Finally made my way down to explore Valley of Fire with my good friend Austin C. No better way to escape the winter blues than by visiting the red rock madness of Nevada’s most beautiful State Park.
After the long haul from SLC, we arrived just early enough Thursday night to get a quick shoot in at Arch Rock, just a mile or so from camp. Planet Jupiter beckons from within:
After grabbing one of the few remaining first-come, first-served sites at the luxurious and well-designed Atlatl campground, we cozed around a fire for a few hours with cold beers in hand, admiring the stars, before heading into our tents for the night.
Following are a few shots from our early call with Elephant Rock. A diminuitive yet vocal waxing moon in it’s earliest stages set up nicely in the middle of the arch:
A seemingly bluebird morning saw some colorful clouds move in at the perfect time:
The next stop on morning #1 was to seek out Windstone Arch:
After breaking at camp for a bit, we drove back to the humble hamlet of Overton for the essentials: sunblock, firewood, ice, and beer. I think we may have even stopped at McDonalds for some premium dining but I would never admit that on a blog.
In early afternoon we scoped out Crazy Hill (also known as the spilled ice cream cone), one of those rare and cherished landscapes that looks dazzling even in the brightest midday light. It was hot, and we needed beer to compensate.
For sunset on day one we had our eyes set on the Fire Wave, one of the more well-known photography scenes in the park, and the one I was probably most excited about. It didn’t disappoint, and we even somehow managed to get the place to ourselves. The northern view:
And the southern vista:
On Saturday (morning #2), we made our way back to Crazy Hill for the sunrise show. The goal was to capture some of those psychedelic, vivid pastels in the morning glow:
Buzzing from the colorful wonderland of Crazy Hill, we never imagined that hiking down to the Pink Slot would somehow one-up it. Yet, it somehow did:
The hike then continued up Kaolin Wash and towards White Dome Slot, the final destination for the morning. Along the way we found some minor, yet impressive little chambers:
I’ll have to get to White Dome Slot another time, perhaps at another time of day, for some better light. I got skunked in there. But on the opposite side of those brief narrows, we found an exquisite scene of color and shape:
After exploring the area the day before, we decided our final sunset venture of Saturday night would be spent in the vicinity of Fire Arch. Despite the arid nature of the Mojave Desert, there still exists enough moisture in the atmosphere to create mesmerizing cloudscapes. Here’s Fire Arch just after the sun dipped below the horizon:
The view east towards Silica Dome, from a spot that we will for now on refer to as Plutacratic Point. The Virgin Mountains close their eyes in the distance while an ephemeral spark of blue and purple fill the sky. The rift in colors is known as a sandstone “contact zone”. This photo is dedicated to my buddy Art, and his best friend Merlin:
Another post-sunset view of Fire Arch:
Energized from that light show, we figured we had one more shoot in us left for the day. We zoomed over to “The Cabins” for quick night shoot. We had some fun with the flash, and, in this case at least, the spectral beauty of Las Vegas light pollution. The cabins were built by the Civilian Conservation Corp in the 1930′s for visitors to the Park:
For our final morning, and thus our final shoot for the weekend, we aimed for El Portal Arch, an 0ff-the-beaten path specimen that looked great in the single photo we had. Sadly, the real-life version, though very impressive in geologic stature, was a bit gaudy and unpresentable. In other words, it had photographic morning breath. So we were left to our own devices to compose something quickly as the Good Light approached. This is the best I could come up with. As Austin stated perfectly: “we made lemonade”. What a weekend.