Moab nature and adventure photographer Bret Edge provides an update on current photography conditions in Moab, Utah.Read More
Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park are open during the federal government shutdown thanks to a generous donation from the Canyonlands Natural History Association. Moab landscape photographer Bret Edge offers a few tips to help you enjoy your winter visit.Read More
Old Man Winter strikes Moab again! Yesterday the weather forecast called for a 30% chance of snow which of course ended up being 3” of snow in town, likely more in the parks. Unfortunately, both Arches and Canyonlands National Parks are closed to all vehicle traffic so bring warm clothing and a desire to posthole or snowshoe for several miles to access any of the winter wonderlands inside either park. No dout, you will be rewarded with solitude and so much beauty it almost hurts. Or maybe that’s your frozen fingers?
Dead Horse Point State Park should be open but call first to verify that the roads are plowed. Other areas in BLM control are open but again, the road maintenance workers have their hands full so it’s hard to say when the lesser traveled roads will be relatively safe to travel. Big thank you to all the men & women running plows today!
Forecast for the rest of the week is looking pretty darn spiffy. Mostly sunny or partly cloudy with high temperatures in the 30’s. This snow isn’t going anywhere for a few days and I suspect even next weekend will provide opportunities for winter photography.
Headed this way to take advantage of the snowy conditions? Be sure to check out The Photographers’s Guide to Winter in Moab on my blog. Totally free resource with lots of great information on how, when and where to shoot wintery scenes around Moab.
UPDATE February 2: Arches and Canyonlands NP are open. The roads are snowpacked and icy, and the NPS recommends extreme caution. Dead Horse Point State Park is also open with similar conditions. All backcountry roads are closed. Canyonlands and Dead Horse Point received over 6" of snow. Today there are patches of fog but mostly blue sky with a few light clouds. Perfect conditions for photography!
It's dumping, folks. The snow is flying and according to the weather forecast it isn't stopping until tomorrow. The La Sal Mountains are predicted to receive several feet of snow out of this storm. Down here in town we've already received five inches of snow, which means higher elevations like Arches National Park (around 5,000'), Dead Horse Point State Park and Canyonlands National Park - Island in the Sky (both around 6,000') already have even more on the ground.
As of right now the roads in Arches and Canyonlands are closed. I haven't received any information from Dead Horse Point but I suspect their roads are also closed. National Park Service crews usually clear Arches first, then Canyonlands. Dead Horse Point is usually plowed by state crews before Canyonlands, but that can vary. There is no official estimate of when the parks will open but I suspect it will be later today, or possibly tomorrow, depending on when it stops snowing.
The La Sal Mountains have been getting hammered since yesterday afternoon. Roads into the mountains are not plowed and likely won't be for a few days. However, snowshoes or skis are a viable transportation option if you don't mind putting in a few miles. Avalanche conditions exist and are a very real threat. Travel safe.
One thing is certain: you want to be in the parks as soon as the gates open. All this fresh, untracked snow will make for some absolutely incredible photography conditions. Grand landscapes will be an easy target but don't forget to look for intimate scenes such as juniper trees wearing a robe of snow. Call in sick to work, throw your photography gear in your truck and make tracks to Moab!
Need some help deciding when, where and what to photograph in Arches NP? Pick up a copy of my ebook - eFotoGuide: The Ultimate Guide to Photographing Arches National Park - and you'll hit the ground running with all of the most important information you'll need to make stunning images in this snowy Red Rock wonderland.
Click here to purchase eFotoGuide: The Ultimate Guide to Photographing Arches National Park. Your purchases help me keep this site updated with current photography conditions, and we donate a portion of the proceeds to several organizations who support land conservation and the national parks.
Winter has finally arrived in Moab! Three to four inches of snow fell overnight in town and reports from Dead Horse Point State Park as well as Canyonlands - Island in the Sky District indicate over 7" on the ground...and it's still snowing lightly at 0900.
The Island in the Sky Scenic Drive is currently closed due to the snow so if you're interested in visiting the park you'll have to hike/snowshoe until the road has been cleared.
I don't have any reports from Arches National Park or Dead Horse Point with regard to the road conditions. In my experience, the snow is cleared from the roads in Arches first and I-Sky second. Dead Horse Point SP is usually on-point when it comes to clearing their roads and I would expect them to be open very soon, if they aren't already.
With high temperatures over the next couple days hovering at around 30 degrees it's likely this snow will be in good condition for photography through at least Thursday. Once it starts to melt off and become patchy it isn't as attractive in photographs. However, the melting snow can create interesting opportunities for waterfalls where there usually are none.
Camera batteries don't last long in the cold so be sure to keep a couple extras in a jacket pocket where your body heat will keep them warm and ready for use. Know that moving in and out of your vehicle with your gear will result in lenses fogging over and in the winter it takes quite a while for them to de-fog. Remember that the light meter in your camera will underexpose because of all the white snow so be sure to dial in a little exposure compensation. I usually start at around +1 stop and make adjustments as needed.
Now, throw on a down coat, some warm gloves and boots and hit the high desert for some exceptional landscape photography!
Bloomin' Wildflowers and Reflective Potholes
The last time I wrote an update I warned you all about the quickly melting snowcap on the La Sal Mountains. Luckily, we've had a couple great storms come through the area and they left behind a healthy dose of snow on the peaks so they're actually looking better now than they were a month ago. That said, I seriously doubt that snow is going to last more than two to three weeks.
