Posted by: kerryl29 | July 10, 2012

Day 8: The Overlooks, Fairyland and Red Canyon

Day 8 started out much like Day 7–it was every bit as cold an early morning (maybe colder).  But the sunrise forecast included a small chance of some clouds and I couldn’t pass that possibility up, so it was back to the Rim Trail in the dark, in the hopes I wouldn’t be a cryogenics candidate before the sun came up.  It was freezing cold, but the decision to give sunrise on the canyon rim a go paid off.  Some wispy clouds did indeed appear on the eastern horizon.  It was far from the most spectacular sunrise I’ve ever seen, but it beat a bald sky by a long shot.

Sunrise from the Rim Trail, Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

After the sun crested the rim, I stayed put and shot some tight shots of the hoodoos, with an emphasis on the reflected light glow that I talked about in my Day 6 entry.  As is often the case for me when shooting at overlooks, I made heavy use of a telephoto lens.

Glowing Hoodoos at Sunrise from the Rim Trail, Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

I played around with different focal lengths, moved a bit on the trail, and experimented with verticals and horizontals.

Glowing Hoodoos at Sunrise from the Rim Trail, Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

I took the time to shoot six vertical frames with the intention of stitching a panorama together; you can see it below.

Amphitheater Panorama, Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

My attention was also captured by some unorthodox amphitheater scenes.

Canyon Sunrise, Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

The canyon really is an almost endless source of interesting compositions, including ones omitting hoodoos entirely.  Repeating patterns are seemingly everywhere.

Morning at Bryce, Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

When I was done with the tight shots of hoodoos, I walked to Inspiration Point and did a bit of shooting from that overlook.

The Amphitheater from Inspiration Point, Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

From there, I went over to Sunrise Point, located at the northern edge of the amphitheater, and focused on the canyon to the north of the amphitheater itself.

The Canyon from Sunrise Point, Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

This area was another source of pattern repetition.

Canyon Ripples, Sunrise Point, Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

When the light became too harsh for canyon shooting, I went over to Fairyland Canyon–at the northernmost part of the park itself–to do some scouting, with the intention of returning late in the afternoon to do some shooting.  From there, I left the park entirely and drove the 20-odd minutes west to Red Canyon.  I mentioned Red Canyon in the Day 6 post.  I had stopped there on my way in from Zion and was bedazzled, despite terrible mid-afternoon light.  Again, I anticipated being there in poor light that afternoon, but there was an opportunity to scout it out properly and see if it made sense to return either late that day or the following morning.  I was heading back to Nevada–making my way to Valley of Fire State Park–after checking out on Day 9, but I would have sunrise and a couple of hours before the light went bad to shoot in the area.  After getting a decent sunrise–with clouds–on Day 8, I wasn’t keen on freezing on the rim again, especially since I didn’t expect sky conditions any better than what I had just experienced.

The Red Canyon scouting went well and I decided that I’d head back after my return to Fairyland, back in Bryce.  The light was improving when I arrived at Fairyland Point.  I ended up hiking about 1 1/2 miles into the canyon and found some interesting compositions.

Fairyland Canyon, Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

Fairyland is much younger, geologically, than the main Bryce amphitheater area and as a result the hoodoo clusters are fewer and more subtle.  I got some shots of the hoodoo-conifer mixed terrain, and spent some time isolating individual elements.

Stunted Conifer, Fairyland Canyon, Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

Lone Conifer, Fairyland Canyon, Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

I had spent more time at Fairyland that I had anticipated–the three-mile roundtrip hike on a steep trail had something to do with that–so it was less than an hour before sunset when I arrived at Red Canyon.  The light was excellent, and I scrambled to find the spots that I had scouted earlier in anticipation of better light.

Red Canyon, Dixie National Forest, Utah

There were some marvelously colorful spots–combinations of red, orange and yellow rocks, the green of the conifers and the deep blue sky.

Red Canyon Rainbow, Dixie National Forest, Utah

The canyon runs almost due east-west, and there really are no great vistas to photograph sunset or sunrise per se.  Besides, the western sky was entirely devoid of clouds, so when the sun dropped completely out of sight, not long after the above shot was taken, I headed back to my car, and almost literally stumbled across a weathered piece of wood.  It had so much character, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity at a close-up, which I converted to black and white.  The shot is actually 10 different exposures bracketed for focus, and stacked using Helicon Focus stacking software.

