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Category Archives: Landscape Photography

I’ve driven through the Badlands many times but I’ve never taken any panoramas before so this trip I decided to take a few.

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It was late in the day and we planned to stay in Grand Junction, Colorado. On the way we took a detour to drive through Colorado National Monument.

 

 

We reached Monument Valley late in the afternoon and it was closing for the day so we took a few pictures and decided to wait until the next morning to drive through the park. More photos from Monument Valley can be found on my website.

We were staying at Goulding’s Lodge so we drove over to check-in. One of the attractions is John Wayne’s cabin. This area was the location for many western films back in the day. Since I was a big fan of John Wayne’s my wife took my photo in front of his cabin.

The next morning we headed out into the park. It was a rough road with lots of dust but with some spectacular scenery.

 

One day in Page we signed up for the Canyon Adventure Boat Tour  out of Wahweap Marina. The tour lasted several hours and covered Glen Canyon Dam, Antelope Canyon, and Navajo Canyon. It had been years since we had been on Lake Powell so the leisurely tour was a nice way to spend part of a day. The first shot is from the Wahweap Marina Overlook.

A spectacular setting for boating.

Glen Canyon Dam from the Back.

It was a beautiful spring day and it was spring break many places. Antelope Canyon was filled with paddle boarders.

We headed back through Navajo Canyon.

Lower Antelope Canyon is one of the most spiritually moving places I’ve ever visited. It’s too bad that social media has found it. When I first visited it about 15 years ago it was a place known mainly to photographers. It is only about a half mile long and 120 feet deep. In those days you could pay $10 and spend the entire day wandering through the canyon. As the light changes the views in the Canyon change. It is a photographers paradise. One one of my visits I met a couple. She was blind but the one doing the photography. Another time there was a Native American playing a flute at the mouth of the Canyon. The haunting music filled the Canyon. Social media has changed things dramatically. The cost to enter the Canyon is now about $40 for about an hour in the Canyon. You can only go in as part of a tour. Tours of people leave every 20 minutes so it is difficult to contemplate the meaning on life while in the canyon. Still it is one of the most spectacular places you will ever visit. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.

More photos from Lower Antelope Canyon can be found on my website.

 

 

After leaving the Toadstool we drove back toward Page and caught the Cottonwood Canyon road which would take us to Lower Hackberry Canyon. I had also been on this trail a number of years ago but had long since forgotten the name of the canyon. The road on the first visit was like a washboard and I thought I would shake my car apart. I had also forgotten that the best way to hike this trail is in sandals. If you can walk in the water it is just a matter of walking up the stream. On the other hand if you are wearing your hiking boots you will spend a lot of time looking for places to cross the stream since it meanders through the canyon. We both felt this was the best hike of the trip and I would highly recommend it particularly if you have younger kids along. They will have a blast splashing through the water on a hot day.

More photos from Lower Hackberry Canyon can be found on my website.

It seems you can’t avoid nut cases even in the middle of nowhere. Some jerk was driving these cattle along the road and refused to slow down and wait for them to leave the road.

The canyon is way off in the distance in this photo. There were some beautiful bushes blooming along the road.

There were some beautiful bushes blooming along the road.

 

The road to the Canyon was really if fairly good shape. There were only a few places where it was like a washboard. The ranger had mentioned that it had rained about a week earlier and she hadn’t been down the road since. It appears that some people were in the canyon when it rained and it also looked like they had a difficult time getting out. There were a number of places where the road was deeply rutted.

After leaving Red Canyon and Moccasin Mountain Tracksite we drove to Page, Arizona. The next morning we retraced our route back toward Knab, Utah. We were looking for a ranger station to get updated information. The first one we stopped at was closed but were able to find someone at the Paria Contact Station. She was a retired volunteer who spends her summers working in national parks and was very knowledgeable about the area and current conditions. We then headed for the Toadstools which were just down the road from the Contact Station. I had been there an number of years ago and thought it would be a nice short hike.

In addition to the Toadstools we found a few early spring flowers blooming.

There was also a little wildlife to be found.

