Heading from Breckenridge CO to Palm Springs CA this past week, Steven and I decided to explore some parts of Utah we had not yet seen -- the Capital Reef National Park, and just south of that, the Grand Staircase/Escalante National Monument
Here's the deal. The popular National Parks of this part of Utah - Bryce and Zion - are jammed this time of year. The Capital Reef has only one paved road running through it, otherwise bring your 4-wheeler and higher clearance vehicle. There is only one camp ground. If you want a hotel/restaurant type trip, the town of Torrey at the far side of the park is it -- drive all day, hike and hope to not get lost or stalled by flash flooding, and you eventually get through the park to Torrey.
In addition to having basically 100 miles of sandstone formations, cliffs, canyons, spires, drop offs, and a few million years of geology to ponder, you have it ALL TO YOURSELF. We chatted with a few people here and there. We drove along with a few cars here and there. That's it.
The photo-ops are endless and amazing. It's hard to be the driver because of the constant visual distractions of such exceptional scenery.
Our only disappointment was the one hike we really wanted to do was washed out (flash flooding is common). No worries, we found other places to go. Per my friend Lynn's suggestion, we took the scenic drive toward the camp grounds and got peach pies at The Homestead. Steven suggested we share -- I said "absolutely I am NOT sharing my peach pie." It was maybe the best I have ever had. Peaches picked from their orchards. No more sweet than the fruit itself . Super thin crust. Peaches still a little "al dente" (how do they do THAT?)
The orchard open for free visitor picking was just down the road from the visitor's center-- ginger apples and Bartlett pears.
Capital Reef is an amazing geography lesson as far as the eye can see. You're in the canyons sometimes; on top other times, but always the formations are just right there and then way out there.
Leaving the Capital Reef area, we drove through the incredibly large Dixie National forest (almost as big as our Colorado White River National Forest) - all junipers, pinon pines, and bristlecones. Roll the window down - it is amazingly aromatic. Then we reached The Grand Staircase/Escalante National Monument. You'd think after looking at totally imposing sandstone formations, canyons, walls, and cliffs at Capital Reef you would have had enough - but - no way. The eye candy just kept getting better. We are not good enough hikers/back packers to tackle Escalante, but it did take us all day to do the pull outs and short hikes from there. And, as you will see from a few shots in this collection, we did a little side trip to the Escalante Petrified Forest State Park.
I've posted a few shots here in the blog to whet your appetite. When you finish, click on "COLLECTIONS" at the top of the page here and select UTAH for the full gallery.
As usual, I can't finish a blog post without a few lessons learned for the photographers.
1. Yep it worked - per my earlier post, Steven was shooting with the Canon 60D and a 250 zoom. He did the long landscapes, keeping his settings mostly on what was best for long depth of field (f/12+; ISO 200). I had my Leica with an 18-55 zoom (wide angle) and also a little pocket Olympus that is handy to have for quick close ups. In effect, we had different equipment, and tried not to overlap too much in what we were shooting.
2. It was pretty hazy in the early morning so we should have added something other than just a UV filter. Post production tended to most of it. If anyone has a good suggestion for which filters would be best for hazy morning sun, let me know.
3. I did a bunch of bracketed shots, hoping to get at least one good HDR. This was also a great location for practicing panning and panoramic overlapping shots. The first shot below is 3 shots stitched together.
I hope you enjoy this collection.