Grand Staircase & Beyond

Apr 30-May 5, 2024 - Sold Out

Venture deep into Utah's Grand Staircase Escalante and capture brilliant panoramic images of the Milky Way under some of the darkest skies in the country! Trip includes a fully outfitted camping trip to Alstrom Point! This workshop is rated Moderate for hiking and physical intensity with 2-4 miles of hiking per day. Expect lots of adventure, fun times, and intensive learning along with some off-the-beaten path locations!  We will spend 2 nights in Escalante, UT, 1 night at Alstrom Point, and 2 nights in Kanab, UT.  We'll be out photographing the Milky Way whenever skies are clear.


Max Group Size

  • 4 Students per Instructor
  • Max 8 Students


  • David Swindler
  • Ryan McGinty
Grand Staircase Escalante Photo Workshop


  • Spring is a gorgeous time to photograph the Desert Southwest.
  • The Milky Way is visible during most of the night which allows us to create brilliant nightscapes and panoramics.  You will learn both natural light and low-level lighting techniques for foreground enhancement.
  • The Grand Staircase has been determined by ambient light measurements to be the darkest sky location in the lower 48 states!  You will photograph many iconic, yet hard to reach locations within the monument. Expect some rough 4x4 transportation and moderate hiking.
  • Fully outfitted overnight camp at Alstrom Point.
  • Post-processing and image critique sessions will be scheduled throughout the workshop to help make the most of your images.
  • The itinerary is kept flexible so we can chase the best weather conditions.
Alstrom Point Overnight Photo Tour Lake Powell Milky Way Pano


The itinerary if flexible. If skies are clear, we'll focus on night shooting. If storms and clouds are moving through, we'll photograph more during the day. The itinerary below is just an example of what you can expect.

  • Day 1 (Apr 30): We meet at 1PM in Kanab for a mandatory introductory session and then pack up for our fully-outfitted overnight camping trip to Alstrom Point! We'll have our hotel rooms in Kanab just in case of bad weather.  It's a rough drive to the point but we are rewarded with beautiful golden light on the distant cliffs at sunset.  We stay out through blue hour to capture the pastel hues.
  • Day 2 (May 1): With clear skies, we capture Milky Way panos over Lake Powell and then retire to our tents for a few hours of sleep. We shoot sunrise, enjoy breakfast at Alstrom Point, and drive back to Kanab for showers and mid-morning rest break. After checking out, we hold a post-processing session and then head further north to the town of Escalante. We check into a beautiful lodge with spacious rooms and then head out to photograh sunset.
  • Day 3 (May 2):  We get up extra early and capture the Milky Way over some stunning rock formations.  We stay out to shoot sunrise and then return for breakfast.  We take a long midday break to catch up on sleep and hold our final classroom session in the afternoon.  That evening we hit one of our favorite spots. You will love this hole with a tree growing out the middle! Once we're done, we'll hike over to an iconic arch and capture Milky Way panos! Expect a very late arrival back in Escalante.
  • Day 4 (May 3): If we didn't shoot Milky Way the night before, we'll do a sunrise shoot before we pack up and head back to Kanab. We break for lunch, check into the hotel, and then decide as a group where we'll shoot sunset (lots of options).
  • Day 5 (May 4): If skies are clear, we wake early to photograph the Milky Way at an arch on private land where we have special access. If it's cloudy, we'll shoot sunrise at an nice overlook.  We meet in the afternoon for another classroom session and then shoot sunset at the Grand Canyon.
  • Day 6 (May 5):  With clear skies in the forecast, we get up extra early to capture the Milky Way at the Great Chamber, one of our signature night locations!  We stay out through sunrise and return to the hotel for breakfast.  The workshop will conclude around 11AM and you are free to plan your return travel after that time.
Grand Staircase Photo Workshop
Sunset Arch Escalante
Grand Staircase Photo Workshop


Please arrive in Kanab, UT prior to 1PM on Apr 30 for an orientation session at the hotel conference room. Our first night is the camping trip at Alstrom Point but we'll have hotel rooms for everyone in case the weather is bad. This will also allow us to take showers and get some midday rest when we return the next day. We will finish the workshop by noon on May 5th, so it's up to you if you want to stay in Kanab that night or head somewhere else.

Lodging is in short supply so we have pre-paid for 5 nights of hotel accommodations for all workshop participants.  During checkout you will add your lodging package based on either single or double occupancy.  See the Pricing section for more details.

Participants should have their own vehicle to get to Kanab. Las Vegas is the nearest major airport and it's a 3-hr drive from there to Kanab.  All transportation during the workshop is included.  You may choose to drive your own vehicle between Kanab and Escalante (all paved roads) as that will give you more flexibility in eating options. If you decide to ride with us, luggage space is limited to one suitcase and one camera bag.

All participants on this trip should be in reasonably good physical condition.  We aren't planning any long hikes on this trip, but the uneven terrain, sand, and steep uphills can make short hikes seem much harder.  You should be comfortable walking around 2-4 miles per day.

