Last Updated on September 17, 2022
Utah is home to some of the most beautiful, diverse landscapes in the country. From salt flats to mountains and deserts to ancient ruins, it has it all. This list of Utah photography locations will help you find the best places to go on your Utah road trip making it the trip of a lifetime.
These places will take you to all corners of the state to capture all of its beauty both on and off the beaten path. You will be able to visit both national and state parks as well as other sites throughout the state, particularly southern Utah. There is no shortage of places to take pictures in Utah but we have compiled the best here for your next trip!
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Table of Contents
Directions to Utah
Where you fly into will mostly depend on your trip itinerary. If you just plan to visit Utah, including northern Utah, Salt Lake City is best. Las Vegas, Nevada and Denver, Colorado are two other good options if you want to see more of the southwest.
Arriving in Salt Lake City
If you want to visit northern Utah and all of the photo spots in Utah we have included, flying into Salt Lake City International Airport is the best option since it makes visiting the Bonneville Salt Flats a lot easier. From there it is 4 to 5 hour to the national parks in the southern part of the state, with many great destinations in between.
Las Vegas to Utah Drive
If you just want to do a loop of the Utah National Parks and northern Arizona (Monument Valley and Page to Kanab), then Las Vegas is a great starting point. It is about 170 miles (273 km) to Zion National Park, a great gateway to the rest of the parks. It may also be easier for international flights as Harry Reid International Airport has extensive flight options. This is also a great choice if you want to do a larger Southwest USA road trip including Nevada, Arizona, and southern California.
Denver to Utah Drive
Denver International Airport is the best place to fly into if you want to also visit the Colorado National Parks and New Mexico. From Denver International Airport, it is almost six hours to Moab but this could easily be broken up by visiting the parks in Colorado on your way. You may also have more choices for international flights compared to Salt Lake City.
15 Stunning Utah Photography Locations
There are so many amazing photo spots in Utah that it can be overwhelming! We have put in the hard work to narrow it down to the 15 best spots to make deciding where to go that much easier. Most of these Utah photography locations can be reached with a regular car but a few will require 4×4, which we will highlight below when necessary.
Bonneville Salt Flats – Dry Salt Flats
The Bonneville Salt Flats cover 30,000 acres (121 sq km) west of the Great Salt Lake and some of this can be very easily accessed. This area of the salt flats is easily accessed from the rest area along the highway and you can drive out onto the salt flats to have a large area to yourself, as long as the flats are dry.
If you haven’t been to anything like this before, a visit to the Bonneville Salt Flats will surely be unforgettable! The salt flats may not have much to them, but you can get really creative with photos here using the blank canvas of the wide-open salt flats. This is a great place to get creative or to use a drone for even more amazing photos, especially at sunrise and sunset.
Location on Google Maps: Salt Flats Rest Area
Facilities: Bathrooms and picnic tables are located at the rest stop.
What to Bring: A drone is a great way to capture the scale of the salt flats!
Helpful Tips: This is best photographed early in the morning or late afternoon when the light is not as harsh, especially if there is water. If the salt is not white or clean near the rest area, just walk or drive further away and you will be able to find some pristine salt flats to photograph.
Bonneville Salt Flats – Flooded Salt Flats
Accessed from a different location than above, this area of the salt flats is the most likely to be flooded, however it does still depend on weather conditions. Seeing the Bonneville Salt Flats covered in water is beautiful and will make it one of the best places to take pictures in Utah. If you will be in Northern Utah, this is a must-see. It is not guaranteed that it will be flooded here but this is a great place to check for it.
From the rest area above, continue driving west along Interstate 80 until the next exit where you will find a gas station and the N Bonneville Speedway Road. Then continue along that road, staying to the right until it ends in the middle of the Bonneville salt flats!
It is not recommended to drive out into the salty water of the salt flats as the water is extremely salty and highly corrosive to the underside of vehicles. Of course, many people still decide to do so. If you decide to drive out into the water make sure to get a car wash, including the underside, shortly after.
Location on Google Maps: Bonneville Salt Flats Raceway
What to Bring: Rubber boots or shoes that can get covered in salt water if you plan to walk out into the water.
Helpful Tips: As long as there is water, this is a great area for reflections. The water is VERY salty here and will likely ruin any shoes you wear in there, so keep that in mind when you are packing.
Capitol Reef Cathedral Valley
Capitol Reef National Park is one of the best photo spots in Utah, but the Cathedral Valley section of the park is even more spectacular. This remote area is off the beaten path and home to some incredibly beautiful rock formations. The ‘cathedrals’ tower above the rest of the valley, and the area is especially magical at sunrise or sunset. The hiking here is limited but the drive is wonderful.
