T-Minus One Week!
So this time next week I will be on my way to the American Southwest to start my journey of photographic self discovery. Finally, months of planning and research is about to come to fruition. My tentative plans are to head out to Denver, CO as quickly as possible to start my journey.
I will be heading to Rocky Mountain National Park first for a few days, do some hiking around the park, getting a feel for images that I want and of course getting them. I am planning on waking up hours before dawn to get out to where I want to be for sunrise. During the mid-day will saved for rest, research and scouting. Then to be ready for the late-afternoon golden light into sunset and twilight I will hope to be out shooting some more. I hope to have a set routine down by the time I leave Rocky Mountain National Park that I can use for the rest of my trip. After my first few days at RMNP, I will start to head west and hopefully reach Moab, UT to base myself for the following few days.
Moab I figure is a great centralized area for the surrounding parks of Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. I am hoping that two-three days will suffice at Arches NP and maybe a day or two at Canyonlands NP. Arches NP is known for, well Arches, with over 2,000 officially listed natural Arches I will have plenty of subject matter to work with. It is one of the more easily accessible parks for vistas and I am planning on not being the only photographer there, so it is essential to be up early to mark my territory for sunrise and sunset. I am extremely excited for Arches, but I am more curious about Canyonlands. Canyonlands is Utah’s Largest National Park and seems to be much less accessible, with most parts of the park only accessible by 4WD dirt roads. I am hoping two days will suffice for Canyonlands because my itinerary is already packed for a full 30 days. After Moab, my route will take me towards Capitol Reef NP. On the way I plan to stop at Goblin Valley State Park (a park I’ve been told has great formations and an otherworldly feel to it, thus the name Goblin Valley).
Now Capitol Reef NP is very intriguing to me because to be honest, I had never heard of it until recently. It is one of the least known about parks in the country. Some of the attractions in this park include Fruita orchards, Cassidy arch and of course the Waterpocket Fold. Fruita orchards are orchards planted by settlers in the 1800s. Cassidy arch is thought to be one of the hideouts of infamous outlaws Butch Cassidy. The Waterpocket Fold is a natural phenomena that was created along with the Rocky Mountains over 60 Million years ago, where the earths crust buckled and folded onto itself exposed 100 miles in length throughout the park. This park is going to be quite the surprise for me once I finally see it, yet I am excited none the less.
After Capitol Reef I will be heading down to Bryce Canyon National Park, what I am hoping to be the highlight of my trip. This canyon, with is natural hoodoo formations is unlike any geological formation I’ve seen, not that I’m saying that I am a geological expert, but from seeing other photographers work from Bryce Canyon I am extremely excited for this one. I will probably have to stay at least three days to get all the photographs I’m looking for at this park. After Bryce Canyon, its off to Zion NP. Now this park has a little bit of everything. Cascading waterfalls, narrow canyons, and colorful sandstone cliffs. I am hoping to find a multitude of subjects to photograph at Zion.
Zion will probably be the westernmost point of my trip, but it will by no means be the finale. After Zion I will most likely head to Page, AZ home of the famous wind and water swept Antelope Canyons. There is no doubt in my mind that you have seen these canyons before, you just may never have known their name. These narrow wavy canyons send you into another world. The only way to access these canyons is by a Navajo guide, because they are all on Navajo reservations. These canyons are a mecca for any aspiring landscape photographer and I can not wait to see them. This is about as far as I have planned extensively for my trip, from here on is a blank canvas. But I do have ideas on where to go from there. The Grand Canyon is just south into Arizona and is definitely a sight that I have a desire to see, but it may be too big of a place to tackle and I fear that I may get lost in it all and be wasting precious time. My second thought was to head east through Arizona to the Canyon de Chelly National Monument. This little known park was a favorite of my photographic idol Ansel Adams. He was fond of the majestic feel to this park, with ancient indian cliff dwellings and sandstone cliffs.
Once finished at Canyon de Chelly, I am hoping to head south through New Mexico to the White Sands National Monument. These dune fields have been a photographic subject of many great landscape photographers and I would be kicking myself if I did not attempt to see them with my own eyes and capture their beauty. The White Sands dunes were captured beautifully by Brett Weston, another of my favorite landscape photographers. Ever since seeing his father Edward Weston’s dunes of Oceano, I have become entranced by their ability to capture subtle gradations of light and tone. After my futile attempt to follow in Brett and Edward Weston’s footsteps by photographing the dunes of White Sands, I will most likely head back up through New Mexico to Santa Fe and Taos. The native american feel for these towns have been photographic subjects since the beginning. I can not say I have researched enough on these subjects but I am hoping to become inspired by them once I see them again.
After Sante Fe and Taos, I will head back up through Colorado and the San Juan Mountains. I am hoping I will get back there in time to still see the fiery colors of fall foliage painting the mountainsides, but we will have to wait and see and I do not want to rush myself and risk not accomplishing my goals for this trip. After staying in the San Juans area of Southwestern Colorado, I will most likely head to Great Sand Dunes National Park. These towering dunes, some at over 750 feet, are the largest on the continent. They sit incongruously between the towering Rocky Mountains, which I am excited to see and photograph. By this time in my trip, I will needless to say be incredibly tired and possibly as fit as an ox from all the hiking. I will most certainly have to head north to Denver, stopping at Pikes Peak on the way. Once back in the Denver area, I will possibly take a day or two to relax and unwind, and digest all the experiences and images. Then back east to countless hours of editing, captioning, tagging, organizing the thousands of photos taken…and then finally to my stated goal – a new, more enlightened life.
Now, only a week to wait for my journey to begin.