Those storms also dumped quite a bit of rain in the desert, filling area potholes to near maximum capacity. Larger potholes will hold water for several weeks but the smaller, more common ones will be empty within a few days. Get here while the gettin's good as it's always fun to photograph reflections of arches and towers in these ephemeral little pools.
Lastly, the wildflowers are coming along nicely. This is not going to be a banner year for them but there are enough blooms around that finding a floral foreground won't require too much work. Prince's plume is looking very healthy, as are the claret cup cactus blooms. Mules ear is just starting to bloom and will likely peak in most areas some time in the next 7 to 10 days. I've seen a few Whipple's fish hook cactus starting to flower, some nice clumps of lupine and, surprisingly, there are even a few bright red Indian paintbrush flowers clinging to life at the edges of slickrock and sand dunes.
That's all for now. Oh, one last thing: I've still got one spot available for my Undiscovered Moab Photo Tour next month, May 15-17. Click here to learn more about and/or register for this opportunity to explore and photograph some remote and stunning landscapes around Moab!
Wildflowers, Waterfalls and National Park Status Updates
UPDATE: March 30, 2015 - Yesterday on a mountain bike ride I saw quite a few wildflowers popping up in the desert north of Moab, even a handful of desert primrose that were looking very healthy. None of the more showy wildflowers are blooming yet, i.e. mules ears. We haven't had any rain or snow (in the La Sals) for well over a week. The snowcap on the La Sals is melting off fast.
Wildflowers and warm weather are here! Okay, so the wildflowers are nowhere near peak but they are starting to pop up here and there. I've seen some really nice bouquets of indian paintbrush at lower elevations as well as a few small white, yellow and purple flowers (sorry, I'm not much of a wildflower recognition expert). Cottonwood trees are just beginning to leaf out and their vibrant green leaves are always a lovely contrast to the rich red sandstone.
Area waterfalls are flowing nicely as the warmer weather melts snow in the La Sal Mountains. Speaking of the La Sals, they still have a snowcap but if they aren't visited by any more winter storms this spring the snow will disappear quickly. Compositions that include the La Sals always look better when they mountains are coated in snow.
Most of the 4x4 roads are open and in good condition, or as good as can be expected of a 4x4 road. As an aside, the National Park Service is considering the implementation of a permit system for day use of Elephant Hill and the White Rim in Canyonlands. For better or worse, you would be wise to keep an eye on the progress of this initiative. Construction on the new, larger parking lot at Delicate Arch in Arches National Park is now underway. Visitors will be impacted. For more information please visit the Arches NP website.
That's all for now. As the wildflower season progresses I'll post frequent updates, hopefully with a few photos, to give you all a better idea of what's happening around Moab in real-time.
Planning a photo trip to Moab? I offer private photography workshops that are designed to get you to the best spots at the best times for incredible photo opportunities. Click here to learn more about a private photography workshop with me.
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow! There's fresh snow on the ground in Moab and fog swirling around the cliffs. About an inch fell at 4,000', which means Arches, Canyonlands and Dead Horse Point will all be blanketed in just enough snow to turn the red rock into a winter wonderland. The La Sal Mountains are completely hidden behind a thick layer of clouds and when those clouds finally part, the snow capped peaks will be looking their very best for the cameras.
All main park roads are currently open. Expect some slick, icy spots and drive accordingly. We're already seeing a few patches of blue sky peeking out from behind gray clouds and the landscape is intermittently spotlighted, creating interesting opportunities for photography right now. The storm is predicted to leave the area some time tonight. Sunrise on Saturday morning (Dec. 27, 2014) should be spectacular.
I'm planning to visit Arches this afternoon for a sunset shoot - if the weather and clouds cooperate. If so, I'll update this post with a photo of the current conditions.
Snow is falling in Moab and it's beginning to accumulate on my lawn, which means higher elevation areas like Arches, Canyonlands and Dead Horse Point will be under a thin blanket of the frozen stuff. The forecast is predicting that it will snow for several more hours today.
The three prime opportunities for winter landscapes will arrive as this storm breaks up, tonight at sunset and tomorrow morning at sunrise. If the storm begins to break apart during daylight hours, the best place to be is in Arches National Park, as rays of sunlight will break through the clouds and spotlight various features in the park. It is highly likely that you'll find arches and spires playing hide and seek in patches of fog. Tonight and tomorrow morning the snow will remain pristine and untrammeled at most locations. If you've ever wanted a photo of Mesa or Delicate Arch under a blanket of snow, now is your chance. Get to Mesa Arch at least one hour before sunrise to ensure that you won't have to compete for tripod space as even in the winter, it is a popular location.
EDIT: At 1055 today the snow in town has turned into rain due to warming temperatures. Arches NP will likely see a mix of rain and snow. At 6,000' in Canyonlands and Dead Horse Point, it will be all snow. The snow level is around 5,000'.
*The photo at top is not from today but is a representation of what you might find tomorrow morning if the Gods of Light are with you. ;-)
Update on Moab photography conditions on December 14, 2014. Fresh snow and rain has created interesting opportunities for photography in the state and national parks around Moab, including Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park and Dead Horse Point State Park.Read More