Read More: Check out our full 2 Day Capitol Reef Itinerary
A high-clearance 4×4 is highly recommended for driving the Cathedral Valley Loop. There is a river crossing that is required and it is usually easy but can be impassable (like the rest of the road) after rain. In good road conditions t is possible to drive the road with less capable vehicles, however it is still recommended to start the loop at the river crossing as this is the most difficult portion of the drive.
Location on Google Maps: Cathedral Valley River Crossing
Facilities: Small primitive campsite with an outhouse.
Cost: The entrance fee for Capitol Reef National Park is $20 USD, however the America the Beautiful Annual National Park Pass is also accepted. Camping at the primitive campsite is free.
What to Bring: Extra food and water.
Helpful Tips: The road is not paved and can be treacherous in poor weather. A 4×4 is highly recommended, as is starting the drive on the side of the river crossing to be sure you can get across. Camping at the Cathedral Valley Campground will give you a chance to photograph the rock formations at both sunset and sunrise.
The Utah Badlands is a desolate area of just outside of Capitol Reef National Park full of beautiful, sometimes colorful, bentonite clay hills that will make you feel like you are on the moon. You will find out of this world scenery, quite literally, as the Mars Desert Research Station is located near here. This is a great photo spot in Utah to put your drone to good use for some really unique shots and a new perspective on the badlands around you.
The Utah Badlands are a delicate ecosystem and respect for the environment in this area if very important. Make sure to stay on established trails and pack out everything you bring in!
Location on Google Maps: Caineville, Utah
What to Bring: Water and snacks as there are limited restaurants and convenience stores to purchase snacks from.
Helpful Tips: The bentonite clay that usually makes these badlands formations can be extremely slippery when wet, so keep that in mind if you are walking on them or driving on any back roads made of this. It is generally not recommended to travel offroad in this area when it rains due to the high possibility of getting stuck and the risk of mudslides. Luckily, it doesn’t rain here very often!
Goblin Valley State Park
Goblin Valley State Park is kind of in the middle of nowhere, but it also happens to be very accessible. The closest towns are Green River and Hanksville, but it can easily be visited on the drive between Capitol Reef National Park and Moab. It is home to countless mushroom goblin shaped rock formations unlike anywhere else.
Hoodoos can be found around southern Utah, but the concentration of them in this valley makes the state park a particularly great Utah photography location. There are a couple of hiking trails here but the best way to experience it is to just wander through the Valley of Goblins to the far wall and explore that area. You will get even better views of the valley and may even find a little cave or two.
Location on Google Maps: Goblin Valley State Park
Facilities: Campground, bathrooms, snacks and water for purchase.
Cost: $20 USD State Park Entrance Fee.
What to Bring: Sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat for protection against the sun.
Helpful Tips: You are free to explore nearly the full park, which allows you to get some really unique photographs to capture this amazing Utah gem!
Arches National Park
Arches National Park is most famous for its arches, hence the name. The park is home to more than 2,000 arches making it one of the best places to take pictures in Utah. A few arches are more famous, like Delicate Arch, Double Arch, and Landscape Arch but there are plenty to see that are less well-known, like Double O Arch or Tower Arch.
Hiking to Delicate Arch at sunrise or sunset will be one of the best photo spots in Utah since you can see the amazing free-standing arch with the beautiful La Sal Mountains in the background. If you want a more adventurous hike with tons of wonderful photo opportunities, Fiery Furnace and the Devils Garden Primitive Loop are both great choices. Check out our full 2 Day Arches National Park Itinerary for more information.
Location on Google Maps: Arches National Park Visitor Center
Facilities: Visitor center, camping, bathrooms throughout the park.
Cost: The park has a $30 USD entrance fee, but the America the Beautiful Annual National Park Pass is also accepted here and highly recommended for anyone traveling through the area planning to see more than two parks.
What to Bring: Pack all of your snacks and water for the full day before arriving in Arches.
Helpful Tips: You will need a timed entry permit if you are visiting from April 1st to October 3rd. If you have a camping reservation, a Fiery Furnace permit, or you enter the park before 6:00 AM or after 5:00 PM, you do not need an entry permit. The entry permit is separate from the entrance fee, but there is no additional cost for the timed entry permit.
Canyonlands National Park
Island in the Sky is the part of Canyonlands National Park closest to Moab, with some of the best Utah photography locations as well as some of the best views in the entire state. While it has some of the best views, it is actually the least visited national park in Utah meaning you can probably find a spot to yourself much easier!
