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What It Means To Wander

Finding Inspiration as an Adventure Photographer | Halie West Photography


I’ve always enjoyed the idea of wandering. Wandering is defined as walking or moving in a casual, leisurely, or aimless way. It simply means to go out and do. For me, wandering is to be in a place with the only goal of experiencing what is around me. This can be done with a destination in mind such as reaching a summit or standing at a scenic overlook. I remind myself that part of the destination is looking around at what it takes to get there. Nature just simply is what is it is, so for me it makes sense to try to just be while experiencing it, and these national parks have always been a great destination. It was wandering that made me want to become and adventure photographer.

I would by lying if I said that I haven’t had moments of counting down the hours it takes till getting to my destination. It’s an exciting reminder of how close you are to a place you dream of seeing. However, it’s the little in between moments that often go overlooked. Learning to enjoy the moment is important, and I hope you enjoy these moments.

Road Trip Adventures are Rad

I’ve been on countless road trips since I discovered that I could will myself to drive for hours. I like to be able to wander in a place I’ve never seen before.

The first road trip that I planned back in 2016 took me to so many incredible places. Looking back at the trip is kinda wild because I barely knew what camping was. I had camped for maybe a week prior to this experience and I only owned a sleeping bag. Luckily, my friend Emily had a lot of experience and all the right equipment to keep us comfortable. Although, it is funny to think that we split up our two nights of camping to sleep in an actual room, and that we didn’t even bring a camping stove with us. Honestly I’m grateful for that room because we managed to kill our air mattress the first night and I had no idea the ground could be so hard.

We traveled to Grand Canyon National Park, wandered through Antelope Canyon, saw Horseshoe Bend, ran around at Kodachrome Basin State Park, watched the sunrise in Bryce Canyon National Park, and spent half a day in Zion National Park.

The sunrise in Bryce Canyon had been one of the most beautiful sunrises I have ever photographed and there is something about the hoodoos that has me coming back time and time again. This moment has inspired much of my adventure photography.

Adventure With Your Friends and Your Dog!

The most I’ve driven for a road trip was 36 hours in 4 days. I couldn’t have done it without my incredible friend Emily and an entire case of Coca Cola (which I’m not proud of but sh*t happens). Also, this was my first major road trip with Lilly!

On that particular trip we got to camp on the sand dunes of White Sands National Monument in New Mexico. It felt like we had miles and miles of dunes all to ourselves. We got to camp in a sweet photography location after I received a permit to work on a shoot for my college capstone. Along with the sweet campsite, the sunset was magic, the wind ripped right through us, and the sand stung a bit, but wow was is beautiful. That night reminded me of when I first stood among El Cap and Half Dome. I just felt incredibly small in nature. And nature was just being its incredible self. Nature is so rad.

On that trip we also drove through Monument Valley, wandered through the stubby hoodoos and back roads of Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, were awed by the rapid change in landscape as we climbed above the Colorado River and into Dixie National Forest, and went to stare at the hoodoos of Bryce Canyon National Park for maybe thirty minutes because I missed them.

Wander Through Yosemite

My favorite personal road trip was one to Yosemite National Park. Yosemite is one of my favorite National Parks to date. I had just been the month before, but there was something about the granite walls that had me wanting to come back. I grabbed Lilly, hopped in the car, and did a quick weekend trip to take in as many sunrises and sunsets over the pristine granite walls as possible. It was epic.

These three road trips have stuck with me the most. Additionally, the places I have visited sparked a flame in my adventurous spirit and spurred me to be the adventure photographer that I am today. These places have led me to travel farther, and have led me back to visit and revisit them again. As I continue to travel I hope to find myself wandering through each of these places again and again. Besides I hope to form a more intimate bonds with them. Wanting to see everything and wanting to get to know a place will take a special type of balance that I hope to one day find.

Be Respectful to Our Public Lands

When out exploring always be sure to abide by park rules and regulations. Absolutely practice leave no trace principles. These places are for all to enjoy and should be protected so that they can be wandered in by future generations and not just our own.

Exploration is good for the soul. Wandering is good for the heart and mind. Whether it be a faraway place you have been dreaming about, or a stretch of wilderness close by go out and seek adventure. Most importantly, go out and enjoy nature. Definitely bring your close friends and your pups (if they are allowed!) and find what wandering means to you.


Side note: the idea of wandering resonated so deeply with me that the word “Wanderer” is tattooed on my ankle in addition to a mountain within a paw print. It hurt real freakin’ bad but it was so worth it.


Want to wander together? Planning to elope or get hitched? Get in touch. And bring your pups. I’ll even donate $100 to a rescue or shelter of your choice!