We timed this workshop for optimal spring Milky Way photography. However, we can't control the weather and if skies are cloudy one day, we'll plan an outing to a different location and focus on sunrise/sunset photography. Our job is to get you the most stunning photos and help you learn as much as possible!

The weather can vary quite a bit in spring. It could be temperate and sunny with cool nights.  Or it can be windy and rainy. You need to come prepared for the worst conditions. Please bring a warm layer and hat/gloves to ensure you don't get cold photographing at night.  Please see the gear list further down.


$2700 per Person

Join our Loyalty Program and Save 10%!

Trip Includes:

  • 6-Day Intensive Photo Workshop with 2 Pro Instructors.
  • All Ground Transportation in Lifted 4x4 Trucks.
  • One night fully outfitted camping trip at Alstrom Point.
  • Meals, beverages, and snacks during the overnight camp excursion.
  • Post-processing instruction and image critique.
  • Park Entrance Fees
  • Lighting equipment and fixtures for night photography.
  • 5-night hotel lodging package will be added to your booking based on single or double occupancy. Cost is $475 or $950 for double or single respectively. We will spend 3 nights at the Holiday Inn Express and 2 nights at the Canyon Country Lodge.


Trip Does NOT Include:

  • Transportation to/from your home to Kanab, UT.
  • Meals, Beverages, and Snacks except during the overnight camping excursion.
  • Instructor Gratuities

When you complete the checkout process, you will be given the option to either pay the full amount or put down a 50% deposit.  If you pay the deposit, you will be sent a payment link for the remaining balance approximately 90 days prior to the workshop.

Grand Staircase Escalante Photo Workshop
Lake Powell Photo Tour Alstrom Point
Grand Staircase Workshop
We did our first night photography workshop of 2017 this morning. No better place to do it than one of my favorite arches near Kanab! Are you interested in learning night photography? Just visit our website to sign-up for a tour.

Recommended Camera Gear

  • Sturdy tripod and ballhead
  • Digital SLR or Mirrorless Camera Body.
  • Fast Wide Angle Lens in the 14-24mm range. We recommend f/2.8 or faster.
  • Mid-range zoom lens in the range of 24-100mm.
  • Telephoto lenses will come in handy if we go to Bryce and Lake Powell.
  • Circular polarizer filters are useful.  Bring any ND filters if you have them.
  • Extra batteries, memory cards, and cleaning supplies.
  • Remote cord for your camera. An intervalometer will be especially useful for doing long exposures at night.
  • Laptop if you wish to backup your photos
  • Optional:  Drone camera for aerials. There are a few legal locations to fly.

Personal Gear List

  • Sturdy hiking footwear, hiking socks, and long pants .
  • A rain jacket and several warm layers since it can get cold at night.
  • Headlamp for night photography.
  • Sunscreen and Sunglasses.
  • Hat and Gloves
  • Water bottle or hydration bladder.
  • Hiking poles if you like having them.

David Swindler Photographer

David Swindler

Founder - Photography Instructor

David Swindler is an award-winning landscape and wildlife photographer. Among others, he has been recognized by the International Photography Awards, Siena International Photo Awards, Sony World Photography Awards, International Landscape Photographer of the Year, and National Geographic. He received a degree in chemical engineering and worked in the semiconductor industry specializing in optics and photolithography. In 2014, he left his day job to follow his true passion. He has traveled to some of the most remote regions of the world and has extensive experience photographing a wide variety of subjects and conditions. As the founder of Action Photo Tours, he finds great satisfaction in helping others learn photography, especially in the wild desert environment near his home in Kanab, UT. David is an expert in night photography and loves to get out and shoot the starry night skies.

Gallery    Awards and Media Coverage

Having guided photo tours for years, David is very familiar with many different types of cameras.  He is a master with light and composition. But most importantly, his dedication to his clients is what really sets him apart! But don't take our word for it - read what others are saying: Trip Advisor.

Ryan McGinty Profile Photo Olympics

Ryan McGinty

Photography Instructor

Ryan McGinty is a seasoned landscape photographer living in the Palouse area of southeastern Washington.  His first-hand experience in this unique agricultural area makes him the perfect instructor to lead people to out-of-the-way places for those once-in-a-lifetime rainbows, sunsets and sunrises in the beautiful rolling hills. He loves chasing the light and diligently checks weather apps to get the latest sun and rain predictions, cloud formations, wind and temperatures for the best locations and light.

His interest in photography started at an early age and continued in college with graduate work at Brooks Institute of Photography.  His experience in portrait, wedding, film, and medium and large format photography give him an extraordinary background for his award-winning landscape photography.

His passion for the Palouse is only exceeded by his passion for photography and his desire to show people his favorite places.  He takes a legitimate interest in his clients and strives hard to ensure they get the best shots. His photographs have been published in books, calendars and travel guides.