3 Tips for shooting photos at Red Rock Canyon

I love to travel and experience the world, and every time I do, I always learn something new and better for the next trip and I’m happy to share the info. If you have never been to Red Rock Canyon National Park, just outside of Las Vegas, you are missing out on some beautiful landscape Nevada and America has to offer. Its a 13 mile, one-way road, scenic drive, with several pulloffs to park and enjoy; Hikes/Trails, Climbing, Biking, Photography, Camping, Flora/Fauna, and even Off Road Driving.

Travel Tip #1: Park Pass & Park Times

If you are permanently disabled or Active Duty Military you 

Qualify for a free National Parks Pass under Access Pass or Free Annual Pass for U.S. Military. That is a huge savings. Having a National Parks Pass is extremely convenient for visiting multiple national parks. Your pass and ID allow for one vehicle that has the pass holder, and up to three additional adults and unlimited children to get in at no charge. If you believe you qualify for this benefit, CLICK HERE for more information on obtaining a pass for yourself. Even if you do not qualify for the free pass, if you travel to National Parks frequently, this is a hassle free way to ensure you’re entrance into the park. At Red Rock Canyon National Park, there different hours of operations based on the time of year.

November - February: 6 a.m. to 5 p.m.

March: 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.

April - September: 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.

October: 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.

There are also daily peak times and lulls for entering the park. Avoid the peak times if you can or find yourself waiting anywhere from 30 minutes to an 1 hour +. From my experience 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. is the peak time for entering the park. When I went earlier than this I didn’t have to wait at all.

Travel Tip #2: Safety

Desert and mountain life can be fun to explore if you are prepared. But many hikers every year find themselves lost, didn’t expect longer traversing time during hikes, or get injured and aren’t able to make it back to their food, water, or medical supplies left in their vehicle. Here are some basic safety to consider.

  1. Bring sufficient water. In the military we had a basic rule...Hydrate or Die. You need to hydrate two days before, each day consuming about a gallon of water a day. And bring a gallon of water with you on your hike.
  2. Dress in layers and prepare for extreme heat during the Summer days and a drastic drop in temperature as night falls.
  3. Bring Sunblock
  4. There are steep mountain sides and cliffs out there, so watch your step. When walking up or down a mountain, walk so your feet are parallel to the ridgeline. This will allow you to lean towards the mountain side as you ascend or descend and will allow more of your feet to remain in contact with the terrain. 
  5. Always be aware of flash floods and lightning. Lighting can travel up to 25 miles from the storm cloud.
  6. Cell service is intermittent at best out there, so don’t rely on this to communicate with members in your group. Plan ahead and let people know the trails and paths you plan on hiking, as well as estimated times of returns. If something should go wrong this will be the starting point for search and rescue and will increase your odds of survivability.
  7. Wildlife can be intriguing to look at but be careful. The desert is an austere environment, and those plants and animals have adapted to survive. You have everything from jumping cholla, and other cacti, to venomous snakes, spiders, and scorpions. It’s important to not lift up rocks or put your hand on parts of the boulders or shrubs you can’t visually see. If you happen to see a Sidewinder or Mohave Rattlesnake, keep your distance. The normal striking distance of rattlers are ⅓ to ½ its body length, but since they are coiled, judging length can be difficult, so a good rule of thumb is 6 ft. or further.

Travel Tip #3: Photography & Permits

If you are taking photos of family and friends while visiting for personal use, then shoot away! But make sure you aren’t using reflectors, bounce cards, sound booms, or flashes. Now, if you are shooting commercial photography then a permit is required. Permits can range from $50 a day to $3,500 per day depending on certain criteria listed here.

Still photography requires a film permit when one or more of the following situations apply:

  1. Use of models or props which are not part of a site’s natural or cultural resources or administrative facilities are involved.
  2. Family or wedding portraits taken by professional photographers would be considered use of “models” as would products placed at the site.
  3. Props include reflectors, bounce cards, sound booms, or similar equipment.
  4. If such photography takes place at locations where members of the public are generally not allowed.
  5. If it occurs where additional administrative costs are likely.

To get some epic images like this, have a plan, be safe, and go enjoy Red Rock Canyon. If you make your way out there feel free to share your experience with us and we would love to see the beautiful images you capture.