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Arches National Park

Updated: May 28

Let's just say I bent the rules while visiting Arches National Park in Utah. No overnight camping is allowed except within designated areas, of which there is just one. But the park is open 24x7, so as long as you are awake, you aren't camping! At least by my interpretation.

I did however take an extended nap in my truck bed.

The park is unbelievably well maintained. The roads are paved with no potholes. The pullouts are plentiful and roomy. Nice restrooms. Cell phone service. And of course, wonderful scenes to gaze upon. There are no stores inside the park, but the city of Moab is only about 10 minutes from the park entrance.

I only spent a little over one full inside the National Park, which actually seemed to be enough time. For most people, this is plenty of time. In fact, you could easily make it just a day trip if you wanted. I wanted a bit more time to do some photography at sunset, night, and then again at sunrise.

I lucked out during my short stay. The weather cooperated despite being a bit windy during the daytime. By sunset, the wind calmed and the orange glow from dust in the air added to the warm colors of the sandstone.

Dodging cars and hoping for a break in people passing by, I was lucky enough to capture a few scenes that are usually difficult. One such case being the shot above where I had to run into the road, set up the tripod, frame the shot, hope I had all my settings right, then snap a few shots.

By far, the best time for photography was during "magic hour", which is the 30 minutes before and after both sunset and sunrise. The sky turns a crimson orange which matches the surrounding rock structure. That's not to say other times of the day won't work, but the colors aren't as spectacular.

Some days you just get lucky ... other says you just have to wait patiently for luck to happen.

Fortunately, I picked a time of year where snow can still be seen atop the mountains tops in the distance. It's a neat juxtaposition of cold and hot. The sky was less than cooperative, but that's just the way it goes sometimes.

As mentioned earlier, I did spend the night in the park with the hopes of capturing some Milky Way scenes. Problem is, Moab is just down the road. And even though it's a relatively small city, it still produces way too much light for any night time shots. I suppose one could shoot he foreground then Photoshop in a night sky later, but I don't find much fun in that.

Each day brings different weather conditions, different clouds, different skies, different colors, different perspectives. I had to step-down the aperture and break out the ND filters for this shot. Also did some post-processing vignetting to draw in the emphasis on the Sandstone monuments.

I'd very much like to go back again. Perhaps even make a reservation and try to stay a couple nights in the campground. There are other areas to camp outside the park, but they are kind of far away and are first-come-first-served. I try to find a spot but couldn't, which is why I took an extended nap in the park.

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