One of the most captivating natural areas is located in Northern Arizona. It is filled with expansive vistas, rugged landscapes, and red rock formations that attract visitors and photographers from around the world. In fact, one of the photos from this region sold for a record $6.5 million dollars. It's no wonder, considering that this is one of the most awe inspiring places. For this trip, I used the city of Page as a base and visited the nearby natural sights. The area can feasibly be explored in one day, so check out our proposed itinerary below.
View the behind the scenes video:
Music Credit: Seinabo Sey "Younger (Kygo Remix)" | All videos shot with iPhone 6 | Editing: iMovie & Hyperlapse
1. Upper Antelope Canyon - 8:30am
Antelope Canyon is one of the most iconic southwestern natural wonders. It is split into two sections - Upper Antelope Canyon, which is essentially a cave, and Lower Antelope Canyon, which is an underground slot canyon of sandstone rocks within the Navajo Nation land. Tours are conducted through Navajo Nation in order to protect the environment, ensure safety from flash-flooding, and prevent overcrowding. Plan to book a tour early in the morning for the best lighting. I went during a holiday weekend, which was very crowded and about a windy 20 degrees. I booked in advance with the Navajo Antelope Canyon Tours in order to get a spot during the peak viewing time. They offered two tours- the Photographer Tour (which allows for tripods) and the Walking Tour. I opted for the Walking Tour which was about $46 and lasted one hour.
- Upper Antelope has low light in the Winter, and more light in Summer.
- Accessible via a 4x4 truck and takes about 15 minutes to get to the site.
- Tours are cash only, so bring plenty of cash.
- The rocks create shapes in the cliffs, such as a bear (see below), monument valley, and a heart.
2. Lower Antelope Canyon - 10 am
Lower Antelope is also accessible via guided Navajo Nation tours. The tour was $20 (plus $8 for the Navajo Nation fee if you haven't already purchased that with the Upper Antelope). The Lower Antelope is underground and the opening at the top is wider, allowing for more sun.
- Lower Antelope has more light in Winter, less light in Summer.
- Canyon is accessible via steep stairs (climbing involved).
- The canyon is more narrow on the inside of the canyon. Visitors must pass through single-file in most parts of the canyon.
- Set your DSLR to Manual, add a low ISO and F-Stop, and set the setting to "shade".
- Set iPhone to "Chrome" to bring out the best colors in the rocks.
- Do not bring backpacks or heavy equipment into the canyon. There is not much space inside Lower Antelope Canyon and it is best to be hands-free for climbing stairs.
- The rocks create shapes in the cliffs such as the Arizona sunrise (see below), Abraham Lincoln, buffalo, eagle, and Indian chief.
3. Horseshoe Bend - Noon
Horseshoe Bend is about 10 minutes away from Antelope Canyon. The view is a 360 panorama of the Colorado River, which loops around a large cliff forming a horseshoe, hence the name. The view is one of the most breathtaking in the region.
- Photos taken earlier in the day will have the best lighting. The Horseshoe Bend was back-lit at sunset during winter.
- In order to get the Colorado River in one shot, set your iPhone on Panorama.
- Bring a weather-proof case for your iPhone and backup charger. MyiPhone lost power (despite being fully charged) due to low temperatures draining the lithium ion battery.
- Bring a sturdy tripod. The edge of the cliff has no guard rails, so use your best judgment to determine how close to the edge to place your camera. There is a cliff on the viewing area where photographers can get a bird's-eye view of the scenery.
- The area gets very dusty and windy, so be sure to bring sunglasses and/or eye drops.
4. Colorado River Cruise - 2pm
To get a different perspective of the Horseshoe Bend, try a river cruise.
As always, bring multiple camera cards, backup batteries, and more than one camera on your journey. Enjoy!
During this photo trip, I ventured to a place that is almost permanently snow-capped and a place that reaches a boiling 322°F. No, it is not another planet. This is Mount Shasta and Lassen Volcanic National Park. The beauty of this area is hypnotic, yet menacing in its potential for destruction. Both Lassen Peak and Mount Shasta are still considered active volcanoes and have the power to destroy the surrounding areas with one eruption. But fear not because for now, they can be enjoyed for their isolated magnificence. Follow me on my journey into these geological treasures in California's Far North.
