Category Archives: Utah

Calf Creek Falls

I decided to hike to Calf Creek Falls in the Escalante National Monument near Escalante, Utah this past weekend. Cloudy weather had put a damper on my plans to do some hiking along the Hole-in-the-Rock Road, so I stopped at the trailhead for the falls.  Calf Creek  Falls is a beautiful reward after a somewhat easy 3-mile hike through a pretty, riparian canyon.  The trail follows Calf Creek as it meanders through a deep canyon.  Along the way, many species of trees and birds can be spotted.  A number of Claret Cup cacti were blooming with their scarlet flowers as well.  The only drawback to the hike is that is features walking though deep sand the land mile or so.  The falls is tucked away at the end of the canyon.  

The trailhead for Calf Creek Falls is located about 15 miles form Escalante or 13 miles south of Boulder Town along Highway 12.     

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Capitol Reef

I made a short trip to Capitol Reef National Park this past weekend.  The cottonwoods were just leafing out so it was a great time to be there.  I explored some new places and went to an old standby.  Overall, it was a fun trip but I wish the weather had been better so I could have explored Escalante National Monument.  Coyote Gulch will have to wait.    

Sheets Canyon

This is a short hike to a pretty slot canyon on the east side of the park.  Sheets Canyon is located off the Notom Road.  The trailhead is located just before the pavement ends, about 12 miles down the road.  The hike wanders through the Sheets Canyon wash for about a mile before the walls narrow.  There are some very interesting rock formation in the canyon.  The narrows stretches for about 1/2 mile and then the canyon widens.  The walls are quite high in this area so it is still an interesting through this part of the canyon.  There are a few chokcsotnes you have to scramble over in the narrows section but nothing too difficult.  

Cohab Canyon

The trail to Cohab Canyon is located near the Fruita barn just before the main campground in Capitol Reef.  It climbs steeply up a series of switchbacks before leveling off at the entrance to Cohab Canyon.  Just before the entrance there are some interesting rock formations and trees that make great photography subjects.  The canyon itself, has pink or orange walls, and is quite pretty.  The walls are pockmarked with holes, alcoves, and other cool features. In about 1/2 mile, the trail veers to the left and ascends to a view of Fruita and the campground below.  The one way total is just under 2 miles.     

Navajo Knobs Trail

The Navajo Knobs trail leads to a panoramic overlook after a hard 4.7 mile hike.  Luckily, the views are pretty spectacular most of the way so making the top isn’t a requirement to get a great view.  The trail starts about a mile from the visitor’s center along the main park road.  It climbs steeply and intersects with the Hickman Bridge trail in about half a mile.  Veer right at the junction and continue to climb up to a great view of Pectol’s Pyramid across the valley.  At mile 2.5, the trail comes to a view of the Fremont River and you are looking back across at the visitor’s center.  From here, the trail descends for about 3/4 of a mile which of course leaves a steep ascent back up a long ramp.   At this point, the views are amazing.  One last side canyon has to be routed around before reaching the top.  This is a steep and long hike but the effort is worth it.  Views can be had in any direction from here.   

Sulfur Creek

Sulfur Creek features a neat waterfall after a short 1 mile hike.  Take the trail to the right of the visitor’s center and veer around to the back of it.  When you come to the creek, head toward a power line straight across the creek.  You can also head left down stream but the walk is much longer and wetter this way.  After climbing a short rise you will come to a lime kiln on the right and then the trail cuts back down to Sulfur Creek.  The waterfall is about .75 of a mile from the visitor’s center.  It isn’t particularly large but the scene is pretty with the read rock of Sulfur Canyon framing the shot.  

