Southwest America is a photographer’s heaven, as well as a hiker’s dream. When the two combine you get one of our favourite destinations in the world. The scenery here is mind blowing. It’s so good that we don’t know why it’s taken us so long to visit.
There was never a day that went by when I didn’t utter ‘wow’ several times, and that includes the driving days! We began planning our next trip here before we even left so expect this post to be updated in October.
In the meantime, here are the very best Instagrammable spots in the American Southwest.
Instagrammable places in Utah
Delicate Arch, Arches National Park
Moab is blessed with so many amazing spots so close to it. Delicate Arch is arguably Utah’s icon and the most beautiful arch that we saw. You’ll find it at the end of the Delicate Arch hiking track, 1.5 miles (2.4km) each way.
It is best to visit at sunrise for truly spectacular light. Sadly we didn’t make it up in time so we visited at sunset which was also very pretty. Even in low season we weren’t alone but it wasn’t too crowded, so you could still take a nice picture.
You can stand right beside the arch but I wouldn’t recommend lingering around there as there are many landscape photographers around (I didn’t want to ruin their shot). It might be a little quieter at sunrise.
If you’re a fan of landscapes you can also take another angle where the arch frames the beautiful La Sal Mountains.
For more info on this hike and our other favourites in Arches National Park, check out this post.
Dead Horse Point
This spot doesn’t even require a hike as it is right by the car park! It was a beautiful spot at sunset, although a friend of ours also said it was fantastic at sunrise.
From the car park you’ll see a railed lookout and if you walk to right hand side of that you’ll find the area is un-railed, meaning you can climb down to the spot you can see in this photo.
When I say “climb”, I mean walk downwards! It’s not difficult and there are multiple areas you can do it. The area is really big so there are many, many different angles you can take.
So you don’t have to hike to this spot but if you are interested in making the most of the $20 park entry fee then check out this post on Dead Horse State Park for some ideas.
Inspiration Point, Bryce Canyon
Bryce Canyon is a beauty but sadly we had every single hiking trail closed on our visit due to avalanche risk. If you’re thinking of visiting Bryce in winter read this post first!
In short there are more amazing and interesting shots you can take in Bryce but not when there’s been several feet of snow! We’ll update this in October but in the meantime the shot we’ve chosen is taken at Inspiration Point.
We went just after sunrise which is ideal lighting. This spot is just beside the main lookout right at the car park.
John Ford Point, Monument Valley
You might be more familiar with seeing this spot complete with horse and cowboy, but you actually have to pay for that shot so it’s me instead! 😂
We took some photos of the horse to send to someone so if you want to see what it looks like you can see it in our trips for visiting Monument Valley blog.
To find this spot you need to enter the Scenic Drive ($20 per car, or more if you have a large car or van) and it is very clearly signposted right near the beginning of the drive so you can’t miss it.
Depending on visitor numbers you might need to wait for the ledge to not be in use! Then just walk out to the edge of the cliff and have the photographer or tripod set up just in front of the car park area for this angle.
Read next: Canyonlands hikes that will blow you away
Canyon Overlook - Zion
Canyon Overlook is a short 0.75 mile (1.2km) hiking trail in Zion and treats you to this incredible view at the end. Due to heaps of snow we just took a photo to the left of the main viewpoint.
However, in better weather than are some great rocks to the left of the viewpoint which you can sit on for an even better shot.
The trail is pretty easy, although it does have a few narrow sections. You can read more about it in our post on Zion hikes.
Canyon Junction - Zion
This is the iconic shot in Zion and there’ll be tripod wielding photographers there at all times of year. There actually isn’t much room to park so in high season if you want to catch sunset (which is the most popular time to shoot) then I would arrive quite a bit beforehand.
This view is basically just at the side of the road but captures perfectly the Watchman with the Virgin River in the foreground. It’s an amazing spot.
Like the look of Zion in the snow? Want to know what it’s really like to visit in winter? Spoiler alert it’s incredible…….
Panoramic Point, Capitol Reef National Park
This is another super easy one to get to, so you there’s no need to hike to this spot. Just a few steps from the car park you’ll find the exceptional views offered at Panoramic Point.
We noticed this little sticking out piece of rock which we thought made for a good photo op. It looks precarious but there is another ledge underneath which you can’t see so it didn’t feel scary at all!
As you can see we visited in the middle of day as we didn’t have much time in Capitol Reef (big mistake) but if you can, go at sunset for better light
Forrest Gump Point, Monument Valley
This is a classic photography spot and my most popular Instagram photo from the US.
This spot became a classic following the Forrest Gump movie and hence how it got its name. Of course it is a main road, so you do need to be really careful watching for cars. We went around 45 minutes after sunrise and still had to move out of the way a few times.
You’ll find it around a 30 minute drive from Monument Valley Tribal Reserve and there is a small lay by area on both sides of the road and a few more a little further down the road if they are full.
Angels Landing - Zion
Angels Landing was our nemesis in heavy snow and we didn’t make it right to the end under heavy snow - waaaaaay too dangerous - but we did get the chance to take this classic shot looking a little different to the full red rock you usually see.
The shot is taken from Scouts Lookout which is just before the chained section to Angels Landing itself begins. It’s actually a great view from here, so if you’re scared of heights or just don’t want to tackle that chained section, you can walk to Scouts and still feel like you’ve done a good portion of the hike.
