We were on the road at the start of October and headed to Moab, Utah, home of Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park. We were staying there a week and I had a list of places I wanted to go, included certain areas I wanted to photograph. I had my photo apps all geared up and just hoped that the weather would cooperate!
The day we left Provo, Utah was cold, windy, and rainy. The original plan was to go through a mountain pass, but with the bad weather we didn’t want to take that chance. We found out later that the pass did have snow and ice so we were happy with our decision to take the longer route instead. The first couple of hours the scenery was pretty much the same and then we just turned a corner and BAM, no more trees or mountains. They were replaced with tall, large, red and brown mesas. It was like being in an old western movie with the expansive land and all the rocks around us.
We got to the campground which was right outside downtown Moab and our spot was on really soft uneven dirt. It took us awhile to unhook and set up because of the dirt issue, and we talked to a few of our neighbors and posted on RV Facebook groups to make sure we were ok with our set up. We were told we were fine, just as long as it didn’t rain hard. Oh boy.
Our week was packed with evening activities and sadly, the lack of clouds, colorless sunsets, and super bright moon put a damper on the photos I planned for, but we still had fun and would totally return! Next time we will give a try at a bike tour and 4×4 tour. For anyone looking to go to Moab, the weather the first week of October was great. It was a little chilly in the morning and evenings but it never got super hot like it does in the summer. Perfect exploring weather!
Here is a breakdown of what we did:
Arches National Park: Construction. Construction. And more construction. The park was closed by 7 PM every night but Friday and Saturday due to construction so we had to change our plans a bit. Luckily, we were staying close to the park so we could go over there in the evening quickly and were able to explore the park multiple times. The big hike we did was to Delicate Arch, the most well known arch in the park. This was going to be a sunset photo and we were lucky to get a parking spot close to the trailhead, otherwise it would have been an added two miles roundtrip. We got to the top of the trail and it was packed with photographers also wanting to get a sunset photo. People were going up to the arch to get photos and some of the photographers were yelling at the people to get out of the way! Brad and I were both kind of shocked. I knew that the sunset wouldn’t be spectacular but it was an experience! I cannot say that we would do that hike again, as I would want to take photos more off the beaten path.
The best part of Arches was this secret little spot we found called Broken Arch. It was a quick walk into a open rock cave where the floor was all sand. There were little hidden arches and row and row of rocks to climb. The temperature was cool due to being surrounded by the large rocks and it was so quiet. Definitely a little gem!
Corona Arch: This was a hike I was told about by another RV friend and we took the third evening in Moab to check out the trail. Most of the people were leaving by the time we arrived so there was only one other couple when we got to the arch, which was fine by us because it felt like our own private arch! The trail was easy enough, though twice we had to use a safety cable and climb up a small ladder. The arch up close was awesome, so much larger than photos show! We have heard of others repelling off the arch, maybe that’s something we can try in the future with our repelling friends.
Poison Spider Trail: After hiking Corona Arch, we were driving down the road and I looked up at the towering rock and told Brad “I wonder what’s on the other side.” Well, we found out the next evening. Next to that road, people would rock climb, hike, and take Jeeps out to explore the area beyond the wall. The really cool part is that a certain part of the rock had pictograph drawings and dinosaur tracks.
We both had never seen pictographs before and it was really cool to see the Native American drawings. We started on the trail and we were the only two out as everyone else was packing it up from a day of Jeep driving. It was an easy and quiet hike, hiking over the rock into the open canyon, stepping on clay dirt, being encompassed by smooth, stone hills, and following the carines and small blue trail marker. The end of the trail lead to a hidden arch, but it was the overall hike that we enjoyed most.
Canyonlands National Park: This is the area where the photo I really wanted was: Mesa Arch at sunrise. It was an hour drive plus a small hike to the actually arch so we were up early on Saturday. We took a chance going on a Saturday knowing that it was going to be busy with other photographers but this was the only morning that worked out for us. The hike was short and easy and it wasn’t too chilly out. When we got to the arch, there were about 15 other people there all set up with their cameras. By the time the sun rose, there were at least 50 photographers.
I set up and that’s when I noticed a lady sitting right in the middle of the arch opening, blocking the view of all the photographers. With this arch, as the sun rises you can get a photo of the sun through the arch and that’s the photo people most want. There was a guy there trying to talk to the lady, asking her politely to move, as most people there planned their trip just to capture this photo and it was a once in a lifetime event for them. She refused to move. This is when people got mad. Photographers were yelling at this lady, going up to her telling her she was being unkind and selfish, huffing and puffing about how unfair it is that she is there, and that she needs to move. She stated that she has every right to be there, just like them, and that people need to enjoy the moment more, sitting and watching the sunrise instead of just trying to get photograph, to be in the moment instead of trying to capture it.
I was shocked and appalled by the way everyone was acting towards each other. This was the second time in less than a few days were experiences photographers yelling at other people. But this situation was much worse. Brad and I stayed out of it and I took the opportunity to be more creative with my photograph. I might not have gotten the photo I planned for in my head but in photography, that’s often the way it is and I got a decent shot anyway. I was saddened by the way people were treating each other. I could see both points that were being taken, but what I couldn’t understand was the lack of respect and just plain rudeness that others were displaying. It was upsetting knowing that others treated others this way and that people couldn’t be bothered to look at the other’s person’s point of view and understand where they were coming from.
This lady had every right to be there and she was right, most people do not live in the now and enjoy what it going on at the present moment. To sit and enjoy life, watching the beautiful sunrise over the mountains, seeing the color changes, and the day starting. But, many of these people traveled far, spending a lot of money and time planning this trip, and this is their only chance to get this photograph. Brad and I are lucky as we can return to this spot anytime that we would like, but 99% of the people that go here are not that fortunate. It was a tough and awarded morning and one we hope to never experience again.
So, my question to you is, what do you think about this situation and what would you have done?