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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre Urban Life & Travel Talk
Thread started 04 Jun 2017 (Sunday) 20:17
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Travel Safety in Arizona/Utah/Nevada?

 
snegron
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Jun 04, 2017 20:17 |  #1

I'm in the early planning stages of visiting a few historic "old west" towns and National Parks in Arizona, Utah and Nevada. I am debating what equipment to take with me for safety/security reasons.

Please note: It's not that I have the world's most expensive gear (I don't), it's a matter of not drawing the attention of criminals by using a flashy dslr and somewhat big lenses. Also, it's mostly about not putting my and my family's lives in danger. Please let's not turn this into a "pro or anti gun" debate. And PLEASE don't tell me "if you're that afraid of traveling there then don't go there".

Normally I don't really care about what photo equipment I carry as I usually do road trips in my car, and I always carry a firearm (I have a CCW licence plus almost 20 years of professional, tactical training - also have been involved in multiple high stress sitiuations requiring the use of either weapons or hands-on defense). The only differences this time around are that I will be traveling by air and will be visiting places were firearms are not allowed. So, more likely than not my guns will not be with me on this trip.

So, my questions are:

- If I take my usual gear (7dmk2 with 16-35L, 70-200L) will I blend in with the rest of the tourists? I'm planning on going on trails within National Parks plus walking around old towns.

- Will I be better off to take my old gear instead (Nikon D200, 17-55 2.8, 80-200 2.8) as it will attract less attention, and if I do get mugged at gun/knife point I won't really miss it as much as I would my newer Canon equipment? I still have several small Nikon primes (24mm, 35mm, 50mm, 180mm) plus a couple of D200 bodies despite having switched to Canon last year.

- Places to avoid (other than the obvious, well known crime areas)?

- Are trails within National Parks safe (Saguero, Bryce, Zion, etc.)?

I don't want to buy m4/3 equipment for this trip, but I am willing to consider a smaller dslr setup. Only problem with a smaller dslr setup is that the kit lenses are not that great, so I would be tempted to get better (bigger) lenses.




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SteveInNZ
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Jun 04, 2017 23:23 |  #2

We traveled in that area at Christmas and will be going back again in September as part of a bigger trip around the US. I've been watching travel forums like Tripadvisor for a couple of years and I don't think I can recall a warning beyond the opportunistic low-lifes that hang around parking lots for a quick grab off the seat. Cities are a bit different.
I think you need to be far more concerned with walking off a bluff, getting lost, dehydration or rolling an ankle than getting held up.

I plan on hiking in National parks and photographing in old west towns at night by myself. Perhaps we were just naive but I don't think we found anywhere that made us anxious. Take the stuff that's going to allow you to enjoy your trip the most.

Steve.


"Treat every photon with respect" - David Malin.

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Wilt
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Post has been last edited 4 months ago by Wilt. 2 edits done in total.
Jun 05, 2017 00:33 |  #3

Consider that unless one looks close enough to the model number badge on your Canon, they cannot tell the difference between a 7DII vs. a 20D. I have a somewhat difficult time distinguishing my 40D from my 5D from my 7DII unless I can get close enough to discern subtle differences in the controls (or the fact that a 5D does not have a pop up flash) and that is with an intimate level of familarity with the differences.

IOW unless you are close enough to smell them, for a considerable amount of time...

  • they cannot tell that your camera is worth stealing or not worth stealing
  • so there is no incentive to steal your camera because it is a 7DII
  • and there is no DISincentive to steal your camera because it is an 'old camera'


Here are the statistics:

  • Arizona and Nevada have higher than median rates of firearms-associated robberies,
  • but Utah has far far far lower rates of same!


But it might be wiser to be aware of other drivers while driving about Arizona rather than worry about theft, because its roads are the second most dangerous in the country. The most common cause of Arizona road accidents is speeding, followed by failing to yield the right-of-way, alcohol, and distracted driving,

Having been to AZ, NV, and UT on multiple occasions, I find your worries unnecessarily exaggerated...I feel safer in any of those places than walking in downtown San Francisco, and far safer in parking my car of their streets than on the streets of San Francisco...you see so many places with evidence of automobile break-in there!

