Travels in the Southwest Colorado Plateau

photographer: Nathan Acks
date: 2017-09-16

A week spent road-tripping to Arches, Grand Canyon, and Bryce Canyon National Parks, and a few more spots in between.

Arches National Park

Looking north across Arches National Park

Looking north after ascending to the plateau that makes up the majority of Arches National Park. This is well before the first of the arches that are accessible from the main road.

Looking east across a series of “fossil” sand dunes

Looking east after ascending into Arches National Park. The first arches are in the far distance; in the mid-distance is a field of “fossilized” sand dunes.

Looking south back along the main road into Arches National Park

Looking south (back towards the park entrance), after ascending into Arches National Park. This is well before the first of the arches that are accessible from the main road.

The undulating wall of a mesa

Looking west after ascending into Arches National Park (the entrance is below and behind this ridge). This is well before the first arches that are accessible from the main road.

Looking north along the main road into Arches National Park

Looking north after ascending into Arches National Park (the entrance is below and behind the ridge at left). This is well before the first arches accessible from the main road.

A lone pillar of red sandstone emerges from the desert ground

Looking southwest from the first group of arches accessible from the main road. The arches themselves are off-frame behind, and to the left and right, of this photograph.

The North Window Arch

The North Window arch, one of the first arches accessible from the main road in Arches National Park.

A desert trail loops around the back of a wall of red sandstone

On the trail around the South Window and North Window arches, two of the first arches accessible from the main road in Arches National Park.

Len stands far down a trail of red sandstone

On the trail around the South and North Window arches, two of the first arches accessible from the main road in Arches National Park. Len Montgomery is head of me.

Looking southeast across Arches National Park

Looking southeast from the trail around the South Window and North Window arches, two of the first arches accessible from the main road in Arches National Park.

A lizard suns itself in the desert sand

One of the many lizards of Arches National Park. Taken on the trail around the South and North Window arches, two of the first arches accessible from the main road.

A wide-angle photograph looking up at Double Arch

The Double Arch, imaged with the wide-angle feature of the Android camera. These two arches were formed from a sinkhole in the containing mesa.

Looking through one of the arches of Double Arch

Looking southwest from under the Double Arch, imaged with the wide-angle feature of the Android camera. Len Montgomery is siting in the foreground, near the center of the frame.

Len sits at the base of a wall of red sandstone pillars

Len Montgomery (on the left side of the frame), sitting near the Garden of Eden, a series of eroded rock ridges and towers.

Looking east across Arches National Park

Looking east from near the Garden of Eden, a series of eroded rock ridges and towers.

A desert panorama across Arches National Park

Looking north from the aptly named Panorama Point, about halfway into Arches National Park.

The Arches National Park visitors’ center and the main road into Moab just after dawn

Looking southeast from near the entrance of Arches National Park. The visitor center is just off the right side of the frame, with the main body of the park to the left.

A desert sunrise over Arches National Park

Looking east towards the sunrise, about halfway into Arches National Park (just before the turnoff for Delicate Arch).

A desert sunrise over Arches National Park

Looking east towards the sunrise, about halfway into Arches National Park (just before the turnoff for Delicate Arch).

Tunnel Arch

Tunnel Arch, the first major arch on the Devil’s Garden Trail in Arches National Park. A smaller “sinkhole” arch (formed in a similar process as Double Arch) is left-of-center.

Looking through Pine Tree Arch

Looking north through Pine Tree Arch, the second major arch on the Devil’s Garden Trail at the end of the main road in Arches National Park.

An oblique view through Pine Tree Arch

Looking northwest through Pine Tree Arch, the second major arch on the Devil’s Garden Trail at the end of the main road in Arches National Park.

An oblique view through Pine Tree Arch

Looking east from the “other side” (i.e., opposite the trail) of Pine Tree Arch, the second major arch on the Devil’s Garden Trail at the end of the main road in Arches National Park.

An oblique view along Pine Tree Arch

Looking back towards the trail through Pine Tree Arch. If you look closely, you’ll see Len Montgomery standing in the bushes towards the lower right.

Looking through Pine Tree Arch

Nathan Acks, photographing Len Montgomery, photographing me at the Pine Tree Arch, the second major arch on the Devil’s Garden Trail at the end of the main road in Arches National Park.

An incredibly thin red sandstone arch

Landscape Arch, just west of the Devil’s Garden Trail in Arches National Park.