Not only will you get to enjoy amazing overlooks, but there are plenty of hikes to keep you busy like Mesa Arch, Murphy Point, Upheaval Dome, and the White Rim Overlook. Seeing Mesa Arch at sunrise may be busy, but it will be the best way to start your day in Canyonlands as it is one of the most well-known views in Utah, for good reason, with Mesa Arch being lit by the rising sun. This is also a great area for stargazing and photographing the Milky Way.
If you have more time, consider a trip over to The Needle Overlook and The Needles District for a more off the beaten path experience. It is most known for its backpacking, but there are a few shorter trails here for day hiking. Be sure to stop at Newspaper Rock on the way there to see a wall covered in ancient Native American petroglyphs. For even more detailed information on this amazing National Park, we have prepared the Ultimate One Day in Canyonlands guide with everything you need to know!
Location on Google Maps: Island in the Sky Visitor Center
Facilities: Visitor center, campground, bathrooms throughout the park.
Cost: The park has a $30 USD entrance fee, but the America the Beautiful Annual National Park Pass is also accepted here.
What to Bring: There are very limited facilities for food and water in the park so be sure to pack everything with you.
Helpful Tips: Plan to start your day at Canyonlands at Mesa Arch for sunrise. You will need to arrive there at least 30 minutes before sunrise to claim a viewing spot though, even earlier during extremely popular times. Bringing a picnic lunch will let you make the most of your time in the park without driving back down to Moab.
Spending More Time in Moab? Read our 3 Day Moab Itinerary with all the best spots!
Valley of the Gods
Between Moab and Monument Valley is a lesser-known scenic drive called Valley of the Gods. This is a dirt road that takes you off the beaten path and through some buttes and rock formations that feel like a mini Monument Valley. They are very different and it is worth making the trip to both Utah photography locations, especially as Valley of the Gods will likely be less busy. It is just 16 miles (25 km) from one end of the road to the other (it is not a loop) and while it is not paved, it should be passable in most vehicles in good weather.
The road starts out in a pretty wide open and flat area but soon enough you will be driving into the best part, a hilly area surrounded by cliffs, buttes, and rock formations of all shapes and sizes. While you are in the area, consider driving up (or down, the views are better then) the Moki Dugway, a set of dirt switchbacks with incredible views from the top, looking down on Monument Valley.
Location on Google Maps: Valley of the Gods
What to Bring: Extra food and water as there are no services in this area.
Helpful Tips: There may be phone service in some areas here but plan to be out of service. Most cars should be able to drive this road but it can be worse after rain.
Goosenecks State Park
Not far from Monument Valley is a small state park with a dramatic view: Goosenecks State Park. From the cliff edge, 1,000 feet (304 m) below is the winding San Juan River which connects the mountains of Colorado to Lake Powell. This is a primitive state park and does not have much to do other than enjoying the view, but the view is well worth the short side trip to get to this unique photo spot in Utah.
Location on Google Maps: Goosenecks State Park
Facilities: Camping, picnic area, vault toilets.
Cost: The entrance fee for this state park is $5 USD per vehicle, with additional fees for camping.
What to Bring: A wide-angle lens is helpful to capture the full extent of the winding San Juan River, below.
Helpful Tips: This can easily be seen on the same day as Valley of the Gods as they are right next to each other and not far from Monument Valley. Consider driving the Moki Dugway nearby as well for a hair-raising experience and beautiful views (they are better on the way down).
Monument Valley is not only one of the best places to take pictures in Utah but one of the most well know places in the United States, thanks to Forrest Gump. The now famous Forrest Gump Hill is located right on the border with Arizona off of a main highway making it very easy to visit. While you can see a lot of the rock formations from the main highway, it is best to do the scenic drive through the park, but be sure to stop at the Forrest Gump Hill for the famous running scene shot.
You can drive the road through Monument Valley on your own (most cars should be fine, just take it slow) or you can join a tour. Some tours take you to restricted areas which could be a great option for getting even better photos. The Wildcat Trail is the only hiking trail in the park and is a must-do for a different perspective of these iconic buttes.
Location on Google Maps: Monument Valley Visitor Center
Facilities: Visitor Center, lodge, campground, restaurant, mobile toilets.
Cost: To enter Monument Valley, the cost is $20 USD per vehicle. Just visiting Forrest Gump Hill and viewing the monuments from a distance is completely free.
What to Bring: There are so many ways to take some epic photographs at Forrest Gump Hill, so planning your shots beforehand is highly recommended!
Helpful Tips: Having a 4×4 is not necessary but some people prefer it. If you do not have 4×4 and do not want to drive down the scenic road in your car, join one of the many tours available through the park. If you can spend a night in the park, either at the campground, cabins, or The View Hotel, you should.
