Utah with the Nikon Z7

We blast over the divide and into Utah for a long weekend and find a truly stunning camping spot overlooking a canyon just outside of Canyonlands National Park. We might end up just sitting here the whole weekend.


I was able to score a Nikon Z7 w/ Nikkor Z 24-70mm zoom lens to test for the weekend. All photos from this post are taken with that camera, and more detailed review follows (warning, I’m not a gear junkie, it’s more of an aesthetic review than a technical).

We do end up leaving the camp to do the Syncline Trail in Canyonlands NP. This trail is awesome. It circles the Upheaval Dome, the origin of which is unknown (cool). First we hike down into a canyon and along a riverbed, then up a boulder field and back to the start. It’s certainly my kind of hike: the trail isn’t always obvious, scrambling required, lots of up and down through amazing scenery and very few people.


The Devil’s Garden & Primitive Trail in Arches NP also has the scenery but is much more popular. The Devil’s Garden Trail is very busy, makes sense there are a ton of arches in a short span. For being a popular trail in a National Park I’m pleasantly surprised by the ruggedness of some sections, especially the ones walking on and over rock faces. Taking the Primitive Trail makes this hike a loop (yay!) and adds more of a challenge with steep rock climbs and less obvious trail. Despite the warnings of such our hike on this trail turns into more of a rescue mission. K pulls an 80 year old woman up a rock face (kudos to her for making it that far!), I guide a group of hikers down a steep section of rocks and we help a number of people re-find the trail. It’s kinda fun, makes me feel like I know what I’m doing.


One of the days we switch it up with a bit of 4WDing down the valley we are camped by and under a giant rock. We also explore Moab a bit - I found a $4 flannel shirt in a thrift shop, that’s my highlight from town.


On the way back to Boulder we stop to do the Professor Creek and Mary Jane Trail. The trail follows a creek up a deeper and deeper canyon and ends with a waterfall (we didn’t go that far, just to the canyon). It’s really fun to splash through the creek. There isn’t really a trail and we end up follow footprints in the sand to make sure we are going the correct way. It would be easy to get lost in these canyons and if it was raining a flash flood would be dangerous here. Getting back is easier, just follow the main branch of the creek back the way you came.

Using the Nikon Z7 for the weekend was a fun treat (my primary cameras for hiking & backpacking are the Sony A6000 or Sony A7R ii). I don’t often use zoom lenses so I had to retrain myself how to take photos. I don’t have to walk around to get different shots, I can zoom! As fun as the zoom is I really enjoy using prime lenses, I feel like they are more “natural” to how my eyes perceive the world. Due to habit most of the pictures in the post are taken at 24mm, the widest the lens goes, because I forgot the lens could zoom. The exceptions are the shot with the car which is at 38mm and the shot of the arch which is at 36mm.

The camera has a nice feel in the hand, the grip is more robust than the Sony’s, and has a nice look to it. I’m not fully dialed in with the Nikon control menus but I found it easy to navigate and use when I wanted to change settings. For the kit lens I found the Nikkor 24-70mm to take excellent pictures. The biggest con for me is the weight (why I love the Sonys so much), I think the Z7 would be good on day hikes but it would be too much for a longer trip.

If you go: