Driving through the Winter Wonderland of America’s South West was a daily thrill. For someone whose only real appreciation for snow is the icy sludge we usually encounter here in Australia, the experience of America’s desert winter was truly amazing. The photo’s posted here show some different aspects from the roadside. Jagged peaks, bare trees, and icy creeks were just some of the photo opportunities. Getting up at dawn and driving out the light was magical and I always could bag a decent shot. After an hour or so, with frozen hands I would drive back to the motel and pick up my wife Ann and daughter Katrina and find a place serving a great hot American Breakfast! What a great start to the day!
Arches National Park lies on the Eastern Side of Utah near the border with Colorado. At 5000 feet above sea level it sometimes gets a light covering of snow in the winter. However what we experienced there was not so usual. Heavy snow fall the previous day had closed the park. We had arrived at the visitor’s centre in the late afternoon to be informed that the rangers had arranged for an early morning snow plough to run through the park, so luckily the park opened again as soon as the roads were safe enough. What a magnificent place it proved to be. Snowfall had transformed this desert location into a white wonderland.
The Mood of the Colorado River Changes Dramatically as it winds it way through the various Canyon Lands towards the Grandest of all. I photographed it in placid reflection near Moab in Utah, at Lake Powell, and at the Spectacular Horse-shoe Bend near Page in Arizona, and being totally amazed by the changing colours and contours that the river presented. All this even before it reaches the Grand Canyon itself…. which I will display in an upcoming section.
Arriving at Ruby’s Inn in the Late Afternoon, snow had been falling since we had left Zion National Park. The snow was a lot heavier here at it is 8300 feet above sea level. It snowed all night and I was beginning to think that maybe it had not been such a good idea to push my luck for photography at such a high altitude at this time of the year. However the Park remained open and Snow ploughs were operating inside the park all day. They kept the main roads open and the scenic rim outlooks. We had a great time. Quiet and peaceful with not too many tourists, it was a memorable day. Most of the photo’s posted here were not too difficult to obtain. Some I trudged for a while, particularly if I wanted as good foreground.
One of the locations in the Colorado Plateau that I had been really wanting to see and photograph for many years were the famous slot Canyons near the Town of Page in Arizona. I had booked a tour in Australia on the internet before coming and we had chosen the Upper Antelope Canyon for preference. Its narrower and not so high and usually less crowded with tourists. You can only go into these slot Canyons with a Navajo guide as they are on Indian tribal land. The Canyon proved amazing. Over 1.4 kms long and often less than a metre wide in places, it is truly a remarkable experience. The light is stronger at the height of Summer at midday but I found that the winter light was perfect to photograph the muted colours and textures on the walls of the Canyon. Tripods are essential and our guide was fantastic as he allowed over an hour to walk through and back giving us plenty of time to expose many images. I was the last to come out of course and he joked that they were organizing a search party to come in and find me.
The Winter is special in this part of the world and I was constantly awe-struck by the snow and ice and what it added as a new dimension to landscape photography. The images in this post are of overlooks along the Colorado River near Moab and the Southern areas of Utah and just across the Border in Colorado itself, near Cortez.
We drove across southern Utah in what was basically a white-out. Not Bad by American Standards, as up North they were having real blizzards. I photographed these amazing snow scenes as it is so different to Australia and although it was cold it was amazing to get out of the car at designated rest stops and look for subject material. I shot these images wherever I found a scenic area and worked the scene often waiting a few moments for a touch of the sun’s rays to light up the landscape.