Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Photo Contest Win and Feature on Utah State Park Website - My Journey into The Desert During a Rare Spring Storm

Friends of Snow Canyon State Park

Earlier this year, I was able to travel to the desert southwest for a week of photography.  I flew into Las Vegas, but my goal was not Sin City.  I planned to head north into southern Utah to spend some time in Zion National Park and also explore two new areas to me, Snow Canyon State Park and Red Canyon National Conservation Area, both very near the desert oasis city of St. George.  I would return through Valley of Fire State Park in northeastern Nevada, one of my favorite places for exploring and photography, before heading back to Vegas to catch my flight home.

As luck would have it, a storm system rolled into the desert just as I touched down in Las Vegas. Heavy rain pounded down on the city and was nearly blinding in spots as I headed north on I-15 into the dark desert lands ahead.  The storm settled in and wasn't going anywhere. Rain, hail and thunderstorms blanketed northern Nevada and southern Utah for the better part of three days, with snow in the high country in the Zion area.

Fortunately, I was able to make my first visit to Snow Canyon State Park in conditions not normally seen during the year. This meant that normally dry desert washes were flowing, and "potholes" in the red rock canyons were filled with water.  This was the equivalent of hitting the mother lode for a photographer!

Conditions were challenging, dodging frequent rain showers and threats of lightning, forcing me to retreat frequently.  But I got lucky on my last afternoon in the area. Going on a hunch, based on living for years in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado,  I drove into Snow Canyon about two hours before sunset, when everything was socked in by low clouds, fog, rain and a bit of sleet.

Soon though, there were signs of a clearing.  Sure enough, this heavy squall line started to break out and the sun came out.  I made my way up through the red rocks onto a plateau that overlooked the canyons and peaks of the area.  The late afternoon light was glorious, turning the already colorful canyons and rocks into a brilliantly glowing cavalcade of red and orange.  With all of the potholes filled with water it made for some great reflection shots.

The image you see, above in the screen shot and the full image below, I call "Heart of Stone." It was one of not one but two of my images that won the Friends of Snow Canyon State Park's photo contest. Both images are now featured prominently on their newly-designed website, and are right here below.

If you go to southern Utah's red rock canyon country, you must make a trip to Snow Canyon. It's a largely undiscovered gem missed by most travelers in their rush to go to Zion and the other "Big 5" national parks of the region.

While your at it, check out the Friends of Snow Canyon website and see all the great things they do to support the park!

Here is Heart of Stone:

This was my other image selected as a winner. I haven't named it!

Here are a couple more from this gorgeous park. Note the double rainbow that I caught in the 2nd image below. It only lasted about 2 minutes then was gone for good.

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