Arches National Park

Arches National Park is located on the outskirts of Moab Utah and is very close to Canyonlands National Park which is just over 30 miles down the road. I assume that most everyone that visits Arches National Park will also visit Canyonlands but I will have to say that I much more enjoyed Arches than Canyonlands. Arches was more accommodating and in my opinion had more photographic subjects. The only downside to Arches was the amount of people, I will get to that a little later.

The hike up to Delicate Arch, which is this weeks post picture, is strenuous and the heat just made the hike even worse. It was 100 plus degrees. It was one of those heats where you just step outside and start sweating, not to mention the sun was just cooking you. While driving to the trail head we followed an emergency vehicle to the parking lot. The rumor was that a fellow hiker had became sick and dizzy from the heat. We followed the rescue personnel with their unicycle gurney up the trail to the downed hiker. When we reached him he was already being attended to by EMS. Dehydrated and dizzy was what we were hearing and he had to be taken to the hospitable by the rescue team.

Words of Cation: The National Parks do everything they can to keep people safe but it also takes a wee bit of common sense from the visitors. People have been attacked by wildlife, fallen off waterfalls, suffered from heat stroke, been stranded, and many other occurrences just by not listening to the parks warnings and advisories. I can't tell you how many signs I seen for water, proper footwear, wildlife, etc... If it says to carry water, you should probably do that. If it says do not cross this barrier, maybe you should listen, if it says to wear hiking boots, maybe it's not a good time to be wearing your flip flops, if they say to carry bear spray, by golly carry some bear spray. Rant over.

The hike to Delicate Arch was just over 3 miles round trip and had a pretty significant elevation gain. We arrived at Delicate Arch for sunset along with everyone else in Moab. It was busy and the thing to do was to stand in the middle of the arch while other people took pictures. There seriously was a line of people that wanted their photo taken, I felt like I was at an attraction at Disneyland. That was probably the worst part. I try to get out and enjoy nature and in this instance that was hard to do. It was also hard to get a photograph of the arch with out someone in my photograph. I think it may have been because it was 4th of July weekend so maybe it's better at different times of the year or even a sunrise.

For Arches National Park it is wise to carry your tripod and a wide angle lens. A telephoto will come in handy to isolate subjects, but I found myself not using it very often. This weeks picture was taken at f16 at 16mm near sunset.

Enjoy Arches and other National Parks but do take cation and use common sense. Following some simple guidelines will make your trip much more enjoyable.

Dead Horse Point State Park

Dead Horse Point State Park is a Utah State Park that is just a hop, skip, and a jump away from Canyonlands National Park. It's a small state park about 30 miles from Moab Utah which offers some camping and views of the surrounding landscape. Click here for more information. Dead Horse Point is off HWY 313 and sits on the northern end of Canyonlands.  When Driving to Canyonlands from Moab you will see signs for Dead Horse Point. Real easy to find. Dead Horse Point State Park does charge an entrance fee, and if my memory serves me, it's $10 per vehicle.

How Dead Horse Point State Park got it's name is very interesting. The unique shape of Dead Horse Point narrows down to 90 feet surrounded by two thousand feet sheer cliffs that fall to the Colorado River. During the 19th century cowboys would herd wild mustangs to Dead Horse Point and gate off the narrow neck, thus trapping the wild horses and preventing them from running away. Legend states that a group of horses was inadvertently left fenced in and eventually died of thirst within view of the Colorado River.

Dead Horse Point State Park was a nice compliment to Canyonlands and Arches National Parks. It's something you can easily tour during your time in Moab and it's worth seeing a sunset.

This post picture was taken during a sunset in July. I used a 16-35mm lens to capture the vast landscape. I also used a ND Grad filter to help balance out the sky and give my foreground a little more depth. I also had a polarizing filter attached to give the red rock a little more pop and to take some of the reflection out of the river.

Hope you enjoy!


Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands National Park is located about 30 miles from Moab Utah. I stayed in Moab to visit both Canyonlands and Arches National Park. This is the best place to stay when visiting these two parks. Many different accommodations and things to do. A quick google search of Moab is all you really need to find what, where, how, and when.

First off I must say it was HOT. It was near 100 f during the day in mid July. When it dropped down to 85 f at night it actually felt a bit chilly, that's how hot it was midday. If you plan on visiting these parks during the summer months, please take this into account.

Canyonlands have very unique geological features that are carved out by the Colorado river. My first impression of Canyonlands was that it looked a lot like The Grand Canyon. Canyonlands National Park also has many features that rise above the horizon which give it a unique feel.

The main reason I wanted to visit Canyonlands National Park was to get a shot of Mesa Arch at sunrise. The underside of Mesa Arch glows when the sun hits it and you can look through Mesa Arch and see the canyon below. It's a beautiful sight! Moab being 30 plus minutes away and it's July so the sun rises early, you have to get up well before the crack of dawn to see the sunrise. I made my way out to Mesa Arch and being that I was a little behind I may or may have not drove really fast to get there in time. Shh don't tell anyone.

When I arrived to the trail head parking lot, there were about 7 or 8 cars already there. The path to Mesa Arch is about 1/4 mile and being how light it was already, I  dang near ran to the arch. I got there and already a string of photographers were set up photographing. It was funny though because there was a spot open almost like they knew I was coming.  I wedged my way in with my tripod and started photographing. As the sun came up shortly after I got there, my fellow photogs and I just started saying ooo and ahhh. For a moment we all stopped taking pictures to enjoy what we were witnessing. The excitement and comradery is great in places like these. I have heard stories of photographers getting into fights over the "best" position but I have yet to witness this and actually my experiences have been exactly the opposite. Respect can go a long way, and I end up talking and making friends.

This weeks post picture was taken at f16 so I could get the "star burst" effect. I was using my 16-35mm lens at 16mm, tripod mounted with a cable release. This photograph was the best of my trip and I am glad I was able to witness a Mesa Arch sunrise.

As far as the rest of Canyonlands, it was ok. I defiantly enjoyed Arches more, and if I were to do a "canyon" trip I would go to the Grand Canyon instead.

I recommend visiting Canyonlands National Park just based on the fact that Mesa Arch is a must see!