Trip Reports: Two Weeks In The Canyons Of Utah - April 2010
In April I spent two weeks hiking, camping, and photographing in and around the
canyons of southern Utah. I visited a lot of new places I haven't seen before, including Goblin Valley State Park, San Rafael Swell, Robbers Roost area, Capitol Reef National Park, Bryce Canyon, and Zion National Park. I also returned to my favorite canyon area - Escalante - for a 4 day backpacking trip, which was the highlight of my journeys.
The photos below are arranged in roughly chronological order.
A panoramic sunset view of the plethora of mushroom hoodoo formations at Goblin Valley State Park. Prints available; please contact me for pricing.
Amazing slot formations a remote and seldom visited canyon in the Robbers Roost region - similar to the famous and oft-photographed Antelope Canyon, but without the crowds. I was all by myself down here, spending most of the day lost in a daydream, wandering up and down the canyon and photographing the interesting formations.
As most photographers who have been in slot canyons know, the best time to photograph them is during the 3-4 hours around midday on a clear sunny day, when the sunlight filters in and bounces around in the deep narrow slots, illuminating the walls with otherworldly glowing hues. As the sun moves through the sky, the bounce light changes dramatically in the slots, sometimes in a matter of minutes. This allows for hours of fun finding photos in canyons like this.
I also have a version of this photo without the hiker, if you're interested.
Checking out another strange slot canyon formation.
Robbers Roost Sunset
Sunset light filters through a gap in the clouds to the west, lighting up the mesas of Robbers Roost Country, with the Dirty Devil River down below, as seen from Burr Point.
Cathedral Valley Vortex
The Temple of the Sun in Lower Cathedral Valley.
Temples of the Moon and Sun
Sunrise light on the Temple of the Moon, and Temple of the Sun, in the Lower Cathedral Valley.
Moonlight illuminates the hoodoos of Bryce Canyon, as seen with a long, high-ISO exposure on a stormy moonlit night.
Bryce Canyon Snowy Sunrise
An awesome sunrise on a snowy morning in April, as seen from Bryce Point.
Hoodoos of Bryce Canyon glow even oranger in the sunrise light on a snowy April morning.
Hiking down the Navajo Loop Trail on a snowy April morning.
One of the more famous hoodoos in Bryce, Thor's Hammer. Though shooting straight into the sunrise here, the orange hoodoos of Bryce soak in some strong bounce light.
Walking down Neon Canyon.
Springtime in Escalante
Brilliant green trees reflect in a small pond deep within the Escalante canyons - April.
A lush green springtime tree deep in an Escalante canyon. Not much to this photo, just a peaceful tree with a colorful backdrop.
Golden Cathedral Lightshow
At the head this tributary canyon of the Escalante River, is a small pond underneath a large alcove. Several holes have been eroded through a horizontal layer in the alcove, forming a very unique series of natural bridges through which water flows during floods. On sunny days the light shines into the canyon and through these holes, bouncing off the water of the pond and casting strange reflections on the sandstone ceiling of the alcove. My friends and I spent hours there tossing rocks into the pond to create different reflection patterns. Such fun!
Trippy ripple reflections on a canyon wall. Read more about this place
At the head of Neon Canyon, we had a brilliant idea of seeing how far we could run around this ramp until g-forces failed. Here's Wesley getting around pretty far. Good fun.
Rattlesnake and Horse
An ancient petroglyph panel along with local rattlesnake resident. I'm not sure if that's a snake petroglyph to the left, but if so... pretty interesting scene.
Moonlight and flashlight painting at a dead end branch of one of the many branches of the Escalante.
Tree and Wall
Flashlight painting below a sheer sandstone wall.
Wading through some narrows in Escalante - April. The pool got to about armpits-deep and was about 50 meters long around a corner and through an enclosed pool. Passing through this chilly obstacle earned us entrance to about two miles of spectacular narrows.
Curvy Canyon Reflection
The canyon walls seem to pulsate in the strong bounce light, accentuated by the curving streaks of desert varnish.
A massive sheer sandstone wall deep in the canyons of Escalante. Note the scale with the little hiker (me) at the bottom.
A Subway-esque section of narrow, remote corner of the Escalante canyons.
A great campsite in a tributary of the Escalante River, under a huge sandstone alcove. This is where over the millenia the drainage has carved a huge undercut into the cliff wall, leaving a flat sandy bench with a massive arching sandstone ceiling! This was our basecamp for three nights as we explored the nearby canyons.
Moonrise light on the Three Virgins, as seen from the Canyon Overlook.
A rare California condor poses for the camera on Angels Landing. Notice the radio antenna and id number. Not the prettiest bird ever, but what a sight to see! The next day I saw two of them circling up on a thermal over the Zion canyon and was amazed at what graceful fliers they are.
Zion Lunar Alpenglow
Lunar alpenglow on the Three Virgins in Zion National Park on a nearly full moon night.
Stars and moonlight as seen with a long exposure taken from the East Rim of Zion Canyon on a nearly fullmoon evening. The yellow cloud on the left is illuminated by the lights of Cedar City.
Zion Canyon Sunset
A spectacular sunset above Zion Canyon, as seen from Deertrap Mountain on the East Rim. Angels Landing is the red rock outcropping visible in the canyon on the right side. The Narrows is up the canyon past that.
Though I was only out there for two weeks total, it truly felt like a full month. It always amazes me how time slows down when I travel. I think that is the secret of living longer… to travel a lot! In that regard, I suppose it’s not all about how long you live, but how well you spend your time while you’re here.