6 Dec

Hidden Zion

I’ve just added a new featured gallery to my website called Hidden Zion. The more I go to Zion, the more I am drawn to its secret and hidden places, away from the crowds and the beaten paths. I’ve tried to assemble a collection of images that reflect this yearning, and I hope that they tell an intimate story of this wonderful place.

I’ll be returning to Zion next autumn to run my Hidden Zion Photo Workshop, along with fellow Creative Vision instructor Richard Bernabe. My Zion workshop filled up very quickly this year, so even though the next one isn’t until November 2011, if you are interested, consider signing up early! 

"Cottonwood Dance" - Zion National Park

"Cottonwood Dance" - Zion National Park

Here’s one of the images featured in the gallery, located in one of the places that we will visit on the Hidden Zion tour called the Grotto, which is home to a grove of stately cottonwood trees. Every November they blaze in autumn gold, surrounded on all sides by towering purple sandstone cliffs. Their curving shapes make wonderful photographic subjects. I made this image while wandering through the Grotto one evening with my workshop students, as day faded into twilight.

I hope to see you in Zion next autumn!

Technical details: Canon 5D Mark II camera, 24-105mm lens (@55mm), polarizer filter, ISO 100, f/11, 6 seconds.

Ian PlantAbout Ian Plant (414 Posts)

World-renowned professional photographer, writer, and adventurer Ian Plant is a frequent contributor to and blogger for Outdoor Photographer Magazine, a Contributing Editor to Popular Photography Magazine, a monthly columnist for Landscape Photography Magazine, and a Tamron Image Master. Ian is also the author of numerous books and instructional videos. Ian leads photography workshops and tours around the world to help beginner and advanced photographers explore and expand their personal vision.


  • The cottonwood does really pop against the neutral background of the mountain. An interesting subject if one looks for it.

  • Ian

    Thanks Boyd for commenting!

  • How beautifully you’ve captured the erratic grace of these trees. I wrote a book about cottonwoods and in the course of research discovered how the cottonwoods along the north part of the Virgin River in Zion are endangered due to the alteration of the river’s flow, inability to rejuvenate, etc. Got lots of help from the Zion folks in understanding the problem and the work toward a solution. Hope your photos are not documenting the past, but if they are, what a magnificent tribute!

    Kathleen Cain, author
    The Cottonwood Tree: An American Champion. Johnson Books/Big Earth Publishing. Boulder, CO. 2007

    • Ian

      Thank you Kathleen for offering this interesting perspective. I hope as well that the cottonwoods of Zion have a robust future!

  • Your stunning photo brings back a flood of memories of my many trips to Zion. The Grotto holds a special place in my heart as many years ago this area was a group campground (before RVs!) and the place where my parents spent their honeymoon. Now most folks pass by this lovely spot on their way to other locations along the Virgin River. They don’t know what they’re missing!