Sunday, August 23, 2015

Owachomo Natural Bridge, Summer Sunset

Owachomo Bridge at sunset, July 2015.
Owachomo Bridge in Natural Bridges National Monument is the grand old lady of the three massive sandstone bridges within the park. 

It's the oldest one because it's also the thinnest at the middle of its span. Only nine feet thick, many wonder when it will collapse, though I wouldn't bet on any time soon. It could be tomorrow, it could be a hundred years from now. Only the Earth knows.

On July Fourth I happened to be at Owachomo at sunset time. Thunderstorms had been dancing around the park all day, so what might happen at any particular hour was anyone's guess. Thunder rumbling, dark clouds. A savvy outdoors person wonders about if they should be in such an exposed place at that time. Balancing the risk against the possible reward.

The sunset cast a shadow of the Bridge on the opposite canyon wall. 
Then at sunset, the clouds opened a crack to the northwest and the warm yellow sunlight poured through from the upper right of the scene, illuminating Owachomo Bridge. Only in the summer is the sun far enough north to light this side of the Bridge. The dark storm clouds behind served to show it off even more nicely.

After the sun had set, I walked back up the trail to the overlook and made a nicely subtle portrait of the bridge in the dusk.

Owachomo Bridge at dusk, below the thunderstorm clouds, from the visitor overlook.

Photo location: Natural Bridges National Monument, San Juan County, Utah.

Prints and photo products are available on my Fine Art America sales website:

Copyright © 2015 Stephen J. Krieg

Monday, August 17, 2015

Sipapu Natural Bridge, Summer

Sipapu Natural Bridge, August morning. [Click on image for larger version.]

Down the trail to Sipapu Bridge on a very warm August morning. Almost no shade this early in the day. because the cliffs in this part of White Canyon catch the morning sun full on.

No problem. With sunscreen on my exposed skin and ice water in my daypack, I enjoy a descent of 500 vertical feet from the canyon rim to the bottom. Quickly, in just 0.6 of a mile. You don't have to walk very far forward to have walked down a lot more. Down is forward.

I have my photographic sweet spots on this trail, so familiar to me by now. This is one of them. It's most of the way down, a last look at the western face of the bridge before plunging beneath it. 

On this particular morning, the trademark high desert Utah clear sunny skies predominated. Sun shining from right to left, the far cliffs of Cedar Mesa Sandstone were awash with light, while the span of the immense natural bridge -- sixth largest in the world, second largest outside of China (where the four largest are) -- was in bright shadow. Green riparian vegetation in the bottom of the canyon for a nice color complement.

And a family of three resting nicely in the shade within the composition to give it a bit of scale. 

My hike was just beginning: on to secret locations within the canyon. 

Photo location: Natural Bridges National Monument, San Juan County, Utah. 

Prints and photo products are available on my Fine Art America sales website:

© 2015 Stephen J. Krieg

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Kachina Natural Bridge, Summer

Kachina Natural Bridge from west buttress.
Kachina Bridge in Natural Bridges National Monument in southeast Utah is a massive span of Cedar Mesa Sandstone. The youngest of the three bridges in the park, Kachina Bridge is also the youngest one. That's why it's still so thick; it has a lot more stone to shed through the future millennia than its sisters, Sipapu Bridge and Owachomo Bridge.

On a hot summer day, the shade and breezeway-like air movement underneath the bridge are the perfect respite. The trail down from the Loop Drive parking lot is only 0.7 of a mile, but dropping 400 feet in elevation. The trail offers scant shade until you get to the bottom, underneath the bridge. There you feel like lingering, resting, savoring. And it's never crowded with visitors, either. Most of the time you can have it all to yourself. Take a lunch or snacks, and plenty of water. 

The bridge is so massive that, while underneath it, even an ultra wide angle lens can't take it all in. So for this photograph I took three overlapping images and merged them into a super high resolution panoramic file. 

Photo location: Natural Bridges National Monument, San Juan County, southeast Utah.

If you have a large screen, click on the image below for a much larger version.
Kachina Natural Bridge, larger version (click on image).
Prints and photo products are available on my Fine Art America sales website:

© 2015 Stephen J. Krieg.