Taking a trip through Arches National Park has been on my bucket list for years.  Finally, I had a chance to see for myself what the fuss has been all about.  Set up high above the Colorado River, Arches contains over 2,000 natural arches which have been formed through thousands of years of weathering and erosion.  Over 3 million years ago, inland seas, which covered the area evaporated and refilled dozens of times leaving behind the salt beds, sandstone and red canyons that created the spectacular rock sculptures that are visible today.

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The hike up to Delicate Arch is rough 3 mile roundtrip with a 480 foot elevation change.  The path is only marked by rock cairns that lead the way.  

 

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The best times to check out the view are early morning and twilight as this is one of the most photographed arches in the park and the trails do become crowded not to mention there is little or no shade and the temperature can easily swell to over 100 degrees.

 

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From Park Avenue, there is a trail that descends steeply into a spectacular canyon and continues down the wash to Courthouse Towers.  One of my favorite views. 

 

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The drive alone is pretty incredible as you can look out into the La Sal Mountain Range while making your way deeper into the canyons.

 

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The view from the Primitive Trail at Turret Arch and Sunrise at Pine Tree Arch. 

 

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Storms approaching as we came up to the North Window on the primitive trail.

 

I also wanted to experiment with light painting and night photography as Arches is the perfect playground with so many awesome opportunities for amazing captures under the dark skies.  In order to do this, all that we needed was the tripod, a few LED flashlights, a remote shutter release so as to prevent camera shake and plenty of time.

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Here we are at the Cove Arch in the Windows section in the park.  In order to create these star trails, we captured over 25 30-second exposures and in post-production, layered the files to create the trails. 

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At the Turret Arch, we combined the star trails technique with light painting using a mix of white-balanced and red LED flashlights which paint the color during the long exposure.

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And my favorite…this is the South Window again using the red LED. 

As our trip was close to 3 weeks long and consisted of horse-back riding, rafting, hiking and plenty of photo excursions through Utah’s canyonlands and forests, admittedly Arches National Park  proved to be the pinnacle of the trip for me.  There really is no other landscape like it, with its’ archways, sandstone fins, balanced rocks and mountain range, this incredible landscape offers so many opportunities, it’s no wonder it’s on every photographers’ bucket list!