Southwest Monsoon: Grand Canyon Country

Each year the summer monsoon brings with it the return of moisture to the high desert and rocky canyons of northern Arizona. During this time photogenic thunderstorms abound as they stretch across the region firing off localized sheets of rain, lighting and thunder.

Join Backcountry Journeys for an incredible seven day lodge-based photography tour of northern Arizona’s Grand Canyon country during the summer monsoon. This landscape photography oriented expedition will put you and your lens in front of the most iconic and spectacular locations Grand Canyon country has to offer, at a time when it is at its most electric and photogenic best.

Each day thunderstorms build towering cumulus clouds as they build, eventually bursting, sending sweeping rains, wind and dust across the desert floor. These storms typically have high bases which can create long and forking bolts of lightning to occur. For photographers, these storms are truly the best in the world.

Our first day will take us to one of the most famous landscapes in the entire desert Southwest, Monument Valley. Here buttes, mesas and other rock features dot the landscape in a most memorable and photogenic manner. This location is at the top of every landscape photographer’s list.

The next two days of this photography tour will be spent visiting locations around Page, Arizona. Famed locations like Horseshoe Bend and Lake Powell will be the foreground for compositions that’ll include dazzling desert storms and magnificent skies. We’ll time a visit to Antelope Canyon perfectly so the sensual light that peaks through the cracks of this slot canyon will provide us a photographic experience unlike any in the world.

Moving on from Page we will travel by vehicle to the Grand Canyon’s North Rim where we’ll spend the remainder of the trip in front of over 525 million years of colorful sedimentary rock that have been exposed by erosion. Your guide has worked in the region for years, and is well versed in it’s natural and cultural history. Thunderstorms are sure to be firing off with regularity as we’ve timed this photo tour to take place during peak Monsoon season. The Grand Canyon is one of the seven natural wonders of the world, and will live up to its reputation as one of the most beautiful and awe inspiring places on the planet.

Aside from the fun you’ll experience with your fellow photographers you’ll leave this trip with a new understanding of the rich natural and cultural history, in addition to a highly expanded portfolio of excellent images and a wealth of memories. Join us today for the trip of a lifetime through Grand Canyon Country.

Please note: This is a “standard” tour and while not technically a ‘hiker’ trip there are a few very short hikes required that can and will test folks who are not normally active or used to the elevation. For Horseshoe Bend in particular participants will need to be able to hike uphill through sandy and uneven rocky terrain, with no handrails or other aids, in more than likely hot and exposed conditions. 

Highlights

  • Best Season for dramatic skies & lightning
  • Grand Canyon’s North Rim
  • Antelope Canyon
  • Horseshoe Bend
  • Monument Valley & the Mittens
  • Small Groups
  • Great lodging included
  • Top-notch meals
  • Learn from & shoot alongside a seasoned pro

Southwest Monsoon: Grand Canyon Country

7 Days

Price: from $3695 double occupancy

+$550 single occupancy

Deposit: $1000

Fitness Level: Easy. Standard Trip with light walks

Meals: Most meals included (see itinerary)

Lodging: 6 nights lodging

Fly In/Out: Flagstaff, Arizona

Open Daily: 6am-6pm MST

928.478.1521


*trip difficulty ratings

*Backcountry Journeys is an Authorized Permittee of the National Park Service

Dates & Pricing

The earlier you book, the more choices you’ll have on dates and you’ll lock-in our lowest prices! Plus you can always change your mind – you won’t be charged to switch to a different trip before your final payment is due!

Trip Details

Physical Requirements 
All participants must be in good physical condition and have the ability to walk a day-pack.

Group Size
We keep groups small to maximize your one on one time with the guide / instructor.

Accommodation
Our first night will be in Flagstaff, Arizona and then we will be staying on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley and in Page, Arizona.

Meals
Most meals are included during the trip dates and we typically eat at park lodges in the evening as well as a hand picked local restaurants. We often do snacks on the trail and then return for a late breakfast during photography trips as we are often out early to capture the morning light.

Weather
Expect warm days with cooler mornings and nights. Mornings are normally clear with Monsoon storms rolling in during the afternoon. Remember some of the best photographs are made before, during and immediately after a storm cycle. There is no such thing as bad weather just poor layering and gear choices – please plan accordingly for rain & stormy weather! For more info on what to bring please email or call us.

Price Includes
Most Meals, ground transportation to/from and within Grand Canyon National Park, accommodation during the trip dates, professional photography instruction, medically certified wilderness guide.

