Crack Canyon


Jan 17, 2012
Saturday, November 7, 2015

Tafoni lines the canyon walls and a sunburst peeks out between two rocks in Crack Canyon.

On Saturday morning Diane and I left home early and drove west into Utah to go hiking in the desert. Our destination was Crack Canyon in the San Rafael Reef which is not too far away from the much more popular Little Wild Horse Canyon and Goblin Valley State Park. After getting off the highway and following Temple Mountain Road through the reef, we took the Behind the Reef Road to Crack Canyon and drove down the wash to the Wilderness Study Area boundary. We parked here and started hiking down the canyon. It was a beautiful canyon with interesting tafoni everywhere and a few short sections of narrows. There was nice reflected light bouncing off the canyon walls so I took my time taking plenty of photos along the way. We hiked through the reef until we reached the intersection with the Chute Canyon Trail where we turned around and returned the way we had come. We didn’t see anyone else all afternoon until we were on our way back to the trailhead, and even then we only ran into a family of four and another solo hiker. The high temperature was probably in the low 50’s and it turned out to be a great day for hiking in the canyon!

There were even a few cottonwood trees in the canyon hanging on to their fall colors.

Beginning the hike down the canyon before it started to get narrower.

Diane hikes ahead of me.

A very cool crack in the sandstone that we got to hike under and through.

Exiting the crack.

The sun peeks out over the rim of the canyon as it widens out a little.

A short section of narrows with nice light.

After down-climbing a tricky ledge, Diane poses for a photo.

This is shortly before the canyon exits the San Rafael Reef and starts to open up.

This was the narrowest, deepest and darkest section of slot canyon that we would pass through.

Large boulders strewn along the wash.

Lines & Light

Rough-looking narrows after a short down-climb off the boulder in the foreground.

A twist in the canyon.

A more abstract photo of the lines and textures found in the canyon’s walls.

Another colorful cottonwood tree.

Light & Shadows

Tafoni and lines everywhere!

>> Crack Canyon Photo Gallery
>> The Original Trip Report on ADVENTR.CO


Mar 28, 2012
Nice shots. I hiked Crack with one of my boys last winter, it's a pretty great place. I had a worrisome moment where I lowered myself down that one drop (the tricky ledge in your pics) and then found it harder to reverse than I had anticipated. Turns out there's an easy bypass though.


May 18, 2012
Lovely pics Randy. Can you share how you get such great sunbursts. My only way once was taking loads of photos pointing at different things
until I just struck lucky with one as the sun overexposed out most of the photo on the others!


Jan 17, 2012
Lovely pics Randy. Can you share how you get such great sunbursts. My only way once was taking loads of photos pointing at different things
until I just struck lucky with one as the sun overexposed out most of the photo on the others!

Getting a sunburst like the ones in my photos are mostly dependent on the lens you use. Some lenses create better sunbursts than others. These were all taken with the Canon 16-35 f4 which creates a pretty good sunburst. The only lens that I think creates a better one is the Canon 16-35 f2.8, which I also have, but haven't used as much since I got the f4 version. Then it's just a matter of stopping down the lens to a smaller aperture to create the sunburst. f16 and smaller is usually a good start.

Another trick to getting a good sunburst is composing the shot so that most of the sun is hidden behind an object in the scene except for a small part. You can play around with how much the sun is peeking out for different effects.
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