We drove most of the day from Mesa Verde, Colorado, to Page, Arizona, where we visited nearby Horseshoe Bend at sunset. We’ll see how the light changed during the golden hour.
At Horseshoe Bend, the Colorado River makes a 270° horseshoe-shaped bend in a 1000-foot-deep canyon carved from pink Navajo sandstone. From the park service, “Notice how the rock itself has diagonal striped layers. These are the remnants of the layers of the ancient massive sand dunes before they were petrified into stone.”
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We purchased tickets for the tour of the Balcony House when we entered Mesa Verde National Park , but after seeing the Cliff Palace the evening before and waking at 2 am to photograph the Milky Way, I was tired and wondered if the Balcony House offered much beyond the Cliff Palace. As it turned out, I thoroughly enjoying the ranger-led tour of Balcony House for both the adventure and a closer look at a cliff dwelling.
The Park Service advises “The Balcony House tour requires visitors to descend a 100 foot staircase into the canyon; climb a 32 foot ladder; crawl through a 12 foot, 18 inches wide tunnel; and clamber up an additional 60 feet on ladders and stone steps.” And you’re at 7,000-foot elevation.
Above, we climbed a ladder and stone steps to exit Balcony House, with the canyon floor far below. Look down the steps and railing to the top of a ladder, and you’ll see a park ranger (wearing a hat) at the bottom of the ladder, 60 feet below.
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After clouds got in my way at Arches National Park, on each of our two nights at Mesa Verde National Park, I got up in the middle of the night to take pictures of the Milky Way.
Above, on our first night I photographed from the balcony of our south-facing room at the Far View Lodge. At 2:20 am, the Milky Way is more horizontal than vertical. With a 30-second exposure, the glow of distant lights is apparent.
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On our first evening in Mesa Verde National Park, we took the twilight photography tour of the Cliff Palace, one of the largest cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde. “Recent studies reveal that the Cliff Palace contained 150 rooms and 23 kivas and had a population of approximately 100 people.”
Shown above, a tour group is gathering on the upper left while another group prepares to exit to the right.
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On our southwest parks road trip, we drove from Moab, Utah, to Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado to see cliff dwellings and learn about the people who built them in the 1200s.
Above, the Spruce Tree House, the best preserved cliff dwelling in the park, was closed to the public in 2015 after a rock fall and subsequent investigation.
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On our last evening in Moab, we drove to Arches National Park to photograph during the golden hour, our only sunset photos at Arches NP due to the park’s nighttime road closures. We returned to Balanced Rock and the Windows, which have interesting rock formations close to a parking lot.
From our time-tagged photos, we can observe how light changed as the sun set. Above, the sun just before sunset makes the rock glow red.
Continue reading Sunset at Arches National Park
After Milky Way photography and dawn at North Window, we wanted a relaxing afternoon, so we drove along the Colorado River, which forms the south boundary of Arches National Park.
Above, the red rock of Arches NP contrasts with the Colorado River and the sky, as two rafts float down the river. A great activity for a warm afternoon. Colorado means red in Spanish. Running through all the red rock of the Colorado Plateau, the river water might have a reddish tint, but I wouldn’t call it red.
Continue reading Colorado River at Moab