Price Does Not Include
Airfare, alcoholic beverages, accommodations before or after the trip dates, guide & staff gratuities

Departure City
Flagstaff, Arizona

Itinerary

Please note: This is a “standard” tour and while not technically a ‘hiker’ trip there are a few very short hikes required that can and will test folks who are not normally active or used to the elevation. For Horseshoe Bend in particular participants will need to be able to hike uphill through sandy and uneven rocky terrain, with no handrails or other aids, in more than likely hot and exposed conditions. 

Most meals included – (B,L,D) denotes Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner


Day 1 (Travel Day) (D)

Arrive in Flagstaff, Arizona, by 6 pm for an orientation and welcome dinner.

Day 2 (B,L,D)

We’ll make our way North and East to Monument Valley, located near the Arizona / Utah border and part of the Navajo Nation. Monument Valley has been seen in many movies and photographs, and really is one of the truly iconic places in the American Southwest. The magnificent landscape is dotted with eye-pleasing sandstone mesas, buttes and other curious rock features. Your guide will take you to the perfect location in order to capture the setting sun over this most famous of western landscapes.

Day 3 (B,L,D)

We’ll make sure to capture Monument Valley again this morning before relocating a few hours down the road to Page, Arizona, where we’ll spend the next two nights of this trip. We’ll check in to our comfy hotel and get prepared for an evening shoot from an exceptional viewpoint overlooking glassy, Lake Powell. This reservoir is world-famous for its massive and curious shoreline as well as its colorful sandstone rock formations. We’ll be shooting from a location not well known to most visitors.

Day 4 (B,D)

This morning we’ll head to Antelope Canyon for the coveted opportunity to photograph this fantastic and hugely famous slot canyon. In the afternoon we’ll return to our hotel in order to avoid the heat of the day. Here we’ll spend time working on photographic techniques before taking a midday break before a delicious dinner followed by a gorgeous sunset shot at Horseshoe Bend.

Day 5 (B,L,D)

This morning we will check out of our Page accommodations and head towards the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, catching a morning shot along the way. We’ll have a roughly two to three hour drive, with sights and photo opportunities along the way, before checking in to our rustic cabins that sit just a stone’s throw from the Canyon’s rim! The North Rim Lodge, built in 1936, is designated as a National Historic Landmark and offers a beautiful patio that is perched on the rim of the Canyon, perfect for viewing, relaxing, and/or photographing from. After a delicious dinner we’ll make a short drive to Cape Royal, which offers the widest panorama of any viewpoint at Grand Canyon. After an amazing sunset shot, we’ll head back to our cozy cabins nestled in the cool higher elevation pines of the north side of the Grand Canyon.

Day 6 (B,D)

We’ll awake early again this morning to photograph a glorious sunrise at Point Imperial. At 8,803 feet above sea-level, Point Imperial is the highest overlook on this side of the Canyon offering views of Marble Canyon, Mt. Hayden, the Little Colorado River Gorge as well as the Painted Desert of Navajo Nation on the horizon. Your guide will go over some of the intricacies of capturing desert sunrise shots, and then we’ll head in for a leisurely breakfast at the lodge.

As weather can be unpredictable, we’ll want to remain a bit flexible on this afternoon, and also throughout this trip as to what we’ll do and when so that we have to ability to head “wherever the action might be.”

Our final evening shoot of the tour will take us to the remote, and beautiful, Point Sublime. After a nice drive through a forest thick with Ponderosa, Fir and Aspen, we’ll be rewarded with an inspirational vantage point of Grand Canyon.

Day 7 (B)

On our final morning together we’ll have an option to shoot sunrise from either our lodge patio, or down a short trail towards Bright Angel Point. After our last breakfast as a group, we’ll make the drive through the desert and back to Flagstaff, complete with amazing memories and many wonderful images of our time in Grand Canyon Country.

Please note that the exact sequence of the itineraries on all photography trips will be based on weather and lighting conditions. The goal on these trips is to make sure we are at the right place at the right time for the perfect light on our subjects. Also, itineraries can change for a variety of other circumstances including floods, forest fires, national park closures, road closures and more. Due to the nature of wildlife and nature photography we do not guarantee any specific sightings or specific compositions regarding wildlife or natural phenomena. 

“Wonderful trip to a beautiful place! This is my third Backcountry Journeys trip and each trip is better than the last. This was the first trip I took with Matt and Chris and they were terrific. Also, this a new format – non hiker – which worked out great. I missed nothing in the opportunities to take fabulous photos.”

Lucy KMassachusetts

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