Sunrise at Mesa Arch, Canyonlands National Park

Post on November 4, 2012 Landscape


After a successful sunset at the Dedicate Arch, we planned to stay there next morning doing the North Window Arch overlooks Turret Arch but a quick visit to the site suggested it’s probably not a good idea. The only way to get the “overlook” is standing on top of a ledge and there’s little room to accommodate two. We could take turn but what if there’s a hardcore photographer get there before us, and she/he is not sharing? So we headed to Canyonlands National Park for Mesa Arch instead.

The Mesa Arch is even more popular. It’s another classic, a must-do for landscape photographer. We got there early, at least one and half hours before sunrise to beat the crowd. If we haven’t stop for a “quick release” at visitor center, we would be the first on site. Two cars passed us and you know it, they were heading to Mesa Arch too!

There were 4 photographers before us and more groups arrived in darkness as soon as we set our tripod readied for Kodak moment. You need a wide angle zoom lens, a 17-40mm preferably as you will be standing few feet in front of the arch. Later, a large crowd from Canon workshop occupied the entire spot, we were shoulder to shoulder. Situation like this can be hard for composition especially it’s your first time there. You line up in the crack of dawn, visually challenge. Once you set your gear, the crowds arrive and you will be pinched in the middle with little room to move.

It’s a relatively short hike from parking lot to Mesa Arch, 1/2 miles in distance and no technicality; even a 10 year old can do it with ease. The key is get there early! The arch locates on the edge of a cliff about 1,000 feet above Canyonlands, it’s well photographed over the years due to the underside of the arch lights up in reds and oranges as the sun rises. The goal is getting the sunburst effect in between the arch opening when the sun breaks the horizon.

  • Canon, EOS 5D Mark II
  • EF 16-35mm L USM
  • ISO 100, 1s, F22 ,25mm
  • Canyonlands National Park, Utah
  • October 27, 2012
Sunrise at Mesa Arch, Canyonlands National Park

See more photos from American Southwest Canyons

  • The Watchman Sunset at Zion National Park
  • Red Sunset at Horseshoe Bend
  • Last Light at Delicate Arch - Arches National Park, Utah
  • Spiral rock arches - Lower Antelope Canyon

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