PHOTO TOURS / SIGHTSEEING TOURS
Arches National Park & Canyonlands National Park (Utah) are two of the most beautiful and surreal locations you will ever visit. It’s like a trip to Mars without the cramped travel arrangements. If you have never been, get ready to have your mind blown. If you have been then you know the many exciting landscape photography opportunities that await you on this tour.
Arches has over 2,000 natural stone arches from little body sized holes to majestic towering structures hundreds of feet in length. Additionally we will find hundreds of soaring pinnacles, massive fins and giant balanced rocks. This red rock wonderland provides an amazing playground for photographers and will inspire your artistic soul.
Canyonlands is somewhat less traveled than Arches. While its collection of “stand out” structures are fewer, it provides a wealth of stunning canyons, vistas and river zones that truly make you feel like you are in the middle of nowhere (and you are). Rivers divide the park into four districts: the Island in the Sky, the Needles, the Maze, and the rivers themselves. Each of these differing life zones provides new opportunities for us to capture imagery.
Big Sun Photography Tours does not have a set itinerary for this tour. There simply is so much to see here that it doesn’t make sense to limit your options with a set route or even set number of days. You tell us how much time you have available and your photographic interests (landscapes, macro, night sky, etc.) and your tour will be tailored to meet those needs. [Note: due to the distance a three day minimum tour is required].
Additional locations: Often customers like to integrate Arches and Canyonlands into longer trips that include locations in Colorado as well. Even if you don’t have the time for that we can often find time to hit one or two other destinations as we travel to/from along I-70 (Hanging Lakes and Colorado Monument are two examples).
Winter Months: This is one of the better destinations for the colder months as the trails empty out and it’s easy to find yourself isolated, without a sound or soul for miles and miles. It also opens up great new photos opportunities without all the normal tourist crowds. It does make nighttime “light painting” options pretty cold. If you want to do night photography summer is your better option.
Popular Shoot Locations:
Mesa Arch: A stunning morning photo location. The arch itself is relatively small and during the daytime it doesn’t offer much in the way of great photographic opportunity. Come dawn however, the morning sun bathes the valley far below with red light which also taps the bottom of the arch making it glow in an unearthly way. This location requires us to leave our hotel several hours before dawn so be ready to get up early… but it’s worth it (see first image in header slideshow).
Landscape Arch: AT 290 ft in length Landscape Arch is the world’s largest natural stone arch. Landscape Arch is located along the Devils Garden Trail. The entire surrounding area is full of many arches and natural stone formations making it an easy “one stop” location for many photo opportunities. This arch lends itself very well to nighttime photography. While “painting” the arch would be difficult, capturing it by moonlight with a starry sky makes for amazing photos (see second image in header slideshow).
Partition Arch: This arch is a bit of a hike. Not so long as a bit technical in spots, but wow what a view for sunrise. The arch acts as a huge window down on the valley below and is well worth the hike. If you move fast enough you can still get a good morning shot from this location while still capturing sunrise at Landscape Arch (see third image in header slideshow).
Delicate Arch: Arches most well known rock structure and one of the most iconic images of the entire National Park system. This stunning piece of natural architecture stands tall against the surrounding mountains and also makes a great “window” to photograph the Slickrock canyon below. We are able to hike directly to the arch (particularly cool at night when we can “light paint” the arch with a starry backdrop). We also can capture more unique imagery of the arch from the cliff tops across the canyon (see forth image in slideshow).
Corona Arch: This is a partially freestanding arch with a 140 x 105 foot opening. A beautiful hike of about 1.5 miles each way gets us to our destination. This arch has such a wide opening that once a small plane was flown through it. It is also possible to climb along the top of the arch and shoot photos from above it. This is another great light painting location.
Indian Rock Wall Art: A popular “non-landscape” destination are the prehistoric Native American rock art found along-side the Colorado River. Both pictographs and petroglyphs are displayed. Their location makes it quite easy to take photographs of the artwork (though this often requires standing in the middle of the road so watch out). Archaeologists estimate some of these works to be as old as 6,000 B.C. Generally would stop by these when visiting Corona Arch since we pass them along the way. (see fifth image in header slideshow)
Are these the only locations? Is everything an arch? Ha! Not even close. There are enough options to keep us busy as long as you wish; however for the sake of this page I’m just providing the above locations as popular examples. Additional locations include: Hurrah Pass, Moonflower Canyon, The Windows, Sandstone Arch, Balanced Rock, Dark Angel, Devils Garden, Double Arch, Double O Arch, Eye of the Whale Arch, Courthouse Wash, Salt Wash, Navajo Arch, Skyline Arch, Tower Arch, Cave Springs, Confluence Overlook, Elephant Canyon, and many more.
Jeep 4X4 Off-roading: Some of the most exciting areas of Canyonlands are only accessible with a 4×4 Jeep. We have the option to rent top of the line Jeeps for our tours and believe me, it’s worth it. Photography aside, this is just amazing good fun and allows us to escape the more common locations to find unique views of our own. If you really enjoy the off roading and want to put the camera aside for a while, Moab has some of the world’s best offroading trails. Truly mind blowing slick rock adventures.
River boating: It is possible to take boat rides down the Colorado river through the canyons of Canyonlands National Park. This is really fun way to see and photograph images from a perspective that is unique. Massive rock cliffs surround and tower above you as you make your way down the winding river. Private and public boat options are available.
Fiery Furnace: This location is within the Arches Park but is only accessible with reservations, permits and a local guide (recommended). This is a maze of fins, poles, pillars and more. Most are broken down and fallen upon one another making it look much like wood coals within a furnace.
- Time of Year: Year Round
- Tour Length: 3+ days
- Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
- Landscapes: High desert, arches, rock formations, Colorado river, sunsets, stars
- Wildlife: Desert mountain goat, coyote, lizards