“Delicate Arch & La Sal Mountains”

Delicate Arch & La Sal Mts., Arches Natl. Park, SE Utah (c) Mike Utley

NP12-1(S)—World-famous Delicate Arch, Arches National Park, SE Utah. This is probably the most iconic spot of the Colorado Plateau, which covers a great portion of the Four Corners area (Utah, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico). Delicate Arch is simply incredible and is the most photographed and most famous natural arch in the world. There was no color manipulation here—this is exactly what Delicate Arch looked like that evening when the warm light of the setting sun struck the orange sandstone. It was literally breath-taking. (Canon gear, Fuji Velvia ISO 50)

30 thoughts on ““Delicate Arch & La Sal Mountains”

    1. Thanks, man. It was a surreal experience, that vivid glow on the arch. I really lucked-out with the lighting that evening, as did all the other dozen or so photographers who were there with their medium- and large-format cameras. Fun times. 🙂

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  1. Amazing picture – it looks incredibly cold. I always think about that Sherlock Holmes story when I hear about Utah (? the Adventure of the Five Orange Pips?) and expect to see wagons and hear gunfire. You’ve definitely brought out the cold drama of the place

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    1. Oh, it was chilly that evening, for sure! There’s a mile-long trail from the parking area to the arch and the last leg of the trail was in the shadow of a rock formation and was covered in ice. It was actually a little treacherous (if anything can be considered “a little treacherous”). My tripod had metal spikes on its legs and I used it as a sort of walking stick to keep from sliding off the trail. Once out of the shadows, it was warmer, but at that point all I could think about was that glowing arch, so the temperature was quickly forgotten. I’ve not read the Sherlock Holmes tale you mentioned. I’ll have to take a look at that. I was born and raised in Utah but got away from there as fast as I could (long story). Thanks for your kind comment! 🙂

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    2. Ahh, thanks for the clarification. I read a synopsis of it just now and it sounds like a wild adventure! I must admit I’m not much of a Sherlock Holmes fan and I’d never known Doyle had set one of the tales in Utah. Interesting stuff. 🙂

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    1. Thank you kindly, Reena. This place (Arches National Park) lies about three hours from where I currently live. There’s so much amazing beauty in this area. I wish I could get back out the and photograph it again. Thanks for your kindness. It’s always appreciated. 🙂

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    1. Thanks, Mark. This image was made in March 1996. I was shooting Fujichrome Velva 50 transparency film exclusively (the best slide film ever made). Velvia is known for its brilliant color reproduction and saturation. The lighting that evening was just unreal, so orange from the setting sun. Arches and Canyonlands National Parks just glow in the mornings and evenings. The red rock desert is fantastic for magic hour photography when the rocks light up. My little sister’s mother-in-law purchased a 16″x24″ print of this image and had it matted and framed. A print that large of this photo is breath-taking! I eventually got a digital SLR (Canon EOS 50D) in 2010 but never got to use it due to a back injury and some other issues that arose. It’s still in the box. I hope I can get back out there someday. I really miss this stuff. Incidentally, if you ever get a chance, check out the late Galen Rowell’s work. He was my “phantom mentor” and I learned about photography from studying many of his photo books. I think you’d like his work and his philosophy. Here’s an Outdoor Photographer magazine article about him you might like: https://www.outdoorphotographer.com/on-location/featured-stories/lessons-learned-from-galen-rowell/

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      1. Hi Mike, thanks for the new resource! I’ll definitely look into Rowell’s work. I really don’t know anything about photography or DSLR cameras. I took a photography class back in high school, and that was about it. Thanks for sharing the info and I hope you are able to get back out there and explore with the camera. I looks like you are pretty talented with it

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    1. Thanks, Terveen. It really was breath-taking (there’s a mile-long trail uphill to the arch). 😀 It was so worth it. I really yearn to visit this place again sometime and just spend all day watching the changing light on the rocks. 🙂

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    1. Thanks much, Grace. The stark contrast between the red rock desert and the nearby snow-capped La Sal Mountains is fascinating, sort of an uncanny juxtaposition of extreme elements you don’t see often. 🙂

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    1. Thanks, Kirsten. Definitely bring your camera if you ever make it to UT or CO. This general area (Four Corners region, Colorado Plateau, Rocky Mountains, various national and state parks) is loaded with photo opportunities. I set up a gallery (first of two or three I plan to have) in my Nature Photography menu section if you feel like checking out a few more images. I plan on making posts of each gallery image accompanied by a brief paragraph like the one above. Still figuring out the WP editor so if a gallery image takes you to a post instead of the slideshow, just click a different image. Thanks again for the nice comment! 🙂

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    1. Thanks, Xenia. Magic hour is, well, magical anywhere you go, but especially so in the red rock desert. The landscape comes alive for a short while in early morning and late afternoon and evening as the light changes to warmer tones of red and orange. 🙂

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  2. Nice shot, Mike. Reminds me of the Guardian of Forever from “City on the Edge of Forever” (written by my favorite short story author, Harlan Ellison). Yep, I’m a Star Trek nerd (mainly the original series and some of the Next Generation)

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    1. Thanks, Rhyan. Man, it’s been awhile since I saw that episode. Delicate Arch certainly has a timeless, otherworldly feel to it, almost as if you could step through it into another dimension. Ellison has always been on my “I Need To Read This Stuff Pronto” list. And with that said, I need to get on the ball before i’s too late. I recall reading some of his short-stories in OMNI Magazine in the late ’70s and early ’80s (I was a subscriber and would bring my OMNI mags to school because, you know, sci-fi nerdom and all that). 🙂 The entire OMNI archive is available free online, by the way. It’s worth checking it out, if for no other reason than George R. R. Martin’s “Sandkings” in the August 1979 issue, which sort of dovetails with the desert theme of Delicate Arch, https://archive.org/details/omni-archive/OMNI_1979_08/page/n27/mode/2up

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