After walking through Antelope Canyon on our southwest parks road trip, we drove to Zion National Park, where we crossed the Virgin River to hike to Emerald Pools. In early June, the Virgin River is quiet, so it’s hard to imagine that this river carved the Zion Canyon through the red rock. The peak in the photo is 1,400 feet above the river.
On the second morning of our southwest parks road trip, we saw Courthouse Towers and the Windows, an area of Arches National Park with several large arches. That Friday, roads were closed for construction until 7 am, an hour past sunrise, so we missed the dawn light.
To kick off our southwest USA road trip, we scheduled three full days in Moab to see Arches and Canyonlands National Parks and to photograph the Milky Way.
We were hampered by road closures at Arches National Park (NP). This season, all park roads are closed for construction weekdays from 7 pm to 7 am. Since dawn was at 6 am and sunset was at 8:30 pm during our visit, the road closure prevented photos of sunrise, sunset, and stars on weekdays. A significant hiking area was closed entirely. 😦
As planned, we arrived in Moab on a Wednesday, one day before the new moon. Moonlight can obscure the faint stars of the Milky Way, so considering the moon phase is important when photographing Milky Way.
Our first morning in Moab was overcast — unfortunate because flat, gray light doesn’t bring out the best in the red rock. We started with the area’s most popular sight, entering Arches NP before the Visitor’s Center opened to hike to Delicate Arch. The hike is 3 miles (4.8 km) roundtrip and climbs 480 feet (146m). With no shade, hiking on a cloudy morning is easier than on a hot afternoon.
We drove to the Carrizo Plain to see the wildflower bloom, so an opportunity to see visible effects of the San Andreas fault was an unexpected bonus. The 1906 San Francisco earthquake on the San Andreas fault led to fires that burned much of San Francisco.
According to a geology tour brochure from the Carrizo Plain National Monument, the San Andreas fault is about 700 miles long, and it’s “the boundary between the Pacific and North American tectonic plates.” The land on each side of the fault has slipped sideways as the tectonic plates moved, and you can see this at Carrizo Plain.
In the above aerial view from Google Earth, the red arrow points to where Wallace Creek crosses the San Andreas fault. The diagonal line running parallel to the Temblor Range is the San Andreas fault. From wikipedia, temblor is “from the Spanish word for ‘earthquake’ (terremoto)”.
This week we took a road trip to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. The Golden Gate is the gap in the mountains were the San Francisco Bay meets the Pacific Ocean. The Bridge spans the gap between San Francisco and Marin County. With clear skies and a high of 61 degrees F, it was a beautiful day for bicycling and hiking.
During our trip to Hawaii in August, I was fascinated by the clouds and changing light on the Koolau Range behind Honolulu. Shown above, Manoa Valley is where I lived most my childhood, but I hadn’t seen this view of the mountains and valley from Waikiki. The back of Manoa Valley is gray, obscured by rain. The sun shines through the shifting clouds, lighting the ridges of the cliffs on Tantalus, the mountain on the left.