Moab (Part 1): Mesa Arch, Delicate Arch, White Rim Canyon


One underrated thing about living in Colorado is the proximity to amazing natural areas. Obviously there are the countless places in the state but you are also just a road trip away from places like The Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, and Grand Teton National Park (if you don't mind spending 12 hours in a car). A little bit closer though is Moab, Utah home to not one but two National Parks. Many people maybe familiar with one, Arches, mostly because it's most iconic feature happens to be on the license plate for Utah. The second, Canyonlands, might be a bit less visited as it is a bit out of the way but is just as spectacular.

So, one weekend when my wife was out of town, I decided to pack up the car and hit the road Friday evening after work. Six hours and an obligatory stop at Taco Bell (I secretly love Taco Bell) later I arrived at Canyonlands. It was late enough that I just parked the car and went to sleep. Sunrise wasn't too far off so sleeping in the car was the best option I could think of.

When I woke up I knew where I wanted to be so I drove to the trailhead for Mesa Arch. This spot is incredibly popular, for good reason, and during warmer months you might find 50 other photographers battling for a spot. I, however, was there in January and by the time the sun came up there were really only about 6 of us there. Unfortunately we were not treated to the iconic sunrise we all wanted. The clouds had settled in on the mesa and by the time the sun would have been peaking above the horizon we were totally socked in by fog. This however does not mean the photos were terrible. In fact, I think it makes them fairly unique.

Mesa Arch, Canyonlands National Park

Mesa Arch, Canyonlands National Park

Disappointed by the results from this sunrise, I decided to do something I rarely do and that is to go back to the same spot for sunrise the next day. Once again though I was thwarted by fog, but once again there was something that added a unique element that most shots from Mesa Arch don't have...snow.

Mesa Arch, Canyonlands National Park

Mesa Arch, Canyonlands National Park

Mesa Arch, Canyonlands National Park

Mesa Arch, Canyonlands National Park

One nice thing about being in one spot for such a long time is that you get to explore. After one of my early morning photo sessions I needed to use the restroom so I drove to a picnic area that happened to have the facilities I needed. When driving out of the picnic area I saw a small sign indicating a hike. I had nothing but time to kill so I decided to hop out and take a walk. The trail led the White Rim Canyon overlook, a place I had never visited and boy was I happy I decided to head out there.

Canyonlands National Park