Must-do's for Canyonlands National Park?

Discussion in 'Nature' started by randall cherry, Feb 14, 2006.

  1. Hi All,

    I posted this in the Travel Photography forum, but didn't get a lot of

    I'll be in and around Canyonlands from February 18-25. I'll be pack'n
    my two Mamiya 7IIs, assorted lenses, tripod, graduated neutral density
    filters, etc.

    I'll also be well supplied with lots of Velvia 100 ("non-F", rated at
    100 ISO with an 81A filter), Ilford Super XP-2 (rated at 80 ISO with a
    deep yellow filter), and Kodak 400UC. I've got some guide books, too,
    and have searched for information.

    I'll be staying in Moab, and traveling by jeep. Of course I'll hit the
    standard iconic-photo spots. But, I'll also do some hiking to get off
    the beaten path for some hopefully more creative images.

    Anyone have any photographic must-do's or must-avoids to pass along?


  2. Will you be by yourself? If so be extremely carefull! Canyonlands is an unforgiving place for the un-prepared.
    Bring lots of water and food, and never leave the pavement without gear to spend the night.

    If you rent a jeep, rent a modified one. These have higher ground clearances,bigger tires, and posi-traction axles. A standard pavement worthy Jeep Wrangler, isn't set up for more than a dirt road. In C'lands, most of the roads will include boulder fields, streams and small cliffs, that need crossing.

    During the off season, you will be on your own in the back country. There are few off roaders this time of year.Which is somewhat of a blessing. During the summer season, you get the hard core "jeepers". These people are insane for the most part. The try to run the "White rim trail", in a single day, and other idiotic feats. All this does is makes lots of dust, and indangers all those trying to travel safely.

    These people don't care about your safety or their own, and they don't stop to look at the scenery, To them C'lands is strictly a challenge for their machines to conquer.

    Make sure your outfitter(jeep rental), knows where you are going, in case you run into trouble. In fact , every fall when we go to Moab we take the outfitter's advice on where to go. Most of them know the roads well, and if you come across like a non-jerk that will be carefull with their jeep, they will send you to some seldom seen spots.

    Guide books, can't show the vastness, of this place. It takes all day to travel to many of the interesting places.

    This time of year, the low angled sun makes interesting light all day. But of course, the sunrises and sunsets are unbelievable.

    As far as photo-ops, "fugetaboutit". You could shoot here for years. The "iconic" places such as Dead Horse point have never ending photo ops. Enjoy this truly magical place.
  3. And on the off chance Steve didn't stress it enough - BE CAREFUL. If you're travelling alone, make sure everyone knows where you'll be. If you leave your vehicle for any extended hike, make sure you know how to get back to it - tie a bright bandana to the antenna if possible. Take water! Take extra water, take back up water for the extra water, and after you've packed some food consider putting in some extra water. You do not, do not want to get caught out stranded in Canyonlands. Don't be an idiot. Extra precautions may not be studly, but neither is lying dead in a boulder field.

    As to must sees? The whole darn place! And over 2 days if you can. The biggies have plenty of signage/trails to get to. The rest is all your eye. You can get a compelling shot almost everywhere. Oh, one thing I found, and others have found -- the glare can be intense. With your kit you should do ok, but the standard bright blue, cloudless skies, sun, and all that rock can be a real challenge. Enjoy your trip!
  4. Oh - something I haven't done, but I know others do (some of those crazy Jeep ppl) -- leave a note with your Jeep as to when you left, and in which direction you went. Should the unfortunate happen, it may help rescuers find you faster. Likely not fast enough given where you'll be, but ....
  5. Walk some of the trails in The Needles area, many of which are relatively easy going. Very pretty, distinctive country. -Greg-
  6. Here is a teaser shot. This is me near Deadhorse at sunrise Nov/04.
  7. Thanks everyone! I'm an experienced desert traveler, and I know to heed the advice to be careful!

    I had planned to spend most of my time in The Island in the Sky district, just to minimize travel time from Moab. But hopefully, I'll have enough time to make it to the Needles district, too.

    Any particularly photogenic hikes to recommend in the 'Sky and/or Needles districts?

