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Canyonlands and Arches, best photo times?

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Tulsa, Oklahoma
posts: 3
reviews: 55
Canyonlands and Arches, best photo times?

We are flying to Denver in a week, and driving straight out to Moab where we have booked a hotel for 2 nights. I read the great posts on this forum about the hikes, the must-see places, etc. We are both 50 with our 17 year old son, not hikers but in pretty good shape. Our itinerary:

Day 1 - Arrive in Moab around 6 p.m

Day 2 - Quick drive through Deadhorse, then over to Canyonlands to drive around, hike Mesa Arch, Murphy Point, Grand View, Aztec Butte and maybe Upheaval Dome if time. These all sounded like easy to moderate hikes to give us the best overview of the beauty. Then maybe drive to Arches for hike to delicate Arch for sunset?

Day 3 - Arches to see Double arch, Landscape Arch, Windows, Park Avenue, Tower Arch. At end of day, we drive to Grand Junction, CO.

Day 4 - Do the Colorado Nat. Monument, then partial day in Denver and we fly out next day.

We want to see the best of this area in 2 days, so I was thinking of trying to hike to delicate arch that first evening. Is that a mistake, given the elevation change for us flat-landers from OK? I don't want to get halfway up and crash! Should we save it for day 2?

Is there anything I missed in my itinerary? Is it too "busy" to see it all? And lastly, do you have an opinion on best sunrise and sunset locations to take memorable pictures? Thanks!

Park City, Utah
Destination Expert
for Utah, Travel Gadgets and Gear
posts: 10,132
reviews: 200
1. Re: Canyonlands and Arches, best photo times?

If you haven't booked air yet, SLC is a lot closer than Denver although drive from Denver is more scenic. If you can get in and to trailhead at Delicate Arch by around 6 pm, knock it off on your arrival. For sure that's a great sunset hike.

For photography tips, get the book Photographing the American Southwest. Step by step guide to all the great iconic shots. Sunset at Delicate Arch is great. Sunrise or sunset at any of the viewpoints - Dead Horse or Canyonlands. Mesa Arch at sunrise where you will battle 20 other photographers for position. My favorite sunrise is Turret Arch through North Window in Arches. Best of all, it's closer. Iconic shot. Shoot sunrise but stay in position for 20-30 minutes to get more sun on the redrock. Park Avenue and Courthouse Towers also good sunrise (or sunset) in Arches.

For Grand Junction, stay in the newly renovated downtown. Fantastic restaurants all walking distance from hotels. Personally, I would spend more time in Moab than add Colorado National Monument, but that's just me.

Have fun.

Ohio, USA
Destination Expert
for Bryce Canyon National Park, Bryce, Arches National Park
posts: 7,061
reviews: 318
2. Re: Canyonlands and Arches, best photo times?

Great advice from Tumbleweed, as usual. We struck out on our early morning attempt at Mesa Arch, but got some great photos the at the Windows. Here's the link to the trip report I posted on that trip; it might give you a few ideas as well as some details on hikes:

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g60724-i814-k58361…

Barstow
posts: 3
reviews: 19
3. Re: Canyonlands and Arches, best photo times?

Agree with others. Only other hike that's easy and convenient on your return near Grand Junction is the hanging lake hike. I am in early 50s and just did it with my son It's a mile and a quarter one way with about 1500 ft or so of climb. We did it in about 2 hrs total with time at the top. The lake and the spouting rock waterfalls were gorgeous. Others might now if they are good on August when I presume the snowmelt isn't feeding them. Much more "lush" scenery to contrast with the Utah landscape.

Good luck, it's all so stunningly beautiful it's hard to go wrong!!

Kingston, WA
posts: 6
reviews: 66
4. Re: Canyonlands and Arches, best photo times?

Thanks all for this thread...we will use this info if we can find a place to stay in Moab.

Tulsa, Oklahoma
posts: 3
reviews: 55
5. Re: Canyonlands and Arches, best photo times?

I am the original poster, and we just got back so thought I would tell you what we did. May or may not help others.

We flew into Denver because it was cheap air for us (Tulsa). We drove US 70 all the way to Grand Junction, picked up a cheap Styrofoam cooler and snacks, drinks, stuff to make picnics. Headed down the 128 scenic - missed the turn, not marked well. Look for the road to Cisco. We just took the 2nd exit, which was marked 128. This is a cool twisty road, to practice for the real deal you drive in the parks. Several photo ops.

Arrived in Moab too late to do the hike to Delicate Arch, so instead took our dinner to the Delicate Arch Viewpoint, scrambled a little past the end of the trail to a spot on the slickrock to eat our picnic dinner overlooking the back side of the arch as the sun set.

Super 8 in Moab (wrote a review) for the night, then Dead Horse Point Park. Really liked this small park!! Views at the end of the road were spectacular! We are more the tourist/take pictures-of-cool-views type people, so we did not hike anything here, but so glad we didn't skip this!

Over to Canyonlands to see Mesa Arch before noon. Still some nice light on it from underneath. Go around and look from all angles for good shots. You can check my review of Canyonlands but really, my least favorite of the 4 we visited on this trip. We ate lunch at a covered picnic spot in the park, which was nice. Hiked to Upheaval Dome, hard uphill hike, I didn't think it was worth it. Photos no big deal here.

Wrapped up early and headed to Arches to do the Delicate Arch hike. Read my review (I don't know how to put the direct link here, sorry). Killer hike if you aren't a hiker in pretty good shape. But AWESOME view at sunset for sure.

Next day headed to Arches for the day. Went out to Windows (good hike, not hard) and even took the primitive loop back for a different viewpoint. Hiked to Landscape Arch - cool views, but it was midday and hot and I found it a little tough. Wind whipped up and we were covered in red dirt! Stopped at all the viewpoints, and hiked out to Double O arch (easy). Nice pics, one of my favorite photo stops. Hiked around Balanced Rock - got some fun creative shots of my son "holding up" the rock on top.

Drove back to Grand Junction that evening. Next day toured Colorado National Monument. We liked it! Yes, similar geology but very well done, lots of viewpoints with good signage explaining what you were looking at. Kept seeing signs for big horn sheep and mountain goats, but never saw them. If you have a couple hours, worth the drive through!

Drove back to Denver, stopping in Vail just because and stayed at a nice lodge for a discount between seasons. Now have to get off here and start going through my 1500+ pictures! Thanks to those who posted here to help me out!

Ohio, USA
Destination Expert
for Bryce Canyon National Park, Bryce, Arches National Park
posts: 7,061
reviews: 318
6. Re: Canyonlands and Arches, best photo times?

Thanks for posting the summary of your trip, okietravelmom.

Barstow
posts: 3
reviews: 19
7. Re: Canyonlands and Arches, best photo times?

Agree with others. Only other hike that's easy and convenient on your return near Grand Junction is the hanging lake hike. I am in early 50s and just did it with my son It's a mile and a quarter one way with about 1500 ft or so of climb. We did it in about 2 hrs total with time at the top. The lake and the spouting rock waterfalls were gorgeous. Others might now if they are good on August when I presume the snowmelt isn't feeding them. Much more "lush" scenery to contrast with the Utah landscape.

Good luck, it's all so stunningly beautiful it's hard to go wrong!!

Thanks for posting about your trip. I will look for your reviews on the hotel, etc.

8. Re: Canyonlands and Arches, best photo times?

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