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James Kay


Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument / Headwaters of the Escalante / Boulder, Utah    October 11-17, 2019



"Heidi and I want to thank you both for a most wonderful photography workshop in Boulder. It was an AWESOME ADVENTURE!!!!!! Your patience and attention to the needs and desires of your clients was obvious right from the start. We had some of the most enjoyable hikes, spectacular photo locations, and saw some of the most remarkable scenery we have ever experienced in our lives!  Wayne & Heidi Inkpen - Edmonton, Alberta   See all testimonials


While not as well-known as the Hole-in-the-Rock region south of the town of Escalante, the vast array of deep canyons surrounding the village of Boulder, Utah (located 15 miles NE of Escalante) contain some of the most spectacular and diverse canyon country within the entire Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. From the 11,000-foot volcanic summit of the Aquarius Plateau to the narrow, well-watered canyons at the headwaters of the Escalante River; this region offers unparalleled opportunities for photography far from the crowds. Located in the pastoral village of Boulder at an elevation of 6,700 feet on the southern slopes of the Aquarius Plateau, we'll use the sublime; tranquil oasis of Boulder Mountain Lodge as our base of operations. From sunrise to sunset, with our small group of 8 participants, we'll maximize our time out in the field for 5 days as we seek out dramatic compositions and explore some of the monument's most remarkable hidden gems. We'll also take advantage of one of the most brilliant displays of autumn colors in the American West. READ MORE

$3,825.00 - Single Occupancy 
$3,375.00 - Double Occupancy
Includes 6 nights accommodations in the luxurious Boulder Mountain Lodge plus 5 full days of photography instruction in the field.

Use the above button to add your name to the wait list.    Spouse/Partner Policy   Cancellation Policy


Dates: October 11-17, 2019

Based in: Boulder, Utah

Maximum Number of Participants: 8

Accommodations: Included in the price of this workshop - We'll use the renowned and very comfortable Boulder Mountain Lodge as our base; best described as an oasis of calm, comfort, and luxury in the middle of Utah's redrock canyon country. As with all our workshops, we've reserved the most desirable rooms in the lodge. We provide single-occupancy accommodations for our guests but offer a double-occupancy discount to couples or other guests who have found another person willing to share a room with them.

Meals: We'll use the award-winning (James Beard Foundation) Hells Backbone Grille for our meals. We'll also have meals in the field during our excursions. We will handle all meal reservations and we'll dine together as a group. All meals in the field included in the price; restaurant meals will be the responsibility of each participant.

Ground Transportation: You are responsible for your travel arrangements to the town of Boulder, Utah. Once on location, we will share vehicles and carpool to our various locations.
Photography Skill Level: Novice to advanced - Jim will work closely with each participant based on his/her individual skill level. 
Physical Difficulty: 4 EASY/MODERATE DAYS PLUS 1 MODERATE/STRENUOUS DAY. Each participant will need to be in very good physical condition. While we'll have easy walks of less than 1/4 mile to many of our photo vantage points, we'll also have two easy/moderate hikes; one with a round-trip distance of 3.5 miles and one of 5 miles along sandy trails. We will also have one challenging moderate-to-strenuous hike of 4 round-trip miles with an elevation gain of 700 feet. Most of our excursions will involve off-trail hiking along expanses of sandstone or sandy trails. For more details, see the workshop itinerary below.
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument Rollback Proposal: We've had many former and future guests ask us about the current efforts by the Trump Administration to reduce the size of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument by 46%. As a long-time resident of Utah, I've provided some comments on this proposal which you can view here: Grand Staircase Rollback




As a field workshop, we'll maximize our time out in the canyons for 5 full days capturing images in a wide diversity of locations throughout the region. We will likely need to adjust this itinerary to accommodate weather and field conditions.

Friday October 11, 2019
5:45pm – Opening-night reception at Boulder Mountain Lodge in the town of Boulder, Utah.
6:45pm - Dinner at the renowned Hell's Backbone Grill.