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Winter in Canyonlands National Park

My son and I recently spent a couple of days in Canyonlands National Park–one in the Island in the Sky District and one in the Needles section.  I like visiting Utah and Canyonlands in the winter because the skies are often clear and the crowds are thinned out and the Parks less busy.  On the first evening, we took in sunset at Green River overlook and then headed to Mesa Arch to shoot some star trails.  Since we were the only ones at Mesa Arch, it gave a completely different feeling than the normal sunrise time where 20 or more photographers jockey for position under the arch.  On the second day, we headed to the Needles.  Unlike Arches, the Needles is virtually deserted in the winter.  The rangers don’t collect fees and the visitor’s center is closed.  Not surprisingly, there were only a handful of cars in the park.  We hiked the trail to Druid Arch through the Needles area.  We got a late start and didn’t quite make it to the arch, but the hike along the trail provided some great photo ops.  Much of the Druid Arch trail winds along a wash and is lined with many dead junipers.  I took a bunch of photos in hopes of getting a few good ones to convert to black and white.  On the way back, we were treated to golden light on the rock formations.  I stopped at Pothole Point to catch the last rays of the sun on the canyon walls in the distance. The point provides just enough elevation to get above the junipers and give a clear view.     

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Fiery Furnace

I took my son to Arches over Christmas break.  We decided to hike in the Fiery Furnace area.  The Fiery Furnace is a fun place to hike.  There are no formal trails so ability to route find is a must.  As a result, the park requires a permit to hike there.  You can also do ranger-guided hikes the other three seasons.  Unfortunately, winter is not one of them.  

The Fiery Furnace is a series of rock fins that contains arches, towering rock spires, and endless side canyons.  Because of the narrow canyons, mid day is best for photography so light gets into the canyons. The washes also contain a number of interesting trees to photograph.   

Hike Description

There are two basic routes in to the Fiery Furnace.  A well-worn path leads either uphill or downhill of the main parking lot.  We chose to go right.  The route descends into a main wash.  The first interesting feature is a slot canyon off to the right that contains a small arch you can hike under.  I had my son pose in the arch for a fun photo.  Back in the main wash, we hiked up a narrow slit in the canyon wall to the right as the wash made a sharp turn.  You hike up into another wash at this point and a couple of side canyons later on the left you will find one of the coolest spots in the park.  It is a small slot canyon that contains a double arch that looks like a pair of eyeglasses.  We ended our exploration with a side canyon to the right of the main wash. It contained a small arch that looked like water would flow through in the rain.  We retraced our steps back to the parking after a fun and challenging hike.  We got maybe a mile in three hours of hiking!

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Star Photography in Arches and Canyonlands

My son and I took a December trip to Arches and Canyonlands recently.  I wanted to do star photography in Arches and Canyonlands National Parks.  The air was cold and clear and it made for amazing star viewing.

Mesa Arch in Canyonlands

We stopped at the Island in the sky section of Canyonlands to catch the sunset at Green River Overlook.  Then it was on to Mesa Arch to watch the stars.  Unlike sunrise when upwards of 20 photographers crowd the small arch to catch first light on the arch, the area is virtually deserted after dark.  My son and I had the arch to ourselves this particular evening.  We did exposures to get both pinpoint stars and a long 30 minute exposure to produce star trails.  It was a cold evening but an amazing one as well.  We tried lighting up the arch with a flashlight but discovered that low power was the key since the arch was so close to our position.

Delicate Arch in Arches

We also hiked up to Delicate Arch to catch sunset and waited around for the sky to get dark.  The 100 or so spectators dwindled to about 10 after dark.  The people who left missed a star show of epic proportions.  I have never seen so many stars out before.  However, given ten people were there and each had their own agenda, it made it a little difficult to do all the various star photography requirements.  The group down in front didn’t want flashlights on so it was hard to take pictures while lighting up the arch. Given there were people down front, it was also impossible to do a long exposure since headlamps would occasionally turn on and get in the picture.  But it was still a fun experience and cool to see all those stars.  

Miops Camera Trigger

I tried out a camera trigger for the first time.  This one was made by Miops.  In addition to acting as an intervalometer, it can also be triggered by lightning, sound, and laser.  The app downloaded to my phone worked pretty well.  It triggered the camera and was relatively easy to use.  I used it to take a series of 10 shots of the scene to stack together later and to do a 30 minute timed exposure.