Capturing the Magic: A Photographer's Guide to Moab, Utah (Beyond National Parks)
Moab Utah, is a renowned hub for outdoor enthusiasts and nature photographers, best known for its two national parks. However, the area surrounding Moab is brimming with equally stunning landscapes and geological formations that offer outstanding photography opportunities. This guide will take you on a journey through some of these lesser-known but awe-inspiring locales.
1. Castle Valley
Just 16 miles northeast of Moab, Castle Valley awaits with its mesmerizing red rock buttes and spires. These dramatic geological formations, standing tall against the backdrop of the La Sal Mountains, make for stunning compositions. The iconic Castleton Tower is a highlight here. The valley is particularly captivating during sunrise and sunset, when the soft light paints the rocks in hues of gold, orange, and red.
2. Fisher Towers
Further along the road from Castle Valley, you'll encounter Fisher Towers. These towering sandstone monoliths rise dramatically from the desert floor. The play of light and shadow on these structures can create some truly captivating images. There's a trail that winds around the base of these towers, offering a variety of angles and perspectives for your compositions.
3. Colorado River Scenic Byway (U-128)
The Colorado River Scenic Byway is a photographer's delight, with the winding Colorado River on one side and towering red cliffs on the other. There are numerous pull-outs along the road, each providing a unique vantage point for capturing the river and the surrounding landscape. Sunsets here can be particularly striking, with the setting sun casting a warm, golden light on the river and cliffs.
4. Dead Horse Point State Park
Situated atop a high plateau at an altitude of about 5,900 feet, Dead Horse Point State Park offers stunning panoramas of the Colorado River and the surrounding canyon country. The view from Dead Horse Point is one of the most photographed landscapes in the world. It's an ideal spot for capturing the sunrise when the early morning light gently illuminates the sprawling landscape beneath.
5. La Sal Mountains
The La Sal Mountains offer a stark contrast to the red rock desert that typifies the Moab area. These often snow-capped peaks provide an excellent backdrop for landscape photos, especially in autumn when the mountainsides are ablaze with the vibrant colors of changing leaves.
6. Manti-La Sal National Forest
Encompassing the La Sal Mountains, the Manti-La Sal National Forest is an oasis of alpine beauty in the desert. This diverse area features everything from towering peaks and lush forests to lower elevation red rock canyons. It's a great location for photographing wildlife, wildflowers, and fall foliage.
7. Mill Creek Waterfall
Tucked away in Powerhouse Lane, Moab, the Mill Creek North Fork Trail leads to a beautiful waterfall, a hidden gem in the desert landscape. The waterfall, framed by lush vegetation and rock formations, is a refreshing subject to photograph.
8. Potash Road (Scenic Byway 279)
Potash Road offers a different taste of Moab's geological bounty. This route takes you along the Colorado River, beneath towering red rock cliffs, and past ancient rock art panels. The petroglyphs and dinosaur tracks add a fascinating historical dimension to your photographs.
There's no denying that the area surrounding Moab, Utah, offers some of the most stunning and varied landscapes in the American Southwest. From towering sandstone formations and scenic byways to snowy peaks and hidden waterfalls, these locations provide a wealth of opportunities for photographers. Now, get off the couch and go make unusual images.