Wild West Adventure (2 of 4): Utah

After spending an awesome weekend in the Denver area, my wife and I set off on the second leg of our four-part Western U.S. tour de force. The drive across the Rockies was the perfect warm-up for the unbelievable scenery that awaited us in the canyon lands. We crossed the border into Utah well after sunset, and arrived at a retro roadside inn in Moab around midnight. We were completely exhausted from our daylong drive across Colorado, but that didn’t stop us from dropping off our bags and heading into Arches National Park for a few hours of late night landscape photography.

14mm @ 21 Minutes, f/3.5, ISO 100

Despite hanging out in the desert well into the wee hours of the morning, we eagerly headed out early the next day to see what the park looked like under a nearly cloudless sky (hint: it was unbelievable).

70mm @ 1/100, f/5.6, ISO 100
300mm @ 1/80, f/8, ISO 100

At the risk of glossing over one of the coolest parts of the trip, I’ll only briefly mention the off-road 4×4 experience that I subjected my pregnant wife to on the way out of Arches National Park. She has a couple videos of me crawling over boulders and navigating washed out stream beds in our rented Jeep while she patiently walks hundreds of yards alongside the rough fire trail in the glaring midday sun. I’m sure the incriminating evidence will show up on Facebook before too long.

After escaping Arches, we took a quick detour over to Dead Horse Point State Park to experience what we were told would be a Cliff Notes version of Canyonlands National Park for those who don’t have time to see the whole thing. It ended up being one of the most spectacular stops on our entire journey.

62mm @ 1/200, f/8, ISO 100
28mm @ 1/320, f/7.1, ISO 100

We could have spent the entire day staring out at the Point’s marvelous geology, but we had to hit the road to our next destination: Natural Bridges National Monument.

85mm @ 1/160, f/8, ISO 100
24mm @ 1/160, f/8, ISO 100
70mm @ 1/200, f/8, ISO 100

As the day wore on, the dazzling sunlight that had illuminated the red rocks along the back roads of Utah from overhead all day, began to shift into rainbow hues of orange and pink as it crept toward the horizon. In an effort to catch the final rays of daylight before the lengthening shadows blotted out the majestic landscape, we raced to the Arizona border through open range, dodging Black Angus and skirting death on a treacherous gravel road down the back side of a butte. We arrived in Monument Valley just as the sun sank below the horizon. It was a fitting end to a truly spectacular day.

70mm @ 1/200, f/5, ISO 400
130mm @ 1/320, f/5, ISO 400

Check out more high-res shots from the trip in my set on Flickr.

4 Comments

  1. Wow, your photos are unreal. I need to get a better camera (and better photography skills, too!). The last picture, I think, is from Forest Gump when he is running.

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