Southwest Utah Photo Tours – Zion & Grand Staircase Adventure

Photographer taking pictures in a slot canyon during this Grand Staircase National Monument landscape based photo tour  

WHEN: Oct 27 - Nov 2, 2019

WHERE: Begins (1PM) and Ends (11AM) in St. George, Utah

For those wishing to stay in Springdale afterwards, we can shuttle you back to Springdale once we take other participants to St. George.

FEE: $2,400* (deposit: $450)

* Lodging is based on double occupancy. Single supplement for private hotel room is available for an additional $600.



WHO SHOULD ATTEND: What is this?
Intermediate and Advanced photographers


  • Group transportation from St. George in executive 4WD Sprinter Van.
  • Comfortable, highly rated, nightly accommodations.
  • Outfitted and guided slot canyon hikes.
  • Constructive critique sessions with post processing instruction and guidance.
  • Leader with over 20 years working in Zion.


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Capture some of the most inspiring and colorful scenery in Southwestern Utah during this week long tour featuring both iconic and lesser known, but just as majestic, locations that afford the best photographic views and experiences found in the region. With its towering sandstone walls and verdant rivers, springs, dry atmosphere and ethereal reflected light, Zion is photographer’s paradise and is an ideal location to launch from to enlighten and transform your vision.

The adventure begins in St. George, Utah, at the St. George Shuttle office, about 40 miles southwest of Springdale, the gateway town to Zion National Park, where we find ideally lit subjects all day long. Our exploration will take our small group to close by and easy to access iconic locations as well as to beautiful hidden gems off the beaten path in and around the park including a 4WD trip to stunning and sweeping views of Zion’s towering walls and an outfitted slot canyon hike into the Virgin River Narrows (or an equally compelling canyon also with flowing water) that offers an intimate canyon experience.

Each night we return to our comfortable, highly rated, accommodations (Trip Advisor’s 'Certificate of Excellence' recipient) that is close to the park entrance and conveniently located near a coffee shop, market, and restaurants.

The second part of our journey is based out of Kanab, Utah, where we explore a section of one the longest and deepest slot canyons in the Southwest, where reflected light beautifully accents the often narrow, twisty canyon walls creating visually appealing images even this time of year. This canyon is non-technical, but it does require a little scrambling or a taking a slightly longer side-trip to avoid the 8' scramble. Water and mud may also be present so we recommend bringing shoes you don't mind getting wet or muddy.

Afterwards, we explore the colorful Candy land feature on Cottonwood Canyon Road, an upturned layer of Entrada Sandstone Formation, for sunset. On the final morning, we leisurely return to the St. George Shuttle office in time for your afternoon flight or follow-up itinerary.


  • Lodging (Based upon double occupancy. Single supplement available for an additional $950.)
  • Group transportation during the tour starting from St. George.
  • Guided hike up the Narrows or other slot canyon if the conditions are unsafe in the Narrows.
  • Rental gear (dry pants, neoprene socks, Five-Ten brand water shoes, and a hiking staff) by Zion Guru for the Narrows or other slot canyon.
  • Field instruction & image critique session



  • Meals
  • National Park entrance fees (Your Senior or Annual Park Pass is valid for you and any family members also attending)
  • Tips and gratuities


ITINERARY: {Subject to change depending on conditions|


Arrive on your own in St. George, UT no later than 1PM Mountain Time in order to catch our group shuttle from St. George Shuttle office or your hotel located within 5 miles of the shuttle office. Settle in to your room at Cable Mountain Lodge and prepare to meet the group at 3:00PM in the West Temple conference room for introductions and 2 hour orientation about the details of our adventure. Afterwards, we will break for an evening shoot in the group's executive van and dinner afterwards.

If you wish to arrive a day or two earlier to explore the area, we will be happy to assist you with booking additional lodging in St. George or in Springdale.


Exact locations will be dependent upon where the best fall colors are, but the day will typically unfold something like meeting at roughly 6:30AM to travel to the morning's location shoot, returning for lunch, and then meeting again for the afternoon and sunset shoot locations, returning for dinner around 7:15PM.

