Everything you need to know about taking photos at Albion Basin. Albion Basin is one of Utah’s most famous locations, known for it’s vivid wildflowers.
Albion Basin is one of Utah’s most famous locations. Renowned for its vivid summer wildflowers including lupine, Indian paintbrush, American bistort, sunflowers, fireweed, and many more! This popular location is located in Alta, Utah. The basin hosts the Wasatch Wildflower Festival annually in late July or early August, complete with guided nature walks. I’m sharing all of my tips about taking pictures at Albion Basin.
How to Get There
Albion basin is located at the top of Little Cottonwood Canyon, about an hour from downtown Salt Lake. You drive up the canyon until you come to a booth where you’re required to pay a fee (around $7 per car). You’ll then drive 10-15 more minutes up a dirt road until you reach the peak and you’ll suddenly find yourself in Switzerland (aka Albion Base)!
There’s very limited parking. Two small dirt areas that fit around 40-50 cars. Unfortunately, you won’t know if there’s an open parking spot until you get to the top. You can’t park in areas that are not approved. You WILL get a ticket or towed!
***I recommend having a friend or family member drive you to your photos at Albion Basin just in case there isn’t parking and you need someone to stay with the car.
The First Parking Lot – Mountain Overlook
The first parking lot on the right side that you’ll come to, doesn’t look like much. But once you get closer, you realize it’s actually at the top of an EPIC mountain overlooked in amazing wildflowers! This spot is known for its iconic Albion Basin photo and is best at sunset. Playing in the wildflowers is prohibited and the park rangers are very strict about staying on the trails.
The Second Parking Lot – Cecret Lake Trail
The second parking area is a few minutes up the road on the left side. You can’t drive any further, unless you’re entering the camp ground. This parking spot allows you to walk around basically anywhere and enjoy the beautiful views and wildflowers. This is where you’ll want to park if you’re planning to hike Cecret Lake – it’s a 2 mile hike. Truthfully, I’ve never explored that area, but I’ve heard wonderful things!!
The Right Season for Pictures
Albion Basin is only accessible by car from mid July through September. The rest of the year, it’s covered in SNOW! With most locations, sunrise and sunset are the most ideal times for pictures! The last week of July through the 2nd or 3rd week of August are peak wildflower weeks.
Taking Pictures at Albion Basin – hire a PROFESSIONAL photographer
Albion Basin has become very strict with photography in the last few years. In an effort to preserve the beautiful area, a special photography permit is required. Which means you need a professional photographer,
While I always suggest hiring a professional photographer, this location actually requires it. To apply for the proper photography permit for this location, the photographer must have a Business Tax ID number AND business insurance with a liability policy. Ensure the photographer you are hiring has these qualifications.
Photographers: How to Apply for a Permit
- Photographers need to complete an application, which includes providing a business Tax ID number AND provide proof of business insurance with a liability policy. Once the application has been submitted to the US Forest Service it can take up to 10 days for processing.
- There is a $130 application fee + $50 per day of shooting.
*** Photographers, if you’re applying for 10 dates for sessions, you’re only charged the $130 fee onc, but the $50 per day fee for each date. However, you must apply for all 10 dates in that same application. So for 10 sessions you would be charged $630.
There is only ONE public outhouse near the second parking lot area. If you need to change clothes, plan on using your car.
Along with most outdoor locations this time of year – there will be bugs! I can’t recall having any real issues with bugs in the past, but it never hurts to bring along some bug spray!
Wanting wildflower photos, but don’t want to deal with the crowds, permits and stress of parking?
I know a few locations that are *similar* to Albion Basin – nothing will ever fully compare unless we actually go to Switzerland, but I do know of other locations with beautiful wildflowers in July & August. Due to the restrictions put in place at Albion Basin, these other wildflower locations are reserved for my paying clients only.