Tag Archives: Utah

Utah Fall Color

I spent a long weekend in northern Utah shooting fall color. The maples are spectacular this year near Heber City and on the Nebo Mountain Loop.  With heavy snow and generally bad weather wreaking havoc on theColorado fall scene, I headed across the border to Utah.  I had always wanted to see the maples there and finally had the chance.  I visited several of the canyons, including Pine Creek, Big Cottonwood Canyon, and Provo Canyon.  The best color was on the Deer Creek Overlook which is located between Salt Lake and Heber City.  I also drove the Nebo Mountain Loop south of Provo which also had some dazzling color, especially near the Bear Canyon Campground.

Heber City is a pretty little town on the back side of the Wasatch Front across from Salt Lake City.  It is a perfect place to explore the various canyons to the west such as Cascade Springs, Pine Creek, and Big Cottonwood.  I walked around Cascade Springs which is a natural spring and creek.  A nature trail winds through the area. Dispersed camping is available along the road past the springs.  This portion of the road road is quite rough so bring the 4×4.  I found some cool places to shoot maples.  The color was quite vibrant in this area.  From there, I explored the Deer Creek Overlook.  This was located down the main road just a couple of miles from the springs.  This is a great place to watch the sunrise.  Too bad there were so many clouds that morning.

That afternoon I did the Nebo Mountain Loop.  This road loops from Payson to Nephi a few miles south of Spanish Forks.  It has a number of highlights including great views of bald Mountain and Nebo Mountain. The best color on the loop is found near the southern end by the Bear Canyon campground.

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Southwest Black and Whites

For a while now I’ve been meaning to do a series of black and white photographs of the Southwest.  I’ve made a few trips to the National Parks of Utah recently with this in mind .  This series has photographs from Arches, Capitol Reef and Canyonlands National Parks, and Valley of the Fire State Park.   In particular, I tried to find images that featured trees.  Many of the trees in these parks are old or dead.  Their twisted and gnarled shapes make for some wonderful compositions.  Perhaps my favorite trail was the Navajo Knobs trail in Capitol Reef. This trail has volcanic rock and a plethora of dead junipers that make for perfect black and white compositions. 

Black and White Conversion Process

I like to create contrasty black and white images to highlight these features.  I start with a color digital file.  I use the high contrast red filter in Photoshop to achieve this effect. I start with the presets of the filter and then adjust the individual color levels accordingly.  I often lower the yellow percentage just a little and lower the Cyan and Blue levels even more to darken the sky.  

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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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