The Colorado River (and yes, I know that this is the Utah page) starts in in the
Colorado Rockies and flows west. From the source in Rocky Mountain National Park
to the ultimate destination in the Pacific Ocean, it carves its way down layers
and layers of geological history. These layers are called the Colorado Plateau.
See? It didn't have anything to do with the state, it was all about the river.
The state of Utah (you knew I was getting to that eventually) contains one of the most diverse and awe inspiring collections of national parks in, well, in the nation. Arches. Bryce. Canyonlands. Dead Horse Point. Escalante. Zion. An entire alphabet soup of parks.
My first real photography vacation took place in Arches National Park, so it will always have a special place in my memories. I have been back many times since, and I have yet to get tired of it. There is so much to see, especially when tracking down those elusive perfect Moments of Light. Hopefully you will see some here.
Current photo tours of Utah
Arches National Park
Arches National Park, Utah
Home to the world's greatest concentration of natural stone arches, this park is one of my favorite places to visit. On our first visit in 1997 we planned for 2 days at this park, and 3 days at nearby Canyonlands. However, the beauty and variety of hoodoos (it's a word, trust me), arches, and other formations kept us coming back each day for more.
"Sunrise from Bryce Point"
Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
Bryce Canyon isn't really a canyon at all. More officially it should be called an amphitheater. The park is on the western edge of a valley where freezing temperatures, water, wind, and time have all worked together to create one of the most unique areas in the state.
The park was named after Ebeneezer Bryce, an early Mormon settler. He eventually left the area, but not before supposedly remarking:
It's a great place to live, but a heck of a place to lose a cow.
Canyonlands National Park
"Sunrise at Mesa Arch"
Canyonlands National Park, Utah
Canyonlands National Park is divided into three different areas by the Colorado and the Green Rivers. Island in the Sky is the northernmost area. The other two are the Maze, which is west of the Colorado River, and Needles which is east and south of the Colorado.
Zion National Park
Zion is a photographer's dream! There are really two areas in the park, the lower valley along the Virgin River and the upper area of the park which is more rugged. The valley features towering red rock formations and steep cliff walls. Because the elevation is lower and there is a ready source of water this park is like almost no other park in Utah. The wildflowers in the spring are supposed to be wonderful!
The upper area of the park provides an entirely different landscape. It's much drier, for one thing. Instead of deep canyons you will see slick rock and other sandstone formations. There are even a few slot canyons, if you know where to look...
Capitol Reef National Park
This park is not as popular as some of those already listed. It's not because it's any less scenic. Maybe it is because it is a long way from anything else. It does happen to be on the way from the area around Bryce and Zion to Arches.
Escalante National Park
One of the newer national parks in Utah is also one of the largest. We drove past this park on one trip because we didn't have the time to really explore it. But we'll be back.