Scouts Landing is about 1.5 miles (2.4km) into the Angels Landing hike and whilst you do go up some steep sections it’s not difficult and the terrain is good - we managed it in lots of snow!
Instagrammable places in Arizona
Horseshoe Bend, Page
Once known only to locals Horsehoe Bend has now become one of the most recognisable spots in the whole of the Southwest. It’s easy to see why when you first lay eyes on it, it’s scale is incomprehensible.
There is now a set of railings which runs around the main head on part of the lookout which you have probably seen the most photos of it the past. Thankfully, there is still lots of ground to explore which remains untouched.
You can get good light at both sunrise and sunset (our picture is sunset), if you don’t mind the bend being in partial shadow. It will be fully lit in the middle of the day, but then the light is harsh.
This photo is taken to the right of the main lookout at the jutting out edge but there are many other spots which are just as good.
Be careful on the edges though, we read after our visit that the rock is not all that stable and can crumble away, stand well back.
Upper Antelope Canyon, Page
Drop dead gorgeous Upper Antelope is a victim of its own beauty and now there are so many people who try to visit that even in low season it feels crowded. In high season expect a scrum.
However, that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth a visit, it absolutely is and was a highlight of our trip to Page.
All visits must now be made as part of a tour which makes getting photographs very challenging. You can just about manage in low season but in high season it would be quite hard to get a person in the shot without others around.
We managed a few hurried snaps in low season. If all else fails shoot up and you won’t be disappointed, it’s one of the most magnificent canyons we’ve ever seen.
Lower Antelope Canyon, Page
Now Lower Antelope used to be the quiet lesser known alternative to Upper Antelope but that’s changing now. Whilst you will still find it far less busy, there will still be quite a few people on your guided tour (Jan/Feb sees the lowest numbers).
However if you read our guide on Lower Antelope Canyon we’ve got the full low down on the company we chose and how they made our trip there incredible and allowed us heaps of time to get shots on our own (#notsponsored).
On all tours guides will point out beautiful photography spots it’s just whether you have the space to shoot them or not.
South Kaibab Trail, Grand Canyon
So this is most definitely one for the hikers and believe us even if you aren’t a regular walker you won’t regret making the effort to do this one! The views here are incredible, in fact words cannot do it justice - just go and see for yourself!
There are so many great photography spots on this trail, our shot is taken on the series of switchbacks after Skeleton Point.
Unless you are pretty fit you will want to stay at the bottom of the canyon for the night (reservations required) if you want to see this section of track but there are plenty of turn around points for day hikes.
Waterholes Canyon, Page
Waterholes is still currently a hidden gem but get there quick because as more and more people converge on Antelope Canyon you often find that all spots are sold out and then people begin to look for alternatives, Waterholes makes for the perfect choice.
We visited Antelope and also chose to do Waterholes as we like a quieter experience and it’s definitely worth doing in its own right.
Our shot is taken in the second section of canyon, just as you enter the slot but again there are so many amazing photography spots you’ll be spoilt for choice.
Here’s everything you need to know about visiting Waterholes Canyon.
Cathedral Rock - Sedona
Definitely one of our favourite hikes in Sedona, Cathedral Rock is an Instagrammer’s favourite. The entire trail is photogenic, but it’s the very top which is the real show stopper. At just under a mile ,it definitely isn’t a long hike but it’s fairly relentlessly steep and has quite a few scrambles.
Sunset is a beautiful time to visit for the spot in our photo but there is another spot which also makes for a great sunrise shot and there would be less people around at that time (although climbing the trail in the dark for the first time might be tricky).
You’ll find this spot just a minute away to the right of the end of trail sign, you can’t miss it. The whole scene is just breath taking as the light turns the rock a really deep orange.
Here’s everything you need to know about the Cathedral Rock trail.
Devil’s Bridge - Sedona
Definitely one of the most famous spots in Arizona, you’ll find the Devil’s Bridge at the end of a 1.8 mile (2.9km) hiking trail. It’s pretty much flat until the end when you have a fairly steep climb.
Worried about falling? The bridge is actually much wider than it looks, you can see a video of it in our detailed post on what to expect from the Devil’s Bridge hike.
This trail does get busy, even in low season there were quite a few people around but everyone waits their turn for a go on the bridge. The harder part might be parking, which is limited, so factor in some time to wait for space in case it’s all full.
Read next: An epic Arizona road trip itinerary
South Rim Grand Canyon
If you aren’t up for hiking in the Grand Canyon, then there are plenty of gorgeous viewpoints along the South Rim that you can get to using the park shuttle.
This particular shot is Hopi Point, taken just after sunrise but as Hopi is the highest point along the rim sunset is good there too.
The main lookout at Hopi is actually railed so you’ll find this spot to the left. Whilst there was maybe around 15 people watching the sunrise at this particular spot there was no one at all. Winning!
Bell Rock, Sedona
Bell Rock is another epic Sedona hike and one that only really confident scramblers/rock climbers will actually make it to the top of. Hint, that’s not us!
However, whatever your comfort level with climbing slick rock there’s a beautiful photography spot for you. This particular shot is taken around halfway up before the track begins to get more difficult.
To get to this spot from the car park is less than half a mile each way. If the grip on your shoes is reasonable it shouldn’t be slippery to this point, although we wouldn’t attempt it in or just after rain.
This shot is taken in the middle of the day but would be pretty epic if you can make it up for sunrise.
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