Sunset at Arches National Park

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.

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Colorado River at Moab

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.

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Sunrise at North Window

Napping at Balanced Rock after trying for a Milky Way shot, the alarm woke us, and we drove to the Windows, arriving before dawn. The sun would rise on the far side of the Windows, so I had to choose between photographing the rising sun or the far side of the Windows. Photographing several Santorini sunsets last fall, I noticed that photos of the town illuminated by the setting sun were much more interesting than those of the sun sinking into the sea.

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My First Milky Way Photo, Almost

We planned our road trip to take photos of the Milky Way. We would visit three national parks known for dark skies around the new moon. We scouted rock formations to add foreground interest to the Milky Way. Near Moab, Arches National Park has interesting rock formations, but Arches roads were closed weekday nights. Canyonlands NP was open at night, but using canyons to add foreground interest to star photos seemed difficult.

Our first opportunity for open roads at night at Arches NP was early Saturday morning, and we took it. We went to bed early, got up at 2 am, saw stars, and drove to Balanced Rock.

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Canyonlands Island in the Sky

After seeing Delicate Arch and Balanced Rock on a Thursday morning, we drove to the Island in the Sky district of Canyonlands National Park that afternoon. Shown above, we’re standing on a high mesa, 1,400 feet above a flatland sliced by 1,000-foot-deep canyons. The sides of the mesa are on the left; Wingate sandstone forms the red vertical walls. This high mesa is like an island in the sky.

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