Utah 2018 Hiking & Photographing

My 2018 Utah trip is going to be posted in several parts. Here is Part 1.

Part 1

Encase you were wondering, I’m a BIG fan of Utah and the beautiful landscapes and hiking the state has to offer. I again traveled to the state for a trip in January (first time visiting in Winter). I was switching jobs with a new architecture firm and had the opportunity to take this trip as a “reset” before starting the new gig.

My original plan was as follows:

  • Night 1 around St. George, Utah and photographing Yant Flat at sunset
  • Day 2 – 3 and maybe 4, hike and camp in the Escalante area along the Hole in the Rock Road photographing sot canyons, rock formations and the highlight being a hike and overnight in Coyote Gulch
  • Day 4/5 for rest of trip – hiking and photographing in and around Moab, Utah including Canyonlands NP, Arches NP and surrounding area.

Yant Flat

The first bullet point above worked out well and I was able to hike to and explore this really unique area called Yant Flat and the “Candy Cliffs” area. The hike was pretty easy and once you get to the rock cliff area you are met with a quilt of rock formation that flows around you and provides a wonder foreground to some nice distant views towards St. George. From the initial area you come to, off of the main trail, I headed east (left) to get to the area I read was the more interesting and photographic area. Once I got oriented I found some places to setup getting ready for sunset. In hindsight I wish I would have been a little higher up to have a better vantage point of the distant views.  The images here are a few from that evening. Note that all images with a watermark are taken with my Canon 6D and the ones without a watermark are phone pics (Samsung S8 edge)

Heading East…

After spending the night in St. George, really just outside of Hurricane, I took Utah 59, which dips down into Arizona, and back up to Kanab. I did this route instead of driving through Zion NP and to get a chance to see some different parts of the State. I was going to hit the Toadstools area by going this way but decided to continue north through Kanab and head up towards Bryce Canyon instead. The thought here was I wanted to see Bryce with some snow, but after getting to Bryce there didn’t appear to be the kind of snow on the ground worth photographing… onto Escalante then.


Just outside of Escalante is a road called “Hole in the Rock Road” and has historical significance with the Mormon migration into Utah. Along this road are a number of photographic locations worth checking out, and I aimed to visit a number of these. My first stop was to hike to Zebra canyon and photograph this unique slot canyon. The hike to the slot canyon takes you through some washes and eventually leads you to a wider wash. With the help of the Map.ME app I was able to find the slight canyon entrance with no issues. As a side note I’d recommend that app. You download maps of regions and it uses your GPS from your phone to locate you via that downloaded map. It worked great on a number of hikes, especially when it got dark.

Zebra Slot Canyon

Zebra Slot canyon is not really that long of a canyon. The photographic section that gets all of the attention is maybe 30-40 feet long. I ran into a couple who was already in the slot climbing around exploring. Note the term “climbing”. Really it’s more of a rock shimmy/scramble, with your legs pressed to one side and your butt and body and arms  pressed to the other, as you slowly make your way through the slot. Depending on your physical abilities 2 sections to get you to the photographic section will make it fairly easy or kind of difficult. My first attempt at the scramble caught me off-guard and actually made me a little nervous, but I eventually got the hang of it and found it kind of fun. The couple that was ahead of me was heading out of the slot so I would have the photographic section all to myself (it would take the guy a good 15 minutes to get out past one of the sections you scramble through… I could hear the grunting and struggle the whole time… I’m laughing with him, not at him)

One regret from this hike is I left my tripod and backpack behind in the canyon right before I had to make my first scramble. As I started out I felt I would not be able to traverse the rock walls with them, so it was just me and my camera hanging around my neck. My shots are all handheld, which meant I turned up the ISO a bit. I had plenty of light and with the Canon 6D ISO 800 or so doesn’t give you a ton of grain. That being said, I really should have spent a little more time in the canyon and I should have got my tripod in with me at the very least….

See this link from my Instagram of the quick video of me walking into the first tight section of the slot. Where the video stops was the first section you have to step sideways through. The following are a couple of the images along the hike in the wash and then shots I took while shooting the main photographic section.

My next post will be about my first night in the desert and photographing at Devil’s Garden, freezing my butt off camping and hiking to Calf Creek Falls (not originally planned…. yes, that is a foreshadow of the story to follow…)


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