Music Credit: Kanye West feat Bon Iver "Lost in the World" | All videos shot with iPhone 5 | Editing: iMovie & Hyperlapse
Bumpass Hell (3:44 - 4:08)
The crown jewel of Lassen National Park is Bumpass Hell. This area was named in honor on Kendall Vanhook Bumpass, an experienced mountaineer who discovered this infernal region in the 1800's. As he was cautioning others about the treacherous grounds, he stepped upon unequal ground, broke through the crust, and his leg became disintegrated. Ground temperatures can reach a whopping 322°F. This geothermal area is known today as Bumpass Hell.
The hike to Bumpass Hell is about 3 miles round-trip along a beautiful ridge-line 8,000 feet high. Before setting my eyes on Bumpass Hell, I smelled the sulfur fumes (rotten eggs) emanating throughout the air. As I got closer, I heard the gurgling guttural noises coming from grounds. Finally, the trailhead reached a peak that offered the glimpse of Bumpass Hell. It was a canyon of steaming hills, turquoise pools, and bubbling cauldrons of mud. I approached what appeared to be a river, but was a the color of clay. The dirt around the river was a chartreuse color from the sulfur. I had never seen ground of that color. I walked along a boardwalk which transversed the area with large red signs warning hikers not to stray off the path.
"Caution: The ground near the hydrothermal areas is thin, brittle, and slippery. To avoid breaking through and being severely burned, stay on the established boardwalks and trails at all times."
I saw one hiker who defied the signs and was walking along the hill. I wondered if he had heard of Mr. Bumpass. The area is truly a splendor of Mother Nature: smelly, and magnificently beautiful at the same time.
Mount Shasta (1:05)
Mount Shasta dominates the landscape for over 100 miles in each direction. The first glimpse of the mountain is breathtaking. I spotted the perfect cone-shaped snow cap from the town of Redding along highway 5. It is one of the highest peaks in the United States, standing tall at 14,179 feet. Although it hasn't erupted in over 200 years, it is still considered an active volcano, which made it a foreboding presence.
Hedge Creek Falls (1:10 - 1:30)
In a town called Dunsmuir lies Hedge Creek Falls. The hike to the falls is less than a half mile round trip along a forest that reminds me of Fern Gully. The falls was still going strong in early Fall.
Whst stuck me most about Califronia's Far North is its abundance of water. In Southern California, it is very rare to see a river in its natural form- most are encased in concrete like the LA River. However, in Northern Claifornia, there are rivers and waterfalls all around, with Bruney Falls being one of the most stricking I have seen. Burney Falls is California's answer to Niagara. It is 129 feet tall with water gushing out of the hillside. It is located inside the Burney Falls State Park which features hiking trails and beautiful forests.
Shasta Dam (0:45 - 1:00)
The Shasta Dam is one of the main attractions in the Shasta region. The Shasta Dam resides in a beautiful forested area of hills with Mount Shasta framed in the background. The dam is one of the largest engineering feats with similar magnificence to the Hoover Dam.
The California's Far North is spectacular in its many geological wonders. It is abundant with rivers, mountains, waterfalls but also volcanoes, history, and many reminders of the forces of nature.
Death Valley is the largest national park in the US and one of the most surreal.
Entering the park feels like you have arrived on another planet without having to take a spaceship. As soon as you get into the park, the terrain changes from a barren desert to something otherworldly. It is incredibly vast with eroding million year-old mountains in every direction. The park is filled with extreme high peaks and low points. It's the site of the lowest point in North America, Badwater Basin, which is only a 15 miles from the highest peak in the park, Telescope Peak. This makes for interesting contrasts in tempreature and landscapes. During our stay, Telescope Peak was still snow capped, Dante's View was a cool 70 degrees and filled with wildflowers, while the rest of the park was hot and dry.
At night, the park becomes a popular location for star gazing. Since it is so remote from city life and devoid of traffic lights, visitors can enjoy pristine views of the night sky. In fact, Death Valley is also one of only two places in California that belongs to the International Dark Sky Association.
To purchase the photography from this trip, visit here.
Amazing vista that is over 5,000 feet high with sweeping 360 degree views of the park. I highly recommend visiting this exhibit during sunset. Dante's Peak also served as the filming location for Star Wars.
Amazing primordial rock formations. This is my favorite spot in Death Valley for hiking.
This is the lowest point in North America. The ground is covered in salt crystals that look like snow. It feels like you are on another planet.
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