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Trips : Utah : Arches National Park : Balanced Rock

The massive size of this formation in contrast with the incredibly delicate balance provides one of the more visually amazing features of the park. Fortunately the park management must believe that it is still relatively solid as you can walk right out and stand underneath the rock and get a really good feeling for just how massive it is...

How massive is it? According to the guidebook, it weighs as much as 1,600 full size cars! Estimated at 3,577 tons! Let's see, at 3,577 tons times 2,000 pounds per ton...

... carry the one...

.. that's over 7,000,000 (that's seven million, folks) pounds! Or for everyone else in the world, over three million kilograms. Either way you look at it, that's a lot of rock being balanced.

"Balanced Rock"
Arches National Park, Utah

There used to be a second hoodoo standing near Balanced Rock. It was called "Chip Off the Old Block". Unfortunately, it fell sometime during the winter of 1975. They believe that Chip fell due to natural causes. However, this is not always the case. Very few things irritate me more (okay, we wanted to use a stronger word, but this is a family channel) than careless destruction of our national treasures. But that's what my soapbox page is for. You don't have to read about it unless you want to.

Since the Balanced Rock is made up of the same reddish stone that most of the park features, it photographs fairly flat during the day. The midday sunlight does not really bring out the hues that are possible near sunset.

"Sunset at Balanced Rock"
Arches National Park, Utah
Big Picture

Like this one.

This picture was taken late in the day, from a vantage point across the road from the Balanced Rock parking area. With the right angle you can really get a good view of the fading light on the rock. Plus, you can use a polarizing filter to help "enhance" the colors by removing unwanted reflections. And you can use Velvia film, which really adds some punch to the colors. We did all of those things for this image, which means that there was no color manipulation done on the computer to present this image.

What you see is what you get.

"Moon Behind Balanced Rock"
Arches National Park, Utah

If we have inspired you to get out and start taking your own pictures, then great! Wonderful! But one word of advice: Just because the sun goes down doesn't mean you have to stop taking pictures.

With a sturdy tripod - heck, even a cheap tripod will let you get shots like this one - you don't have to limit yourself to hand-holding your camera. Use a beanbag, a rolled up towel, anything that will keep your camera from moving while you take the longer exposures required to take twilight shots.

One rule of thumb that is often quoted (and why don't we quote "rules of the pinky", anyway?) is that you can handhold your camera for a shutter speed that is the inverse of your lens size. (Huh?) It goes like this: if you are using a 500mm lens, then the slowest shutter speed you should handhold is 1/500th of a second. With a 50mm lens (the standard on many 35mm cameras) you can risk handholding for 1/50th of a second. And so on.

Can you stand one more sunset picture? If so, then take a look below. After taking the moonrise picture just above, we drove around towards the Windows Section of the park. We had seen mule deer there near dusk before, and thought it might be a fun way to end the day. Well, we didn't see any deer. But we did get the opportunity to catch the final moments of the sunset with the Balanced Rock as a silhouette. We call this image, "Tangerine Dreams".

"Tangerine Dreams"
Arches National Park, Utah

Thanks for visiting our Balanced Rock Gallery! We hope you enjoyed it.

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Arches National Park
National Park Service Web Site

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