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Photography Hikes: Devil’s Bridge

brown rocky mountain under white cloudy sky during daytime

Arizona is not the most accommodating photography destination. Not only does the temperature reach an average of around 95 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer, but the terrain is often rough and rugged, with careful planning and preparation needed for most photography excursions. This is kind of a nuisance, seeing as Arizona is also one of the most beautiful locations in the whole of the US. 

Known for its glorious landscapes and scarlet mountains, this place feels like it was made to be uploaded to our online photo album maker, with various unique subjects to be found at every corner. This got us thinking about the best, most convenient place to shoot in the state, and – lo and behold – we think we’ve found it in Sedona.

The Hiking Trail: Devil’s Bridge

Don’t let the name throw you. While this hiking trail is known as ‘Devil’s Bridge’, it feels almost heavenly compared to some other hiking trails available in the region – many of which range anywhere from ‘moderately difficult’ to ‘ridiculously difficult’! The trail itself is located off of Dry Creek Road, which is accessible from State Route 89A. 

It begins in the Coconino National Forest and follows a flat, well-marked path toward the base of Devil’s Bridge, which is a natural sandstone arch that spans approximately 50 feet. Spanning nearly 2 miles, this trail is an easy route suitable for hikers of varying skill levels, with a load of beautiful photography opportunities en route.

Why It's Good

We’ve already explained that, as a trail, this one is relatively easy, so that’s a big tick as far as Arizona is concerned. But other than that, it’s a trail that takes you to the stunning Devil’s Bridge, a natural landmark renowned for its unique shape and striking red rock backdrop. Along the way, there are also plenty of stunning canyons and cliffs, complete with the natural beauty of the Coconino National Forest and the many animals that reside there.

What to Look Out For

Speaking of animals, if you do choose to visit Sedona for this hiking trail – and we’d very much recommend that you do – what kind of wildlife can you come to expect? Below are all the best animals for all you Attenborough-photographers to look out for.

  • Mule Deer

  • Rock Squirrels

  • Golden-Mantled Ground Squirrels

  • Western Fence Lizards

  • Collared Lizards

  • Western Bluebirds

  • Anna’s Hummingbirds

Photography Tips

Even though this is one of the easier trails in Arizona, there are a few things you should wrap your head around before you arrive. These include:

  • Timing

Devil’s Bridge is undeniably the piece de resistance of this hike, so you need to get the timing right for when you arrive. Try to plan your hike around either sunset or sunrise – known as the golden hour – so the vivid red colors of the rock are enhanced. Even if the light is strong during the middle of the day, this can cast harsh shadows and actually wash out the colors in your photos.

  • Leading Lines

Leading lines will similarly be important. Devil’s Bridge serves as a prominent leading line that can draw the viewer’s eye from the monument, towards the jaw-dropping vistas beyond. Experiment with this and try to find some interesting perspectives. There’s no one way to shoot Devil’s Bridge, so try out multiple angles and vantage points before making the hike back. 

Photography Challenges

The reason you’ve chosen an easier hiking route is because you want the photography aspect of the hike to be the challenging part, not the other way around. Thankfully, the Devil’s Bridge trail has plenty of opportunities to challenge yourself, with two of the most prominent including:

  • Anna’s Hummingbirds

We mentioned before that Anna’s hummingbirds are frequently sighted on this hike, so it’s a good idea to keep an eye out. The birds themselves are small and rapid, so photographing them can be incredibly tricky, but with a bit of patience it’s more than possible. All you have to do is set yourself up near an abundance of plants and flowers – Anna’s hummingbirds are particularly attracted to red, tubular flowers – set your shutter speed to high, and shoot in burst mode. Don’t bother too much about framing and composition – if you’re lucky, that will happen naturally – just shoot and keep your fingers crossed!

  • Timelapse

Another great challenge to try out is the Devil’s Bridge timelapse. This involves creating a timelapse sequence that showcases the movement of light and shadows across Devil’s Bridge during a sunrise or sunset. You’ll have to do a bit of scouting beforehand – trying to find that perfect vantage point that we talked about earlier – and it’s important to use a low ISO setting – around f/8 to f/11 for depth of field – but if you get it right, the result can be amazing. Breathtaking photographs for a not-so-breathtaking hike. What more could you ask for?!


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