An incredibly thin red sandstone arch

Landscape Arch, just west of the Devil’s Garden Trail in Arches National Park.

A small tree grows in the sand in the narrow space between two high sandstone fins

Heading south on the trail towards Sand Dune Arch, in Arches National Park.

A small arch in a red sandstone alcove

Sand Dune Arch, in Arches National Park.

Len approaches a large bow-shaped arch

Len Montgomery approaches the south side of Broken Arch, in Arches National Park.

Looking through a rock arch

The north side of Broken Arch (looking south), in Arches National Park.

A distant view of Delicate Arch

Delicate Arch as seen from the Upper Viewpoint in Arches National Park. If you look closely, you can see all of the hikers that hiked the trail to Delicate Arch itself.

The Grand Canyon

A view into the Grand Canyon from the South Rim

Looking west along the Grand Canyon from near Hermit’s Rest. The Colorado River is visible near center.

A view into the Grand Canyon from the South Rim

Looking east along the Grand Canyon from near Hermit’s Rest. A sliver of the Colorado River is visible in the lower left.

A large black wasp sits on a small cluster of flowers

A tarantula hawk feeds on flower on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon near Hermit’s Rest.

A large black wasp sits on a small cluster of flowers

A tarantula hawk feeds on flower on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon near Hermit’s Rest.

Black and yellow beetles on a moss-like plant

Goldenrod Soldier Beetles, taken about half way between Hermit’s Rest and Hopi Point along the South Rim Trail.

Two black and yellow beetles on a moss-like plant

Goldenrod Soldier Beetles, taken about half way between Hermit’s Rest and Hopi Point along the South Rim Trail.

A view into the Grand Canyon from the South Rim

Looking east along the Grand Canyon from near Hopi Point. The Colorado River is visible near center.

A view across the Grand Canyon

Looking north across the Grand Canyon, somewhere between Hopi and Yavapai Points.

A view across the Grand Canyon

Trees growing just below the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, taken near Yavapai Point.

A narrow red and white sandstone ridge descends towards the floor of the Grand Canyon

Looking towards Yaki Point from the Grand Canyon visitor center. Len Montgomery and I hiked later to the Cedar Ridge overlook on the South Kaibab Trail, just above the “temple” in this photo.

A concave portion of the South Rim of the Grand Canyon

Looking back towards a point between the South Kaibab Trail Head and Mather Point from the South Kaibab Trail.

A winding trail next to a steep drop-off in the Grand Canyon

Len Montgomery, ahead of me on the South Kaibab Trail.

A mesa-like “temple” near the end of a long ridge

Looking down towards the Cedar Ridge overlook and across the Grand Canyon from the South Kaibab Trail near Ooh Aah Point.

Len sits on a large rock overlooking the Grand Canyon

Len Montgomery poses near the Ooh Aah Point on the South Kaibab Trail.

Len and Nathan at the Grand Canyon

Len Montgomery and I take our obligatory vacation selfie near the Ooh Aah Point on the South Kaibab Trail.

A black-and-white photograph of the Grand Canyon shortly after dawn

Looking east across the Grand Canyon shortly after dawn.

A black-and-white photograph of the Grand Canyon shortly after dawn

Looking northeast across the Grand Canyon shortly after dawn.

A view along the Grand Canyon from the South Rim

Looking north across the Grand Canyon.

Looking across the South Rim of the Grand Canyon

Looking east across the Grand Canyon from the Desert View Watchtower. The Colorado River can be seen entering the Grand Canyon at the far left.

Sunset Crater

A low cinder cone with a distinctive red rim

Sunset Crater, a volcanic cone less than a thousand years old, just south of the Grand Canyon. It’s the youngest volcano in the San Francisco Volcanic Field.

The remains of an incredibly large volcano

The San Francisco Peaks, the remains of a massive stratovolcano that exploded in a northeasterly direction (towards where I’m standing) about 200,000 years ago.

A rocky lava flow

Looking across the Bonito Lava Flow, just northwest of Sunset Crater.

A steep cinder cone with a distinctive red crater rim

The east side of Sunset Crater.

A small plant grows among volcanic cinders and pine needles

A small plant grows in the lava flow east of Sunset Crater.

Glen Canyon Dam

The Glen Canyon Dam

The Glen Canyon Dam, with the artificial Lake Powell extending behind it.