The White House Trailhead and campground are a popular spot for both starting and ending backpacking trips in the area, including Buckskin Gulch, the Paria River, and all the way to Lees Ferry. This campground is easy to get to by car, any should make it unless it’s been raining recently, then it may be muddy or washed out. The campground itself is in a white sandstone cove by the Paria River which is incredibly beautiful and is close to many beautiful Utah photography locations.
From the campground area you can easily explore by foot. There are a few washes to walk up, as well as hills of rock formations which can yield many great unforgettable Utah photography spots.
Location on Google Maps: White House Trailhead and Campground
Facilities: Campground, picnic area, vault toilets.
Cost: The cost is $12 USD per night to camp.
What to Bring: Nothing particular unless you are camping or backpacking.
Helpful Tips: For some interesting rock formations, head toward the Nautilus, a rock formation in the nearby wash. From the campground, walk back along White House Road for a few minutes until the road crosses the first wash. From here head east, up the wash, until you reach an area with some curving rock formations, caves, and more that have been created by erosion over thousands of years.
Yant Flats, sometimes called the Candy Cliffs is one of the most beautiful photo spots in Utah, located not far from the city of St. George. Photography here is especially beautiful early or late in the day when the lighting is best.
There is a nice, short hike of 2 miles (3.2 km) to reach Yant Flats from the parking area, but it is quite easy, if a bit sandy. The swirling rock formations here are made up of pastel pink, white, orange, and red, similar to what can be seen in White Pocket, but these are much easier to get to. This is definitely a Utah hidden gem that should not be missed. Not only are the rock formations beautiful, but you get amazing views of the surrounding desert and mountains.
Location on Google Maps: Yant Flat Trailhead
What to Bring: Sun hat and sunscreen because there is very little shade. Extra water for the hike in and out.
Helpful Tips: You may need 4-wheel-drive to get here, especially if it has rained recently, but a regular car should not be an issue.
Zion National Park
Zion National Park is not only the most popular park in Utah, but one of the most popular national parks in the country, and for good reason. The dramatic canyon landscapes and sweeping overlooks easily make for some of the best places to take pictures in Utah. It has some of the best hikes in the country but it is also extremely busy in the summer so be sure to start your day as early as possible.
While you are here, hike to Angels Landing for one of the best views in the park or hike into The Narrows for an unforgettable experience. If you cannot get an Angels Landing permit, the hike to Canyon Overlook is much easier, much less scary, and has a view that is still amazing.
For more detailed information on this amazing national park, check out our 1 Day in Zion Itinerary!
Location on Google Maps: Zion National Park Visitor Center
Facilities: Visitor center, campground, lodge, cafe style food in the main canyon, bathrooms throughout the park.
Cost: The national park has a $30 USD entrance fee, but like all other national parks the America the Beautiful Annual National Park pass is accepted here.
What to Bring: Picnic lunch or plan to eat at the lodge in the park.
Helpful Tips: If you want to hike Angels Landing, you will need a permit so be sure to be ready when they become available online. The best way to beat crowds here is to start as early as possible. Staying in the park or in Springdale will help make that easier. Additionally, to reach the Angel’s Landing trailhead and all other access points within Zion Canyon requires the use of the Zion Shuttle Bus. The bus is free and can be taken from Visitors Center.
Bryce Canyon National Park
Bryce Canyon National Park is home to some of the most unique scenery in Utah. It is a natural amphitheater full of glowing orange hoodoo rock formations made by wind and water over millions of years. This park often gets overlooked for nearby Zion or just gets a quick visit as people pass by, but it deserves a full day so you can get out and enjoy the trails.
The Queens Garden/Navajo Loop trail is one of the best in the park. If you want to hike away from some of the crowds, the Peekaboo Loop is another wonderful choice. Be sure to stop at the short Mossy Cave Trail along Scenic Byway 12, too. See our 1 Day Itinerary for Bryce Canyon for even more details and things to do in this amazing park!
Location on Google Maps: Bryce Canyon National Park Visitor Center
Facilities: Visitor center, camping, lodge, bathrooms throughout the park
Cost: The national park has a $30 USD entrance fee, but like all other national parks the America the Beautiful Annual National Park pass is accepted here.
What to Bring: Picnic lunch and extra water for the dry heat.
Helpful Tips: Try to spend a whole day in Bryce Canyon if you have the time. Bringing a picnic lunch will help you make the most of that full day.
