In praise of place: the dry lands (Part 5)

Sometimes it pays to play the tourist.

Fins and clouds

While enjoying our first summer vacation in Utah (after over a decade hanging out in Ouray), Anne and I spent one late August afternoon walking around downtown Moab, checking out the bookstore and paying far too much for tarted-up club sandwiches in a main street eatery.

Mostly to escape the broiling sun for a spell, we ducked into the Chamber of Commerce. While Anne was visiting the restroom, I had a chat with the nice lady behind the counter and mentioned we were heading out to Arches National Park that evening for some sunset shots.

She offered up a list of likely locales that would be exceptional for sunset photography, one of which struck a chord with me strictly on the basis of its name: The Fiery Furnace.

The Fiery Furnace

Strangely, the greatest volume of tourist traffic in the park (and it’s a great volume indeed!) occurs around midday, when the lighting conditions are at their worst and the heat is downright debilitating. The only way to see some of the more popular landmarks is to view them over the tops of winnebagos (or generic equivalent).

But towards sundown, the crowds tend to disperse. Anne and I actually found ourselves entirely alone at the overlook for the Fiery Furnace, where I set up my tripod and snapped a series of shots as the lighting gradually changed on the rocky fins and promontories.

Fins and sky

Around about dusk, a friendly couple from Germany joined us; Anne occupied them with political repartee while I switched lenses and modified exposures to suit my whim.

It was a memorable evening, and a rewarding photographic expedition.

Rocks ablaze


Fire extinguished

Twilight time


80 thoughts on “In praise of place: the dry lands (Part 5)

  1. Wonderful images! We used to drive to Moab during our yearly winter vacation before we had our first child. We would always visit Arches NP and the Fiery Futnace was one of our favorite spots as well. Brings back lots of great memories. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I have hitchhiked through Moab, Utah many times over the years. There is some very beautiful country around Moab and south of Moab. There is a community maybe ten or twenty miles south of Moab where they have built homes into this cliff. Very unique place. They let me stay there for one night. There is also a nice hostel on the south side of Moab.

  3. These are just stunning. The color is an understatement, but actually i think I liked the black & white with the clouds rolling across the top the best. Lots of depth in that shot. I’d love to get out there. Thanks for the preview.

  4. So many people don’t appreciate the desert. Glad to see that you do–and that you shared your beautiful photos with us. Thanks!

  5. I’d like to thank all those who posted comments. I’ve got a lot of new blogs to check out over the coming days!

    • Yes it is, Robert. Was relaxing with a cold one at a picnic table on the overlook after a long hike, when this girl and her friends started romping around amongst the goblins. I grabbed the camera (w/telephoto zoom) and fired away.

  6. Beautiful Utah! πŸ˜€ I made it out to Utah for the first time in 2009. I didn’t make it to Arches but I hope to return one day! I live in NY so it’s not the closest place to go visit but I will make it back out there eventually!

  7. Amazing images.
    I completely know what you see in dry places though, I traveled by road through Ladakh a couple of years ago with 2 friends and once you got out of the lush green mountains we were treated to some of the most stark, mind-boggling and beautiful vista’s I’ve ever seen. Never would one think barren land could look beautiful but there are times when it can but the prettiest forest or field or such to shame with the majesty of time and the forces of nature that we often forget – such as simple erosion.
    Great stuff, thanks for sharing.

  8. Desolate landscapes have a uniqueness that is hard to resist. No matter where in the world you find yourself, for stark beauty and a granduer, places like those in your pictures cannot be bettered! Great work!

    • Thanks for those kind words Trevor. And I tend to agree: once the dry lands bug bites, there’s nothing else for it but more dry lands.

    • It’s almost like an unexpected gift, isn’t it Ann? (When crowds clear out, leaving the field to you and your camera.)

  9. Awesome pics ! Reminds me a bit of NT Australia (my home). Would love to come and explore this part of the world πŸ™‚

  10. Pingback: In praise of place: the dry lands (Part 10) β€” Arches National Park « Arthouse Photography

  11. Pingback: In Praise of Place: A Hike Through the Fiery Furnace, Arches National Park | Arthouse Photography

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