Oak Creek Canyon

Oak Creek Canyon #1

Photo Spot Summary

Country: United States

Category: Wildlife

State: Arizona

City: Sedona

GPS Latitude: 34.990494

GPS Longitude: -111.741882


All of these photos were taken on the West Fork of the Oak Creek Canyon Trail with the trail head/parking lot on Shady Ln. off of Route 89A. Coming north from Sedona along route 89A, just before the curving road leading to Flagstaff, on your left (West) side of the road a small entrance marks the entrance to the west fork. This parking lot is more easily spotted while heading south. Just before the lot a small inconspicuous "Westfork Hiking" sign will be on the right side of the road.

Photo Spot Details

The marked trail is a 6.4 mile round trip hike (3.2 miles each direction). The trail is a gorgeous walk through forests, broken up by crossing shallow mountain streams, and spotting occasional wildlife. While the entire walk is easy if you carry just a small bag with water/food, due to its length carrying a full array of lenses and other gear is moderately strenuous depending on how much you carry with you. I traveled here early April (10-14th) and the weather was exceptional. The skies were clear, the fresh bright green of new vegetation was sprouting up everywhere and the sun while hot at times was perfect in the shaded portions of the trail. The air temperature this time of year was around 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

Oak Creek Canyon #2
Shot with 24mm f/1.4 @ f/8.0, ISO 64, 1/30th sec shot on tripod with 0.3 and 0.6 (1 and 2 stop) ND graduated filters, and circular polarizing filter

Due to the great variety of subjects on this trail I carried a number of lenses which made the trek more difficult but I found I used three focal lengths the most frequently. These were my wide angle lens (24mm), normal (50mm) and telephoto with teleconverter (300mm + 1.4x TC).

Trails End 24mm f/1.4 @ f/8.0, ISO 64, 1/30th sec. On a tripod with a 0.6 soft ND grad and CPL

I went during mid-day which has very unflattering light especially for a canyon where one wall may be bright sunlight and the opposite wall in deep shadow but photo opportunities despite these limitations were abundant and paying attention to your surroundings helped me find a nice scene to capture.

Fishing Success! Heron with fish. 300mm f/4 + 1.4x TC @ 420mm f/8.0, ISO 560, 1/1000 handheld.

Gear list:

  • Interchangable lens camera
  • Wide angle lens (24mm or wider)
  • Telephoto lens (200mm or longer)
  • Sturdy tripod
  • Circular polarizing filter
  • Graduated neutral density filters (soft transition preferable)
  • Filter kit (I use Lee filters which I love)

Photo Spot Tips:
– Even for bright daylight, after locking focus, setting my CPL and ND filters, even at just f/8 some shots had to be shot relatively slow (1/30th sec) so I set every shot to mirror lock up with a shutter delay.
– Bring nice hiking boots! A nice pair of water proof hiking boots will save your poor feet while carrying a load and will allow you to wade in the shallow water instead of trying to balance potentially thousands of dollars of gear on shifty rocks and logs to cross the streams.
– Bring water and snacks. While the 6.4 miles is not long by most day hike standards, while carrying 20 lbs of gear in my case does work up a sweat and you will need to refuel while on the trail.
– Lastly look high and low while walking. Its easy to get lost on the trail and look ahead at the landscape but the fauna and flora should not be missed.


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Great information. Thank you!

Darby Monro

Good morning
May I thank you for your thoughts and guidance.
We live in Australia, but travel extensively in your country most years.
Being able to sit at the computer in the office and do our research with your help makes our life so much easier. We get the benefit of all your hard work.
Again, my sincere thanks for sharing your work.
Best wishes
Queensland Australia