Where to Photograph in Arches - Canyonlands
From personal experience, these locations in Arches and Canyonlands National Parks are the best for landscape photography. I also offer my thoughts on when are the best times of the year to be there to capture the best possible photographs.
I have combined these two National Parks into one, just because they are right next to each other just outside of Moab, Utah. This also allows one to spend extra time there since there is so much ground to cover. Like any of the locations in the Desert Southwest with Red Rock formations, it is critical to capture the early orange light of the sun on the Red Rock. Within minutes of the sunrise, the color in the rock begins to wash out. The last few minutes at the end of the day can also provide wonderful color.
Arches National Park
This arch is probably the most iconic location of the Park. According to the National Park Service the trail up to the arch is a three mile round trip with a 480 foot elevation gain. It can be crowded up there as everyone arrives late in the afternoon to get the warm, late day light on the arch.
This location is so much fun to photograph as it provides a multitude of possibilities. It can be photographed from outside the arch, from inside the arch, early or late or even at night. It's a short walk from the car although the climb up inside the arch can be challenging. It can be a little creepy out there alone at night, so take that into consideration if you plan on doing night photography.
Depending on the angle, Balanced Rock can have you standing there wondering how it doesn't fall off. It is best photographed early in the morning just as the sun is rising providing nice light on the rock and maybe a little color in the sky depending on the time of the year.
Other Locations in Arches National Park
There are many other locations and formations to photograph in the Park. There is no shortage of printed or online guides with more information. These locations include, but are not limited to, Park Avenue, Landscape Arch, Courthouse Towers, the La Sal Mountains, The Organ, Turret Arch and Broken Arch.
Canyonlands National Park
This is probably the most famous arch and location within Canyonlands. The Spring and Fall are best to capture the sun burst as it rises above the horizon in the distance. The sun reflects off the cliff below the arch and onto the bottom of the arch. It really is quite spectactular for those few minutes after sunrise. It is the most popular location in the Park, so plan to get there in the dark at least 2 hours before sunrise.
Dead Horse Point
This location is adjacent to Canyonlands National Park in Dead Horse Point State Park. The entrance is open 24 hours a day so getting there before sunrise is doable, something different from many State Parks. It's a short walk from the car and usually not too crowded. While it looks good from the main overlook as shown here, there are a number of other locations to photograph it from.
Green River Overlook
I have always found this location looks it's best at sunset. It is not an easy location to photograph as canyon formations below can wind up being quite small in your image. Having a great sky is probably more critical to this location than it is to the others.
Best Times To Be At Arches and Canyonlands
The summer can be both crowded and extremely hot, so you might want to avoid those months to make your photographic expedition more enjoyable. Unless, of course, your main focus is to photograph lightning storms and the summer can be pretty good for that. There are also some cool night photography options with the Milky Way over or through some of the rock formations.