We’re lucky to say that our home state of Colorado has some of the most jaw-dropping scenery in the country. From awe-inspiring mountain peaks dusted with spring snow to valleys filled with vibrant leaves in the fall, there’s hardly an unphotogenic moment in Colorado.
Whether you’re a landscape photographer who adores the challenge of capturing scenic vistas throughout a trip, or a long exposure lover enjoying the certified dark spots listed, or even a budding photographer that enjoys taking photos on your iPhone, the incredible abundance of waterfalls, rivers, vistas, and peaks that flow throughout Colorado are sure to satisfy.
But the abundance of choices can be overwhelming, especially if you’re only visiting for a few days or a week. That’s why we’ve decided to make it even easier for out-of-staters to find the best camera-friendly locations by curating a list of our favorite scenic spots around the state.
From Garden of the Gods to Bridal Veil Falls and more, we’ve put together the perfect road-trip itinerary for hitting the most iconic must-see spots to photograph around Colorado. And not only do we share our favorite photography pitstops, but we’re also including tips on the best vantage points for photos that’ll turn out so beautiful, they’ll be begging for a frame when you get home.
Here are our top ten most photogenic spots around Colorado:
1. Bridal Veil Falls
Best For: Landscape and Long Exposure
Adventurers have flocked to the small town of Telluride for decades to experience the natural beauty of Bridal Veil Falls. As the photo above makes clear, the view is well worth the hike.
The trail that leads to this natural wonder is almost five miles long and is moderately rated. It can be accessed by car (preferably 4WD), mountain bike, or on foot, but be warned that this is a road and will be used predominantly by motor vehicles. But if you’re ready for a bit of a challenge, the view from Bridal Veil Falls Trail is a photographer’s dream!
The view from the multi-purpose trail has incredible spots for up-close portrait sessions and detailed landscape shots. As you approach the falls, you can capture a landscape of the waterfall framed by the mountain valley and a house sits above the falls itself.
The house you’ll see at the top of Bridal Veil Falls is actually Smuggler-Union Hydroelectric Power Plant, also known as the Bridal Veil Powerhouse. Perched on the edge of the 400-foot cliff, this electric power generation plant and residence not only overlooks the Town of Telluride but also generates power for hundreds of its homes.
If you’re a long-exposure buff, get ready to rejoice at the sight of the enormous cascading waterfall at the end of the trail and two more waterfalls along the trail.
In the winter months, Bridal Veil Falls completely freezes over, making for a uniquely beautiful experience. Who knows, you might even catch an ice climber or two in your shot!
2. Black Canyon of The Gunnison National Park
Best For: Milky Way & Night shots
With over 20 scenic overlooks inside Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, photographers of all types are bound to experience and capture the canyon’s grandeur.
Photographers seeking to discover the mysterious beauty of the park only need to venture about two miles through Warner Point Nature Trail for the best views in the area.
This breathtaking hike leads to the iconic overlook of Gunnison River and the Black Canyon, behind the South Rim Visitors Center. Landscape photographers can revel in capturing the fine details of the canyon from this impressive overlook.
And for more casual iPhonographers, you won’t be disappointed by the unique backdrop that Black Canyon of the Gunnison offers for your next #vanlife Instagram post.
Fun fact: In 2015, the International Dark Sky Park Association declared this park a “dark sky park.” Millions of photographers of varying levels flock to this site to capture the stars and Milky Way!
3. Great Sand Dunes National Park
Best For: Landscape & dark sky photography
Even the entrance of the Great Sand Dunes National Park is a photographer’s dream — the road that leads to this park features a contrasting landscape that will delight landscape lovers for hours.
The white peaks of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains can be seen at the start of your journey into the park, contrasting sharply against the deep brown dunes.
Dunefields offer abstract photographers the opportunity to capture unique shadows and mounds, with the added benefit of possible wildlife sightings to enhance the shot.
This is another great location for night-time photography and Milky Way shots. Just last year, Great Sand Dunes was certified as an International Dark Sky Park by the International Dark-Sky Association!
4. Maroon Bells
Best For: Landscape photography
If you are a fan of landscape photography, you’ve likely dreamed of photographing the iconic Maroon Bells. Close to Aspen, this natural wonder has captured the hearts of photographers all over the world.
Thousands of visitors flock to Aspen to take the shuttle in the summer to see and experience these expansive views.
Once you arrive at the site, you have the option of taking pictures of the landscape as is or embarking on a hike through the wilderness area for more secluded and picturesque shots.
Some of our favorite photography trails include Maroon Lake Trail (1.2 miles), Crater Lake Trail for more experienced hikers (3.8 miles round trip), or Scenic Loop Trail (1.9 miles of easier terrain).
Each trail offers a different perspective and vantage point, and all are excellent areas for capturing photos that will make a mighty mantelpiece back home.
Best For: Portrait and landscape
Just like Maroon Bells, chances are you’ve seen someone posing in front of the infamous Flatirons in Boulder. These natural wonders are especially fantastic to behold at sunrise and sunset, when either the rising sun illuminates the massive rock faces or the setting sun back-lights them.