Escalante and Hole-In-The-Rock Road
Hole-in-the-Rock Road is a very rugged backcountry road filled with arches, washes, slot canyons and more. This is a great jumping off point for a lot of the best Utah photography locations like Reflection Canyon, Coyote Gulch, and the Escalante slot canyons such as Spooky and Peek-a-Boo. Most cars can drive the beginning of the road, though it is a very rough ride, but high-clearance 4×4 is needed for the last ten miles or so. A lot of the hikes along here take some good effort but they are very rewarding and worth the effort.
The small town of Escalante is your perfect base to fuel up your vehicle and your stomach! After a long day of hiking, grabbing one of the incredible fresh pizzas at Escalante Outfitters is mandatory!
Location on Google Maps: Hole-in-the-Rock (at the end of the road)
Facilities: Extremely limited. Vault toilets are located at a few trailheads.
What to Bring: Extra food and water, just in case, and camping gear if you plan to hike down here and start early.
Helpful Tips: You will be very much off the grid down here, with no cell reception. The road is very rough but if you have the proper vehicle, it is worth the effort to explore this beautiful area. Make sure to let someone know you will be down here since it is so remote.
Lake Powell spans the border of Utah and Arizona and while Arizona gets most of the credit for it, the lake is almost entirely in Utah. Most of the incredible views and Utah photography locations of Lake Powell are from above the lake, looking down on the views and incredible canyons and rock formations that this area is known for. There are a number of viewpoint and small hiking trails near Page, Arizona as well as the Lake Powell Dam Visitor Center where you can learn more about this incredible man-made lake.
If you want to spend time out on the water, the best place to reach the waters edge is at the Wahweap Marina, the largest marina on Lake Powell. At the northern end of the lake, there is the much smaller and more remote Bullfog Marina.
Elsewhere, there is very limited access to reach Lake Powell either from long-distance hiking trails, rough 4×4 roads, or through the Navajo Nation.
Lake Powell has been at historic low levels for a number of years, and unfortunately some of the beauty of the lake has been lost as the water has continued to disappear from the lake.
Extra time near Lake Powell? Check out this 2 Day Grand Canyon Itinerary for more epic photo spots!
Location on Google Maps: Wahweap Marina
Facilities: The Wahweap Marina has a lodge, watercraft rentals, campground, restaurants, gas, and small stores. The town of Page is nearby and has everything you would need.
Cost: There is a Glen Canyon National Recreation Area entrance fee of $30 USD per vehicle, although the America the Beautiful Annual National Park pass is also accepted here.
What to Bring: If you are visiting Bullfrog and do not want to eat every meal at the restaurant, bring any food with you may want as there are very limited alternatives.
Helpful Tips: If you are booking a night at either lodge or campground, be sure to double check the location. Bullfrog and Page may both be on Lake Powell but they are about five hours apart.
Best Time to Visit Utah for Photos
Each season in Utah has its pros and cons but it is hard to choose a bad time to go. No matter the season, you will want to avoid major holidays and spring break if you can as they are the busiest, even in winter.
Winter in Utah
Winter is the best choice if you are traveling on a tight budget as hotel prices are much more affordable. Snowfall varies significantly throughout the state so keep that in mind when planning. Southern Utah gets a lot less snow than the northern part of the state. If you want to avoid snow altogether but still visit in the winter, flying in and out of Las Vegas and sticking to southern Utah is your best bet. It can still be pretty cold so come prepared with layers and consider bringing micro spikes for hiking. Even in southern Utah trails can be snowy and icy.
Spring in Utah
Spring can be very windy, but aside from that, it is a great time to visit Utah. Depending on how early you are visiting in the spring, trees may still be bare but the temperatures make for wonderful hiking weather as long as it is not windy.
Summer in Utah
Summer is peak season in Utah meaning it is busy and expensive. It is also incredibly hot which makes hiking after the cool mornings not very enjoyable. If this is the only time you have to enjoy these Utah photography locations, you can definitely make it work but will have to be prepared for the very dry heat.
Fall in Utah
Fall is the best time to visit Utah. The weather is perfect, it is not as busy, and you can even see leaves changing. Prices and availability will be much better than summer. This is one of the best times for both hiking and photography in Utah because of the temperatures and beautiful scenery.
Stunning Utah Photography Locations Summary
Utah is our favorite US state, owing to its stunning scenery. The state is full of jaw-dropping views, incredible rock formations, and is a haven for nature photographers looking to capture that picture shot. The diversity in the natural environment means that there is surely a stunning Utah photography location for everyone! If you want to visit these locations and more in one epic trip covering the Mighty Five Utah National Parks, we have a full Mighty Five Itinerary ready to go for your next trip!
Did we miss your favorite Utah photography location? Let us know in the comments!