Travel to Utah

Discussion in 'Travel' started by alex_zaichenko, Feb 3, 2013.

  1. I'm planning my trip to Arches and Bryce canyon at the end of may! I want spend couple days on each locations! I'm searching many different sites but want to know more opinions. Any advice and suggestions would be greatly appreciated! Thanks
  2. Can't speak about Arches - haven't been there yet.
    Bryce is unique - the rock formations are called hoodoos, and they happen at a pretty fair number of places around the world, but nowhere else does the rock come in the variety of colors you'll see at Bryce.
    Be prepared for altitude. The park has essentially one road that you enter at the north end to travel along the high side of the amphitheater. You'll be at about 7,000 ft at the entrance and get to over 9,000 at the southern end. Makes a difference when hiking.
    The roads and parking are all on the top of the canyon - your views will be down into and across the canyon, and the trails that go among the hoodoos go down (pretty steeply) to start with. Bear that in mind - when you hike among them (highly recommended) remember that you'll have to finish your hike by climbing back up. At the end of May it will be warm, and it's a dry heat, to coin a cliche, so take lots of water.
    Sunrise and sunset are magic at Bryce IMHO. I especially like sunset - the views from the rim of the canyon are eastward, so the sun sets behind you when shooting at sunset. The low light angle does something amazing with the rocks - they develop a glow and look like they will suddenly become translucent any second.
    Weather - late May is too early for the summer thunderstorm season, but don't discount the possibility. Check the forecasts posted at the facilities every day. Lightning strikes can be a real hazard at that elevation, so be mindful of the weather if thunder develops. They can get some real toad-strangler downpours at times (been through a couple), but the good news is 1) they don't last long (you can wait it out in a vehicle or one of the facilities), and 2) a good soaking gives you an whole different set of colors under cloudy, uniform lighting - good photo opportunity.
  3. Take a trip to canyon lands and dead horse state park. They are really close to arches. Tom till and some other
    photographers have galleries in Moab that are worth a visit. You'll need several days at each location because its a big
    waiting game, waiting for the light and for the weather to cooperate. Camp in arches if you can get a campsite so you're
    in the middle of things. Hike out to delicate arch.
  4. Alex, how many days will you have in Utah? Assuming you will be driving directly from Arches/Moab to Bryce Canyon, you'll also drive through Capitol Reef National Park and Grandstaircase/Escalante National Monument. You will find yourself wanting to take advantage of photo opportunities as you pass through those areas. Not allowing for any photo stops, you will have a 5-6 hr drive between Arches and Bryce Canyon.
    Sunrise shooting opportunities at Arches include The Windows Section, The Three Gossips/Court House Towers view from The LaSal Mountains Overlook. If it has rained within a few days of your visit, there will be collection pools on the desert rock floor between the Overlook and the Court House Towers that lend themselves for great low angle reflections. You'll also be near some great iconic locations in Canyonlands National Park, also located very near Arches.
    Sunset from Delicate Arch is always great but crowds make it difficult to get clean shots. The Park Avenue location is good for mid morning or earlier. Fiery Furnace, Landscape Arch and Balanced Rock are also great locations. Balanced Rock is great shot against a sunset to the west.
    You might consider picking up a copy of Laurent Martres' Photographing the Southwest: Southern Utah.
  5. In addition to the above lenses needed will be wide angle(20-24mm) thru 200mm-300mm assuming full frame. In Bryce, ignore the lables for sunrise and sunset viewpoints. Just be there at first and last light and choose the one that suits your fancy. The most interesting images from the view points can be those takes with tele zooms after you have taken the usual wide angle shots. Definitely hike the trails and take photos from the ground looking up. These are really spectacular. I would use Cloudy white balance to add some warmth to the rocks and sky. Take a tripod and use it. Use a double bubble to level your horizons.
    You are near Zion too. Try and visit it. Bryce could be two nights and two days. Arches, three days and two to three nights. Canyonlands, two days. You need more time.
    Joe Smith
  6. At Arches, if you are there near full moon, hike to Delicate Arch for the moon rise, Best time is usually two or three days before full moon. Check for moon rise times for Moab at the Naval Observatory internet site.
    Joe Smith
  7. If you head to Canyonlands, check out Mesa Arch at sunrise. But get there early. I was there twice and each time tempers flared between others over who was in position first. Stunning scene. Get there an hr before sunrise to get a spot. (Maybe bring a Tazer). On your way to Bryce, you may want to take SR 24 to SR 12. Very pretty. Factory Butte. Capitol Reef, etc. Agree with Charles Wood about L. Martres book. Priceless!
  8. david_henderson


