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5 Reasons Why The Bonneville Salt Flats Are A Photographer's Paradise

Location, location, location.

By: Hillary + Matt + Save to a List

Location, location, location. That can often be the deciding factor for any great photographer looking to capture the perfect moment on film. In northwestern Utah, just a short drive from Salt Lake City, there sits a place that is so otherworldly, so pristine, that you’d never guess it’s in the United States.

The Bonneville Salt Flats have, for the last several decades, been home to speed addicts, filmmakers and curious travelers looking to explore its vast 30,000 acres of white, salty Earth. And rightly so. The area is one of the most unique natural features in the country, access is free and you can even drive on the flats.

Oh, and it makes for an epic photo spot, too.

Photograph the Bonneville Salt Flats | Photo: Hillary + Matt

1. There are stunning views from every angle.

Picture this: a place so flat and so barren that it’s as if you can almost see the arcing horizon of the planet. Hazy mountains bloom in the distance and what looks like a snow-covered lake stretches on for hundreds of miles. At the Bonneville Salt Flats, this vision is a reality and then some. It makes it really hard to take a bad photograph.

2. You can photograph there pretty much any time.

Go in the morning and you’ll catch the wash of lemony light that peeks over the mountains. At night, you’ll catch the pinky hues of sunset as the sky explodes with streaks of color. Thick cumulus clouds, rainstorms, even the hazy film of midday all make for a pretty dramatic shot.

Photograph the Bonneville Salt Flats | Photo: Hillary + Matt

3. It’s as if you have it all to yourself.

With 30,000 acres at your disposal, it’s not hard to find a place to set up your lights and tripod where you won’t be interrupted by others. Try venturing out onto the flats (wear shoes you don’t mind ruining or drive), and if you go far enough, the people back on land might just shrink down to little specks.

4. They spark creativity.

It’s true: the Bonneville Salt Flats are like nothing you’ve ever seen before (unless, perhaps, you’ve been to Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia). As such, it takes a bit of time to understand how to play with the light and the surrealism of it all with your camera. But therein lies the fun! Try playing with perspective or, if it’s just rained, the incredible glass-like reflections that turn the flats into your own personal mirror.

5. The Bonneville Salt Flats get under your skin.

And your nails. And inside your nostrils, behind your ears, in your pockets and all over your camera equipment. No matter how much you shake your clothes or scrub your skin and hair, you’ll find traces of those powder white salt granules days after you leave, a sort of salty diploma you’ve accidentally brought back home reminding you of the photos (and memories) you’ve earned.

Photograph the Bonneville Salt Flats | Photo: Hillary + Matt

Cover photo: Hillary + Matt

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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