Thursday, March 5, 2015

Favorite Photo Locations - Arches National Park - Part II

After visiting the windows section of Arches National Park, follow the road back to the main park road and turn right. The road will take you down to the floor of the valley. Watch for the signs to Delicate Arch. Turn right there.

There are two parking areas along the road. The first is at the Wolfe Ranch where the trailhead to the arch begins. It isn’t a hard hike but is about a mile and a half and has an elevation gain of about 500 feet. Most of the hike is over slick rock and there are cairns along the way to direct you to the best route. As you approach the arch, the trail is narrow and drops off a sheer cliff but the trail is wide enough and smooth so walking is easy.  You can’t see the arch until you get to the end of the trail.
There is a small arch in the wall just before Delicate Arch that provides a nice view of this famous arch. It is a relatively easy climb up but the climb down is dangerous. If you choose to check out the view, be prepared to slide down on your backside.

Make sure you take plenty of water on your hike to Delicate Arch. The hot dry climate can drain you of water. The effort will also cause you to perspire. If you visit Delicate Arch during the cool season, make sure you carry a jacket. It may be warm on your hike, but when you get to your destination, even the slightest breeze will cool you down fast.

The best time to photograph Delicate Arch from this location is in the late afternoon when the sun lights up the arch and the La Sal Mountains in the distance.

The hike to Delicate Arch is well worth the long hike.

The less strenuous place to see Delicate Arch begins at the parking area at the end of the road. There is a lookout area a short distance from the parking lot. The arch is a long way off so you won’t get the classic view of the arch, but you will be able to see it. There is a hiking trail there that will lead you to a viewpoint much closer to Delicate Arch. It isn't nearly as demanding the hike to the arch itself, but it is steep. You can’t get to the base of Delicate Arch from this place as there is canyon that separates the two places.

These locations offer good photographic opportunities from mid-morning on. Early in the day, the arch is in shadow. A long lens is a good idea when photographing Delicate Arch from these viewpoints.

Delicate Arch Viewed from the upper viewing area at the end of the road. I made this photo using a 400mm lens.

After viewing Delicate Arch, head back to the main park road and turn right. The road will take you past Fiery Furnace and lead you to the parking area near the Devil’s Garden.

The Fiery Furnace is interesting and best captured from the viewpoint. The best way to see it close-up is to sign up for a ranger led tour. The Fiery Furnace is a maze that can easily get you lost if you don’t know where you are going.

As you drive along the road past the Fiery Furnace, you will see Skyline Arch along the fin wall on your right. There is a parking along the road if you wish to hike to the arch. It is less than a half mile round-trip to the arch.

The setting sun will light up Skyline Arch so plan you photo op for late in the day.

Make sure you leave plenty of time to visit Landscape Arch which the longest known arch in the world. It is accessible via an easy hike from the parking area at the Devil’s Garden. The hike is along flat ground and is about a mile and a half round-trip walk. You can get reasonably close to this arch but, because a piece of the arch collapsed a few years ago, access to the area below the arch is prohibited.

The view of this arch is from the east, so early morning works best for photographing it. That time of the day also assures you of a parking place. The Devil’s Garden is a very popular area of the park and parking spaces are not always available.

Landscape Arch may collapse in the near future so make sure you see it while it is still there.

Beyond Landscape are some other impressive arches but getting to them requires much more effort. Access to Pine Tree and Tunnel Arch are just off the trail between the parking lot and Landscape Arch. These are easy walks.

If you see all of the features of Arches National Park found in these two articles, you will have seen some of the best that the park offers.