 

After visiting Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park we race back to Dreamland Safari Tours to catch our tour out to Red Canyon. The locals call it Peek-a-boo Canyon and Dreamland calls it the Mystical Slot Canyon Tour. We drove back through Kanab and out to the Best Friends Animal Society. The family we were touring with had visited Animal Society the day before and thought it was great. We turned off on a sand road. after driving for a ways the driver stopped to let some air out of the tires to gain more traction in the sand. He said that the sand was still fairly stable but as the summer goes on he has to let almost all of the air out of the tires then has to pump them back up when he returns to the main road.  A little further on we encountered a 4 wheel drive SUV that tried to make it and was seriously stuck in the sand. We were very lucky that we didn’t try it in our all wheel drive van. We were also lucky we didn’t try hiking to it. It would have been tough slogging through the soft sand. We did meet a family that made the hike and were not looking forward to the trip back. When we talked to the rangers about the hike in they made it sound like we would be walking down a single lane road. As we discovered the area was crisscrossed by ATV roads so we would have been hopelessly lost since there were no road markers. Even our experienced driver missed one turn and had to backtrack.

Red Canyon is a hidden gem. It is very similar to Lower Antelope Canyon in Page but without the crowds. Like Antelope Canyon it is very short, less that a half mile, that can be easily hiked before it is blocked by boulders. Our guide said that a few years ago heavy rains caused a flash flood that scoured out the canyon and made it about fifteen feed deeper and much more spectacular.

More photos of Red Canyon can be found on my website.

 

 

We had planned on hiking a couple of days in Zion but my wife didn’t like the motel we were staying at. I thought it was OK. I had planned driving down to Page and then entering the drawing to get into the Wave. However, I discovered that the Wave drawings were now being held in Kanab at the visitors center. Thus we decided to cut our visit to Zion short and drive to Kanab and stay. It was much less expensive and the hotel was excellent. That evening we had a nice meal and during the meal noticed some photos of a slot canyon in the area. We found out the locals called it Peek-a-boo Canyon We talked to the owner about it and he suggested getting a guided trip to the  canyon.

That evening we checked out the canyon on the web. The next morning we headed to the visitors center for the Wave drawing. The last time I was at a drawing it was held at the Paria Contact Station. That time there were about a dozen people at the station for the drawing and it was a simple process of putting your name and the number in your party on a slip of paper which was then drawn out of a hat. When we arrived at the visitors center there were already quite a few people signed up. It was a little more complicated signup process. When the drawing took place there were over a 100 people attending. Needless to say we didn’t get a slot since there are only 10 slots available and those attending the drawing probably represented 300 people. It was a fun experience and the ranger conducting the drawing was quite funny and kept the atmosphere light. My wife took a cell phone photo during the drawing.

While we were at the visitors center we asked about Peek-a-boo Canyon. The gave us a map and suggested that we would walk in to the Canyon. It was about 4 miles on the road. We could not drive because you need an ATV or a serious 4 wheel drive vehicle to make it. We thought about hiking but finally decided to drive out to Dreamland Safari Tours and see if they could take us out. We lucked out. They had a tour booked for noon and had space for us. At this point we had a couple of hours to spare so we decided to drive out to Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park. I had visited the Sand Dunes about fifteen years ago and thought it was great.

When we arrived at the Sand Dunes we were very disappointed to find that ATV’s and motor cycles were allowed on the dunes. In the old days they were confined to a section away from the main dunes. Now they had the run of most of the park. Nothing like going out to enjoy nature and having to dodge ATV’s and listen to them roar by. Apparently the state doesn’t have the backbone to say no to the nuts that want to race around on their ATV’s.

We noticed these deer at the edge of the dunes. The could hear the ATV’s coming.

We ended up taking photos of small sections on the dunes that had not been destroyed by the ATV’s. I have to say this will not be on our list of places to stop the next time we are in the area.

As we were driving away from the Dunes we found a large flock of American Avocet’s wading in a small wet area along the road.

 

We arrived in Zion late in the afternoon. As we drove into the park we could see the rocks changing in color.

More photos from Zion can be found on my website.

We drove on to Springdale where we checked in to our hotel, did some laundry and then headed out to grab a bite to eat. When we returned to our hotel we were greeted with this display on the rocks across the valley.

The next morning we headed out to the park. Access to the park is by bus so we loaded up and road to the end of the bus line where we walked along the riverside trail. It was difficult to photograph in the morning light because one wall of the canyon was in deep shadows and the other in bright sunlight. It was early spring in Zion and the trees were just leafing out creating some beautiful colors.

We encountered this rock cairn along the trail.

We worked our way back toward the park entrance stopping at each of the stops to hike. We took the Kayenta Trail up toward the Emerald Pools. Along the way We had some great views of the canyon floor. The spring wildflowers were out along the trail. When we started out in the morning the Emerald Pools trail was closed but as we continued hiking we discovered that the trail had been opened earlier in the morning. Apparently it was closed because of a rock slide. The Emerald Pools weren’t all that great but there was a nice waterfall that we could walk behind.

 

We then worked our way out of the park.