Arizona's Lost Dutchman State Park Engagement Photos
Dom February 20th, 2022
Tali and I were down in Phoenix, Arizona to shoot a wedding and had a free day in our schedule. Not wanting to miss a chance to explore (or take pictures!) she put out some feelers before our trip to see if there were any adventurous couples in the area that wanted to meet up for a hike and some photos. We didn’t know it at the time, but she struck absolute gold when Shane and Monika took us up on our offer!
Within seconds of jumping in the back of their truck to head to Lost Dutchman State Park, we knew we were in for a great day.
We arrived at Lost Dutchman State Park in the early afternoon. The sun was still high in the sky, giving us plenty of time to do a hike into the mountains before breaking out the cameras as the sun set over the Arizona desert to the west.
Upon arriving at the park, we pulled up the map (not for the last time I might add) to decide which route to take. The Dutchman mountains are a small blip on the map compared to the large mountain ranges boasted by the Rockies and Appalachians. They poke out of the ground to only about 2,000 feet above the surrounding desert. The park is a flat, sandy landscape dotted with cacti. The largest vegetation are the famous and protected saguaro cacti reaching over 30 feet tall. Trails lead out of the park up into the Dutchman mountains to the East. We had narrowed our hike down to two trails that lead out of the blazing sun into the foothills and eventually into the Dutchman mountains themselves. We could see off in the distance where the trails would take us and chose the one that headed into the center of the range. Using my screenshotted phone map, I pointed us in the best direction and proceeded down the trail. Other areas of the country with more vegetation have very well defined paths. However, the desert is so open that it can be difficult at times to tell where the path is meant to go. I started to get worried as my chosen path started curving and taking us away from the mountains. We had to stop and pull out the maps again to ensure we were going the right direction. We almost turned around before some other hikers confirmed we were, indeed, on the right path.
Anyway, our path finally curved to face the mountains which allowed me to put my phone map away, relax, and start to take in the sights. The beginning of our hike passed by a sundial where the ‘dial’ was actually a tin coyote whose nose pointed to the right time – or at least it was supposed to. My phone said the coyote was off by two hours. Although the sun dial has been around a lot longer, so who knows which method is actually best for telling time.
We quickly discovered that the four of us have a lot in common and our conversations on the way up made the hike fly by. Shane has over ten years of experience in the Marines; we conversed about our experiences in the military and aviation while the girls talked about their shared experience dating someone in the military who can talk about military things for hours when they run into another service member. Eventually, we found a shady spot to get a drink and catch our breath. Even though it wasn’t the best time of day for seeing wildlife, I did some quick scans trying to see a coyote, javelina (also commonly referred to as a “skunk pig” which might be Tali’s new favorite fun fact), sheep, or maybe even a mountain lion. However, it was too hot for any of those animals to be out that day.
The end of our hike was about half way up to the summit. The views among the steep, weathered walls of the Dutchman Mountains were pretty spectacular. Tali, who never misses a photo opportunity, snapped some shots of our new friends from the best angles to hide their sweaty backs. (It was a hot one!) haha 😊 We took some time to rehydrate and eat trail snacks before heading back down. I had some leftover complimentary cookies from the plane that I munched on. Monika mentioned that she was craving a clementine, and, like magic, Tali produced one from the front pocket of her hiking pack! 😂 It made her day but not as much as it would have if we had the orange Gatorade she requested after witnessing the Mary Poppins magic of Tali’s hiking pack. Sorry! Next time we meet up for a hike, we will be sure to pack one!
We arrived back to the parking lot which conveniently had a nice bathroom to change in for our Lost Dutchman engagement shoot. Monika’s black romper was stunning with Shane’s ‘dress blues.’ I have heard the formal dress wear of the Marine Corps described as the sexiest of all the military branches. I won’t go quite that far, but I will say it is definitely the sharpest. Anyway, as you can see, his red-lined, black coat and white pants popped against the green cacti and red dirt Arizona is known for. Monika’s sparkly earrings and gorgeous engagement ring paired with Shane’s medals was a stunning combination in the setting desert sun.
The daylight was fading fast as they changed into their second and final outfit for their Lost Dutchman engagement photoshoot. Golden hour always seems to fly by. Their last outfit was more casual, and we had fun exploring and taking photos until long after the sun disappeared.
On our way back into the city, the conversations quickly turned towards food. The four of us decided to make a stop at In-N-Out, leaving Tali absolutely giddy. A visit to In-N-Out is always a treat for Tali and me since we don’t have any up in Minnesota. As I write this blog on the plane ride home, I am already adding this to the growing list of reasons to come back soon.
Dreaming up your own Lost Dutchman State Park engagement or elopement? We would absolutely love to capture it for you! Reach out and let’s start planning!