For landscape photographers, a tripod is essential tool for creating those amazing photos showing the movement of rivers and streams. When the dynamic range of a composition is in the double digits, a sturdy tripod will help to blend bracketed images in post. Also, for those who want to create incredibly large panoramas or nighttime imagery, the tool kit begins with an excellent tripod. Zion National Park has become even more restrictive for 2018 and removed the ability for photographers in workshops from using any tripods on any trails within the park.
Previously, Zion had allowed tripods on some trails and in the Virgin River. Specifically, along the Pa’rus Trail, in the Virgin River north of the end of the Riverside Walk and south of Orderville Canyon, and on the sandy area between the Riverside Walk and the Virgin River. This is the full and complete list of where tripods were allowed in Zion for those partaking in a workshop for 2016 and 2017, but now even these areas are off limits to tripods. For 2018 there are no tripods to be used on any trail within Zion and tripods are only allowed on paved parking areas and pull outs. For those going to Zion on your own, there are no restrictions to photograph with a tripod as long as you are not going with a commercial business.
For those learning about photography, one of the best ways to learn what is or isn’t allowed in a national park is usually talked over and instructed by those who are teaching within those parks. As a commercial enterprise, these businesses have a vested interest to keep these areas beautiful and as undisturbed as possible. As we have seen, the general public and even photographers who go to the national parks don’t necessarily respect the areas they are visiting, and as image-makers with social media, drive the traffic to these areas with their imagery. Without a word, they are instructing others what is or isn’t allowed in some of the most beautiful and most delicate wilderness areas in the U.S.A. I know it’s tough for those looking to balance conservation and commercialism with the natural wonders of places like Zion National Park, but it’s in no way better to limit the biggest advocates for conservation like the Commercial Use Authorization holders working in tandem with National Park Services.
Many photographers will never go to a photography workshop, but many will look on the works of others in the same area attempting to capture similar imagery. That means that these restrictions won’t stop much of the conservation looking to be achieved by the restriction itself. It only reduces the amount of businesses working with Zion and thereby the additional advocates that work with NPS to educate other photographers for the conservation of the wilderness resource that is Zion National Park.
Images used with permission of Timelapse Workshops.