Las Vegas Photo Opportunities

Seize the photo opportunities

NANPA encourages responsible photography in the wild, and the Las Vegas area—home of the 2019 Nature Photography Summit—provides exciting opportunities to shoot. Here are some recommendations from our members in the area.

© Lynn Starnes

Arrow Canyon

About 70 miles north of Las Vegas, Arrow Canyon is great for desert landscapes. Sunrise and sunset are optimal times to photograph. Free admission. The eastern edge of the wilderness area runs through Arrow Canyon, which is confined for about 3 miles between sheer cliffs so tall and close together that sunlight rarely reaches the bottom. The Arrow Range is thick with bighorn sheep, and there are some interesting and unusual petroglyphs along Pahranagat Wash and in Arrow Canyon. More information:

Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge

610 Spring Meadows Rd., Amargosa Valley, NV 89020. You’ll find: birds, flowers/plants, landscapes, water, wildlife including pupfish and 27 endemic species, and wetlands. Best time to shoot is in the morning. This has the largest remaining oasis in the Mojave Desert.
More information:

Clark County Wetlands Park

Just about 9 miles from the Summit hotel is a great urban wetlands park where you can walk through the cottonwood trees to a number of streams and ponds to photograph a variety of bird species including great blue herons and egrets. You may even spot a beaver or two! The park’s 210-acre Nature Preserve has miles of paved and unpaved trails for your photography adventure. The park is open from dawn to dusk daily. More information:

Desert National Wildlife Refuge

16001 Corn Creek Rd., Las Vegas, NV 89124. You’ll find: birds, flowers/plants, landscapes, wildlife (in particular desert bighorn sheep). Watch for signs.  Easy to miss. Spring wildflowers are beautiful. Great trails. More information:

Lake Mead National Recreation Area

601 Nevada Way, Boulder City, NV 89005. About 70 miles north of Las Vegas, Lake Mead is great for desert landscapes. Sunrise and sunset are optimal times to photograph. Free admission. More information:

Mt. Charleston/Spring Mountains National Recreation Area

2525 Kyle Canyon Rd., Las Vegas, NV 89124. Approximately 45 minute drive from Las Vegas, the Spring Mountains are considered a “sky island” which creates an oasis environment for cooler weather, high elevation species to thrive in the middle of the Mojave Desert. Over 25 endemic plant and animal species are found here. More information:

Red Rock Canyon

Just on the outskirts of Las Vegas. Drive away from the Las Vegas strip up Charleston Blvd, and you will pass I-215. The entrance to Red Rock Canyon is on the right a few miles further up the road. You’ll find: flowers/plants, landscapes, wildlife (in particular wild burros and other desert wildlife; desert tortoises; pygmy rabbits at the Visitor Center). There has also been a white sheep in the area. More information:

Valley of Fire

29450 Valley of Fire Hwy, Overton, NV  89040. Valley of Fire is about an hour drive (approximately 70 miles) north of Las Vegas, but is well worth the visit. You’ll find: birds, flowers/plants, landscapes, wildlife (particularly desert species). Great for desert landscapes/bright red Aztec rock formations. Sunrise and sunset are optimal times to photograph. State park fee of $10 to enter. Exit east and follow Lake Mead for sheep sightings. More information:

© Lynn Starnes


“Of the areas to photograph in the Las Vegas area, Valley of Fire is my favorite! There are great formations, and I love the petroglyphs. When returning to Las Vegas, skip the interstate and go back on the road to the west of Lake Mead. If it is dry, you will see desert bighorn sheep as they travel from the desert to Lake Mead.” 

Lynn Starnes, NANPA member

Sites to Visit En Route to/from the Summit

Lake Tahoe is approximately 7 hours from Las Vegas in northern Nevada.

Elko, Nevada/Ruby Mountains is about 7 hours north of Las Vegas/northern Nevada. Outstanding for wildlife and landscapes. More information: or

Zion/other parts of Utah are in close proximity

Grand Canyon