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Suggestions for Moab, Grand Canyon, Zion area

Discussion in 'Special Sessions, Events, and Tour Announcements' started by super_rep, Mar 2, 2005.

  1. We're planning to spend the month of May in the Canyonlands area of UT and AZ. Does anyone have any suggestions of places that we should not miss? I especially want to get some of those sunrise/sunset shots of the arches, canyons and castle rocks. We do have a 4x4 so remote areas are going to be OK as long as they are easy to intermediate trails.

  2. I'm sure you can get great suggestions from Gordon (greyflash) since he lives there, but I'm not bashful so I'll pipe in with some of my own (no particular order here):

    - Bryce Canyon (great sunrise opps there)
    - Antelope Canyon/Page AZ area
    - Grand Canyon
    - Sedona if you make it that far south
    - Arches NP
    - Sand Hollow State Park (see Gordon's pics posted here)

    I'm sure others will also have other suggestions...
  3. Zion's National Park is wonderful and if you don't mind getting wet on the lower half the hike up the river bed is amazing. Also the hike up to angels landing is spectacular but not an easy trek. I agree that Bryce has some amazing early morning and late afternoon shots available. Arches is great but does require some hiking. For a small park, Snow Canyon near St. George is pretty neat as well. Slick Rock near Moab will let you photograph some mountain bikers in a beautiful setting. Escalante National Staircase Monument has nice scenery also. And of course the Grand Canyon if you have not seen that previously.
  4. PJohnP


    Feb 5, 2005
    Chet :

    A couple of spots not mentioned by others...

    Dead Horse Point State Park is adjacent to Canyonlands and Arches NP, and is absolutely jawdroppingly beautiful. You go out Hwy 313 (if I remember right) through Potash, and then into the backcountry. Much less travelled than Arches or Canyonlands, the views over the river are awe-inspiring. Dead Horse SP is very well situated if you're hitting Canyonlands and Arches. In fact, you can start at dawn in Arches, drive down through Dead Horse, and come out in Canyonlands. 4WD is quite definitely recommended for this. Note that this is poorly posted, and the purchase of a local backcountry map is also recommended.

    Kodachrome State Park, between Bryce and Zion, is a small gem of a location. Not as imposing as either of the bookends I've just mentioned, it's nonetheless quite well worth making a stop for. Smaller in scope, it's a good stopping ground between Bryce and Zion.

    Note that Zion does not permit you to drive through much of the park, running tour bus systems that you can embark and disembark from. I found this a bit confining for a short visit, as I couldn't get to exactly where I wanted within the bus system and hiking. If you have more time, this may be advantageous. However, watch out for thievery if you leave your vehicle for some time or go to camp. I heard one person bemoaning losing a lot of gear from their vehicle overnight.

    I'll offer another option, albeit much larger in scope.

    One absolutely fantastic trip to make is going from Blanding on Utah 95, through Natural Bridges, Glen Canyon NRA, Capitol Reef NP, down Utah 12 through Escalante and the associated park (don't miss the Hogsback on the drive down from Torrey !), across to Bryce NP, Kodachrome SP, stopping in Red Canyon, then proceeding south on US 89 to Zion. That's several days of intense viewing of some of southern Utah's best landscapes. You can have grand expanses, slot canyons, mesas, buttes - it's all in that run. You can take weeks or days to see this depending on how in-depth you want to explore each area.

    Each location has specific areas of wonder. Natural Bridges is a small location, but rich in photo-ops with the bridges. It's mostly accessible from the loop drive through it, albeit with a touch of scrambling for some areas.

    Escalante is a pretty amazing location, with a lot available from the unpaved roads, but short hikes of several miles reveal some astounding items such as Zebra Slot Canyon or Tunnel Slot Canyon. The usual warnings about weather and slot canyons apply.

    Red Canyon's pretty astounding, too, and all of Ron Reznick's warnings about blowing the red channel on digital photos apply here doubly.

    The Utah 12 loop trip leaves you situated above the north side of the Grand Canyon, near Kaibab National Forest, Cedar City or St. George, UT, and in quick driving range of Antelope Canyon.

    Of course, you could reverse this and then come down into the Four Corners area and see some other kinds of sights. This is a few hours drive from me, so I've explored around many of these locales in some depth.

    I'm trying to clear time in a couple of months to do this again with my wife, although I seriously doubt if she will want to wade up a flooded slot canyon or three as I did two years ago. But, OTOH, I also have a weekend planned for Big Bend NP later this month arranged around work in west TX, so I may not be able spring free for a UT trip.

    In any case, no matter what you choose in southern UT, you have immense opportunities in front of you. Keep us posted on your plans, and, of course, post your photos.

    John P.
  5. John,

    Thanks for such a complete answer. I've printed out your reply and have filed in with our trip folder "places to visit".

    Like you I am anxious to try the slot canyons. The shots I have seen from these, especially the sunlight hitting the walls and canyon floors have made me want to see the real thing and try my hand at photographing it.

    I just hope I am up for the hikes. I go in for arthroscopy surgery on my knee next Wednesday. This only gives me 3 weeks for therapy before we leave.

  6. PJohnP


    Feb 5, 2005
    Chet :

    Glad to help.

    Zebra Slot Canyon and Tunnel Slot Canyon are "doable" without too much scrambling if dry. I waded up Zebra Slot in head-high water two years back (it was cold water, too). However, there's about a three plus mile hike to get there, including a fair bit of sand walking, which I'd imagine won't be easy on your knee.

    But Goblin Slot is accessible from almost the roadside.

    Note that hiking in slot canyons has some big hazards. If there's rain anywhere in the area, the water concentrates off of the mesa tops and fills the slot canyon, sometimes in a tidalbore-like wave. If you suspect that there's rain in the area, it's not the best idea to hike slot canyons.

    Then, too, slot canyons filled with water aren't easy to navigate, and that's best left for more experienced (or foolhardy) types like me. And I'm not telling which of those classes I fall into ! :lol:

    Timing for slot canyons in terms of photography is critical. They are only well lit for certain times of the day. While people will tell you this is noon, that's not always the case, depending on the orientation of the slot canyon, time of year (influences sun position in the sky), and sometimes if the slot top is symmetrical.

    Keep in touch on your plans, and ask some questions. It may turn out that you need to place less stress on the knee, and I can perhaps offer some alternatives for that case.

    John P.
  7. Baywing


    Feb 22, 2005
    CT USA
    For a lower physical impact, Upper Antelope Slot canyon is a good choice. You are driven right to the entrance, and the canyon is an easy walk thru. Don't forget Monument Valley, you can go on a tour or drive yourself, stopping at various locales along the way.
  8. These will keep you TOO busy!

    1- Moab,UT - Arches National Monument (short hikes) and 4x4 stuff
    2- Chinle,AZ - Canyon de Chelly (4x4 or tour) I suggest 4x4
    3- Page,AZ - Antelope Canyon (upper and lower)
    4- Page,AZ - Coyote Buttes South (North is full already, register NOW) 4x4
    5- Page,AZ - Lake Powell (Horseshoe Bend) also fun 4x4 stuff
    6- Page,AZ - North Rim of Grand Canyon - fun 4x4 stuff
    7- Kanab, UT - Zion, Bryce
    8- Mexican Hat, UT - Monument Valley (a must in May!) - 4x4 with guide

    Some examples on www.dustylens.com
  9. general


    Apr 30, 2005
    Monument Valley


    Do you have more detail on Monument Valley? I plan on being there in a couple of weeks for the first time. My E Mail is daldridge@cox.net if that would be better. Thanks.
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