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Sunday
May222011

Sunrise at Mesa Arch in Canyonlands National Park, Utah

One of the best places in the whole Colorado Plateau to photograph sunrise is Mesa Arch which is located in the Island in the Sky District of Canyonlands National Park. This park is located in southeastern Utah not too far from Moab, Arches National Park, and Dead Horse Point State Park. Getting to this arch is an easy 3/4 mile hike on relatively flat terrain.

My experience was that this site attracts quite a bit of photographers so my recommendation is to arrive before Nautical Sunrise (occurs approx. 1 hour before sunrise) to get a good spot. In my opinion, a nice spot to photograph from is just off center of the arch slightly to the left approximately 10 feet away or less. I prefer not to shoot from the right due to the large rock mound that lives there somewhat obstructing the view of the canyon below. Naturally, due to the close proximity to the subject, a wide to ultra-wide angle lens is necessary for this shot.

Bundle up as it can be quite cold there in the early morning hours. I usually plan on it being 5-10 degrees cooler than what the forecast for Canyonlands indicates and I'm usually right. And don't forget to bring gloves!

What makes this site so special for sunrise is the unique effect of the sun on the bottom side of the arch when the sun is at a specific place in the sky. The deep orange glow that appears is a stunning occurrence of reflected light off the rocks below. I may have mentioned this in a previous article but Canyonlands is my favorite national park...so much diversity and size there to explore.

Sunrise photo of Mesa Arch in Canyonlands National Park, Utah near Moab. A natural arch in the Colorado Plateau. 
Located in the Island in the Sky District.


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