Scottsdale, Arizona, is the perfect getaway for outdoor enthusiasts because it has a never-ending list of hiking trails, mountains, ⛰ and preserves to visit. 🦜 All of these also offer great opportunities for photo sessions!
Not only is there an abundance of fun things to do and beautiful scenery to see here, but Scottsdale is only a 25-minute drive from the Phoenix area. Also close by are the Southwest Arizona cities of Tempe, Chandler, Mesa, Glendale, and ASU. After exploring Scottsdale, make sure to visit the pizzerias and breakfast bistros of Downtown Phoenix or road trip to places like Desert Breeze Park in Candler.
Read below to discover the top 10 best places to take photos in Scottsdale and Phoenix, according to our local Flytographers! 📸
Photo: Sarah in Scottsdale for Flytographer. Eugenia and their partner capture memories at Papago Park in Scottsdale with a couple photoshoot.
1. Papago Park
Located in Phoenix and Tempe, Papago Park is a “designated Point of Pride” for Arizona. The stunning desert landscape dotted with its signature red sandstone, saguaro cacti, 🌵 Hole-in-the-Rock monument, and bright blue lagoon of water make it the ultimate photoshoot location, especially for family photos. ✨
Explore the breathtaking botanical garden 🌸 and hike around the red rocks to enjoy the view of the entire park. When you’re done wandering around the park, don’t forget to check out Governor Hunt’s Tomb, a white pyramid constructed in memory of Arizona’s first governor.
Photo: Larissa in Scottsdale for Flytographer. Michelle and their partner celebrate their anniversary in Scottsdale with a couple photoshoot.
2. Desert Botanical Garden
Home to thousands of cacti, wildflowers, and trees, 🌳Desert Botanical Garden is a 140-acre garden inside Papago Park that proves there is more to the desert than tumbleweeds and dirt. Explore the fantastic garden trails that take approx 2 hours to complete and don’t forget to stop along the way for a photo shoot. This is a great photo spot for engagement photos, 💍 family photos, or selfies with the bright and vibrant flowers behind you.
Not only are there gorgeous sights to see at this botanical garden, but there are family-friendly events, such as Music in the Garden 🎶 and Dog Days at the Garden. You can easily dedicate a whole day to this must-see location!
3. Riparian Preserve
Venture over to the town of Gilbert, Arizona and check out the Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch. The preserve was created to protect valuable wildlife🦎 and is an important educational attraction to check out. See everything from birds to fish, and if you have kids, it will surely become one of their favourite memories of the trip!
Riparian Preserve is an absolutely stunning area and is close to Downtown Gilbert. When you’re done taking in the preserve, we recommend wandering over to the downtown core, known by the locals as the Heritage District. It’s a lively centre that’s an excellent spot for photos or eating. 🍽 Gilbert is known for its wide array of delicious restaurants. Some well-known ones are Joe’s Real BBQ, the perfect modern restaurant for a hungry family, and The Farmhouse, which is beloved for its comfort breakfast food. 🥞
Photo: Bekki in Scottsdale for Flytographer. Anne and their family capture memories in Scottsdale with a family photoshoot.
4. Horseshoe Loop
For hikers and lovers of the outdoors, Horsehoe Loop needs to be added to your Phoenix itinerary. Only a 25-minute drive 🚗 from the heart of Scottsdale, it is a 2.7 km loop lined with colourful wildflowers and unique cacti.
This 30-minute hike takes you to many picturesque areas, especially when it’s sunrise or sunset 🌅 . You won’t be able to resist having some pics snapped of you and your friends or family out here.
Don’t worry if you’re not a skilled hiker or have kids coming with you. Horseshoe Loop is ideal for all skill levels, making it a great experience for the whole family.
Photo: Stephanie in Scottsdale for Flytographer. Michelle and their partner celebrate their trip to Scottsdale with a couple photoshoot.
5. Downtown Scottsdale
Downtown Scottsdale, or also known as Old Town Scottsdale, is a must-visit for any Phoenix tourist. It’s a unique neighbourhood of the city full of urban public art 🎨 and street art. Every corner you turn while exploring this cool area will be decorated with colourful murals and interesting art monuments. 🖌
During the day, the streets are made up of world-famous art galleries, mouth-watering restaurants, and local shops. But when the sun sets, Old Town erupts with vibrant nightlife. 🎆
There are plenty of hotels down here too, so if you want to really drink in everything Old Town has to offer, you can stay right in the middle of the excitement!
Photo: Whitney in Scottsdale for Flytograher. Portia and their friend capture memories together in Downtown Scottsdale with a friends photoshoot.
