Balanced Rock

After the hike to Delicate Arch on our parks road trip, we scouted Balanced Rock as a potential foreground subject for a Milky Way photo. For an interesting photo composition, you want something in the foreground to contrast with the Milky Way. Despite several tries, I had never been able to photograph the Milky Way. Arches NP is known for dark skies (favorable for star photos), and we had scheduled this road trip to take advantage of the dark skies of a new moon.

You don’t appreciate the size of Balanced Rock at first — you have to get closer. Balanced Rock is a 128-foot (39 m) spire capped with a 3,500-ton (3M kg) boulder.

Balanced Rock is larger than the initial impression

The 3,500-ton boulder rests on a narrow collar of light-colored rock.

detail of Balanced Rock

The rock forming the pedestal is softer than the rock of the boulder, so eventually the pedestal will erode away and the boulder will topple.

Balanced Rock looked like a very good place for a photo of the Milky Way and something distinctive in the foreground. From the northern hemisphere, the Milky Way is to our south so we look for an interesting photo composition facing south. Walking in the dark for a star photo, a short walk is easier than a long walk. From the Balanced Rock parking lot, it’s a short walk to a south-pointing view of Balanced Rock. We planned to return the next night when the Arches NP roads are open at night.


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I enjoy travel, art, food, photography, nature, California native plants, history, and yoga. I am a retired software engineer. The gravatar is a Nuttall's woodpecker that visited our backyard.

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