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Author Topic: UT/AZ phototrip time requirement  (Read 10589 times)
b.e.wilson
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« on: July 31, 2003, 08:53:46 AM »
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The  time needed to see so many beautiful places depends on the sort of shooting style you like: Do you prefer the more studied approach to an area like an explorer might take, or do you enjoy the rush of a hurried 'discovery' pass through the area like a photojournalist?

For the studied approach, at least three days in the larger parks. Even using written guides, you'll need to find the tripod locations that yield the sort of shot you want, and you'll need time to get the skies you want. For example, to have different skies in your vista shots, in Fall you need about three days to see two different sky types. You'll also need two mornings or evenings to get the horizon clouds modifying the early or late sun in an pleasant manner.

Another aspect of the studied approach is that to make the best use of the third day and beyond, you'll need to see your previous days work and make corrections to your method. I've done a week in some places in southern Utah, got home, and discovered that a lot of my fifth day's shots had the same mistakes as my first day's shots. Digital helps here, and if you shoot slides it's frankly tough to find a one-day lab in southern Utah/northern Arizona. Moab and St. George are your best bets.

For the journalistic pass, maybe a day and a half. In my experience in the few of the larger parks I've studied (Arches and Bryce), it took two days to learn the lay of the land, and then the week stay to get the shot I wanted. But during those first two days I did get some great shots, just unexpected shots. Then you'll be better prepared to make a series of carefully planned visits to the area in the future. Just take copious shooting and location notes.

And I'll admit that the quick dash method is a fun way to do it. But I will also admit that I could never find the energy to do all those parks in the quick method. I'd need to have every fourth day or so be a rest day, with no photographic activities planned, just to mosey around the park and enjoy being there (The Fruitia campground at Capitol Reef is one of my prime rest areas, very comfy, an oasis in the desert).

But do keep in mind that I don't spend too much time in the big parks, and many on your list I've never visited (Zion, Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Bridges, Antelope Canyon, de Clelly), instead going to the places less frequented and less paved, so my idea of the best methods may be seriously warped.
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b.e.wilson
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« Reply #1 on: July 31, 2003, 11:58:45 AM »
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Your times sound good, but if you see many small parks in succession remember the driving distances can be considerable, even between "adjacent" parks, which might make driving times longer than park visiting times.

You might want to look into Larent Martres' books  Photographing the Southwest, from phototripusa.com as a good guide to things to shoot and how to get there.
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b.e.wilson
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« Reply #2 on: August 02, 2003, 09:13:28 AM »
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Weather in late November: there is always a storm that blows in before or around Thanksgiving. It will be a problem for those on dirt roads, but not the paved ones. Or those camping who aren't prepared. It might block Bryce and some of the high passes for a day, though. But the benefits of being there to shoot the clouds and the newly-fallen snow completely outweigh the hazards.

And you are correct about the PhotoTrips books; I was reading one two days ago and I sure noticed the lack of maps (I usually read them with my National Geographic Topo! map on the computer to unravel the location descriptions).

Lodging walk-ins: no idea. I only camp.
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Keole
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« Reply #3 on: August 03, 2003, 06:23:54 PM »
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Thanks all!

Do you think I would need a GPS to hike some of the moderate level trails? I wonder if my compass would be enough ...
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b.e.wilson
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« Reply #4 on: August 04, 2003, 08:30:13 AM »
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Well, in truth every park has back entrances via dirt roads that allow access to the less popular/less developed areas. Arches has the road past the Marching Men, Bryce has the Cottonwood Draw Road coming up from US89 (through the Grand Staircase and under the Pink Cliffs), Zions has the northern section, and then there are some locations of national park quality that aren't visited by hardly anybody (San Rafael Swell for example, see the article on my website if you're curious).

For a first sweep of the area it might be best to stick to the paved roads, hitting the Island area only. The Needles and Maze districts are fabulous, but require a good, high, narrow 4WD (I prefer an ATV) to see most of it (Needles especially) or long drives on dirt roads (Maze). These require time, and aren't all that well suited for the sweep through the national parks you propose. Mind you, these areas are certainly worthy of exploration, but the studious type of approach works better there, as there is lots of hiking involved.

So to answer your question, no park needs more than three days if you stay on the pavement, but all of them require much more than that if you get off the asphalt to really explore.
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Tom Darnall
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« Reply #5 on: August 05, 2003, 10:14:31 PM »
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Your question about other parks that require 3+ days is a tough one, because it's so dependent on how you approach it, and the extent to which you "explore and experience" the territory, leaving room for discovering images that reflect your style, vs. trying to jump from one well-known, highly photographed site to another.