Saturday October 12, 2019
6:45am - Depart for our morning session of photography to capture some of the most beautiful displays of autumn colors in the American West. The region surrounding Boulder contains vast groves of aspen trees as well as miles of cottonwood tree-lined
canyons along the Escalante river and its tributaries; all of which turn a brilliant yellow at this time of year. Accessing this morning's photo vantage points will involve short, easy walks from our vehicles.
2:00 - Lunch at Hell's Backbone Grill. After lunch, we'll meet to discuss some of the photographic techniques we'll use during the next five days.
5:00 - Depart for our evening photo session to capture the last rays of golden light as they illuminate a landscape of beautiful sandstone formations. This will involve a short hike up a sandstone slope with an elevation gain of 200 feet.
7:45 - Dinner in Bouder.

Sunday October 13, 2019
6:15am - Depart our lodge to capture first light from a viewpoint with sweeping views of some of the wildest and most remote canyons in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Accessing this vantage point will involve a short off-trail hike with a round-trip distance of 1 mile.
10:15 - Breakfast at our lodge.
11:45 - Depart for our next photo location along a beautiful sandstone canyon. Our destination will be one of the most remarkable geologic formations in the region. Along the way, we'll walk beneath a canopy of yellow cottonwood trees surrounded by high sandstone cliffs. This easy-to-moderate hike will involve walking along a sandy trail over a round-trip distance of 3 miles with 200 feet of elevation change.
4:15 - Arrive back at our lodge.
5:00 - Depart for our sunset location. Intricate patterns of swirling, cross-bedded sandstone will provide us with a rich and varied tapestry illuminated by the last rays of the setting sun. Accessing this location will involve a short, moderate climb up a sandstone slope with an elevation gain of 200 feet.
7:30 - Dinner in Boulder.
Monday October 14, 2019
6:45am- Depart our lodge to capture first light as it illuminates a sweeping landscape of towering sandstone formations and fortress-like cliffs. An easy stroll from our vehicles.
9:30 - Breakfast in Boulder.
11:00 - Depart for our afternoon photography session deep in a luminous water-sculpted canyon surrounded by vibrant redrock walls and autumn-hued cottonwood trees. This will involve an easy stroll from our vehicles.
3:00 - Arrive back at our lodge.
5:00 - Depart for our hike to a stunning vantage point overlooking a deep canyon. Accessing this location will involve a moderate off-trail hike with a total round-trip distance of 1 mile and an elevation gain of 350 feet.
7:30 - Dinner in Boulder.
Tuesday October 15, 2019
6:45am -  Depart for our full-day photography adventure into a deep, remote canyon. Filled with luxuriant vegetation, water-sculpted pools, and large alcoves, this canyon is truly one of the hidden gems of the region. This challenging moderate-to-strenuous off-trail route will involve multiple shallow stream crossings over a total round-trip distance of 4 miles with an elevation change of 700 feet.
4:00 – Arrive back at our vehicles and depart for our sunset photo location from the rim of another deep canyon.
7:30 – Dinner in Boulder.
Wednesday October 16, 2018
7:00am - Depart our lodge for our sunrise location overlooking a vast amphitheater of sandstone formations at the base of the 11,000-foot Aquarius Plateau. This will involve an easy, short walk from our vehicles.
10:00 - Breakfast at our lodge.
11:30 - Begin our hike to Calf Creek Falls. Plunging 150 feet into a deep pool from the lip of a narrow canyon, this beautiful waterfall nourishes a kaleidoscope-colored garden of mosses, plants, and ferns. Along the way, we'll see ancient pictographs, beaver ponds, and vibrant yellow cottonwood trees. Accessing this location will involve an easy/moderate hike along a sandy, well-maintained trail over a total round-trip distance of 5.5 miles with 500 feet of elevation gain.
5:00 –
Arrive back at our lodge.
7:30 - Dinner in Boulder.
Thursday October 17, 2019
8:00am - Breakfast; end of workshop.




