I had been at Toroweap for three days and was very happy with the photographs I’d taken. It was my first time visiting this remote area of Grand Canyon National Park, and I really couldn’t have hoped for better conditions. A rainbow over the canyon on my very first afternoon there was extremely lucky, but a double rainbow two days later had me wondering what I’d done to deserve such good fortune!
It was time to move on to my next destination. Zion National Park was less than one hundred miles to the north, but the combination of dirt roads and indirect, winding state highways would make the trip into an almost day long drive. Additionally, there was an important Native American petroglyph site near Toroweap that I wanted to explore (I’ll post a photo of the site soon).
Zion National Park is one of the most popular parks in the U.S. The main road (Utah State Route 9) travels east-west through the park, treating visitors to some of the most spectacular scenery in the world. I always enjoy the drive, but I’ve never spent much time photographing this part of the park. Most of it is deep in a canyon, so the only time it’s exposed to light is in the middle of the day. And the large amount of tourists makes it difficult to find the solitude I’m usually looking for on these trips. This trip would be no exception. I would take route 9 right through the park and continue on to the little town of Virgin, UT, where a small sign directs travelers to a much lesser known area of Zion National Park: The Kolob Plateau.
It was already late afternoon when I reached Virgin. There was no time to waste if I was going to catch any late day light. The lower elevation areas were already in shadow, so I had to chase the sun light up the mountain. Several miles up the road, I arrived at a familial spot. I’d seen these small, apparently fire-damaged trees on my last visit to the park. They were already in shadow, but the last rays of sunlight were painting a brilliant glow upon the towering red rocks above.