Arches and Canyonlands National Parks

By Jeff Insel

This month I had the pleasure of being a Photo Guide on a six day photo workshop to these amazing National Parks situated near Moab, UT with Photographer/Instructor Michael DeYoung. We had fairly cold weather – upper teens in the higher elevations to low 40s in the afternoon and early evenings with partly cloudy days. Some leftover snow in patches in some places but the distant La Sal Mountains had snow making for good backdrops in many of the places we photographed. For most of my photos I was using my Sony A7iii with either a 28-70mm or 24-240mm lens. I also experimented with my infrared converted Nikon Coolpix 6200 point & shoot.

Most mornings started around 5:30 am to 6:15 am depending on which location we started with for sunrise which occurred around 7:30 am. We’d depart around 3:00 pm for most of our sunset locations.

Arches National Park has many wonderful scenic locations to photograph and we went to several, sometimes twice – for sunrise and sunset. The Windows site, which includes Turret Arch was one of those.

Through South Window & Turret Arch
Me in South Window – taken by Michael DeYoung
Infrared through South Window & Turret Arch

The most popular or iconic location is Delicate Arch which involves a 1.5 mile hike one way up a steep rock hill with a patch of narrow icy trail near the top (ice grips recommended for this stretch as several people slipped and fell). We also photographed it from the lower view point which is a short walk from the parking lot.

Delicate Arch & La Sal Mountains
Delicate Arch & Sunstar
Delicate Arch Infrared
Delicate Arch from lower view point

Landscape Arch is another cool arch. It requires a one mile one way hike and is pretty level, though it, too, had a couple icy stretches to be careful on.

Hiking to Landscape Arch
Landscape Arch & Boulder

Canyonlands National Park is about 32 miles from Moab and required the earlier starts for sunrise. One of the most popular locations there is Mesa Arch, a very small and narrow open arch found after a half mile hike with a short up and downhill trail. Due to its small size it gets very crowded for sunrise – sort of combat photography-like.

Mesa Arch sunrise
Sunstar thru the group Mesa Arch

Canyonlands has a few really scenic view points. One is the view point across the street from the visitor center and another is Grand View Point located at the end of the park road. This view point and trail gets you both the eastern view with the La Sal Mountains and western view with the Henry Mountains as backgrounds.

Canyonland view & La Sal Mountains
Morning light – Grand View & Henry Mountains

We photographed at several other locations but this blog is long enough. You can see more of my photos at my website:

Check out the next Arches & Canyonlands workshop scheduled for Dec 11-16, 2022.

Jeff Insel is a Photo Guide with Arizona Highways PhotoScapes