Lee’s Ferry Arizona
Photography Hot Spot Location
Lee’s Ferry is situated on the Colorado River in Coconino County, Arizona, just south of the Utah/Arizona border. Lee’s Ferry is the only place within 100 miles where one can easily access the Colorado River from both sides. This historical site on the Colorado River served as an important river crossing; starting in the mid-1800s, this location was the site of a ferry operated by John Doyle Lee, for whom Lee’s Ferry is named. Today Lees Ferry is a well-known fishing and boat launching point, particularly for whitewater rafting trips through the Grand Canyon. Lees Ferry is considered the official beginning of Grand Canyon National Park on the Colorado River.
We discovered this location personally on a journey in December 2011 before Nat Geo had a similar shot as above in their magazine. We had come home from this trip and would send our pictures to them to be published. We got them all ready, and guess what came in the mail? It was the National Geographic February edition. We pulled it out of the mailbox and read the cover. It said Lee’s Ferry Little Known Undiscovered Wonder. Pam screamed at the top of her lungs for all the neighborhood to hear, “I DISCOVERED THIS PLACE!” So she did discover it. And guess what? Our picture on top of this page is better than theirs. 🙂 Hence this was soon the beginning of the idea of having our magazine.
Anywho, This place is fantastic. One day after leaving the Lake Powell area, we found it on our usual daily explorations during one of our many journies. We always just let the universe guide us, but we occasionally ask humans for guidance. After getting our yearly National Park Passes, we stopped by the dam and spoke to a park ranger. She suggested a drive out to this spot. Little did I know how good of a photography location it would be? We saw a hotel on the hill when we arrived at the Navajo Bridge. We thought it would be expensive since we were in a photographer’s paradise. It turned out it was only $32.00 a night.
At dinner, we sat next to a group of backpackers going through the area. It was December, so there was barely a soul there. They had to open the restaurant for dinner and heat the grill because they had people.
You have to be careful out there alone since no one is around. We told the park rangers what we were driving because no one could hear you scream at that time of year! “There’s our car. Come and get us if we are not in it after sundown.” We told the park ranger with a smile and went on our journey. You can see some of the images on this page.
Lee’s Ferry Lodge – $80.00/125.00Night – 541.5 Hwy 89A – Marble Canyon, AZ – (928) 355-2231 – OLDER ARTICLE CALL FOR UPDATE
This rustic lodge in a stone-and-timber building is a 4-minute drive from Navajo Bridge Interpretive Center’s craft vendors and pedestrian bridge. Ten basic rooms and suites sleep up to seven (7) and are casually decorated, each with a unique theme. Each room opens onto a veranda with seating, including individual heat and air-conditioning controls. We stayed here, and our room had a country cowboy-type theme.
Lees Ferry Lodge at Vermilion Cliffs provides quiet and comfortable lodging for travelers in scenic northern Arizona.
The restaurant is open all day with breakfast, lunch, and dinner service. The accommodations are the perfect getaway for those traveling to Marble Canyon, the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, Lake Powell, the Colorado River and many other beautiful and exciting places in the Southwest.
LEE’S FERRY LODGE
How to Shoot Milky Way and Night Sky Photography
What you will need:
Light pollution map – light pollution map
Camera – You will need a camera to manually control your ISO, shutter speed, and aperture.
Lens – A fast wide-angle lens of 1.4 – 2.8 is ideal. If you use a 3.5 or higher (slower lens), you will have to increase the ISO. The higher the ISO, the more grain or digital noise or grain in your photos.
Tripod – A good sturdy tripod is essential for night photography. If it gets windy, you will need a sturdy one. Remember that when you buy one, it should be sturdy enough to withstand the wind but small enough to fit in your suitcase.
Sky Map – Sky Guide is available through the iTunes Store for $1.99. It has a 5 out of 5-star rating on both the current (3.2) version (1200+ ratings) and all previous versions (8600+ ratings).
Flashlight – Our choice is Coast brand for flashlights. The ideal flashlight will have high lumens, and you can zoom in and out on the amount of light emitting from the flashlight. Get the HP7, PX45, or the G50. Ideally, go with the HP7.
Moon Phaze Map – The best time to go is during a new moon, and you want to be in the darkest area possible. The week before the new moon, when the moon has not risen, is a perfect time to go, so check the moonrise chart to see when the moon will be up.
Remote Shutter Release – When painting with light and you want to go over a 30-second exposure, you must have a shutter release to use your bulb mode. When exposing your pictures in general, you can use the remote release or your camera’s built-in two-second timer.
Use a Tripod – First, you must be on a tripod. A good sturdy tripod is necessary if it is windy. If the tripod moves, your picture will blur.
Focus – Use live view. Use your camera’s live view to focus in the dark, hit the zoom button, and focus on a bright star. You can also use the infinity setting on your lens but do several test shots to see if it is accurate. It can be off a little on some lenses. You can also light it up with a flashlight, focus, then gently, without touching the focus ring, put the camera in manual focus so it will not search for the focus. You must do this each time you move your camera to take your next angel.
ISO – Start with ISO 1600 – 3200. This is a common starting point, and you will adjust from here.
