The Holidays are here! How did I celebrate Thanksgiving and Black Friday? By taking a 10 hour drive to Moab, Utah, exploring the desert scenery of Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park. My friend and fellow photographer Ross Perkins and I left Montana at 5 am to make it to Southern Utah in time for sunset.
We arrived to Arches National Park just as the sun was setting, I wasn't very happy with how any of the sunset shots turned out, that's just how it goes sometimes. I knew I would redeem myself once the stars came out. Ross and I hiked to the famous Delicate Arch with headlamps on and temperature dropping, cameras in hand, and stars exploding in the night sky. For any of you that have never been there, Delicate Arch is a VERY popular spot, so it was no surprise when we arrived that a couple photographers were already shooting the arch, so we had a beer and waited our turn. Once we had our opportunity we saw that more people were making their way up the trail to the arch, so we scrambled to get as many shots was we could before stray flashlights could potentially ruin some of our shots. The below photos were the end result of our brief stay at Delicate Arch.
After making our way back to the car in the dark we warmed up quick and headed over to my favorite feature in Arches, Double Arch. Again we were not the only ones stargazing that night and we waited for another photographer to finish his set up and shooting before we had a 20 minute window at Double Arch.
Once we were finished getting a couple shots at Double Arch we made our 30 miles to the East, near the entrance of Canyonlands National Park, it was too dark and cold to set up a tent so we decided to lay out our sleeping bags in the back of my car and cuddle up for about 5 hours. Morning came early, before the sun even thought about coming up. We warmed up the car, shook the sleep out of our eyes and headed to the Green River Overlook and waited for the light of day to join us. Early sun rays lit up the surrounding Mesas and revealed the deep canyon hiding the Green River below.
After sunrise we enjoyed some canned fruit and granola bars in the parking lot and warmed up with the rising sun. The goal for the rest of the day was to find our camping spot for that evening, a place with a view and a fire pit would be ideal...and we succeeded! Just outside of Canyonlands National Park there is a ton of BLM land with established campsites, it was a stroke of luck that we found a little dirt road that veered off towards the edge of the Mesa top with a view down into the canyon. A perfect place to call home for the night. We found it a little earlier than expected so we ran and grabbed a quick bite and a beer at the Moab Brewing company, and on the way back to our secret spot we grabbed a few bundles of firewood. We arrived back to our camp spot, threw up the tent and got a quick nap in before sunset.
We ran around our little cliffside home snapping pictures as the sun dropped below the horizon, shedding light on the canyon top. As the final light crested the edge of the canyon we got the fire started knowing the temperature was going to drop into the 30's that night a few hours of warm fire light would do us good. Sunrise came fast and we packed up the car to get on the road back to Montana.
The SouthWest of the United States is an inspiring place, in my opinion it puts human existence into perspective. Ross and I both commented later that it is almost unbelievable to look across a landscape like that and realize what kind of forces over millions of years it would take to carve rock into arches and canyons that are hundreds of feet deep, it started before people ever stepped foot onto the earth and it will continue long after we are gone.
Go check Ross's work out on Instagram! And follow along on my adventures on my Instagram!
Cheers to many more adventures!