Best Places To Take Pictures in Phoenix

Phoenix, Arizona is a beautiful city known for its breathtaking natural landscapes, stunning architecture, and vibrant culture. With so many picturesque locations to choose from, it can be challenging to determine the best location when you start your photography journey.

Often I get asked “What’s the best place to take photos?” or “What location do you recommend for pictures?”

Whether you’re looking for places to take pictures in Phoenix; maybe for a dating profile, senior photos, family session, or graduation, or you’re on the search for a location to hike, having a list of locations is a handy tool to make the search process a little easier. I put together my top 9 best places to take pictures with sample photos, so you can easily pick your favorites next time you’re trying to decide on a session location!

 

1. South Mountain Park & Preserve Phoenix, Arizona

This is by far one of my favorite locations because 1, it’s free, and 2 has so many different colors, especially during sunset! If you plan on going here for your photography session, make sure you get to the top of Dobbins’ lookout with enough time to park. If you don’t go early, you’ll spend 20 minutes just to find parking. Fun fact, South Mountain Park is the largest municipal park in the United States and is home to over 50 miles of hiking and biking trails. The park offers stunning views of the city skyline, as well as panoramic views of the surrounding mountain ranges. It’s also home to several ancient petroglyphs, which make for a unique photography opportunity!

Best time to go: You’ll want to visit during Spring when the desert flowers are blooming! This is around March and April. I would visit on weekdays so you find a place to park, weekends can get extremely full.

Website: https://www.phoenix.gov/parks/trails/locations/south-mountain

Trailheads:

South Mountain Park/Preserve
10919 S. Central Ave.

​Main Entrance
10211 S. Central Ave.

Pima Canyon Trailhead*
4800 E. Pima Canyon Rd.

Mormon Trailhead
8610 S. 24th St.

Beverly Canyon Trailhead
8800 S. 46th St.

​Buena Vista Trailhead
N. Buena Vista Rd.

(Accessed via South Mountain Park/Preserve Main Entrance)

Desert Foothills Trailhead
14251 S. Desert Foothills Pkwy.

Chandler Blvd. and 19th Ave. Trailhead
15451 S. 19th Ave.

19th Ave. (Ma-Ha-Tauk) Trailhead
10484 S. 19th Ave.

Parking/Entrance Hours:

5 a.m. to 7 p.m.*

* – Extended summer hours are in effect annually from June 1 through September 30 at Pima Canyon Trailhead. The trailhead parking lot entrance is open until 9 p.m.

Trail Hours:

5 a.m. to 11 p.m.​

2. Agritopia

If you want lots of greens, but don’t want to drive out to Flagstaff, this location is PERFECT. You would need to get a $75 permit to get your photos taken here, but it can be purchased on their website here! There are also a few restaurants like:

  1. Barnone AZ
  2. The Uprooted Kitchen
  3. The Coffee Shop
  4. Joe’s Farm Grill
  5. Fire & Brimstone
  6. 12 West Brewing Co.
  7. Garage-East

So when you’re feeling hungry, you can stop for a bite to eat afterward.

Best time to go: You would think fall would be a perfect time, but NOPE. The trees and grapevines are super sensitive to the cold, so the best time to go would be spring through early summer! I also suggest getting your pictures done on weekdays because weekends are full of other visitors.

3. Salt River

This location is known as “Arizona’s Beach”. It has beautiful views and a shore. There are plenty of hikes you can take, although I haven’t made it to the top yet because I’m scared of heights lol The fee to visit here is $50 and you’ll need to purchase an event/commercial permit 30 days prior, from the USDA website https://www.fs.usda.gov/tonto

Best time to go: During winter!! PLEASE avoid the spring and go in the winter instead. As soon as it’s hot enough to go swimming, this place gets FULL of families. It would be really hard to get good photos here with so many swimmers.

Buy a Tonto National Forest visiting pass here: https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/tonto/passes-permits/recreation

Buy a Tonto National Forest commercial photography Pass for such activities as water transmission, agriculture, outfitting and guiding, recreation, telecommunication, research, photography and video productions, and granting road and utility rights-of-ways here: https://www.fs.usda.gov/main/tonto/passes-permits/event-commercial

 

4. Scottsdale Desert

North Desert is known for its beautiful sunset colors and colorful cacti flowers! If you want to get photos that show off Arizona’s landscapes, then this is the place to go. It’s $50 for one day or $300 for a year-long permit and your photographer will have to get one 30 days prior to your session. You can view more information on permits here.

Best time to go: Cacti really bloom in the spring!

 

5. Boyce Thompson

If you loved the movie Narnia, then this location is a MUST!! It’s $15 per person at the door and you can basically take photos anywhere!

Best time to go: Winter!! They close at 5 pm and it changes to 3 pm in the summer. You will have to go in the winter if you want to take advantage of that golden hour!

 

6. Lost Dutchman

This park is located in the Superstition Mountains. The fee to shoot here is $50 and you’ll need to purchase an event/commercial permit 30 days prior, from the USDA website https://www.fs.usda.gov/tonto

Best time to go: The best time to go is when it’s really cold. You don’t want to ruin into a snake. Snakes in Arizona also hibernate in the summer. “In warmer places like Arizona, snakes don’t hibernate as long as they do in colder climates, but they also go into summer hibernation to protect themselves from extreme heat and food shortage. Almost all Arizona snakes hibernate at some point.” –  Source – Sciencing.com 

 

7. Sedona

Okay, so this is not part of the “City of Pheonix” but it’s too good not to share! The next 3 locations are outside of the Phoenix Metro area, but they are seriously my top favorite places to shoot! Sedona is full of red sands, rocks, and amazing views! Winter photos are amazing because of the snow!

Best time to go: It snows in the winter, so plan to shoot spring-fall. Most areas are free to shoot (you’ll just need to purchase a parking ticket at the kiosk). Bell Rock Trail, is the shortest hike, which is where this session was taken! Remember every location here is a HIKE, so plan to be back before the sunsets. There are no street lights and it’s dangerously dark at night.

 

8. Flagstaff

ANOTHER FAVORITE!!! If you want to get away from cacti and dry sceneries, then flagstaff’s amazing green landscapes in where you’ll want to go 🙂 The weather here is nice, especially during summer!

Best time to go: honestly, anytime is good! It snows pretty hard out there but if you want pretty snow photos then winter is the time to go! Most parks are free and don’t require a photography permit.

 

9. Monument Valley

Okay, okay, this is NOT even close to Phoenix either but if you’re down for the adventure then this is A MUST-SEE!! It’s right on the border of Arizona and Utah and it’s famous for movie appearances like in Forrest Gump, Back To The Future, and National Lampoon’s Vacation.

Best time to go: Winter!! They close at 5 pm all year round, and you want to take advantage of that golden hour time during wintertime!

 

Tips for Taking Great Photos in Phoenix:

  • Time of day: Shoot during the golden hour (one hour after sunrise and one hour before sunset) for the best lighting conditions.
  • Lighting: Make sure to adjust your camera settings for the bright, sunny conditions in Phoenix.
  • Composition: Experiment with different angles and perspectives to capture unique shots.
  • Equipment: Bring a tripod, polarizing filter, and wide-angle lens for landscape photography.

 

Arizona offers some of the most stunning photography locations, from desert landscapes to urban settings. Whether you’re a professional photographer or just love taking pictures, Phoenix and its surrounding areas have plenty to offer. So grab your camera and explore these top photography locations in Phoenix and Arizona.

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