Shutter Speed – Remember, the earth is rotating. If you leave the shutter open for too long, you will see star trails that will not make for a crisp image. We want crisp, non-star trail images. Here is the formula to avoid star trails. The 500 rule – Divide 500 by the focal length of your lens. So, if you have a 24mm lens on a full-frame camera, you will set your shutter speed to 20 sec. (500/24 = 20.83). If you are using a crop sensor camera, first do the math of the crop sensor to find the focal length. Cannon is 1.6, and Nikon is 1.5. Convert to full-frame focal length, then use the formula. Nikon 18mm x 1.5= 27mm – 500/27 = 18.51 seconds.
Aperture – Depth of field isn’t critical in these shots, but letting the light into the camera is; therefore, you should shoot wide open. If the depth of field is essential to you, try not to go too high. (wide open =the lowest aperture your camera will allow). You will have to increase the ISO some, which will give you digital noise.
White balance suggestion: Use live view mode to change your white balance settings and see what it will look like. You can shoot in shade or cloud mode as a standard setting and adjust things later.
When to go: We like October the best. The temperature is perfect, and the milky way is still visible.
When to view the Milky way
The best images are usually of the dense part of the Milky Way. We can see this part of the milk way in the southern sky. During March, April, and May, the milky way rises above the horizon in the pre-dawn hours. At about 10:00 p.m., you will see the milky way in June. From July until October, you can see the milky way as soon as the sunsets, and it becomes dark enough to see, which is about an hour after sunset. In November, the milky way no longer comes above the horizon. You will have to wait until March if you want to stay away really late or get up early to see her again.
See our Milky Way Hot Spot Locator and our Night Photography Information.
Photography Information for Ghost Hunting Photography
DSLR Camera: We like DSLR cameras best, but ghost hunting can be done with non-DSLR cameras. Cameras that allow you to change all the settings listed are best. Cameras cannot see in the absolute darkness. You must bring a light source of some kind for focusing.
DSLR Camera Lens: The ideal lens to use while Ghost Hunting is a wide-angle lens. It is also best to use a lens with an aperture such as 2.8 or below so more light goes into the camera since we will be in dark locations most of the time. High-quality images with high-end cameras are better, but lower-end lenses and cameras can also be used. We are here to document paranormal activity, so prioritizing quality may not be the priority when ghost hunting.
Gear: Bring your tripod with your infrared illuminating light and your shutter release. Bring your driver’s license if the police question you. Be prepared for that. Be sure there aren’t any NO TRESPASSING signs where you are—trespass at your own risk.
Entrance Fees – Weekly
1-7 Day Vehicle Entrance – $25.00
Admits one single, private, non-commercial vehicle and all its passengers
1-7 Day Motorcycle Entrance – $20.00
Admits one single, private, non-commercial motorcycle and its riders.
1-7 Day Individual Entrance – $12.00
Admits one individual when entering on foot, or bicycle. Not to exceed $25 vehicle fee. Individuals 15 years of age and younger are admitted free.
1-7 Day Boating Entrance – $30.00
Admits one single private vessel
1-7 Day Boating Entrance additional vessel – $30.00
Admits one single private vessel on the same trailer as a vessel paying full entry fees
Entrance Fees – Annual Passes
Glen Canyon National Recreation Area Annual Pass – $50.00
Allows unlimited entry to Glen Canyon for 12 months from the date of purchase.
Glen Canyon National Recreation Area Annual Vessel Sicker – $50.00
Allows unlimited entry to Glen Canyon for one vessel Jan 1 – Dec 31.
Where to camp while visiting Lee’s Ferry
Add your campground here! Do you want us to send our photography and ghost hunting friends to your campground to stay during their ghost hunting trip? Put your campground information here. We will put a picture of your establishment, the website link, the phone number and your information on your campground to make it easy for our photographers and ghost hunters to find you. They are really good at getting there in the dark.
Would you like to be featured in an article as a place to stay while doing photography or ghost hunting? If so, please send us an email. You will be surprised at how affordable our prices can be.
Camping: Information for developed campgrounds, beach camping, primitive and reservation campgrounds.
Lees Ferry Campground
· $12 per night / per site
· 55 developed sites – no hookups
Lone Rock Beach
· $10 per night / per vehicle
· Beach Camping Area
Glen Canyon NRA Backcountry (Including Lake Powell Shoreline)
· No camping fee is required
· Primitive Camping
Note: Additional developed campgrounds, operated by Lake Powell Resorts & Marinas, are available at Wahweap, Bullfrog, and Halls Crossing. For details and rates call 1-800-528-6154.
Backcountry use in the Orange Cliffs Unit of Glen Canyon requires a backcountry permit from Canyonlands National Park
FOOD & DINING
Lee’s Ferry Lodge has a restaurant which is just a few miles from Lee’s Ferry. The restaurant is open all day with service for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The accommodations at the hotel are the perfect getaway for those traveling to Marble Canyon, the North Rim of Grand Canyon, Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, Lake Powell, the Colorado River and many other beautiful and exciting places in the Southwest.
There are a gas station and two total places to eat in this entire area so check their hours and plan accordingly.
Lee’s Ferry weather can be found here.
Don’t forget that you can use a rain sleeve on your camera if it is raining. If it is bright and sunny, you want to use a low ISO such as 100.
If you are doing photography along with your ghost hunting on cloudy days, you can do running water or waterfall photography to avoid the glaring sun. You can also use an ND filter to get a long exposure for dramatic effects, even in the sunshine. If you ghost hunt indoors in abandoned places be careful!
Go to our Photography Store after reading all about waterfall photography or neutral density filters.