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Delicate Arch

Arches National Park - Like Nowhere Else on Earth

Corona Arch

Moab Utah - Surprises Around Every Corner

Comb Ridge

Cedar Mesa - Feel the Wildness

The Great Gallery in Horseshoe Canyon


Arches Photography Guide

Help Protect the Park - Watch Where You Step

Biological Soil Crust - NPS photo by Neal HerbertWhen positioning yourself for that perfect composition, please keep in mind that this land is every bit as fragile as it is beautiful. Avoid walking on the dark, bumpy biological soil crusts.
Soil crust is made up of living organisms that help control erosion and hold moisture. Please walk only on trails, rock or in sandy washes. Keep all vehicles on designated roads. Learn why soil crust is important to all desert life.

Photography Guide

Best Time of Day
The best photographic light occurs early in the morning and late in the afternoon, as the lower angle of light gives your subject depth and the warmth of the light deepens the redness of the rock into amazing hues. Check sunrise & sunset times to know when the magic hours might begin during your visit. People in the photograph can be an asset at times, providing scale to the scene. The Moab area is known for its clear, turquoise skies, but scattered clouds or distant stormy skies can add that extra touch of drama that may take your photographs to the next level. 

Early Morning
Moab Fault
The Three Gossips
Sheep Rock
The Great Wall
Turret Arch
The Spectacles
Double Arch
Cache Valley
Wolfe Ranch
Landscape Arch
Double O Arch
Late Afternoon
Park Avenue
Courthouse Towers
Petrified Dunes
Balanced Rock
The Garden of Eden
North and South Windows
Delicate Arch
Fiery Furnace
Skyline Arch
Fins in Devils Garden
Tower Arch
Delicate Arch by Esteban Azevedo
Features below are listed in order as you drive the park road from the visitor center. Mileage listed is the distance from the visitor center to the parking areas.
Photo by Charlie Choc

Park Avenue  2.4 miles (3.4 km) -  Easily accessible to view and photograph. It is easy to see why early park visitors thought this area resembled the New York City skyline. Mid morning or late afternoon will provide the best light. From the viewpoint, Queen Nefertiti stands tall to the left and is a beacon for light. The right side will glow in the late afternoon with nice shadows working up and down the wall.

La Sal Mountain View Point  3 miles (4.8 km) - This is an excellent spot to photograph the features of the Courthouse Towers. In the early morning, light will rake across the Three Gossips, Sheep Rock, The Tower of Babel and the Organ. From the wayside exhibits a short walk to the edge provides a great vantage point for the entire area. The potholes will provide great reflections if it has rained recently. Late afternoon and sunset are the best time to photograph the La Sal Mountains. The winter season provides great light with snow on the peaks. A longer lens is helpful here.

Balanced Rock  8.8 miles (14.1 km) -  Balanced Rock can be photographed almost any time in the morning or the evening. The paved, accessible trail provides good close-up vantage points. From this trail, a wide angle lens works best. At sunset, Balanced Rock provides a great silhouette when photographed from the east side, especially if there are clouds in the western sky. Early evening will also accentuate the La Sal Mountains in the background and deepen reds in the rock.

Garden of Eden 10.1 miles (16.2 km) -  This area of the park that is often bypassed by park visitors. But because of its unique, out of this world geology, the Garden of Eden is a wonderful place for a camera. Mid-morning and late afternoon are the best times for photographs. Late afternoon and early evening are good times to capture the the La Sal Mountains or The Windows section in the background.

The Windows Section  11.3 miles (18.1 km) - This area of the park has wonderful opportunities for photographs. The easy 1 mile (1.6km) round trip trail takes you up to Turret Arch and North and South Windows. Turret Arch can be photographed in the morning or afternoon. The Windows are best captured in the warm light of late afternoon. The primitive trail that takes off from the South Window goes around the back side of both windows offering great opportunities with early morning light. The classic shot of Turret Arch through the North Window is made from this primitive trail.

Double Arch - NPS /Jacob W. FrankDouble Arch 11.5 miles(18.5 km) -  Double Arch is truly one of the most majestic places in the park. With just a short walk you will find yourself under the two large spans. The best time to photograph Double Arch is in the morning. There is a copse of juniper trees as you approach the arch which makes for nice elements in the foreground.

Panorama Point 10.1 miles (16.2 km) -  Panorama Point is a wonderful stop in the park. From this vantage point a photographer gets sweeping views of the Salt Valley, the La Sal Mountains as well as a nice overview of the Fiery Furnace. These are all expansive views that take in much of the park so a zoom lens is highly recommended. Due to the fact that you get views in all directions, this spot is good in morning or afternoon light.