A wide-angle shot of the Glen Canyon Dam

At left, the Glen Canyon Dam with the artificial Lake Powell extending behind it. At right, the Glen Canyon Dam Bridge, with the Colorado River below.

The Glen Canyon Dam

The Glen Canyon Dam, with the artificial Lake Powell extending behind it.

Horseshoe Bend

A wide-angle shot of the iconic Horseshoe Bend in the Colorado River

Horseshoe Bend is in Grand Canyon National Park (the park begins at the top of the rim walls and extends to the Glen Canyon Dam), but the overlook I’m on is BLM land.

A wide-angle shot of the iconic Horseshoe Bend in the Colorado River

Horseshoe Bend is in Grand Canyon National Park (the park begins at the top of the rim walls and extends to the Glen Canyon Dam), but the overlook I’m on is BLM land.

A tight cluster of yellow flowers

A small flowering bush clings to the cliff just above Horseshoe Bend.

A detail of the south side of the Colorado River as it rounds Horseshoe Bend

The Colorado River snakes southeast from Horseshoe Bend.

Bryce Canyon

Solar panels in a forest clearing

Solar panels near the Bryce Canyon visitors center.

The South Wall of Bryce Canyon

Looking northeast from Rainbow Point on the south side of Bryce Canyon.

The undulating South Wall of Bryce Canyon

Looking northwest from Rainbow Point towards the main extent of Bryce Canyon.

The South Wall of Bryce Canyon

Looking northeast from Rainbow Point on the south side of Bryce Canyon.

Looking down a steep gulch in the wall of Bryce Canyon

Looking east from the rim wall of Bryce Canyon, just north of Rainbow Point.

A fin of soft red and white rock extends from the South Wall of Bryce Canyon

Looking southeast from the rim wall of Bryce Canyon, just north of Rainbow Point.

Red and white pillars of soft rock

Looking southeast from the rim wall of Bryce Canyon, just north of Rainbow Point.

A fin of soft red and white rock extends from the South Wall of Bryce Canyon

Looking north from the rim wall of Bryce Canyon, just north of Rainbow Point.

An arch in a fin of rock extending from the South Wall of Bryce Canyon

Looking east through the Bryce Natural Bridge, just north of Rainbow Point.

A fin of soft red and white rock extends from the South Wall of Bryce Canyon

Looking southeast from the rim wall of Bryce Canyon, just north of Rainbow Point.

The view down an exceptionally wide fin of rock extending from the South Wall of Bryce Canyon

Looking east from the rim wall of Bryce Canyon, just north of Rainbow Point.

Looking down Swamp Canyon in Bryce Canyon National Park

Looking east through Swamp Canyon from the rim wall of Bryce Canyon.

A semi-circular amphitheater filled with hundreds of densely packed red and white stone pillars

Looking southeast from Sunrise Point from the rim wall of Bryce Canyon; the Queen’s Garden Trail Head is just off frame to the left.

Sculpted red and white rock

Looking northeast from Sunrise Point from the rim wall of Bryce Canyon; the Queen’s Garden Trail Head is just off frame to the right.

A semi-circular amphitheater filled with hundreds of densely packed red and white stone pillars

Looking southeast into Bryce Canyon from just south of Sunrise Point.

A small pine tree growing right on the rim of Bryce Canyon

A tree on the Bryce Canyon rim, about half way between Sunrise and Sunset Points.

A semi-circular amphitheater filled with hundreds of densely packed red and white stone pillars

Looking southeast into Bryce Canyon from just between Sunrise and Sunset Points.

A semi-circular amphitheater filled with hundreds of densely packed red and white stone pillars

Looking east into Bryce Canyon from Sunset Point.

A semi-circular amphitheater filled with hundreds of densely packed red and white stone pillars

Looking southeast into Bryce Canyon from the lower Inspiration Point.

A semi-circular amphitheater filled with hundreds of densely packed red and white stone pillars

Looking across Bryce Canyon from between the upper and lower Inspiration Points; the main “amphitheater” of Bryce Canyon can be seen to the left.

The Road Home

A rubber ducky perched on the rim of a hotel bathtub

The hotel that Len Montgomery and I stayed at on the way back to Denver from Bryce Canyon provided a rubber ducky with the normal toiletries!

A selfie in green

So green that Len Montgomery couldn’t stop laughing.