Tuesday, October 9, 2012

UTAH: CAPITOL REEF NATIONAL PARK AND ENVIRONS

When I was a young boy my secret wish was to go out west, which I interpreted as Texas, because that seemed to be where most of the westerns that I saw on TV took place.  This place of my imagination was filled with wide open spaces clothed in scant vegetation and backed by mountains and by buttes and mesas, a place very different from the landscape of southern Michigan where I grew up with its lush, gently rolling hills and with not even a hint of a mountain in sight.  But that western landscape of my childhood was just the sort of terrain that we passed through on this second day of our adventure in south central Utah.

We first drove 20-30 miles west from where we stayed in Hanksville, Utah through the northern portion of Capitol Reef National Park, which is a long, narrow park that runs roughly north and south.   We then drove south along the eastern side of the park before heading west through a beautiful canyon at the southern end of the park and then drove back north to the west of the park to the road that we had initially driven to come into the park.  This was truly backcountry.  There were few other cars on the roads, long stretches of which were unpaved but easily passable, especially with Jeff's new Xterra.


One of the first places we stopped in Capitol Reef was to view some prominent petroglyphs that the Park Service had done a nice job in providing access to.




There is a grandeur to this area that is difficult to capture in photographs, particularly when you are trying to do so on the fly.  My first attempts were spent in photographing the many mesas that we passed by.  I was intrigued by the geology of the terrain and was trying to capture some of that as well as the overall landscape.  Here are a couple of those efforts.



Here was another attempt that included the highway to provide some context.


But perhaps the best opportunities to capture this landscape were where the vista included successive ranges of mesas and mountains, as in the following shots.


I liked the dead trees in this first shot, but the shot below, cropped horizontally to emphasize the overall openness, I think does a better job.


There were numerous opportunities, too, to take a closer look at some of the lines created by the geology of the area, as in the following shots.



On the latter part of the drive, as we were heading back north, we passed through miles of aspen that were in full color.  Again, I had a problem trying to include both the color and the overall landscape of the scene without the shot looking too much like a scene from a dime store calendar.


As we passed through Capitol Reef a second time at the end of the day, Bei pointed out that the park included apple orchards that offered free apple picking, as long as you ate the apples in the grove.  Here was one of those groves.


Bei's adventure picking apples was threatened by a buck who loped through the grove toward her, apparently intent on heading her off from the apples.  But when she persisted, the buck backed off.

Taken with my Nikon D7000 with Nikkor 24-120mm f/4 lens.

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