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drmaxx
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Joined Jul 2010
Jun 05, 2017 04:14 |  #4

Not sure, if you are really focusing on the right threat scenario. Crooks that are willing to face you at gun point most probably can not distinguish between a high end and low end dslr. They usually observe other markers to assess your value (shoes is one of them). There are more likely scenario to loose your kit: car theft, hotel room theft, cutting off the straps of your bag and run away..... I only traveled Arizona and let me tell you especially in the parks there are plenty of opportunities for thieves to exploit careless tourists. My approach was to be more vigilant then the average tourist (e.g. old bags for gear, keep it on your body, zipper closed, flaps against your body, ...) so that crooks choose an easier target.

I was more concerned of not getting caught in the desert without plenty of water (e.g. car breaks down).

Don't be stupid, that's probably plenty good enough. Don't worry and have fun - it's a family trip after all.


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timc
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Joined Aug 2006
Jun 05, 2017 07:55 |  #5

Just returned from AZ, NV, Utah and the canyons, and there were no worries at all. There was a fellow in our group with Nikon equipment and I carried a Canon and never felt uneasy. The trails are full of tourists, kids, families for the most part. I never felt isolated and threatened.




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Silver-Halide
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Post has been edited 4 months ago by Silver-Halide.
Jun 05, 2017 12:47 |  #6

As prior poster pointed out, you need to watch your fluid intake if you're new to the desert, especially coming from the East Coast. You wont feel yourself sweat here because of how dry the air is, and the thin air will also cause you to dehydrate even if you're not sweating because everybody breathes. If you consume a lot of diuretics (alcohol & caffeine) you would be wise to dial it down for southern Arizona and drink a V8 in the morning before heading out--it has way more electrolytes than sports drink. Start pushing water aggressively at least a day before your planned hikes. I'm always reading about tourists who die on a short day hike, and many even take a 16oz water bottle out with them, thinking that it will be good enough. You can die from exposure in just a few short hours. Welcome to Arizona.

Arizona is a Constitutional carry state so if you're 21 and not a prohibited possessor you can leave the permission slip at home if your trip was confined to here. Check handgunlaws.us to see if UT honors your FL permit. The areas around Saguaro NP are within smuggling corridors so if you venture outside of the park, to say the Kitt Peak Observatory or some of those old ghost towns (especially the Town of Ruby), understand that you could encounter that. Of the three National Parks you mentioned I'd be most concerned with where you chose your lodging for Saguaro. Feel free to PM me for suggestions.


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kayl
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Jun 06, 2017 23:52 |  #7

snegron wrote in post #18371084 (external link)
- Will I be better off to take my old gear instead (Nikon D200, 17-55 2.8, 80-200 2.8) as it will attract less attention, and if I do get mugged at gun/knife point I won't really miss it as much as I would my newer Canon equipment? I still have several small Nikon primes (24mm, 35mm, 50mm, 180mm) plus a couple of D200 bodies despite having switched to Canon last year.

Get a Personal Articles Policy through State Farm so you don't have to be concerned with missing equipment if something does happen.

As far as flying with firearms, it's a fairly simple process. Well worth the hassle IMO.


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snegron
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Jun 07, 2017 19:11 |  #8

kayl wrote in post #18372848 (external link)
Get a Personal Articles Policy through State Farm so you don't have to be concerned with missing equipment if something does happen.

As far as flying with firearms, it's a fairly simple process. Well worth the hassle IMO.


I'm not really worried if my gear gets stolen (it's all old gear worth almost nothing). My fear is attracting unwanted attention.

I have been tossing around the idea of taking one of my small firearms with me, but in addition to the whole flight transport hassle there willl possibly be places that don't allow firearms in Nevada.




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Scrumhalf
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Post has been edited 4 months ago by Scrumhalf.
Jun 07, 2017 20:46 |  #9

I've never touched a gun in my life. I've lived in the West for almost 30 years and traveled extensively, camped, hiked, etc. Never once did I feel like I needed a firearm to protect myself, out even otherwise felt in danger.

