Arches and Canyonlands NP

I decided to make use of a four day weekend and head up to Moab, UT to photograph the beautiful natural arches and landscapes in the area. I planned all of the locations around the best times of light for photos which is always sunrise and sunset. I was fortunate to borrow an extra camera and tripod from friends so I was able to make the most of the time and have different vantage points using different lenses. 

 Mesa Arch, Canyonlands

Mesa Arch, Canyonlands

After driving 7 hours from Phoenix, I arrived at Canyonlands NP just before midnight. I slept a few hours in the car and set my alarm for 5:00a.m. The arch is a very popular spot so I had to arrive almost 2 hours before sunrise to claim my spot under the arch. The trail is only .25 from the parking lot so it was an easy hike. I wasn't the first to arrive, four other photographers already had their tripods set. I snuggled in and set my two tripods up and waited for the magic to happen. The bottom of the arch lit up at sunrise and I was able to get that classic shot that I wanted! I set a narrow aperture of F22 to get that sunburst effect. Great start to the trip! 

 

 Delicate Arch, Arches, NP

Delicate Arch, Arches, NP

The first evening I headed to Delicate Arch for sunset and star photos. The hike up was difficult (1.5 miles uphill with all of my gear) but I made it plenty early to catch the sunset. Clouds moved in and created a little drama in the sky. The light at sunset hit the red rock and gave it a beautiful color. As it started to get dark, I began asking around to see if anyone was staying for star trail and milky way shots over the arch. I found a hand full of guys that were staying and after a few hours, the clouds cleared and the fun began. We used LED flashlights and a pop of flash to light the arch during our 30 second exposures.  I also set up my other camera for a star trail which ran for over an hour. It was a fun night of shooting and I met some great photographers from all over!

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I slept again in the car for a few hours and headed to Dead Horse State Park for another sunrise. This location showcases a turn in the Colorado River with the rock turning a golden red as the early light rises. I was able to find a nice Juniper Tree also in the light for a nice foreground. 

 Dead Horse State Park

Dead Horse State Park

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The following night was the most anticipated shoot of the trip. It is a hike with a viewpoint featuring a false Kiva. The location is not well known and is not included in park maps in attempt to preserve the area. I found directions online and was able to locate the trailhead and begin my hike before sunset. I reached the inside of this cave area halfway up a gigantic cliff just before sunset.. what a view!  

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As darkness settled in, the other photographer (who also found the location)  left. I was alone in the middle of no where with this amazing view of stars and the milky way ready to POP! I used small tea candles to light the inside of the ritual circle and a few behind me along the arch. The soft glow from the candles gave the images a very warm look. Eventually, the milky way shot down straight down the middle of the arch. Awesome! In one photo I even captured a shooting star! The hike back in the middle of the night by myself wasn't ideal and it was a relief when I arrived back at the car!

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The sky was so clear that night I headed back to Arches after getting the Kiva shots. I was up until 3 am shooting milky way and star trails inside Arches NP.  

 Double Arch

Double Arch

 The Turret

The Turret

I had one last sunrise location before heading back to Phoenix. The shot in Arches NP of the Turret formation through the window. It was worth getting up early! 

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Had to break up the ride home with a stop at Monument Valley!!!

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I highly recommend visiting these national parks, Utah is beautiful! 

Hope you enjoyed this blog! Next stop..... Havasupai Falls! :)