Last Updated on June 24, 2023
Las Vegas is known for its neon lights and glitzy casinos, but there’s also a beautiful desert landscape just outside the city limits.
If you’re looking for some stunning desert photography locations, here are a few of the best:
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
Red Rock Canyon is a popular spot for desert photography in Las Vegas. It boasts stunning sandstone canyons, towering cliffs, and dramatic arches, offering diverse natural formations to capture with your camera.
For photography enthusiasts, Red Rock Canyon provides abundant opportunities. The contrasting colors of the red rocks against the clear blue sky create visually striking landscapes. The changing light throughout the day also offers different moods and atmospheres for your photographs.
To reach Red Rock Canyon from Las Vegas, take West Charleston Boulevard and head west towards the Red Rock Canyon Visitor Center. An entrance fee is required, and you’ll find several scenic viewpoints, hiking trails, and pull-off areas to pause and capture the desert’s beauty.
Seven Magic Mountains
Seven Magic Mountains is a unique art installation located just outside of Las Vegas. It features seven towers made of stacked boulders, each painted in bright and vibrant colors.
For desert photography, Seven Magic Mountains presents a striking contrast between the neon-colored towers and the surrounding desert landscape. It provides a whimsical and surreal setting for creative and artistic shots.
To reach Seven Magic Mountains from Las Vegas, drive south on I-15 and take exit 25 towards Sloan Road. Follow the signs to the art installation.
Keep in mind that the site can get crowded, so consider visiting during quieter times for better photo opportunities.
Valley of Fire State Park
Valley of Fire State Park is renowned for its colorful sandstone formations, ancient petroglyphs, and stunning desert scenery. It offers abundant possibilities for capturing the natural beauty of the desert.
For desert photography, Valley of Fire provides incredible backdrops with its vibrant red sandstone formations. The interplay of light and shadow on the sculpted rocks creates a dynamic and visually appealing landscape. Additionally, the park’s petroglyphs offer glimpses into the area’s ancient history.
To reach Valley of Fire State Park from Las Vegas, take I-15 northbound and exit onto NV-169 East. Follow the signs to the park entrance.
Once inside, you’ll discover numerous viewpoints, hiking trails, and scenic areas to explore and photograph the park’s unique features.
Lake Mead National Recreation Area
Lake Mead is a stunning reservoir located near Las Vegas, surrounded by desert landscapes and picturesque mountain ranges. It provides an excellent setting for desert photography with its combination of water, mountains, and desert.
For desert photography at Lake Mead, you can capture breathtaking sunsets over the water, reflections, and the play of light on the surrounding landscape. The vastness of the lake and the contrasting elements offer endless possibilities for creative compositions.
To reach Lake Mead from Las Vegas, take US-93 South and follow the signs to the various access points and marinas around the lake.
You’ll encounter multiple viewpoints and scenic spots along the shoreline where you can set up your gear and capture the area’s beauty.
Mojave National Preserve
Mojave National Preserve is the largest national preserve in the contiguous United States, featuring diverse desert landscapes including sand dunes, salt flats, and Joshua tree forests. It provides a captivating environment for desert photography.
For desert photography in Mojave National Preserve, you can capture the vastness and solitude of the desert. The preserve offers expansive vistas, unique geological formations, and the opportunity to document the beauty of Joshua trees, all of which make for captivating photographs.
To explore Mojave National Preserve, you can access various areas from different highways and roads.
Plan your route and consider visiting during different times of the day to experience the changing light and atmosphere that will enhance your desert photography.
Eldorado Canyon Ghost Town
Eldorado Canyon Ghost Town is located southeast of Las Vegas and offers a rustic and historic setting for photography. This ghost town features abandoned buildings, vintage cars, and picturesque desert surroundings.
For photography enthusiasts, Eldorado Canyon Ghost Town provides an opportunity to capture the essence of the past. The decaying structures and remnants of a bygone era offer a unique backdrop for creative compositions.
To reach Eldorado Canyon Ghost Town from Las Vegas, head southeast on US-93 and follow the signs to the town.
Be sure to respect any private property boundaries and exercise caution while exploring the area.
Nelson Ghost Town
Nelson Ghost Town is situated near Eldorado Canyon and offers a well-preserved western town atmosphere, old mining equipment, and scenic desert landscapes.
For photography at Nelson Ghost Town, you can capture the charm and history of the old west. The authentic buildings, vintage artifacts, and desert surroundings provide ample opportunities for capturing unique and nostalgic shots.
To visit Nelson Ghost Town from Las Vegas, take US-95 southbound and exit onto Nelson Road.
Follow the signs to the ghost town. Please be mindful of any specific regulations or access restrictions in the area.
Spring Mountains National Recreation Area
Located just northwest of Las Vegas, the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area offers a diverse natural environment with forests, alpine meadows, and the majestic Mount Charleston.
It’s a great location for nature and landscape photography.
For photography enthusiasts, the Spring Mountains provide a range of captivating subjects.
The lush forests, vibrant wildflowers, and breathtaking mountain vistas offer endless possibilities for capturing the beauty of nature.
To reach the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area from Las Vegas, take US-95 northbound and exit onto Kyle Canyon Road or Lee Canyon Road, depending on your desired destination within the recreation area.
There are numerous hiking trails, scenic viewpoints, and picnic areas where you can immerse yourself in the natural splendor and capture stunning photographs.
Here are some tips for photographing the Nevada desert:
- Early morning and late afternoon are the best times to shoot. The light is softer and more flattering during these times.
- Use a wide-angle lens to capture the vastness of the desert landscape.
- Experiment with different compositions. The desert is a great place to play with different angles and perspectives.
- Pay attention to the details. The desert is full of interesting textures and patterns.
- Don’t be afraid to get creative. The desert is a unique and challenging environment, so let your imagination run wild.
- Be aware of the weather. The desert can be very hot and dry, so be sure to stay hydrated and wear sunscreen.
- Respect the desert environment. Leave no trace of your presence and be careful not to disturb any wildlife.
- Bring a tripod. This will help you keep your camera steady, especially if you’re shooting in low light.
- Use a filter. A polarizing filter can help to reduce glare and improve the contrast in your images.
- Be patient. The desert can be a challenging place to photograph, but it’s also a very rewarding one. With a little patience and creativity, you’ll be able to capture some amazing images.
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