View Full Version : Where in Utah should I go?

02-06-2008, 07:16 PM
Hi - I'm from New Zealand and about to spend a few weeks in the South West. I shoot MF landscapes and would appreciate advice on good places to go. I know the possibilities are endless, so I'd like to narrow them down to a manageable number. Please tell me where is your favourite place. Thanks. :)

02-06-2008, 07:36 PM
If you have a few weeks you should easily be able to hit the Grand Circle of Zion NP to Bryce Canyon NP to Capitol Reef NP to Moab (Canyonlands and Arches NPs). Everyone of them is different and beautiful. Grand Canyon is of course a destination in its own right.

My experience is you can't go wrong with any parks or highways out there.

02-06-2008, 07:44 PM
Of course all the main places are totally worth the trip. I visited Capitol Reef National Park a handful of times in the early 90s - I liked it better in a lot of ways than the Zions/Bryces/Arches parks.

The whole southern part of the state is just awesome, you really can't go wrong!

02-06-2008, 07:57 PM
I had the good fortune to spend a few days in Moab, Utah and went to both Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. Arches is spectacular, but the grandeur, grace and beauty of Canyonlands is mind-boggling. It's a smaller park with fewer amenities, but well worth the time spent there!!!

Kevin Caulfield
02-06-2008, 07:59 PM
I can highly recommend Arches and Bryce Canyon.

02-06-2008, 08:12 PM
Moab is a great, central place to stay for a couple of the key parks: Arches, Canyonlands. Most highlights in those National Parks are "road kill" (car accessible), and there is quick access for pre-dawn/sunset shots from Moab.

A drive down to the south part of Utah and Monument Valley is worthwhile, as well as staging in Page AZ for a few days. Antelope Canyon is nearby, as is access to Grand Staircase/Escalante.

Then one could stage near Bryce Canyon/Zion.

There is SOOOO much to see that one should focus on what one seeks most, and spend a quality session(s) there.

Have fun!

02-06-2008, 09:32 PM
After Zion head for southern Utah

Page is a great idea but avoid Antelope Canyon. Too touristy and not worth the trip anymore, but there is a lot of places to shoot. Hummer tours(not sure if that is their name but they are based in the bike shop with the yellow hummer) goes out to a pretty cool slot canyon that has not been shot by thousands.

If you are going to head that way PM me and I will give you some good places.

Lee Shively
02-07-2008, 09:11 AM
Depending on the time you have to devote to each place, you can find interesting areas all across the southern part of the state--the canyonlands area. It's a large territory to cover but it includes Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon, Cedar Breaks and Zion and all the points in between. At Zion, you're only a day trip away from the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, in Arizona. Monument Valley is nearby on the east side of southern Utah and northern Arizona. Again depending on time to devote, it's worth a trip over into southwestern Colorado to visit Mesa Verde.

02-07-2008, 10:36 AM
At Zion, you're only a day trip away from the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, in Arizona.

During most years, the North Rim access road and facilities (lodge, campground, etc.) don't open until around May 15. They don't plow the road in the winter. The elevation is quite high (8,000 - 9,000ft.). So, snow tends to linger well into May in a typical year.

I have no idea if this winter has been "typical". Best to call the park and inquire on the expected road opening date if you'd like to visit before mid-May.

The South Rim is a much longer drive from points north, but is open year round.


02-07-2008, 11:28 AM
I live in the NE US (2000 miles away), but I have to attend a trade show in Las Vegas each year. I often take some time off after the show to photograph in the SW, so I have visited many of the sites in the area.

A few thoughts:

I shoot mostly B&W, but you will kick yourself if you don't pack some colour film and a polarizer.

Zion, Arches, Bryce are all fantastic in their own, different ways, don't try to rush through all of them - especially Zion, and spend several days to be able to get more of a sense for the place. Much of Zion (and in my opinion the most interesting bits) is in deep, narrow canyons or valleys, which means that the shooting day is relatively short - nice for when you are on vacation.

Don't know when you are planning on visiting. During my late April timeframe, the north rim of the Grand Canyon is not accessible, but I have visited the South Rim a few times. Last time was with my teenage daughter who is also a photographer. We had a deal that we would take a peek outside at sunrise, and if the sky looked good, we would go out and shoot, then have breakfast later, if lousy sky, we would sleep in. We were blessed with very few days where we could sleep in :)

Another SW destination which is nice, although not in Utah is the Valley of Fire in Nevada - great red rock formations and some ancient petroglyphs. About an hour outside of Las Vegas.

