Maricopa County wants to attract more visitors to San Tan Mountain Regional Park and is getting some exposure through a new photography program.
Digital Desert, a digital photography group started by Julee Meltzer at Usery Mountain Regional Park in Mesa, is gaining some interest at San Tan Mountain Park east of Queen Creek.
The program began with photography enthusiasts going on photo hikes together.
At Usery Park, those hikes have attracted about 30 people each time, said Meltzer, a park host.
“I thought it would be good to do it at other Maricopa County parks,” said Meltzer who describes herself as a semiprofessional photographer who has done work for RV magazines.
A little over a week ago the group did the first Digital Desert photography hike at San Tan Park, and some 15 people participated.
“It’s a relatively new park but it’s very beautiful,” Meltzer said. “We want to get more people used to coming there. It’s a beautiful environment. We want to do a hike there at least once a month.”
Joan Perry, a San Tan area resident who went on the hike, said she had a fantastic time and will use the photography skills she learned on Christmas morning.
“It doesn’t have to be a big fancy camera,” Perry said. “Julee teaches you how to take remarkable pictures with any camera.”
The photo hikes are a good way to see the park and meet people, too, Perry said. She plans to enter one of her photos from the hike in a photography contest.
“To bring people to the park is so nice because most people don’t know it’s there,” Perry said. “It’s a wonderful resource for this whole end of the Valley.”
Dawna Taylor, a spokeswoman for Maricopa County, is excited about the photo program.
She said the San Tan area is booming and the park needs a full-time ranger and new programming.
Meltzer also offers fourhour digital photography classes at a cost of $35 per person. The hikes cost the park entry fee which is $5 per car.
The group’s photography is posted online at www.flickr.com/groups/usery.
Digital Desert events
What: Four-hour workshop at Usery Mountain Regional Park, 3939 N. Usery Pass Road, Mesa
When: 9 a.m., Dec. 9
What: Photo stroll at San Tan Mountain Regional Park, 6533 W. Phillips Road
When: 10 a.m., Dec. 16