For example, the first time I went to Zion NP I spent 4-5 days, and highly recommend taking some time there as well.

Outdoor enthusiasts I know say you can't really experience Bryce from the rim (like so many of the drive-up European tourists do), and they insist on hiking down into the canyon and going backpacking there, lingering a few days at least.

I know this sort of input doesn't coincide well with your trip this fall, but it's something to consider as you get oriented in the area and plan return trips where you focus on a few key areas that interest you.

Best of luck and good shooting!

Tom
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One more thing ...
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« Reply #6 on: August 08, 2003, 02:47:07 AM »
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Tell me if I plan too much for Page area for 4 days to cover the following places:
- upper/lower antelope
- waterhole slot canyon & Lee's ferry
- alstrom point
- horseshoe bent
- the wave (or rainbow bridge cruise if no permit)
- paria canyon/buckskin gultch
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b.e.wilson
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« Reply #7 on: August 08, 2003, 08:44:01 AM »
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Quote
Tell me if I plan too much for Page area for 4 days to cover the following places:
- upper/lower antelope
- waterhole slot canyon & Lee's ferry
- alstrom point
- horseshoe bent
- the wave (or rainbow bridge cruise if no permit)
- paria canyon/buckskin gultch
Yes, four days is cutting it very tight, unless you are in superb physical condition, and drive very very fast. Some places, like the Wave and Buckskin Gulch, require quite a hike, and most of us are exhausted after a daytrip visit. Your proposed four-day loop would require you to hike both the Wave and Buckskin in the same day, and I don't think that's doable.

The situation is worse if you plan to shoot sunrises and sunsets anywhere, as you will need to add some significant driving times from any city large enough to have a hotel (most of those locations do not have camping), and you won't get any sleep during those four hectic days.
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Keole
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« Reply #8 on: August 09, 2003, 01:41:13 AM »
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Thanks for the great tips, you guys are fantasitic!

One question for Jeffery, you said Altstrom Point will take an entire day. I just got back from Laurent Martres' book, and he says it's 1.5 hr from Page and he usually goes there late afternoon for sunset.

I also wonder if I can catch the magic beam at noon in the canyon as Nov Sun may drop a lot from its summer high.
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henry
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« Reply #9 on: August 12, 2003, 05:12:44 AM »
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I realize your cup floweth over but....

As long as you are traveling through the area I am sure you would be fascinated with Goblin Valley. It is just west of Hwy 24 between Green River and Hanksville.

Another great spot is Dead Horse State Park near Moab.

There is a fascinating site with photos of these areas plus most of Utah, http://www.utahpictures.com

I am envious. http://www.qasw.com
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Keole
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« Reply #10 on: July 31, 2003, 01:31:57 AM »
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I'm planning a trip to S. UT and N. AZ for some serious photography this fall. It was very interesting reading another thread and it gives me a load of good info. However, I still need some help on time allocation since I have never been to any of those places.

My trip will start mid Nov from Las Vegas. My tentative plan is to hit:
- Zion
- Bryce Canyon
- The Wave (no permit but will try my luck for the walk-ins)
- Paria Canyon
- Antelope Canyon
- North Rim
- Monument Valley
- Natural Bridges
- Capitol Reef
- Canyonlands
- Arches
- and possibly Canyon de Chelly

I know this is a long list. But I really want to sample these locations so that I can have more selective return trips later. With that said and the goal being good phorography, I would ask if anyone could kindly give me any advice on how much time I should expect to spend at each location. I think I have enough time so I don't have to do most tourists do: drive through, which means I WILL wait for good light and I WILL hike as much as I can. But I also don't have infinite time, so I can't do what those local pro's do: long hikes and staying weeks at one place.

Any input is greatly appreciated!!

Thanks for your help!
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Keole
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« Reply #11 on: July 31, 2003, 09:58:09 AM »
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Thanks for your reply Bruce! I also enjoyed your website.

I guess I won't have the luxury to take the studied approach in your comment, at least not this time. What I plan to do for this trip is more like scouting the locations to prepare for future "studied" trips.

What I have estimated is 2-3 days each in those big parks and a single day for those smaller ones. I figure that would allow me to catch most morning/evening light and some reasonable hiking during the day at each location. But I want to have experienced photographers give me some validation so that I won't come too short on time when I get there.
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Keole
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« Reply #12 on: August 02, 2003, 01:48:15 AM »
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Yeah, I just got the books. They are very useful. However I think he could have used some maps and give some time estimates for people who are not familiar with the area.

