I recently went on a photography trip of a lifetime. I traveled over 2000 miles in 10 days. I drove from Albuquerque to Northern Arizona and then up into Southern Utah. I drove the entire circle around the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument and saw several National Parks and took many beautiful hikes.
As I drove into Northern Arizona, I came across a gorgeous field of yellow flowers. It was so beautiful that I just had to stop for photos.
My next stop was to let Scarlett stretch her legs. I stopped at the top of a sandstone mesa. There have been a lot of monsoon rains and they have filled up all the low spots on the mesa. Scarlett had a great time running through the pools.
I thought I saw some movement in one of the pools. When I looked more closely, I saw these creepy creatures swimming around. They were around 2 inches long and were very fast! I had to look them up to find out what they were. They are a unique creature that can lay eggs that can stay dormant for a long time until the rains fill their pools. Then they live for 90 days which is just enough to breed. It’s a fresh water crustacean with three eyes!
Coming down from the mesa, I came into the big valley near Monument Valley. The view is just so “Arizona”!
I eventually made it to Kanab, Utah. There I met up with Seth Hamel of Enlighten Photography Excursions. Seth was an awesome tour guide. I signed up for his Utah Milky Way Photography Workshop. I recently upgraded all of my camera equipment so I could start learning astrophotography.
Before meeting up with the tour group, I had time to do a couple of hikes. My first hike was in Zion National Park. I hiked the Canyon Overlook Trail. I started at sunrise. The trail was fun to hike. You climbed along the edge of the canyon with a long drop off.
At the end of the trail, the view of the deep canyon was spectacular! You hike up a steep rock incline and then you look down and say “wow”!
My second hike was Kannarra Creek Falls. I had wanted to do this hike for some time after seeing photos online. It didn’t disappoint! You actually hike in the creek through a slot canyon to several waterfalls.
The entire hike was so wonderful. Every bend was more beautiful than the last.
I made it to the first waterfall. So beautiful!
I wanted to climb the ladder and go further upstream, but Scarlett was too scared of the loud waterfall and open stairs. They were pretty steep and I was afraid that if she made it up the stairs, she wouldn’t be able to go back down. So we turned around at this point.
That evening I met up with the tour group. Our first stop was a sunset shoot on a mesa west of Zion. The geology of this area was very unique.
Once the sun set, we went into Zion and took some night photos. I was so pleased with how my new camera equipment performed. It did way better than my old setup.
Seth had fun light painting “Zion” for us to photograph. He had to write backwards and had to do it within 20 seconds because that was our length of exposure. He did a great job!
The next day I drove up to Bryce Canyon National Park. One of the highlights of the drive was through a cool tunnel in the red canyon area.
I’d never been to Bryce Canyon before so I was really excited to see it. It did not disappoint! I stayed at the lodge right inside Bryce Canyon. It was great to step outside my room and see the spectacular view!
We hiked down one of the many trails at Bryce. Then we stopped several times on our way back up the trail to take photos. My favorite location was at a pine tree with really cool roots.
Seth was nice enough to take photos of each of us with our camera. It was fun getting a selfie of me.
I got up before sunrise to set up my camera for sunrise photos at Bryce Canyon. I went to Sunrise Point to take my photos. I thought it was strange that I didn’t see anyone else from my group or any other professional photographers setting up at this location. I found out later that everyone goes to Inspiration Point. I visited Inspiration Point later in the day and I didn’t care for the formations there. I am glad I messed up and went to Sunrise Point instead!
Our last outing with the tour was to White Pocket in Northern Arizona. This location has been top on my bucket list of places to visit for some time!
The drive to White Pocket is several hours long on a very rough 4WD road. But it was worth the bouncy ride! I wish we had had more time to explore there. I want to go back!
We got there about 2 hours before sunset. I had a blast walking around this unique landscape.
After sunset, we set up a couple different places for our milky way photos. I loved photographing this location!
The next day I drove to Escalante, Utah. I stayed at a fantastic place! It’s called Yonder Escalante. You stay in your own private cabin. They have a common area with couches and firepits. I met so many wonderful people hanging out there. They also have a drive in theater and you sit in old classic cars. So cool! I also enjoyed their wonderful pool and hot tub!
They even come to your cabin to light your own personal firepit to make s’mores!
While staying at Escalante I got to hike another trail on my bucket list: Lower Calf Creek Falls. It was a nice little hike along Calf Creek.
The falls were fabulous!
On my last couple of days, I finished driving the loop. Part of the drive was through Capitol Reef National Park. What a beautiful place! I wish I had time to do a hike in this area, but my trip was coming to a close. Plus, it was just the wrong time of year to hike this area. It was really warm and there isn’t any shade on these trails.
I did stop at a roadside trail that had a boardwalk along a tall rock wall with petroglyphs.
The last part of the drive was from Escalante to Bluff, Utah (right in the southeast corner of Utah). I had no idea that this drive was the prettiest scenery of the whole trip!
First you drive through some badlands with unique rock colors.
Then you enter a deep canyon of gorgeous red walls, with a running creek next to the road and a very steep downhill grade of 14%. I loved it!
You eventually come out at the eastern end of Lake Powell where the Colorado River feeds into it. An amazing drive!
After crossing this bridge, I came to an area of the river that had large goosenecks. Stunning!
I hope you enjoyed hearing about my epic photography tour of Southern Utah!