Southern Utah National Parks
In October 2008 Randy and I spent two weeks in Southern Utah. We visited as many of the National Parks there as we could in that time. We found that we could have spent a week or more at each location instead of the day or two that were able.
We were lucky to go in the fall when the trees in the lower elevations were showing color and during the week of the full moon. We also were there for the first snow, and we haven’t decided if that was good luck or not as it was freezing cold at times. But the snow on the mountains and dusting the canyons was beautiful!
Cedar Breaks National Monument and Bryce Canyon National Park
Neither of us had been to Cedar Breaks National Monument before, where the visitor’s center is at 10,000 feet. It was actively snowing while we were there. Cedar Breaks has a beautiful red rock amphitheater similar to Bryce Canyon but smaller. Unfortunately, it being late in the day and snowing we decided not to drive all the way through the park, just to the visitor center and back down to Hwy 14.
On our way to Bryce Canyon National Park for sunset and moonrise shots we passed through Red Canyon, a photographic destination on its own. We stayed at Bryce Canyon for two days driving all the way to the end of
the road several times to take advantage of the light at different times of the day. But we didn’t get to do much hiking, and wished we had two weeks to spend there instead of two days.
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and Capital Reef National Park
Then off to Capital Reef, but first a stop at the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument visitor’s center for directions to some slot canyons that were not too far off the road. The slot canyon they directed us to, the name of which I cannot remember, was beautiful although maybe not as tight as some I’ve seen in pictures. Then, on to Capital Reef to photograph the full moon rising.
Natural Bridges, Arch Canyon and Canyonlands – Needles District
We spent the night in a tiny town called Hanksville and then headed down to Natural Bridges National Monument where we met up with our friend Chris. Chris took us to all the best natural bridges and then we all were back on the road trying to get as close to Canyonlands as we could that night. We made a brief off road journey to Arch Canyon, a beautiful place where we were tempted to camp out but for the large groups of hunters nearby.
The next day we drove to the end of the road at the Needles district of Canyonlands National Park. There Randy, Chris and I tried to hike to the Needles but found them to be farther than they looked and by the time we got back to the parking lot we were beat! That night we (Randy, Chris and I) met up with my Dad and Step-mom and we all stayed at the cabin in La Sal that I had rented at the Mount Peale Resort. I highly recommend them!
Arches National Park and Mesa Verde (in Colorado), and Goblin Valley
The next morning Chris took off and the rest of us went to Arches National Park, with Randy and me hiking to a few of the arches that were away from the road, and shooting others from the turnouts and parking lots. Again, we were at Arches only one day and we could have spent much longer. In fact I would have liked to spend a couple of weeks in that area taking my time visiting Arches and all sections of Canyonlands.
The next day we did a day trip into Colorado to visit Mesa Verde National Park where we were amazed at the size of the cliff dwellings and how many of them there were in that area! The next morning we said goodbye to our cabin and Randy and I ventured on alone to Goblin Valley, interesting but easily seen in half a day, and on to spend the night in Torrey.
Calf Creek Falls and Zion National Park
The next day we hiked to Calf Creek Falls which I also highly recommend. The falls are beautiful and the scenery while hiking there and back is also beautiful. Especially as the trees along the creek were bright yellow in their fall color. There is a small campground and if we had more time, it was warmer, and not sprinkling (thunderclouds came over while were at the falls) we would have liked to camp there. Next time.
So we left Calf Creek Falls and took off for Zion! It was a long drive but we made it to Mt. Carmel Junction and spent the night there. The next morning we drove through the tunnel and into Zion. We only had half a day to spend there and took the shuttle up to Emerald Pools, did some hiking, had a picnic lunch and headed off to Las Vegas where we were expected at DEMA, the annual Dive Equipment Manufacturer’s Association trade show.
The adventure was over but we already have decided that we will return and spend more time photographing Utah’s National Parks. Use the links to the left to visit the five galleries consisting of approximately 108 images out of the 2000+ that I took. I hope you enjoy the photos and if youhave any questions or comments please email me.
Camera gear: Nikon D70 with Nikon 28-200mm, 17-35mm, and 80-400mm zoom lenses; with a polarizing
filter on the 28-200mm and a graduated neutral density filter on the 17-35mm and 80-400mm lenses; an SB800 flash and a tripod.