After almost stepping on a rattler hidden under a prickly pear cactus, my heart pumped adrenaline through my body so fast I turned bright red, flushed from being scared. I leaped vertically onto a two foot tall red sandstone boulder as the snake slithered away.
Barely fifty feet from the car, this, was my introduction to Arches National Park in southeastern Utah. Arches, is the center of the world’s largest congregation of natural stone arches. http://www.nps.gov/arch/index.htm, www.arches.national-park.com/
73,000 acres and more than 2000 natural sandstone arches to explore and photograph. It’s a great location to rejuvenate and feel inspired by the landscape. Arches Park has an arid desert climate. With red sandstone formations called spires, fins, arches and balanced rocks in all directions it is hard to choose which way to go. www.utah.com/nationalparks/arches.htm
Arches’ is actually one of my favorite places. Located just outside of Moab, Utah Arches’ is about 119 square miles in size. Its highest elevation is 5,653 feet (1,723 m) at the top of Elephant Butte, and its lowest elevation is 4,085 feet (1,245 m) which is at the Park’s visitor’s center.
Nature’s forces that created the landscape throughout the park reveal rock layers depicting millions of years of erosion and deposition. These elements continue to shape life in Arches today.
A 40-mile round trip paved road will lead you to all the major sights and trails throughout the Park.
For landscape photography the park’s most famous geologic feature is Delicate Arch but other major areas include: Skyline Arch, Double Arch and Balanced Rock in the Windows Section of the Park. Hikes into the Devils Garden will expose Landscape Arch and Double O Arch. The Fiery Furnace section of the Park is a labyrinth of salmon-colored sandstone cliffs.
Understanding the process that creates the landscape gives the photographer a more exacting choice in deciding on interpretation and which compositional elements to include when capturing the image. Time, water and wind sculpted both the Entrada and Navajo Sandstone creating layer cake lines and swirls that spark design ideas.
Light can get harsh very fast here and for the best photography early morning and especially the evening hours are the best for drama. That’s when you have to decide if you should include those intriguing snow-capped La Sal Mountains that are always looming on the horizon into another image.
Arches National Park receives only an average of 10 inches of rain a year. Each season offers something different in light quality and weather conditions to experience. Hot in summer, cold in winter just like nature intended.
An excellent book to help capture the spirit of the Park into your images before you travel is by Edward Abbey who was a park ranger at Arches National Monument. He kept journals that became his inspirational book Desert Solitaire.
Canyonlands National Park, www.canyonlands.national-park.com/ and Dead Horse Point State Park, www.discovermoab.com/stateparks are both close by, each is distinct and worth more than just a side trip but even a day trip to each is worth the effort and they will expand the opportunities for quality landscape photography. The views are amazing.
Photographs used in this post are copyrighted by Wayne Scherr, Range of Vision Photography, 2010, All Rights Reserved. Reproduction in any manner is prohibited without the written permission of Wayne Scherr, Range of Vision Photography. My image catalog can be viewed at http://www.rangeofvisionphotos.com. You can contact me through this blog or email at: firstname.lastname@example.org