6. Camelback Mountain
This is a mountain that got its name for its camelback-like 🐪 shape and is a hotspot for tourists and locals. Find Cholla Trail and Echo Canyon Trail here which are very challenging hikes (so if you are a beginner, Horsehoe Loop will be a more appealing option).
Located only 15 minutes from Scottsdale, Camelback Mountain has plenty of attractive photo opportunities with its exposed rock and cacti-infused backgrounds, 🌵as well as Arizona wildlife. Both trails lead to the very top of the mountain, 🏔 where you can take in the mesmerizing view of Scottsdale and snap a few pics while you’re at it.
If you love to hike, you cannot visit Phoenix without checking out this beloved mountain.
Photo: Stephanie in Scottsdale for Flytographer. Kristin and their family capture memories together at Camelback Mountain with a family photoshoot.
7. South Mountain & Scorpion Gulch
South Mountain is a favourite place to hike and bike around and has popular attractions like Scorpion Gulch and Dobbins Lookout.
Scorpion Gulch is a cobblestone abandoned business structure in South Mountain that operated as a bar in the 1970s. 🍻 The classic desert background surrounding it, along with the old stone walls of the bar, are now used as a go-to photoshoot location for family, couples, engagement, and wedding photos. 👰🏽♀️
If you decide to explore the South Mountain Park and Preserve, we suggest horseback riding 🐎 or walking the scenic trails all the way to Dobbins Lookout, which serves gorgeous panoramic views of the desert. It’s another special setting for photos that won’t disappoint!
Photo: Larissa in Scottsdale for Flytographer. Sheena and their partner celebrate their babymoon in Scottsdale with a maternity photoshoot.
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8. Gateway Trailhead
Gateway Trailhead is part of the Sonoran Desert Preserve, home to another fantastic horseback riding, biking, and climbing area. 🧗🏼♀️
Gateway Trailhead is one of many trailheads at the preserve. It’s a 2-3 hour journey through the Scottsdale desert landscape of rocky terrain and saguaro cacti. 🌵 It’s perfect for all ages too, so if you need to push a stroller on the walk or want your kids to be able to wander around freely, this is the ideal option! 👌🏼
Photo: Larissa in Scottsdale for Flytographer. Eleni and their family capture memories in Scottsdale at the Gateway Trailhead on a family photoshoot.
9. Bell & Thompson Peak
Just outside Fountain Hills and a 30-minute drive outside Scottsdale, are Bell and Thompson Peak, another pair of hikes with captivating desert scenery. 😍 Like the trails at Camelback Mountain, these hikes to Bell and Thompson Peak are not for the inexperienced hiker. They are long and stretch over very rocky terrain. ⛰
The top view is worth the struggle, though! If you hike often, venture to the top of these peaks for sunrise, sunset, 🌄 or just whenever fits your schedule best. It’s the ultimate setting for photos, with Scottsdale stretching out below you. 📸
Photo: Stephanie in Scottsdale for Flytographer. Karolina and their partner capture memories in Scottsdale with a couple photoshoot.
10. Lost Dutchman State Park
Lost Dutchman State Park is a massive 320-acre park that is a 40-minute drive away from Scottsdale. It’s also located right by the Superstition Mountains. ⛰ This famous mountain range is part of a fascinating story about a lost gold mine somewhere in this vast expanse of red rock formations and dirt.
Between the canyons of the Superstition and Mazatzal Mountains flows the Salt River. 🏞 This river gets its name from its origin of salt banks that start in Mesa, which is another hotspot for tourists. Note that most locals recommend not swimming in it, though!
Lost Dutchman State Park is the perfect area to spend the day or several days. There’s camping 🏕 and hiking for all levels of difficulty. Maybe even try hunting for that hidden gold mine while you’re here! 😉
Photo: Stephanie in Scottsdale for Flytographer. Laura and their partner celebrate their trip to Scottsdale with a couple photoshoot.
Capturing memories in Scottsdale
Phoenix is the best place for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts who love seeing the beauty of nature, especially the desert landscape. Book a shoot with a local Flytographer to capture those sweet desert memories! 📸
“Bekki was absolutely amazing to work with! She captured our excitement for our engagement in every photo. We had so much fun! She was fun to work with and understood our vision for our photos perfectly. These photos and the memories will be cherished forever. I highly recommend her!”
“I wish I could give Larissa more than 5 stars – she was truly amazing! SO easy to work with and the pictures turned out even better than I could have imagined. I am super picky with photos and there were none that I did not like! So pleased with her and her work.”
“Larissa was absolutely amazing. She recommended a beautiful location based on our preferences, and a good time of day to catch perfect lighting. Being a mother herself, she was incredibly patient with our 2 year old son, which made for such a positive experience. The photos ended up surpassing our expectations. Thank you Larissa!”