Hiking with a camera on a red rocks trail makes for a gratifying experience. When I go out to photograph, I relate to the land more deeply and hike more thoughtfully.
Whether it’s a butterfly landing on a wildflower in West Fork or a cloud curling behind Cathedral Rock’s spires at sunset, photographic moments here are bountiful—and unique among Arizona’s scenic landscapes.
In the high desert of Sedona (4,500 ft.) it’s smart to wear a wide-brim hat, sunscreen, and sunglasses. Carry a map, compass, and flashlight: Don’t trust your cell phone to call for help in the canyons.
When you gather things for your daypack, bring plenty of water (one liter minimum), snacks, extra clothing, a small first aid kit, and maybe a lightweight raincoat (depending on season).
As far as camera gear, bring whatever you think you’ll use and want to carry. Wildflowers, butterflies, and lizards are most interesting when they fill the frame, so for these images I bring a macro lens.
For landscapes I usually use a wide-angle lens to include a foreground element for an added sense of depth. You may want a telephoto lens, depending on its weight, for pulling in faraway scenes.