan or person or person with herd of sheep (which are sheep, not mountain goat BTW) or "run down shanty". Its not only common courtesy but expected by law.
#6 - Grand Falls. This runs only in early spring during melt (Mar-Apr peak), or not-very-often after a particularly intense monsoon rainfall within the Little Colorado watershed (which extends east to New Mexico). This falls runs chocolate-brown. Watch the cliff edges - many are fragile mineral deposits. Two deaths occurred in the early 1990's with fragile edge breaking off. Trail to the west leads down to the base of the falls. Water too muddy for swimming. check locally before making this trek- when dry its just a 190 foot cliff.
And as for #13 - the primitive (dirt) road requires a White Mountain tribal permit to drive on, hike from, swim in the river, or photograph. They're available at the store near the bridge at canyon bottom. The fine for getting caught without permit is quite steep. The tribe gets a lot of money from recreation permit system so they enforce.
Now you're kidding right?
Over the last 75 years or so, everything and anything you ever wanted to shoot anywhere in Arizona (including the difficult to reach "real North") has been discussed at one time or another here:
I am planning to stay in Kanab and go to Vermilion Cliff, however, I checked on google map it is 60 miles away from Kanab yet it needs 3+ hours to get there. I called the guy at Kanab hotel and he said it takes 1.5 hrs.
Can anybody help me to explain which one is correct?
Do I need a permit to visit only the Vermilion?
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I have spent some time in Arizona: Grand Canyon both North and South rims, Navajo Monument, Monument Valley, Sedona, ... on pavement and off roading. There is not way one can describe how beautiful the area is in words. I have shot a lot of Kodak Ultra Color and Kodak Tri-X film there.
Warning!! Handling a Hasselblad can be harmful to your financial well being!
Nothing beats a great piece of glass!
I leave the digital work for the urologists and proctologists.
This is perfect. Just reserved an RV for taking the family to the Grand Canyon last two weeks of the year. Driving from San Fran to Grand Canyon then back thru Las Vegas. Was only just starting to research where to visit and go in northern AZ after and before the GC. Thanks!
Did I do wrong replying to a 7 years old thread that is related to my question, or should I just make a new thread?
Nah. Your question is relevant to the thread, who cares? :-)
Originally Posted by MFstooges
Now, can anyone go deeper for me on NW AZ? Like from Flagstaff NW-ward? Kingman, and the like, on the way to Las Vegas from the Grand Canyon? Looking for good photo spots which hopefully also might be somewhat interesting to the wife and kids....
Damn you for jacking the thread hijacker !!
Originally Posted by Richard S. (rich815)
Don't go directly to Flagstaff, detour and take indian rd #18 from Kingman and go to Hilltop parking spot (36.160177, -112.709393) ride horse or heli to Havasupai village and waterfalls. It's a paradise on earth.