Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands National Park

Utah Canyon Country Photo Safari

August 16, 2010, 2:31 pm

I’m a serious amateur photographer and I enjoy taking photos whenever I travel, as I collect images of iconic spots all around American’s West.

In my quest, I keep returning to the canyon country in southeastern Utah, because that area contains so many amazingly photogenic attractions. It is a beautiful place, full of history, where I enjoy many kinds of adventure as I seek out photo opportunities.

Late summer is a great time to explore the area, whether you want to auto tour, hike, bike, jeep, raft or ride horseback.

Every aspiring landscape photographer knows about Monument Valley, where distinctive rock formations link sand to sky. The valley has come to symbolize the American West, and has been featured in countless Hollywood movies, calendars and photo essay books.

Nearby sites are not as well know, but are equally distinctive and appealing. I’m slowly making my way through the area, developing quite a gallery of photos. I’ve taken thousands, literally, and want to take hundreds more.

Southeastern Utah is canyon country, bisected by deep, twisting canyons with few access roads. Some scenic sites are located close to roads, where access is easy. Many others are located in the backcountry, accessible only to those willing to get off the pavement. In many areas you can find solitude – this is one of the few places in the continental United States where you can hike or drive backroads in complete solitude. I like that.

Below I list some of my favorite photogenic attractions.

- Monument Valley, particularly the Totem Pole pinnacles.

- Hovenweep National Monument, where you can see ruins from complex structures built by ancient Native American. Castles and towers and other buildings sit on the edge of a cliff, where they catch the rich light of the setting sun.

- The Navajo Twins rock formation, which towers above the town of Bluff.

- Cave Towers and other ancient Anasazi ruins found along Comb Ridge, and Cedar Mesa.

- Newspaper Rock, where many generations of ancient people carved rock art figures into a huge rock, located along Hwy 211 on your way to the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park.

- The Needles, which are distinctive rock pinnacles, hundreds of them, that dominate the Needles District in Canyonlands National Park. Many can be seen as you drive the paved access road through the park. Many others are seen by people hiking into Chesler Park, or jeeping Elephant Hill or other 4X4 routes.

The communities in this area offer excellent lodging options. From north to south the communities are Monticello, Blanding, Bluff, Mexican Hat and Monument Valley.

There are excellent outfitters and guide services that will help you plan excursions, and actually take you to see area attractions.

See the Canyon Country website for more information. Also see Utah's National Parks Travel Map.