Also, not in Utah, but SW are some of the ghost towns of the south, mostly in Nevada or California. Some of my favourites are Bodie, Rhyolite and Berlin. Frisco in Utah is another nice one.

I have not been there, but it is on my list to visit are the Anasazi cliff dwellings in Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado.

02-07-2008, 11:44 AM
Presuming Flying in to Salt Lake City, here's a rough circle trip.
1) arrive SLC
2) Drive to Price - Nine Mile Canyon for Petroglyphs and desert scenics
3) Moab -
Drive Up 128 to Castle Valley
Canyonlands North area - Island in the Sky; Rent 4WD in Moab for White Rim Trail; Deadhorse Point
Along River West of Moab - drive north and south (Petroglyhs, river, inquire about directions to birthing petroglyph)
South of Moab - Canyonlands Needles District, and along highway 128 - newspaper rock, side trip to Hart Point. Get a permit in advance,rent 4WD and drive back roads in Needle district.
Nearby - the remaining part of Canyonlands called the Maze (4WD territory) plus a hike down to "The Great Panel". Inquire at the visitor centers for directions.
When you are exhausted at Moab, leave down and head south...
Reaching Monticello -- consider a side trip into SW Colorado, or just head south to Bluff . If Colorado go to Dolores-then up the canyon thru Rico to Lizard Head Pass and down to Telluride. You can take this a bit further - drive through Montrose to Ouray, up Million Dollar Highway and Down through Silverton to Durango. Near Durango is Mesa Verde. All depends upon whether you have 2,3,4 weeks on your trip? Lots to see still back in Utah
After Mesa Verde - decision time....Chaco Canyon or back to Utah? Presuming Utah -
Head west (maybe a stop at Canyons of the Ancients in UTE Tribal Park) until you reach BBluff. Talk with locals (try the Wild Rivers Bunch) about Butler Wash, and the Sand Creek petroglyphs. Lots of Anazazi ruins and petroglyphs as well as the Sandstone Bluffs along the San Juan.
Leaving Bluff - go to Mexican Hat. Stop At Goosenecks of the San Juan, and Muley Point (Its odd to have dirt state highway but that's what they have to climb the mesa).

At Mexican Hat you have to think about that side trip to Monument Valley....
Head down through Arizona to Kayenta then back up to Utah at Kanab.
Kerry's right - North Rim is snowed in, so unless you are going after late June this year, you'll need to rent a snowmobile....
But you can go to Toroweap Point...look for the long washboarded (but flat) dirt road out of Fredonia.
then on to Zion, Bryce and Cedar Breaks....but You've missed the Escalante....and the backcountry in the center of this trip.
There is at least a month worth of good travel, so you'll have to pick and choose. Google some of these names and figure out whether you want to choose
Have a great trip

Lee Shively
02-07-2008, 12:17 PM
Pick up a copy of Desert Solitare by Edward Abbey before you go.

02-07-2008, 02:41 PM
Wow! Thanks for all the responses, especially the detail you provided, Don. I'll be getting out the map tonight and plotting where all these places are. I have about three weeks, starting in about three weeks from now, so will heed the advice about snow on the North Rim, etc. And thanks for alerting me to Desert Solataire, Lee. I read a lot, so that's the sort of tip that is really useful. Thanks again to everyone.

Robert Hall
02-08-2008, 12:02 AM
State Highways 89, 12, 24, 191, 276, 95.

If you see Arches, stop at Dead Horse Point State Park.

If you get to Monument Valley, stop in page for Mexican food and see the Horse Shoe Bend about a Km south of page.

The north rim is buried in snow currently, but you may be able to make it out to Tuweep.

Laurent R. Martres has some really good books on Utah and surrounding areas. I would get all of them.

There are a bunch of us here in Utah as well, so if you get stuck (literally or figuratively) you could give us a call. ;)

I've been here all my life and find I am only scratching the surface.

02-08-2008, 04:08 AM
I must say that Lizard Head Pass, Mexican Hat, Deadhorse Point etcetera sounds really exotic. Maybe I should start saving...

02-11-2008, 02:19 PM
Thanks again for the advice. I've been Google Earthing some of the places you'e mentioned. It looks fantastic!! Regards.