They only protective gear I've ever carried with me is bear spray.


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battletone
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Post has been edited 4 months ago by battletone.
Jun 07, 2017 21:51 |  #10

What part of the country are you from if anywhere near any tourist traps in AZ, UT, or NV are considered even remotely more dangerous than anywhere else?
I feel like this is completely unfounded fear.
You will get bit by a rattler before you get mugged out in the desert. Statistically speaking.


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saea501
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Jun 08, 2017 14:57 |  #11

battletone wrote in post #18373569 (external link)
What part of the country are you from if anywhere near any tourist traps in AZ, UT, or NV are considered even remotely more dangerous than anywhere else?
I feel like this is completely unfounded fear.
You will get bit by a rattler before you get mugged out in the desert.
Statistically speaking.

This sums up the whole thread exactly right.

I've been all over Nevada, SoCal and southern Utah. Some common sense in this case is all you need.

Go....have fun. There's a heck of a lot of photo opportunities in that part of the world.


Remember what the DorMouse said.....feed your head.
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ejenner
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Post has been edited 4 months ago by ejenner.
Jun 13, 2017 00:03 |  #12

I have also spent a lot of time in the desert. I'm not sure where exactly Wilt's stats come from, and most of my time has been in Utah, but they surprise me and I would agree with the above sentiments. Now I have also not been to southern Arizona. There are places were I have felt a bit nervous, just because you are really in the middle of nowhere (like noone would hear the gunshot middle of nowhere), but the few times I have stumbled into someone they have either been very pleasant or ignored me.

Seriously I don't think you will have a problem. You might get some comments from other people with smaller cameras feeling inferior, but that is likely to be it. I am bugged much much more by other photogs than 'unwelcome' folks. Water and rattlers and sometimes finding a gas station are bigger issues IMO.

This reminds me of a fiend who is into cars and owns a 'super fancy' mustang. I don't know the name, but it is special edition 600+hp etc.. Anyway, he has to be careful when out in the 'county' and less well off areas because people know it is an 'expensive fancy' car. He also draws lots of attention. He has a friend that as an Aston Martin. No-one knows what it is. They don't bug him, they don't care. The Aston Martin is worth 3+ times that of the Mustang.


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steve67
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San Antonio, Texas
Aug 09, 2017 06:34 |  #13

Took a similar trip last year with my two daughters through Texas, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada and back to Texas. Took a 7d Mark2/10-22/24-105 4/70-200 2.8 & I blended if not on the less obvious side just for the fact that people in the areas with nicer equipment would have been obvious to someone that was looking for it and of course I tried to stay vigilant. Also check your homeowners insurance and see if your gear is covered while on vacation, if something unfortunate happens. Also I am not sure what the rules are for CCW and National parks/State parks are. Have a great time and enjoy.


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Silver-Halide
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Joined Jan 2015
Aug 09, 2017 19:28 |  #14

steve67 wrote in post #18422945 (external link)
Took a similar trip last year with my two daughters through Texas, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada and back to Texas. Took a 7d Mark2/10-22/24-105 4/70-200 2.8 & I blended if not on the less obvious side just for the fact that people in the areas with nicer equipment would have been obvious to someone that was looking for it and of course I tried to stay vigilant. Also check your homeowners insurance and see if your gear is covered while on vacation, if something unfortunate happens. Also I am not sure what the rules are for CCW and National parks/State parks are. Have a great time and enjoy.


In 2010 the Department of Interior opted to recognize state and local firearms laws in the National Park System. So if your state has permits you can carry a weapon with an appropriate permit. For Zion, I believe you'll need one in the state of Utah, and in Wyoming if you are not a resident of the state of Wyoming (Yellowstone, Teton). Arizona is a Constitutional Carry state. That means Americans may exercise the natural right to self defense without a permission slip. https://www.nps.gov ...questions-and-answers.htm (external link)


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