Canyons of Utah: Arches & Canyonlands

Odds are good, that when you think of the southwestern United States, images conjured up are from the Moab area of southeastern Utah. Famous for arches, towers and canyons, there is no shortage of incredible scenery to behold here. Home to two National Parks, along with an additional 1.8 million acres of BLM managed public lands, the opportunities for iconic and unique photos are truly endless. Vast expanses of red rock go on as far as the eye can see, and the nearby La Sal Mountains make for a beautiful backdrop for many compositions. This is truly a wonderful place, a must on any landscape photographer’s ‘bucket list.’

On this five day hiking and vehicle-based photo tour you will have the opportunity to photograph some of Utah’s most iconic landscapes, and even some lesser known gems few know about. Look forward to locations such at Delicate, Mesa, and Landscape Arches, among others. Your knowledgeable photo guide will ensure that you are in position to photograph these mesmerizing features during best light at each location.

We’ll want to photograph almost exclusively during sunrise or sunset, so this trip will have many early mornings and some late evenings. We’ll stay busy on this fabulous itinerary, with afternoon hikes and sightseeing built in!

Join Backcountry Journeys for an exploration of Arches & Canyonlands National Parks, and find yourself – and your lens – immersed in the world’s most unforgettable desert landscape.


Please note: Due to the nature of the terrain and photo locations our Canyons of Utah: Arches & Canyonlands is a “hiker” trip. Although the purpose of this trip is photography it is best suited for those that like to get out and hike! For any questions please give us a call at 928-478-1521 or fill out the contact form below!

Highlights

  • Photograph iconic landscapes such as Mesa Arch and Delicate Arch
  • Intentional focus on shooting during golden hour twice daily
  • Opportunities to shoot lesser known features of the Moab area
  • Small Groups
  • Top-notch meals
  • Learn from & shoot alongside a seasoned pro

Canyons of Utah: Arches & Canyonlands

5 Days

Trip Pricefrom $2995 double occupancy

+$550 Single Occupancy

Deposit: $1000

Fitness Level: 2-3

Meals: Most meals included (see itinerary)

Lodging: 4 nights lodging

Start/End:Moab, Utah


*trip difficulty ratings

Dates & Pricing

The earlier you book, the more choices you’ll have on dates and you’ll lock-in our lowest prices! Plus you can always change your mind – you won’t be charged to switch to a different trip before your final payment is due!

Details

Physical Requirements (for “hiker” trips)
All participants must be in good physical condition and have the ability to hike 3-7 miles per day on steep mountain trails with a daypack.

Group Size
We keep groups small to maximize your one on one time with the guide / instructor.

Accommodation
We will be staying in comfortable lodging in Moab, Utah

Meals
Most meals are included during the trip dates and we typically eat at park lodges in the evening as well as a hand picked local restaurants. We often do snacks on the trail and then return for a late breakfast during photography trips as we are often out early to capture the morning light.

Weather
Expect warm pleasant days and chilly nights. The weather is generally very dry and stable in Utah however it can change on a moments notice. Remember some of the best photographs are made before, during and immediately after a storm cycle. There is no such thing as bad weather just poor layering and gear choices – please plan accordingly! For more info on what to bring please email or call us.

Price Includes
Most meals, ground transportation, accommodation during the trip dates, professional photography instruction, medically certified wilderness guide.

Price Does Not Include
Airfare, alcoholic beverages, accommodations before or after the trip dates, guide & staff gratuities

Travel Details
Departure city is Moab, Utah

Itinerary

Please note: Due to the nature of the terrain and photo locations our Canyons of Utah: Arches & Canyonlands is a “hiker” trip. Although the purpose of this trip is photography it is best suited for those that like to get out and hike! For any questions please give us a call at 928-478-1521 or fill out the contact form below!

Most meals included – (B,L,D) denotes Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner


Day 1 (Travel Day) (D)
Arrive in Moab, Utah. Please meet in the lobby of our hotel at 6 p.m. for an orientation and welcome dinner at a nearby restaurant.