Wood Pattern black & white, Red Canyon, Dixie National Forest, Utah

I’d barely scratched the surface at Red Canyon.  I decided that I would come back at sunrise the following morning before making the 200-odd mile drive to Overton, Nevada.

Next:  Day 9:  Red Canyon Morning, Cedar Breaks and an Introduction to Valley of Fire State Park



  1. Amazing images here!!

    • Thanks very much, Alex.

  2. Hi Kerry… another great set. I really like the amphitheater close up and red canyon rainbow. I am glad you are fighting the good fight for ‘clouds and drama’. Your write up is exceptional. i tell all my club friends if you want a detailed sense of place here is a blog you must read. Thanks for the share.

    • Thanks very much, Mike. I really appreciate the kind words.

      Not incidentally, beautiful images from the Tetons on your blog.

  3. Absolutely gorgeous pics. Thanks for sharing.


  4. Love the wide-angle shots. Color tones are just fantastic! =)

    • Thanks very much!

  5. Kerry, the Canyon Sunrise image is enchanting – more like a painting than a photo with the misty backdrop and the sense of depth. I am loving this series of posts!

    • Thanks, Lynn. I was very pleased when, through chattering teeth, I saw that there would be some clouds in the eastern sky before daybreak.

      • I had to return again to this post to see the photos – spectacular!

        • Thanks again, Lynn.

  6. Beautiful images Kerry! Bryce is a special place.

    • Thanks, Jane. It is indeed.

  7. Unbelievable views 🙂

    • Thank you, sir!

  8. I hear the Great Outdoors calling – beautiful photos:)

  9. Quite surreal, isn’t it? Love that conifer, sliding down the slope, too.

    • Thanks. The northern parts of Bryce Canyon are really interesting, in my view. They don’t have the dense stands of hoodoos that the Silent City area possesses, but in some respects I’ve found the areas north of Sunrise Point and in Fairyland Canyon a bit more interesting.

      Re the conifer…yeah, I was really captivated by that tree. I saw it during my early afternoon scouting session and made sure to revisit the spot when I came back later on.

  10. Red, orange, yellow, green and blue:
    A gift to all of us from you.

    Steve Schwartzman

    • Thanks, Steve.

      Know it.

      With a little bit of work, we could turn your verse into haiku…

  11. Fabulous! Every pictures is excellent – esp. love the B&W.

    • Thanks, Frank. Yeah, that weathered conifer branch just screamed b/w to me when I saw it.

  12. Words can’t describe.

    • Many thanks, Todd.

  13. Thanks for sharing these. They bring back many memories of sharing that area with the kids and grandkids.

  14. Another stunning series Kerry!!! And you are a great tour guide!

    • Thanks very much, David. I hope you folks will enjoy Valley of Fire, which I’ll finally dip into with the next post.

  15. some really good images here captures the landscape really well, all those oranges are great

  16. GORGEOUS!!!!

  17. […] decided to shoot at daybreak back at Red Canyon, a spot I detailed in the Day 8 post.  The sunrise forecast was for very cold temperatures and completely clear skies.  Given the lack […]

  18. Once again I am in awe Kerry! Your account of the trip is very inspirational to say the least. I am really enjoying the beautiful photography as well. It’s amazing that something so beautiful is just sitting there unspoiled to enjoy. Looking forward to reading the next entry!

    • Thanks very much, Michael. I’m looking forward to passing along more images from Valley of Fire as this series winds down.

  19. […] Day 8:  The Overlooks, Fairyland and Red Canyon […]

  20. Hi Kerry, I discovered a 5-day horse trail ride for this area. Actually, they have a few routes. Now this would be a fun way to see this area. What do you think? Bella

    • The San Rafael Swell area is a great one (based on the imagery I’ve seen from the area–I haven’t explored it myself). The horseback tour sounds like a good one, though I don’t think it would be ideal for photography–if that’s your primary interest–because that isn’t going to be the primary focus of the itinerary. For it to be good for photography, the prime directive would be to put you in the most photogenic places at the times when the light is best. I can’t imagine that’s the case here…just because it pretty much never is except on a dedicated photo workshop/tour.

      Now, if photography isn’t your primary focus, then it sounds like it would be a lot of fun. The location certainly is beautiful.

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