DAY 4: THE NARROWS HIKE (Up to 6 miles Round Trip)

The long awaited day has arrived: photographing in the Narrows where you will see some of the most spectacular and narrowest parts of Zion Canyon. We will catch a sunrise shoot before boarding the Zion Canyon shuttle to the Temple of Sinewava bus stop where the adventure begins.

There are several photo opportunies along the mile long, paved Riverside Walk trail before the river crossings begin. After the mile long paved trail, you reach the Gateway to The Narrows where you will want to don your waterproof pants and river shoes (provided by our outfitter - Zion Guru) if you haven't done so already. From here, we can travel upstream as far up as Orderville Canyon (2 miles) spending time along the way photographing at Mystery Falls, Narrows Alcove, Grotto Alcove, and points in between.

While it's natural for the group to spread out on this hike, one of us will act as the 'sweep' person and one who will act as the 'point' person so that no one will be left behind.

If you have a water proof backpack for your camera gear, bring it along. If you don't, they are available to rent from Zion Guru. We have a couple of our own we can share.


After breakfast, the group will meet in the lodge's lobby with all our luggage and check-out of our rooms. We travel to Kanab and once we arrive in Kanab, we will check-in to our rooms, grab some lunch, and head to the grocery store for any last minute food and snacks for the slot canyon and sunset shoot on Day 6.

After some time reviewing images you've shot so far, we'll head out for a sunset shoot at the Toadstools wilderness area - a location where there are balanced rock formations that look like mushrooms. These formations are accessed via an easy to moderate 1.5 mile round trip hike. As this is a great location for some night time photography, be sure to bring a flashlight.


We depart from the hotel lobby to head to today's photo adventure, Buckskin Gulch, where we'll experience reflective light bouncing on the tall, curvy canyon walls.

The first few miles of the trail follow an open sandy wash. As you travel further, sandstone walls appear on both sides of the wash as it enters the narrows. Here we run into an obstacle which requires some scrambling to climb over. We will assist people to climb down the obstacle safely. There is a bypass route anyone can take if they are uncomfortable with the down climb.

Aside from the obstacle, the trail conditions range from easy hiking on sandy bottom to walking on rocky terrain to possibly wading through several pools of standing water. The pools are usually less than mid-thigh deep, but can be quite cool this time of year. Please be sure to bring a pair of pants and shoes you do not mind getting wet and/or muddy. We will have extra trekking poles for those who prefer to use them for extra stability.

By late afternoon, we'll return back to the van and head to our sunset location, the Movie Set, a location with multi-colored cliffs comprised of alternating red, white, purple and grayish-blue strata, forming an interesting and photogenic backdrop.


Today is the end of this adventure. After enjoying breakfast together, we take you back to St. George by 11AM in time for your late-afternoon flight or follow-up itinerary (which may include some more time in Springdale/Zion National Park).


Participants should be comfortable walking varying distances but up to at least 1 mile one way on well-defined trails with occasional rocky or sandy ground to MOST shoot locations. A couple of locations are up to at least 1 mile on moderately sized rocky trails.

The Narrows location shoot (or an equally compelling canyon with flowing water if conditions do not permit us to go into the Narrows) requires a hiking distance up to 3 miles one way which includes walking 1 mile on a well-defined paved trail and up to 2 miles of multiple river crossings, walking in the river itself, and walking amongst moderate sized rocks, using a hiking staff (provided). We utilize assistant guides so that the entire group will benefit from photo advice and guidance up and down the Narrows.


You will receive a Confirmation notice of your registration once you complete the process. Additional information – including recommended gear to bring – will be delivered to you within 30 days of the workshop start date.



The official group meeting location will be at 1:00PM at the St. George Shuttle office (1275 E Red Hills Parkway, St George, UT, 84770). From here, we will shuttle you to our first location’s accommodations in Springdale, Utah – the gateway town to Zion National Park.