Day 2 (B,L,D)
This morning will be our earliest of the week as we head to the Islands in the Sky district of Canyonlands National Park to capture perhaps one of the most iconic desert landscape photos in Utah. Sunrise at Mesa Arch is an incredible experience, and should be on every landscape photographer’s bucket list. We’ll photograph this icon as the sun crests the horizon, making for stunning images of the arch, canyons and rock features below with the La Sal Mountain range on the horizon, complete with a Starburst. We’ll remain here following sunrise as the arch provides a “surprise” to those willing to wait for a while a while. As the golden hues fade from underneath the arch, we will pack up and head back to Moab for a short break until lunch. Following lunch, we’ll set out for Arches National Park, and an afternoon hike to Sand and Broken Arches. Here, we’ll be immersed in the geology of the park as we stretch our legs and photograph the two arches, fins and other features that dot the landscape here. Directly after our hike we’ll press on to our evening’s sunset shot, Balanced Arch. This is one of the most iconic features in the Park, and also one of the most photographed. We’ll photograph Balanced Rock from a spot most don’t. As the sun has fully set and we capture the last bit of glow, we’ll return to Moab for a delicious dinner at a carefully selected local restaurant before retiring for the evening.

Day 3 (B,L,D)
We will depart our hotel early this morning, heading for nearby Castle Valley. Here, in the foothills of the La Sal Mountains, we’ll find Castleton Tower and the adjacent ridgeline known as the Rectory. These rock features have been seen in television and film for years, and have become uber famous in the rock climbing community, as well. As optimal light fades, we will head back towards town, stopping along the Colorado River at different vantage points as the great river carves its way through the towering canyon walls. We’ll have brunch at our hotel, and break shortly to rest up before heading out for our afternoon activities. We’ll either hike, or check out Newspaper Rock and have a picnic along the way. This evening we’ll head back towards Canyonlands, and the Island in the Sky District, where we’ll find a few late afternoon vantage points overlooking the famed Shafer Canyon before settling in for our sunset shot of the expansive system of canyons below our perch up high on the cliffs. We’ll soak it all up as the setting sun turns the rock features and canyons below a firey red. Upon our return to Moab, we’ll dine at one of Moab’s most famous restaurants before heading back to our wonderful hotel for some much needed rest.

Day 4 (B,D)
Today is all about Arches National Park. The ‘Windows’ section of the Park offers a stunning selection of rock features. Turret Arch is viewed by many as perhaps the best sunrise spot in the Park. The angle of this dynamite feature positions it perfectly to catch the glow of the morning sun as it crests the horizon. We’ll find a nice choice of compositions here. When we’ve had our fill, we’ll check out nearby Double Arch and the Parade of Elephants before moving on to Park Avenue, an area (and possible short hike) that is a perfect spot to continue our discussion on the geology of the rock features here at Arches. We’ll take this afternoon off so as to provide time for you to see and experience the town of Moab, as well as get some rest and relaxation before the most physically challenging evening of our tour. We will likely get a mid afternoon start in order to  head back into Arches National Park, this time to shoot Delicate Arch at sunset. The arch is 1.5 miles (3 miles roundtrip) from the road, so we will have to hike with all of our equipment over a moderate trail of slickrock. Bring a headlamp, as typically the best views of this magical location are after the sun has just dipped below the horizon, lighting up the La Sal mountain range in the background.

Day 5 (B)
Our final shot will be at the Devil’s Garden section of Arches National Park, and the famous and enormous Landscape Arch. We’ll have a nearly 1 mile hike to get to the arch, which stretches roughly 300 feet! Landscape Arch is the largest natural span in the Western Hemisphere, and this thin sliver of free standing rock is a sight to behold as it seems to defy gravity and time. Once we’re satisfied with our sunrise images, we’ll check out neighboring arches as we hike back towards our vehicle. Back in Moab we’ll have brunch at a local coffee shop, reveling in the successes of our time together before saying goodbye after a wonderful tour of the Canyons of Utah: Arches & Canyonlands National Parks.

Please note that the exact sequence of the itineraries on all photography trips will be based on weather and lighting conditions. The goal on these trips is to make sure we are at the right place at the right time for the perfect light on our subjects. Also, itineraries can change for a variety of other circumstances including floods, forest fires, national park closures, road closures and more. Due to the nature of wildlife and nature photography we do not guarantee any specific sightings or specific compositions regarding wildlife or natural phenomena. 

Questions? Contact us!

"We had been to both locations previously but really enjoyed our time with the Backcountry Journeys' team. Everything was well coordinated and top of the line. We had great meals and stayed in very nice hotels, while getting great photography tips and constructive picture critiques. We split into two groups, each of which had a photography pro/instructor and a logistics/nature specialist. In addition to honing our photography skills, we learned about the geology of the area and hiking/backpacking techniques. The crews were not only pleasant and encouraging, but also just a ton of fun. We had a great time on the trip and highly recommend Backcountry Journeys. Can't wait for our next expedition with them."

Linda EChicago, Illinoishttps://

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