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  • Writer's pictureRachel Z

Top Locations in California to Photograph

Updated: Nov 26, 2023

My home state of California has some amazing locations to photograph. Today I wanted to look at some of my top locations in California to photograph. It’s Rachel with Rachel Z. Photography, your San Francisco, California photography guide and let’s explore, shall we!

Death Valley National Park

Death Valley National Park is in eastern California, with a small part extending to Nevada. It is one of the largest national parks and one of the hottest locations in the U.S. Although the conditions can be extreme; it is a popular location because of the amazing scenery.

Photographers can capture desert, sand dunes, salt flats, canyons, and mountains. Some of the top attractions for photographers are Zabriskie Point, Racetrack Playa, and Dante’s View. Because of the extreme heat, it is best to visit during winter months.

Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park is in southern California, about a 2+ hour drive from Los Angeles. The park is over 1,200 square miles and includes parts of both the Mojave and Colorado Deserts. The beautiful Joshua trees that are in the park are a major draw for photographers. It is also a great place for night photography.

Red Rock Canyon State Park

Red Rock Canyon State Park is about 120 miles north of Los Angeles and features beautiful cliffs, buttes, and colorful rock formations. This 27,000-acre park includes plenty of trails that allow you to experience and photograph nature.

Mobius Arch

Mobius Arch is in the Alabama Hills, east of Mount Whitney. There is a trail that will lead you on about a 10-minute hike to reach Mobius Arch. Not only is the arch worthy of being photographed, but the surrounding landscape is beautiful and, depending on your angle, Mount Whitney can be framed within the arch.

Rainbow Falls

Rainbow Falls is a 100-foot waterfall within Devils Post-pile National Monument. To reach the falls, you’ll need to take a 2.5-mile hike from the ranger station.


The ghost town of Bodie is in eastern California, near the Nevada state line and north of Mono Lake. The town once was home to 10,000 people because of a gold rush. Now it is a National Historic Site and a State Historic Park. The town is a popular spot for photographers who want to capture the remnants of the town.

Redwood National and State Parks

Redwood National and State Parks includes Redwood National Park, Del Norte Coast State Park, Jedediah Smith State Park, and Prairie Creek Woods State Park, all in northern California. These parks are home to some of the largest trees in the world and the old-growth forests present plenty of photographic opportunities. There are plenty of hiking trails to explore, and scenic drives that allow to easily get some magnificent views.

Sonoma Coast State Park

Sonoma Coast State Park is west of Santa Rosa and north of Point Reyes National Seashore. It includes 17 miles of beach along State Route 1, including Arched Rock Beach and Goat Rock Beach. The rocky shoreline is perfect for photography, and there is easy access to the beach in many locations throughout the park.

Couple kissing and standing in front of the Golden Gate Bridge, Ca
Photo by Rachel Z Photography near Baker Beach, CA

Golden Gate Bridge

San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge is iconic and one of the most commonly photographed locations in the U.S. There are many vantage points from which you can photograph the bridge. Fort Point sits at the south end of the Golden Gate. Golden Gate National Recreation Area provides several vantage points from the north. Marshall Beach allows you to include rocks in the foreground. Crissy Park provides a delightful view from east of the bridge.

About Rachel Z Photography

I’m a 31-year-old San Francisco-based photographer, whale watching enthusiast, and guardian of 2 lovely rescued birds. I adore doing portrait, couple and wedding photography. My goal with my photography is to empower you by taking the essence of who you are and turning it into works of art. I want to hear what YOUR ideas are and help make them into a reality. I want you to feel powerful. I want you to feel beautiful. I want you to feel confident, because we all deserve that.

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