"Heidi and I want to thank you both for a most wonderful photo workshop in Boulder. It was an AWESOME ADVENTURE!!!!!! Yes, we were rank amateurs at the start of the workshop but now we are very confident in our abilities. Your patience and attention to the needs and desires of your clients was obvious right from the start. As a result, we had some of the most enjoyable hikes through some of the most spectacular scenery we have ever experienced in our lives. Heidi especially enjoyed Susie's companionship and we're both looking forward to Hole-in-the-Rock in May."  Wayne & Heidi Inkpen - Alberta, Canada
"I just wanted you to know that I thoroughly enjoyed myself. The memories of each day's adventures will last for quite a while in my head and then the images will take over visually. You two are a great team! With Jim's great knowledge of the locations combined with his outdoor classroom technical approach plus Susie's compassion and help in the field, it's a complete package. Last year I said I didn't know how it could be any better but this year it was better!"  Stephen Clarke - Orange, CA
"Thank you for another great week. As before, I enjoyed the company as much as the extraordinary photo opportunities. I am going to join you next year on your trip to Banff!"  Alan Aviles - New York, NY
"We greatly enjoyed the workshop and your tutelage. Thanks for another incredible experience. It was just wonderful and memorable. Grand Staircase-Escalante is terrific! The participants were most enjoyable. Thank you for putting it together and working so diligently to make it happen. Pour yourselves a well-earned glass of wine."  Richard Boyle - New Mexico
"Thank you for creating an amazing experience in Boulder!!! The week met my expectations and then about 1000% more! I loved every minute of all the adventures!" Lynda Holman - Marietta, GA
"We wanted to thank you for such a wonderful, memorable, and professional experience in Boulder. We appreciated the care and attention you gave us to ensure that everything ran so smoothly and for extending our knowledge and experience in such a unique and inspirational location."  Ray & Brigitte Webster - London, England
"I had a great time last week. I've been editing some of the images and am quite amazed at how good they are, all credit to you. You are a great artist! It was my privilege to be on this trip."  David Brems - GSBS Architects, Salt Lake City, UT
"Thank you for a wonderful time! I really loved these past five days. I've learned so much about photography. Finding the scenic spots was equally great. Thanks for your patience."  Mary Oakeson - Orem, UT
"I just got home last night. What a fantastic week! And some truly unique photos! Thanks so much for a great workshop. I really enjoyed your company, humor and photo insights."  Ralph Earlandson - Chicaco, IL
Jim is a regular contributor to Outdoor Photographer Magazine and has served as one of their professional advisors for more than 25 years. His work has been featured in the Nikon Legends Collection and his photographs have been published in a wide variety of magazines including Nikon World; Los Angeles Times; Arizona Highways; Sunset; National Geographic Adventure; and Time. A short list of his commercial clients would include The New Zealand Tourism Board; VF Corp; American Express; Sundance Institute; Nikon USA; Visa; and The Nature Conservancy. His landscape photographs have been displayed in the Utah Museum of Art & History; the Natural History Museum of Utah; and in the US Capitol Rotunda in an exhibit advocating wilderness protection for Utah's Colorado Plateau region. His recent book, Resurrection Glen Canyon, published by Mountaineers Books, showcases his ongoing project to document the legendary canyons of Glen Canyon as they have emerged from the waters of Lake Powell due to the ongoing drought in the American Southwest. See his full biography.








Photographer James Kay hosts photography workshops in Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument based in the town of Boulder in southern Utah during October. Join us for this photography workshop where we will photograph many locations within the Escalante Canyons of Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument including Burr Trail, Aquarius Plateau, Boulder Mountain, Calf Creek Falls, Circle Cliffs, Death Hollow and the Escalante River. This photography workshop in Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, Utah is open to photographers of all skill levels.