Wolfe Ranch 12.6 miles(20.2 km) -  At the beginning of the Delicate Arch Trail, youʼll find historic Wolfe Ranch. John Wesley Wolfe homesteaded this area around 1898. Wolfe and his family lived in this harsh but beautiful place along Salt Wash for more than a decade. The weathered cabin, root cellar and corral are all that remain. Wolfe Ranch can be a tricky place to get that perfect picture. Early morning provides the best opportunity to capture the feeling of what life in red rock country was like over 100 years ago.

Wolfe Ranch Petroglyphs 12.6 miles (20.62 km) -  A short .2 mile (.3 km) walk up the Delicate Arch Trail you'll see the short spur trail (.1 mile,.16 km) to the petroglyphs. Early morning is the best time to get warm light on the petroglyph panel. There is plenty of vegetation surrounding this Ute Indian panel to frame the image. Boulders in front of the panel provide nice foreground and shadows.

Delicate ArchDelicate Arch 12.6 miles (20.2 km) -  Early evening and sunset are the best times to capture Utahʼs most notable icon. The hike to the arch is a strenous 1.5 miles (2.4 km) with an elevation gain of 480 feet (146 meters). If you do the hike, donʼ't expect to be there alone. There can easily be forty or more people waiting for that perfect light on any given day. Be sure to take plenty of water and a flashlight. If you stay to capture the last bit of light, getting down can be a challenge in the dark. Avoid the middle of the day in the summer months due to extreme heat and the overhead light is not good for pictures. The afternoon light is better and will cast a nice glow on the arch the later it gets. The snow-capped La Sal Mountains make a nice backdrop in the winter and spring.

Delicate Arch Viewpoint 13.6 miles (21.9 km) -  There are two options for photographs from this viewpoint. From the parking lot, a short accessible walk of 100 yards (91 meters) will offer the first view. A long lens or at least a zoom is preferred because the arch is still pretty far off in the distance. The second option will get you a little closer to the arch with a little effort. A moderately strenuous hiking trail climbs one-half mile (0.8 km) toward Delicate Arch and ends at the rim of a steep canyon that separates the viewpoint from the arch. (This is not the popular trail to Delicate Arch, which starts at the Wolfe Ranch parking area.) Morning is the best time to photograph Delicate Arch from this viewpoint. By mid afternoon the arch will not have any direct light on it as shadows encroach.

Fiery Furnace Overlook 13.9 miles (22.3 km) -  A short trail from the parking area provides many good vantage points for photographing the front of the sandstone fins that make up the Fiery Furnace. From the right perspective you can also get the La Sal Mountains along with the fins. The deep red color of the Fiery Furnace is best captured in late afternoon light. The overlook provides views into an area thick with fins, spires and arches. To enter the Fiery Furnace, you must accompany a ranger-guided hike or obtain a day-use permit at the visitor center. There are no maintained trails through the Fiery Furnace. If you do hike the Fiery Furnace, the spaces are narrow in this twisting maze, so a wide angle lens is a must.

Broken Arch by Mark StaceyBroken Arch 15.8 miles (25.4 km) -  From the parking area, hike an easy 1.2 mile (2 km) to get to the arch. Broken Arch is best photographed in the morning. If you care to hike the entire trail, it continues under the arch and loops by the Devils Garden Campground before intersecting back with the main trail. Keep you eyes open for interesting flora and fauna to photograph as you trek this section. The full loop is 2 miles (3.2 km) from the parking area. As you approach the campground keep an eye out for Tapestry Arch, a wide opening that offers nice photographs.

Skyline Arch 16.5 miles (26.5 km) -  Take the short 0.4 mile (0.6 km) trail from the main park road to the arch. This is a short hike on a flat, well-defined trail. Skyline Arch is best photographed in the afternoon. Another  angle which is best viewed in the early morning, can be obtained via the amphitheater in the Devils Garden Campground.

Devils Garden Trailhead 17.5 miles (28.1 km) -  Longest of the maintained trails in the park, the Devils Garden Trail leads to eight awe-inspiring arches. Most of the arches along this route are best photographed in morning light, however a few are better photographed in the afternoon. Highlights along the way will include Landscape Arch, Double O Arch, and Dark Angel. Short side hikes will allow opportunities to photograph Pine Tree Arch, Tunnel Arch, Navajo Arch and Partition Arch. The entire trail including the side hikes is 7.2 miles (11.5km). The trail is graveled and graded to Landscape Arch. From Landscape Arch to Double O Arch, the trail becomes more difficult. Expect steep, sloping surfaces and close proximity to drop-offs. Sandstone is often called slickrock and can be slippery even when dry.
• Pine Tree Arch: .4 mile (0.6km) easy round trip hike:Photograph in the morning
• Landscape Arch: 1.6 mile (2.6km) easy round trip hike: Photograph in the morning
• Double O Arch: 4.2 miles (6.7km) strenuous round trip hike; Photograph in early morning, or afternoon
• Dark Angel: 5.2 miles (8.4 km) strenuous round trip hike: Best in the morning

Windows Sunset - NPS Neal Herbert


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