Picture Perfect

At This Sonoran Desert Resort, There's A Focus On Natural Beauty By Karen Asp

"It's like a photo album just waiting to be captured." That's what nature photographer Linda Covey says about the stunning Sonoran Desert, a stark, often surprising canvas that combines shadows and light, wildflowers and cacti, rocks and life.

This part of the southwestern United States is blessed with greater rainfall than most arid lands, which leads to a breathtaking display that draws artists and photographers from around the world. Guests at The Boulders, A Waldorf Astoria Resort, in Carefree, Arizona, don't need to travel such great distances. The desert is right outside their door.

That's why the resort offers a unique Desert Photo Tour. It's a kind of vacation-memory upgrade, during which guests get hands-on instruction in photography, creating an experience—and images—that will endure.

Dramatic desert shadows provide endless opportunities for memorable shots.

The two-hour tour is led by Covey, who says that, at a minimum, the photography course provides a handy excuse for exploring the exquisite grounds. Covey leads her charges atop boulder piles and past free-ranging animals galore. On one recent tour, they saw a herd of javelina, coyotes, a great blue heron, and a killdeer plover.

As she covers the camera's finer points, from apertures to zoom lenses, Covey provides a running commentary on the surrounding plant life as well—discussing the various types of palo verde trees, mesquite, wildflowers, and cacti that decorate the landscape. Most notable among them are the towering, emblematic saguaro cacti, which are found exclusively in the Sonoran Desert. Each spring, the saguaros put on an impressive display as their signature white flowers come into bloom.

But in the end, Covey likes to think of the tour as more than a class about pictures, animals, or plants. To her, it's about perspective. Taking a breath. Looking closer. Slowing down to observe. "I teach people to see," she says.

What: Desert photo tour

Who: Linda Covey, nature photographer, tour leader

Where: The Boulders, A Waldorf Astoria Resort, Carefree, Arizona

When: At sunrise and sunset, available upon request

Dramatic desert shadows provide endless opportunities for memorable shots.

What: Desert photo tour

Who: Linda Covey, nature photographer, tour leader

Where: The Boulders, A Waldorf Astoria Resort, Carefree, Arizona

When: At sunrise and sunset, available upon request