Utah 2017 Spring | Jim Kofron Photography | Jim Kofron

Utah 2017 Spring

Utah Trip—Spring 2017

So, we’re all returned from a fabulous 8-day trek around the southern Utah parks and monuments, and I’m going to do a blow-by-blow write up along with photos and maps. Let me thank Rick Decker up front for organizing the trip, as well as being a great traveling companion. And Kendall Gelner as well, who joined us in Utah and brought along his wife’s Jeep Cherokee to help shuttle us into areas that would have been relatively inaccessible by car (although mountain bikes would have been great!).

Rick and I flew into Las Vegas and met at the car rental area. We grabbed a car, headed to a local Starbucks, and then went over a couple of different itineraries that Rick had written up. One thing I want to mention is how great it is to have a guide with local knowledge. Rick was driving around this entire area like it was his backyard (knowing stores, coffee shops, etc)—and he’s from Hawaii. He does come out west often though, and it shows with his ability to navigate pretty much anywhere we needed to go. So—the itineraries were ambitious, and had us starting out at Death Valley and areas west shooting some dunes (which is awesome). Sadly for us, the southern California deserts are in beautiful bloom this year, and we couldn’t get a room. This pretty much destroyed the itineraries, so we began to improvise immediately. We decided on spending a day or two (or three, as it ended up) in Zion, and we would work our way to Moab to meet Kendall on Sunday. We had no reservations, so we’d play it by ear as we ambled from town to town.

Utah Trip—Camera Notes

So, one of my goals on this trip was to get to know my new Sigma sd Quattro camera. I had taken it out to the beach last summer and had gotten some nice shots, but I didn’t do any hardcore landscape work (I preferred to float on the water). Starting out this trip, I was shooting mainly handheld, and using ‘normal’ exposure techniques. I was manually focusing most of the lenses without the magnification aid. By the end of the trip many of the shots were on a tripod, I was using the SFD mode of the camera—which takes seven consecutive exposures bracketed by a stop of exposure, and I was making good use of the focus magnification to focus the lenses.

Speaking of lenses, I brought the following:

10-20 mm (older version, f4-f5.6)

Utah Trip–Tuesday Afternoon, Kolob Canyon and Kolob Terrace Road

So, as I mentioned in the previous post, there was no rooms in Death Valley for us to do Rick’s itinerary. We made our way from Las Vegas to Zion, and after a brief delay of overshooting the turn (I was driving…), we headed into our first destination for the afternoon, the Kolob Canyon Visitor Center (1).. This was my first time here. Rick and I had done a bit of shooting in Zion in 2010, but it was off of route 9 on the way to Bryce. We got in around 1:30 pm, so clearly the sun was going to be challenging for creating keepers; however, we did have a bunch of puffy-fluffy clouds (the non-technical term for cumulus) that would give us some nice light.


The parking lot at Kolob Canyons. See the beautiful sandstone in the background.

Utah Trip–Wednesday Morning, Kolob Terrace Road

So, after a good nights rest and a bite to eat at Cafe Sol in Springdale, we headed out to do some more exploring. Rick decided to drive along Kolob Terrace Road again, going a few miles north of where we were the previous afternoon. We explored a dirt road (1) that went into a cool valley, but there were eventually gates and private property signs. We got out and looked around, but didn’t go any farther.

But from another dirt road (with another gate, 2), we decided to take a few shots of the surrounding countryside. This is a cool area, basically south of Kolob Canyon and north of all the ‘usual’ part of Zion that people visit. A nice combination of some forest and sandstone.

From (2) we jumped back into the car and starting driving up the road. A little way later, I saw an area that had some water on the side of the road with some nice open forest area, so Rick stopped the car at (3), and we started to explore the area.

Utah 2017–Wednesday Afternoon, Kolob Reservoir, Northgate

So, Wednesday afternoon became an afternoon of exploration, getting lost, some massive milage (we did over 10 miles of hiking on Wednesday), great sites, and comparatively little photography. We started by driving from our last hiking spot (1) up Kolob Terrace Road towards the Kolob reservoir. It was some really interesting scenery, and as we got higher into it, there was still quite a bit of snow (!) up in the area. At the reservoir itself (2), we found a few groups of fishermen who were donning wetsuits, waders, and other warm gear to brave the trout fishing. Apparently this is a trophy lake for trout! There was a road closed sign going around the east side of the reservoir, but that didn’t stop us from blasting through the mud and gravel to try to make our way to some roads that Rick knew. However, the big pile of snow (at 2) did—we turned around and headed back. The good news was that the mud on the road left the Nissan covered with a layer of bad-ass mud; we kept this on the vehicle until our last day in Moab.

Copyright 2014, Jim Kofron. All rights reserved.