It’s day four of our Canyons of Utah: Zion & Bryce Tour, and the proverbial sun has set on the Zion National Park portion.
After a successful two days it was time, as the Jefferson’s said it best, to ‘move on up’ but instead of the east side we followed beautiful Mt Carmel Scenic Highway (US 89) up the plateau towards our second, and final stop, Bryce Canyon.
We felt today would be a good day to check in from the field.
The “Cactus” group took to the Towers of the Virgin for their first sunrise shoot, and just may have had the best skies of the trip, thus far.
The “Rattlesnakes” slithered up the more remote Kolob Terrace Road, which is a 21-mile scenic drive, starting at the small town of Virgin (west of the Park entrance). We stopped to capture images of Hop Valley and other various towering sandstone walls.
Following a morning of photographing various locations in Zion Canyon, including the world-famous Angel’s Landing from the river bed, as well as the Temple of Sinawava, which leads to the Narrows, lunch was at the one and only Oscar’s Cafe, in Springdale. If you haven’t been to Oscar’s, it might be a reason in and of itself to visit Zion.
We’ve written about this eatery in the past, and it really lived up to the hype on this particular Sunday. In fact, we loved it so thoroughly that much of the group was unable to eat much for dinner because bellies were still far too full.
Concerns were minimal from the ‘Rattlesnake’ group, as that evening the focus was to be on the Watchman where all eyes and lenses turned on the famed towering peak as the sun set on the valley. The Watchman is a beautiful and shapely rock mountain that faces the valley from the south, so it glows at sunset. It is the most photographed icon in Zion National Park.
Meanwhile, the ‘Cactus’ group set their sights on the Court of the Patriarchs. A Methodist minister named the three sandstone peaks at the Court of the Patriarchs during a 1916 visit to Zion after figures from the Old Testament; Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Mount Moroni sits in front of Jacob, and is named after the Book of Mormon Angel that appeared to Joseph Smith.
A particular spot along the Virgin river, near (but not too near) the mouth of the Narrows just may have provided the best scene for us, and we spent a great deal of time listening to the waters trickle and the singing birds while making careful compositions. Slowing down the water, framing the large sandstone boulders with green trees and red or black rock.
Wonderful shared moment.
The time, as it always tends to do, called on us to leave the following day, and rain, cloudy skies, as well as a herd of wandering Bighorn Sheep along Checkerboard Mesa waved to us ‘goodbye’ as we exited Zion National Park via the east entrance.
Cold temperatures, snow and clouds have been the name of the game here at Bryce. We’ve, of course, done our due diligence and posted up for shots. We’ve got a few, but are hoping for some more magic.
One of our guests, Tony, may have said it best as we walked away from the rim of the Canyon this morning.
“You know, I think photography is really good for the soul. In a world where we can control so much, the art form puts us in a place where we can come to a realization that we are at someone else’s mercy.”
And so we wait, with hope!
Kenton Krueger has spent the past several years guiding guiding backpackers, hikers and photographers into the wild places of the American West such as Havasu Falls, Grand Canyon and Yellowstone National Parks as well as in the Grand Staircase Escalante in southern Utah. In addition to backpacking and camping, his adventures include rock climbing, exploring the slot canyons of southern Utah, mountain biking, and bagging 14ers in Colorado’s San Juan Mountain Mountain Range. Kenton is a trail runner, former pilot, newspaper photographer and writer. Kenton looks forward to utilizing his years of guiding experience, combined with his passion and experience behind the lens to provide memorable and unforgettable experiences at the wild places we will visit together.