    Photography in these national parks poses a huge dilemma. On the one hand photographing the iconic views is almost certainly going to result in shots that are worse than others' versions of the same scene that you've seen. Further its likely to be busy and as the post above indicates, you may have to sharpen your elbows just to get a meaningful shot at all. I always get up for dawn on my trips, but I do wonder whether its all worth it when you're in a line of photographers doing the same thing and you don't feel like its a creative process. One photo tour can hog a location just on its own, and people on a tour very often think they have "rights". Everybody's had to travel-sometimes a long way- to get there and its cost everyone just to be there - and very few people will be thinking about other folk's photography in those circumstances.
    Alternatively search out "different" locations, and make the place your own. In many locations this is an obvious way to go, but in many of the Parks in western USA the iconic views just represent more attractive photographs- which is why Adams et al prioritised them to start with. Finding good alternative locations in the main parks isn't easy. Then you have the difficulty of finding and/or reaching new locations in the dark, and they're often off the beaten track.
    You aren't going to be there long. You need to decide whether you're going for the icons and take the risk of getting one of only a few spots that yield the best pictures; or whether you're going to try your own thing, in which case you need to allow time for reconnaissance.
  9. I echo David Henderson's post above. I've been to Arches numerous times, and yet have never hiked to Delicate Arch. I've heard all the stories and just have no interest in making the same photograph thousands of others photographers have. But Arches is huge, and there's lots of trails to outlying arches. Take advantage of the less photographed ones, they are all spectacular. I would expect you would spend way more time in Arches then Bryce, but that just may be a personal preference. On another note, I would avoid Mesa Arch in Canyonlands like the plague. Have you ever been to Old Faithful in Yellowstone? Expect that kind of crowd around Mesa Arch! Also keep in mind it can be pretty hot in May.
  10. There are lots of locations to shoot in Utah national parks and as others have noted, they've been shot to death. Having lived here for almost a quarter century, in my opinion, the best locations require some effort. That is, hiking, backpacking, sleeping in a tent to be on location at sunrise or sunset, having a high clearance vehicle, knowing how to drive in difficult or sandy terrain. The average tourist never makes it to Coyote Gulch, Davis Gulch or Willow Gulch, the outback of Escalante/Grandstaircase or the back country of Zion, Bryce, Canyonlands or Capitol Reef. Typically, they drive from from overlook or lookout to another. Successfully photographing off the beaten path in Utah requires some degree of physical ability, willingness to do some serious hiking or backpacking, acclimation to elevation (most of the state is over 4500 feet or much higher) and some time. And you need to be willing to carry a good collection of lenses ranging from UW to tele, a tripod and a decent camera body, along with all the other camping/hiking gear. Under estimating distances and the time required to get from one location to another is also a common mistake. During the spring and fall seasons, one could easily spend a month here and not do much more than scratch the surface in terms of opportunities.
  11. Thanks a lot for your opinions. Since I have only 6 days I think I should choose one location. It will be better! Hiking is not a problem for me. But I just have 2 lenses so I'm not sure it will be enough! I use Olympus E5 with Zuiko ED 50-200mm f2.8-3.5 SWD and Zuiko Digital 14-54mm F2.8-3.5 wide angle!
  12. david_henderson


    I think I'd struggle to spend more than a couple of days at Bryce unless the weather happened to be poor and I had to spend a lot of time in my hotel. Within a couple of days you'll have been on all the overlooks, walked quite a bit of the rim, and had a walk or two below it. Nearly all the good photography in Bryce is from at or near the rim, and within an hour of dawn and dusk, particularly the former. Walking below the rim is interesting, but there are fewer good photographs from down there. You lose the sun on the formations closest to the edge in late afternoon because the amphitheatre faces east. There is the possibility , from Bryce, of an afternoon trip to Cedar Breaks where an amphitheatre faces west so catches the late sun, which is very attractive - but CB is about 10 000 feet high and inaccessible part of the year and I have no idea when it will open up.
    If you are intent on a single location,there's more variation out of Moab (Arches , part of Canyonlands, Dead Horse Point , Fisher Towers etc) than there is at Bryce. But, check out that there isn't a big convention of off roaders in Moab at the time of your proposed visit- it can make accommodation difficult.
    And don't fret about your lenses, seems to me you have plenty of coverage. I would take a polarizing filter though, but use it judiciously (ie not keep on the camera all the time and not polarising fully all the time unless you like artificially dark skies.
  13. +1 on Cedar Breaks. The elevation there ranges, but the main staging area is at 8300-8500 ft. Went there twice when the snow was around and came out with some nice Cibachrome from early 80's is still on the wall. The last time I went there (in '97), I was the only person there...can't get any better than that. All those natl pks are so popular, that you may find yourself doing night shots of the arch....along with dozen others. Yah, the fun just never stops.
    Good luck.
  14. Not mentioned and nearby Bryce is Kodachrome Basin. Also, in the the same area is the Burr Trail.
    Look them up. Very cool. Esp the Burr Trail, one of the prettiest spots on the planet.
    A bit of a different view. Many have mentioned that you'll only be "scratching the surface," thing is, it's a pretty surface to scratch. I'm sure going into the canyons is very worthwhile, but just walking along the rim, esp at Bryce is still very nice and can be done in a few hours.
    Re Zion, there is a backroad along the western edge of the park that sees very little traffic, Kolob Reservoir Road. Nice views abound there and you'll be alone most likely.
    Finally, there is a little used entrance to Zion off of I 15, and a very nice road that winds in and back. Some very nice views from there also. In the main area of the park tour buses run by the national park are mandatory. You can only drive through, or park and catch the bus.
    The Devil's Backbone road, Utah 12 is very picturesque.
    Your lenses are fine for their range, but you'll prob be changing them often.
  15. We did a trip to Bryce and Zion a couple years back. Loved them both. We went in mid April to avoid the crowds and
    the high temps of summer.

    I've got a series of geo tagged photos that should give you some ideas
  16. If choosing one location I would certainly choose the Arches/Canyonlands combination. Incredible variety to shoot at
    different time sof the day, and Moab is nearby and a nice easy place to stay.

    If you do go there, I would definitely head to the iconic areas, despite what others have said. They are iconic for good
    reason, and while a more experienced photographer may have taken a better picture than you get, no one else will have
    ever taken "your" photo - to me that is the experience with having.

    Yes, delicate arch and others will have crowds, but they are quiet, respectful crowds for the most part - thinking you'll get
    a spot like this to yourself is dreaming, so take the next best thing and enjy it along with others there. I shot for a few
    days in multiple locations in May 2012 and never found it difficult to get the shots exactly as I wanted them and from the
    angles I wanted.

    It has been mentioned, but the altitude change at Bryce is really an issue for a short stay. I also echo finding it difficult to
    immerse myself there for more than1-2 days. Zion is close by and also outstanding, but again if you stay in one spot near
    Moab is the best overall combination.

    Good luck!

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