Sunrise at the Flatirons is usually between 5:45 – 6:30 am Mountain Time from March – November, and winter months typically see the first rays of sun around 6:45 – 7:30 am. Sunset in Boulder begins around 4:30 – 5:00 pm in the winter months, and March’s daylight savings time changes the sunset times to 7:00 pm and late summer months (June-September) can see late sunsets ranging from 8:00 – 9:00 pm.
Photographers seeking a short hike (less than 0.5 miles) to their photo spot will be thrilled to visit Chautauqua Park and capture the colorful wildflowers scattered around the feet of the unique Flatiron rock formations.
Intermediate hikers & photographers will revel in the gorgeous landscape shots that are accessible by hiking Gregory Canyon via the Range View and Flagstaff Trail Loop, a moderately rated 3.6-mile hike. And adrenaline-motivated photographers can enjoy the long, arduous hike to the top of Bear Peak (5.7-mile round trip), where you can see the entire Front Range atop a steep, rocky peak. Watch your footing!
6. Garden of the Gods Park
Best For: Landscape and Portrait
While some photography spots throughout Colorado aren’t easily accessible, Garden of the Gods is quite the opposite. This is easily the most walker-friendly park, with paved trails that lead around the ancient, colorful rock formations. The Perkins Central Garden Trail is wheelchair accessible as it is mostly flat and has a concrete surface for easy maneuvering.
While there are 15 miles of trails along the way, the Central Garden Trail is easily the most accessible and provides views of the enormous rocks.
Garden of the Gods has some of the most unique rock formations in the state. The jagged peaks and colors make for the perfect backdrop for a head-shot, or for a landscape photograph that’ll blow your friends away.
This park is also a certified “Dark Sky Park” because of the incredible darkness in the area, which will delight any astrophotographer.
A tip for beginner photographers: Try to find high ground where you can take a better picture of the iconic rock formations throughout the park.
7. Hanging Lake
Best For: Landscape and long exposure (Permit Required)
Located in the lush canyon of the White River National Forest, Hanging Lake is one of the most exclusive, mind-blowing locations for outdoor photography in Colorado.
The 3-mile backcountry trail leading to the travertine geological formation is one of the only hikes that requires a permit and significant experience in the backcountry due to the steep and rocky nature of the trail.
Cascading waterfalls are framed by the fertile, green landscape of Glenwood Canyon near this must-see photography spot. Despite the $12 fee and rigorous nature of the hike, the picture above proves this is a must-see for every photographer that comes to Colorado.
8. The Crystal Mill
Best For: Landscape and long exposure
Visitors in the Carbondale area that crave long nature walks surrounded by mountain scenery will adore the 9-mile hike to the Crystal Mill — a historic, abandoned mill in the middle of the green Colorado forests.
Be warned: The road to this photographic spot is rugged and requires a vehicle with high clearance and 4×4.
Landscape photographers will enjoy the challenge of properly framing and photographing the mill, while long exposure lovers will adore capturing the flowing river that frames shots of the mill itself.
9. Rocky Mountain National Park
Best For: All Types of Photography!
Rocky Mountain National Park needs no introduction, as it is one of the most popular spots for landscape, wildlife, and adventure photography in Colorado.
Hikers and photographers looking for a gentle, short hike will enjoy the sights of Bear Lake, located close to the entrance of the park and just a walking distance from the parking lot (perfect for photographers with heaps of heavy gear).
Adams Falls is another short approach hike that will leave any landscape/long exposure-lover speechless. Adams Falls features a short hike (1 mile) via the East Inlet Trailhead and offers beautiful views of cascading waterfalls and approaching wildlife.
Although we recommend venturing to Adams Falls and Bear Lake, the most popular hike that you can’t miss is the Emerald Lake Trail (3.1-mile hike). This heavily trafficked trail is moderately rated and features views of three different lakes that exude beauty.
Emerald Lake is a popular spot to rest and take photos of the vast mountain lake that sits below beautiful peaks.
As with many other Colorado parks, Rocky Mountain National Park is an excellent spot for astrophotographers as summer nights are usually clear and most camera sensors can capture the Milky Way around 2-4 am.
10. Durango Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad
Best For: Landscape and Street
Last but not least on Overland Discovery’s recommended photography spots around Colorado is the Durango Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad.
Located in the southern town of Durango, this train is one of the hidden photography gems in Colorado. The historic train has been running since 1882 between the mountain towns of Durango and Silverton and is a must-see for photographers.
You can capture the beautiful scenery in the mountain valley as the train passes through from various vantage points located around the tracks. The scenery that surrounds the train tracks provides a stunning, mountainous backdrop. It’s difficult to capture a bad shot of this steam engine!
Lights, Cameras, Adventures!
Itching to capture some amazing shots of Colorado this year? Worried about not having the right vehicle to get you there?
Look no further than our lineup of adventure-ready vehicles to get you to the most mind-blowing photography spots around Colorado.
Our “hotels on wheels” can function as your home and photography hub for your journey off the beaten path. Our rentals include everything from camping gear, bedding, and charging ports for all of your gear and batteries!