Solo Utah Adventure

JoanieBelle

Member
Joined
Mar 6, 2012
Messages
34
Solo Utah Adventure
I am planning a solo camping and photography adventure to Utah the week before the Memorial Day weekend. I am really interested in Night Sky (Milky Way) Photography. I drive a stock 2003 Jeep Grand Cherokee and have experience 4 wheeling only in the mountains of Colorado. This will be my 4th trip to Utah, but the first time by myself.

Day 1 – Drive to the North Swell area, undecided if arriving from I-70 or from Castle Dale? Camp near Wedge Overlook for Sunset. Night photography?

Day 2 – Sunrise at the Wedge again, or is there a better option? Morning spent checking out various rock art sites. Drive to Upper Cathedral Valley from I-70 on Baker Ranch Road. Overnight there for sunset and Milky Way photos.

Day 3 – Where to shoot Sunrise? Drive south to Fruita, I have concerns about crossing the river although I plan to check with the Ranger station for conditions. Any advice? Camp in Fruita, (after 2 days and 2 nights of talking to myself, I will be ready to talk to other people!) Sunset and night photography along the Scenic Drive/Capitol Gorge. Or other suggestions?

Day 4 – Sunrise, Fruita Barn? Suggestions? Depart Capitol Reef with stop at Goblin Valley, heading for Fisher Towers. Sunset/Night Photography Fisher Towers.

Day 5 – Sleep in :) Drive to Canyonlands, Island of the Sky. Possibly camp Willow Flats. This will be my 3rd trip to Canyonlands in 3 years, so I have the iconic photos, but always hoping to improve! Sunset at Murphy Point. Unsure of night photography subject?

Day 6 – Sunrise at Marlboro Point. Depart for Arches with camping reservations for 2 nights.

Day 7 and 8 Arches. I have plenty of sunset/night photography options that I want to try, but am unsure of sunrises? On a previous visit, I have photographed Landscape Arch on a cloudless morning, ho hum, boring.

So, what do you think? Am I trying to do too much? What am I missing? I am planning day hikes each day. Is there a particular hike I shouldn’t miss?

Thanks for reading and any advice!
 

Bob Palin

Killer
Joined
Feb 9, 2012
Messages
159
Day 3 morning is a bit ambitious if you mean to be in Fruita for sunrise! From the Upper Cathedral campground to Fruita is at least a 3 hour drive on the Hartnett, sunrise will be around 6am. The river is currently about 12" deep and will probably be the same in a month unless there is more snow before then. The river is actually not so much of a problem as the 100 yards of deep fine sand before you get to it, I got briefly stuck there on Saturday in the company 4x4, entered that stretch in 2WD (talking too much) and dug a hole for the back wheels with the transmission buried. Easy to dig out at least but it is deeply rutted and you need some clearance. You need to be prepared for cold and wind at the Cathedral camp ground.

Sunrise on the Cathedrals themselves should be magnificent and quite different from sunset, be careful going down the switchbacks in the dark! Then continue on that road round to the Temples, you'll be there early enough to get some light for photography. From there you just keep going to UT24, there are lots of things to look at and the cactus should be blooming. You will need to be at Fruita fairly early to get a place, it was full on Saturday in the afternoon, in summer it is often full by noon.
 

JoanieBelle

Member
Joined
Mar 6, 2012
Messages
34
[Day 3 morning is a bit ambitious if you mean to be in Fruita for sunrise]

Thanks for the info, Bob! No, I am planning on shooting sunrise somewhere around Cathedral Valley, then drive to Fruita. Just to clarify, the deep sand is before the river driving south? I will pay particular attention and switch to 4x4.

Cold I can handle, it's that other 4 letter word (wind), ugh. That explains why there are so few photos online and only a couple of night photos. In your opinion, is it worth the attempt or would I be better considering something else and trying this at a different time of year? (Which would be when?)

Although now that I think of it, every time I have been to Utah it's been windy!

Thanks for your advice!
 

Bob Palin

Killer
Joined
Feb 9, 2012
Messages
159
Yes, the sand is before the river in that direction, you will be on top of a hill and see the cottonwoods down by the river, at the bottom of the hill the road turns back on itself and the sand stretch is right after that. The river is deeper on the side nearest to you, cross over to the other side in the water then turn upstream on the gravel bar to the exit on the far bank.

However, I wonder why you want to go that way? IMO it's more scenic to go out on the Caineville Road past the Temples, the only thing you would miss is the Bentonite Hills and you will still see lots of bentonite. Go to the Lower South Desert overlook on the Hartnett Road at some point, 1 mile south of the junction of the campground road and the Hartnett Road, then go back. Sunset is very nice from Cathedral Valley overlook off the Hartnett Road halfway to the South Desert overlook (looking down at the Cathedrals)

It can be windy up there any time, there is no telling. In the summer there are sometimes quite spectacular 'monsoon' storms around the campground. You are quite likely to be ob your own there, although to my surprise there were two camp sites occupied last weekend, they took my favourite picnic spot!
 

Laura

freespirittraveler
Joined
Oct 1, 2012
Messages
957
I'm not sure what time the Milky Way rises in late May, but right now it's rising at about 2:30 a.m. The week you're coming you have anywhere from a 67% to 25% moon rising around midnight-2:00 a.m over the course of the week. That'll obscure the Milky Way and most stars. Early evening you should be okay for stars, but you might want to check what time the Milky Way rises.
 

Bob Palin

Killer
Joined
Feb 9, 2012
Messages
159
Update on the river crossing: the sand has all been packed down tight, as long as the river doesn't flood that high it should remain that way.
 
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