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AAA Arizona: Best photo ops around Arizona

Posted at 4:48 AM, Jan 15, 2018

Arizona’s raw beauty makes it one of the most photogenic states in the country—just ask Alfred Hitchcock, Ridley Scott, and the Coen brothers, who have all shot films right here in the Grand Canyon State.

If you’d like to capture Arizona’s beauty on-camera, AAA’s Via blog has some suggestions on where—and how—to get great shots.

Northern Exposure

Arizona is home to more than 20 national parks and monuments, all full of gorgeous scenery. You can make like a Hollywood director and take pictures in Monument Valley, a sweeping landscape where The Lone Ranger and The Searchers were set. Or head southeast to Canyon de Chelly, where you can take a hike or Jeep tour to see ancient ruins built high in a sandstone cliff.

If you go to the Grand Canyon, consider skipping the popular South Rim and heading for the North Rim—which sees only one-tenth as many visitors. Both Horseshoe Bend, a dramatic U-turn in the river, and Toroweap, a 3,000-foot overlook, are camera-worthy. No matter where you look, you’ll see jaw-dropping scenery.

Scenic Sedona

Whether you’re eager to hit a trail or soak in a spa, there’s a place to do it in Sedona. But regardless of why you’re coming, don’t forget your camera. Crescent Moon Picnic Site offers stellar views of iconic Cathedral Rock, while a hike up Airport Mesa will earn you a 360-degree panorama of Red Rock Country. 

To see all of the crimson pinnacles, buttes, and mesas from a different perspective, take a hot air balloon ride, and try your hand at photographing from above.

Local Color

Walk into Tucson’s Barrio Viejo—“old quarter”—and you’ll feel like you’ve entered a time capsule. The barrio and El Presidio neighborhoods are home to the largest group of 19th century buildings in the US, and many still have their original doors. The AAA Via Blog recommends exploring the neighborhood on foot, so you won’t miss a single hand-painted mural.

You’ll find a totally different kind of local color in Holbrook, a town on Old Route 66, on the way to the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest. Here, bright-colored dinosaurs overlook the rock shop, and the famous Wigwam Motel teepees still greet guests.

Quick Tips 

Sunrise and sunset are excellent times to take photos. A golden sunrise illuminates the scene you’re photographing, and sunsets are especially beautiful after a storm.

Many people think that bright, sunny weather is best for photography, but according to the AAA Via Blog, the opposite is true. A sky full of billowing clouds will provide more color in your shots.

For more photo tips and more on the best photo ops in Arizona, go to