    Any slot canyons within a few hours drive of Moab?
  8. I couldn't agree more with Steve above - you are heading to one of the most jaw-dropping places on the planet. I spent a week there alone in November and the words of caution are correct. I didn't do any particularly difficult trails but was alone almost the whole week. Believe it or not I did find a cellphone worked in significant areas of the park so have one just in case. The hike to Murphy Point I found particularly rewarding and I had the whole vista to myself. Be prepared to think very deep thoughts when faced with such staggering beauty. It's an absolute cliche but I couldn't resist getting my own postcard shot of Mesa Arch at sunrise. Seeing the sun peep over the horizon there and the arch glowing orange is something I will never forget. Here's what I saw.
  9. For Velvia 100 at Canyonlands, I prefer the stronger 81c filter, or a KR 3.0 from B+W. Joe Smith
  10. Randall, Tukuhnikavits Arch is a different shot if you are interested. About 12 miles south of Moab is a right hand turn that goes to Behind-The -Rocks area. There is a fork to the right that parallels the main highway back to the north. You can 4XD all the way to just below the arch and then it is just a short scramble up the hill or you can park along the road and enjoy the hike. The arch is oddly shaped but the view of the La Sals through the hole is cool. At Needles, the Elephant Hill trail is a nice three mile one way hike back to the Needles but Needles is hard to get to and don't know if the gas station is open, so be sure and gas up in Moab if you go there. best,
  11. Nice photos, and thanks for the advice, everyone! Sounds like the hiking might be more interesting in the Needles, and I'll make more of an effort to get down that way.

    Bill Proud - The colors on your shot look especially vivid. If you used film, what type was it and did you use a filter? Again, if it was film, did you do any post-scan color enhancement, or is that how the film actually recorded the scene?
  12. There's a beautiful loop hike (about 10 miles long) you can do in the Needles District that leaves from Elephant Hill. It goes into the Chesler Park area, then you take the Joint trail (where you walk through rock "joints" or cracks in huge slabs of rock). From there is a excursion to Druid Arch (adds 4 mi RT from Joint trail), which is a very interesting arch. A NPS map of the hiking trails is here:

    All the viewpoints and overlooks in Island in the Sky are great (sunset at Green River overlook, sunrise at Mesa Arch).

    Doesn't sound like your camping but if you are, and you are desert-savy and your jeep is sound, I recommend the 100 mile 4WD White Rim trail. There are about 6 or 7 campsites along it (I've stayed at Murphy Camp, about at the half-way point), requiring permit from the Island in the Sky Visitor Center. Many interesing rock formations and photo ops along that road.

    My photos from our trip to Canyonlands (and other beautiful spots in Utah):
  13. Randall,

    Film was Quikload 4x5 Velvia 100F. It was very clear as it had rained the day before or that day. No filters, late afternoon, my typical post scanning is adjusting levels, some sharpening and some saturation.
  14. Randall, If you have the time, you may want to try to visit a few dirrerent areas of the park. The terraine and look of the landscape is different in each of the basic park areas. The park is pretty big and you will have to travel a pretty good distance from Moab to get to some of the entrances. Bring water.
  15. I would recommend Fisher Towers, Corona and Bowtie arches, and Poison Spider Mesa.
  16. Dont miss the Dead Horse point, its on the way from arches to canyon lands, try to get there before sunrise, sunrise at the Dead horse point is beautiful.
  17. The story below was in the Deseret News ( today. This guy had to be pretty stupid as he could have walked to an air force bombing range headquarters or bombing range or the Interstate Highway going from SLC to Wendover within 2-3 hours if even reasonably healthy. He drove in and walking out on the road should have been a no brainer.

    Rescuers recover body of Minnesota man in desert

    TOOELE � Search and rescue teams recovered the body of a missing Minnesota man on Tuesday.
    The body of Drue Quincy Miller, 25, was found about 2 1/2 miles from his car, which was found in the Grassy Mountain area about 15 miles north of I-80. Tooele County Sheriff Frank Park said it appears Miller became lost in the high-country desert and was injured when he fell down a mountainside.
    "He wandered and then probably succumbed to the weather. It looked like he was hurt bad and probably died of hypothermia," Park said.
  18. Two safety items, if hiking far:

    1) Satellite phone (do a web search on rentals, hits such as
    satellite.asp , although I've never used them).

    2) A GPS device, along with relevant topographical maps.

    Oh, and don't forget about watching out for things like rattlesnakes, if it warms up.

    Finally, here's a current satellite image of Utah and Colorado to see what the weather's up
  19. Thanks, everyone.

    I'll post some photos on my Member's Page, if I am lucky enough to get any good ones.

  20. Randall,

    -For some variety in around Island in the Sky, you can try driving back to Moab via the
    Shafer Trail, which drops down off the plateau. It's driveable with a decent 4 wheel drive
    vehicle. Check for early season conditions.

    -It takes lot's of time and you will have to carry water and gas, but the Maze district
    provides some views that are much less often seen.

    ...Tom M

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