September 26, 2011

Southwestern Adventure: Canyonlands NP

My time at Canyonlands National Park was one of the best parts of my four day trip.  I took the backcountry road from Moab to Canyonlands going from Potash Road to Shafer Trail.  It was a bit intense at times, but my Jeep performed perfectly.  Great views at every corner.  Going up Shafer trail was by far the best part of the 27 mile off-road trail as you climb the side of the cliff to Island in the Sky of Canyonlands National Park.  


Overlooking the Colorado River on Potash Road/Shafer Trail.

Looking back from Shafer Trail.

I finally made it to Island of the Sky and went straight to the Ranger Station to find more information on the Class II site False Kiva.  One of the most awe inspiring, peaceful places I've ever been.  The hike was a bit nerve racking at times and at a few points I wondered if I was really on the right track (as it is not marked besides a few cairns and is not often travelled).  You come around a bend without a soul in sight to see the magnificent view overlooking the mesas and buttes far off down the canyon walls.  As if in its own bowl of beauty the cave that holds False Kiva is nearly hidden until you climb right onto it.  The last switchback to the edge of the cave is where it required the most attention.  Every step counted.  Once I came to the cave I realized how silent it was.  I was the only one making a sound.  What a great reward in the end.  I signed my name amongst those who had made the trip before me in the notebook kept in an ammo can, took my pictures and left before the sun completely set so I could find my way back to my car.  


The next morning I arrived at Mesa Arch extra early and was surprised to come upon three other photographers who had arrived before me.  The stars were still out and each photographer respected the other.  The sun slowly rose behind the cliffs on the horizon as floods of tourists started coming around the trail to witness the natural wonder of a glowing arch overlooking vast canyons.  It really is a photographers dream spot.  Every photographer has a shot and I couldn't leave without mine.  As much as you try to be different as a photographer you can't help noticing your tripod legs hitting the same spots as thousands before you in some spots.  Mesa Arch didn't disappoint, but the crowds made me want to scramble back to False Kiva and explore.

Tourists and photographers getting their shot of Mesa Arch at sunrise. 

 Tomorrow: Monument Valley

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