The airport options below are provided to give you a couple of options of airports to fly into. From any of the airports listed, you may wish to take a shuttle to the main St. George Shuttle office instead of renting a vehicle especially since picking you up and dropping you off at the shuttle office (or at a St. George hotel located within 5 miles of the shuttle office) in the group’s Executive Sprinter Van is included as part of the photo tour fee.

There are several airports you can fly to. The closest airport is located in St. George, but we understand the flight schedule may not work with your departing city. See the Airport options that the National Park Service lists, their distances, and how to get to Zion from the various airports.

See Airport Options

There is a shuttle service from these airports to the main St. George Shuttle office as well as to Zion National Park should you miss our group pick up time. Check shuttle times, locations, and make your reservation with them at:

St. George Shuttle.


* * * * *

“Having done landscape photography for a long period, I was well aware of the challenges it brings to photographer. During my recent workshop at Zion National Park with Michael, I found him highly skilled and knowledgeable to address various questions I had from framing, composition, camera placement, to temperature adjustment. He taught me some techniques for focusing which were quite invaluable.

Small size of the group was very important, giving Michael time to check with everyone, even if one did not have any question. The locations which were chosen for sunrise and sunset photography were just amazing with a diverse potential for wide angle and telephoto.

Michael’s background is in meteorology which was very helpful for anticipating upcoming changes, in particular regarding clouds. Until this workshop, I never thought understanding the type of clouds and their movements is a major asset for a landscape photographer.

Living in New Mexico, I am looking forward to join Michael and Lauri in other workshops. ”

– Naser Mojtahed – Naser Mojtahed on Facebook

Photography instructor, coach, tour guide,  and Photo Workshop Instructor Michael DeYoung

Michael DeYoung is an award-winning outdoor photographer, weather guru, workshop leader, dog lover and 90% dark chocolate addict. The Taos, New Mexico-based veteran shooter lives and breathes adventure, lifestyle and landscape photography. He transformed his Air Force meteorological and weather forecasting training into mastery of outdoor lighting, with the presence of weather elements being a nearly constant thread throughout his wide-ranging library of work.

Clients have described his imagery as adventurous, tranquil and confident all at the same time. Clients also had this to say:

“I can easily say Michael is in an elite category of photographers who provide only the best quality work. His photography displays the highest level of technical ability and patience—capturing the perfect lighting and color that many photographers simply don't seem capable of.”

“I was immediately drawn to the high energy, bright and personable nature of Michael's work.”

The prolific shooter, along with his wife and business partner, Lauri, lived and worked in Alaska for many years where Michael still continues to shoot regularly. His lifestyle, adventure and landscape images have appeared in hundreds of national and international magazines, books, calendars, catalogs, brochures, websites and many other commercial products. The DeYoungs have done extensive assignment work in Alaska and beyond for the tourism industry.

On his own and for several notable institutions, Michael teaches and leads landscape, adventure and business related workshops, focusing on creativity, vision and mastery of light. He has been a featured breakout speaker at North American Nature Photography Summits and for several camera clubs, ranging from Florida to Alaska.

Notable awards: first place winner, Photo District News Great Outdoors Photo Contest; honored recipient, Highly Honored recipient, Nature’s Best Windland Smith Rice International Photography Award, Smithsonian Institute; and Best of 2012 series winner, American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP).

In his own words: "Being an Eagle Scout forged a lifelong love of wild places, wilderness exploration and muscle powered adventure sports. I have always been drawn to mountains and the mountain lifestyle. I like bold colors and simple graphic design. I can’t say I’m completely self-taught as I’ve attended countless workshops and seminars in addition to reading many photographic technique and business related books."

The DeYoungs spend much of their time on outdoor adventures, including long-distance backpacking trips and whitewater river journeys. Dedicated to sustainable living, they reside in a passive solar designed home and office run 100% by photovoltaic power in the upper Rio Grande Valley.


Southwest Utah Adventure Photo Tours in the Fall