I also wonder if mid to late Nov will have snow problems on the roads/trials. And walk-in lodging is very easy by that time of the year right?
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Peter McLennan
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« Reply #13 on: August 02, 2003, 10:18:36 AM »
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Times and distances can be deceptive. Microsoft Streets and Trips will help you estimate driving times accurately.

Good maps (or software) are invaluable. In particular, the AAA map called "Indian Lands" is very good.

Good shooting!

Peter
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Tom Darnall
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« Reply #14 on: August 03, 2003, 09:07:00 PM »
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FYI, you'll find in your maps that Canyonlands is huge, and actually is comprised of 3-4 large districts. Travel time between the districts is considerable, especially getting into some of the more remote ones (e.g., The Maze, which is more of a backpacking region).

I spent five days in CL this spring, and focused just on Needles District and Islands in the Sky (the latter being the most visited, due largely to its accessibility and proximity to Arches NP, Moab, etc.)

If you want some solitude, however, I'd recommend a few days in Needles District, or even some of the more remote areas.

If you have a telescope, or enjoy binocular star-gazing, this is a fantastic area for that, too (wide, open horizons).
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Keole
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« Reply #15 on: August 03, 2003, 10:33:20 PM »
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Tom, thanks for the heads up. I did see Canyon Lands being big, but didn't realize that many days are appropriate. I may have to adjust things a bit. Are there any other parks that will require more than 3 days for a first time sampling photogapher?
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Keole
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« Reply #16 on: August 04, 2003, 11:56:26 PM »
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Thank you Bruce!

I hope to have a good preview for this trip. I will be moving to the west coast next year then I can comb these places in detail ...
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Keole
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« Reply #17 on: August 08, 2003, 02:31:00 AM »
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Thanks all.

Can you tell which places are likely to close roads due to snow mid to late Nov?
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b.e.wilson
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« Reply #18 on: August 08, 2003, 08:35:26 AM »
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Quote
Can you tell which places are likely to close roads due to snow mid to late Nov?
It's been dry here, so possibly (probably?) none of these roads will be closed for snow; they haven't been the last few years:

The Bryce road beyond the amphetheater
Most dirt roads anywhere become impassable when wet.
Highways 14, 143, or 12 over the passes.
Most roads everywhere the day of a big snowstorm become difficult if the road has much altitude (5000 ft or higher).

Actually, if you stay on paved roads you shouldn't get into much trouble early in the winter season. Late winter is when you get into trouble, when you come to trust the dry weather and get out on the remote dirt roads when the big front comes through. A couple died last year in Grand Staircase-Escalante when their rented Jeep was snowed in on a very remote dirt road (they shouldn't have been on that road any time of year without multiple topo maps to guide them). They stayed with the Jeep for a week, then tried to hike out. They didn't have a radio (ham radio is great out there, as several amatuer radio clubs have wonderful repeater coverage over the entire southern part of the state), didn't have a weeks extra food (or more), didn't have sleeping gear, etc., none of the emergency gear that should accompany all backcountry explorations.

But stay on the paved roads, you shouln't have any problem beyond a day delay for snow, and you may possibly have the benefit of getting to shoot in the light snow, a rare and beautiful opportunityin the desert.
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jeffreybehr
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« Reply #19 on: August 08, 2003, 06:56:47 PM »
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Keole, here's some info on points not yet covered:
1. Altstrom Point is easily drivable from/to Page in one day, but it'll take virtually an entire day even if you shoot 'only' sunset. But it's worth the time; I sure enjoyed my trip. You really ought to have a notebook computer with topo maps and a GPS to keep you on the right 'roads'. Don't take a 2WD vehicle unless it's a pickup truck.
2. Both Antelope Canyons can be covered in one day if you're in a hurry, but you'll really benefit from dedicating about 3 hours in the middle of the day to each. But this will allow you to do sunrise at Horseshoe Bend (all 3 of these are just a few miles s. of Page) one day and sunset the other day.
3. I wouldn't bother with Waterholes Canyon; it's narrow but not a slot.
3. Each of The Wave and Buckskin Gulch/Paria (pronounced PA-ree-u, not pu-RI-u) River canyon is a whole day hike. Each starts from the same parking lot (Wirepass) about 2 hours from Page, and you'll be exhausted when you return from either hike.
4. Buy all appropriate copies (actually, the entire set of issues is highly affordable) of Robert Hitchman's 'Photograph America Newsletter', here http://www.photographamerica.com/index.htm . They're VERY useful with maps and detailed instructions and distances.

Good luck. This is a very ambitious project you're planning. Don't forget that the sun is still VERY bright in November--wear a hat (NOT a CAP), use lots of sunblock, and carry plenty of water--and DON'T fall asleep driving. You WILL be tired.
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