Sand and Snow on the Same Day in Utah!

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After our time in Page, Arizona, we decided to leave early in the morning and take the long out-of-the-way stretch into Utah.  We followed 89A past the Vermilion Cliffs and Marble Canyon.  The entire ride, including a few stops, took over six glorious hours.  Not a minute was wasted without being in awe of the scenery.

Sunrise over snow blanketed hoodoos, Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah (Jason Schlosberg)

Bryce Canyon sunrise, shot with Canon 5D at 160 ISO, f/18, 1/4", exp. comp. -2/3, 80mm.

Not a boring ride whatsoever!  We noticed, however, that every hour the temperature would drop considerably.

Once we entered into Utah, we spent a short time at the Pink Coral Sand Dunes State Park where the sun was hitting the sand in a way to make it glow gold.  The dunes, however, were pock-marked with footsteps and tire trails.  On the dunes were a number of hikers and dune buggy enthusiasts.  While I imagined taking photographs of crisp, clean, smooth dunes, I had to change my plans.  I decided to incorporate them into my shots.  While this spot has been visited by many photographers, I was now provided with an opportunity to create truly unique images!  I used some of the tire marks as part of the composition while removing the unsightly ones with Photoshop.

While it was over 80 degrees in Arizona, it was quite chilly around the dunes of Utah, so we did not stay for long.  After all, the warmest clothing I had was a long sleeve shirt and a Lands End rain jacket.  It was May in the southwest and we did not expect the need to have anything warmer.

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By the time we reached Bryce Canyon, it was darn cold.  We checked in at the main lodge and was told that it was going to drop to 23 degrees that night!  I immediately went to the gift shop and purchased the heaviest clothing I could find.  There were no jackets for sale, so I settled for a very heavy, Bryce logo-infested sweatshirt.  While we ate dinner in the main lodge, it began to snow!

We had a very cute cabin in the park, with a pretty good heating system and a gas fireplace.  We were advised to take an early shower  so that the adjacent cabin would not use up all of the hot water.  The best thing about the cabin, however, was that it was only 50 yards off the rim.

At around 5am, I woke up to my alarm clock, turning it off quickly so as to not awake Donna (fat chance).  I had my clothes and camera equipment laid out the night before, so I quickly got ready and headed out the door.  The sun was scheduled to rise around 5:40am and I wanted to be ready for it.

As I exited the cabin, I walked into a winter wonderland.  There was at least 2 inches of snow on the ground.  Not difficult to walk through, but enough to blanket everything.  The dark pines were lit up like Christmas trees by the pockets of snow on their branches.  And it was May!

When I reached the rim, I was awestruck by the view.  In the darkness, the amphitheater of hoodoos glowed with snow.  I set my tripod up and waited.

It did not take long before the sun started to fight its way through the clouds.  The hoodoos looked like radiating creamsicles in freezer ice.  The sky was initially gray, but as soon as the sun won its battle with the clouds, the sky turned on fire.  Purples and yellows blazed through the sky between crisp and wispy clouds.

I started to cry.  No, not because of the beauty.  I swear!  It was mighty cold outside!  While the hooded sweatshirt kept my head and body warm, my hands and face were stinging from the cold.  The light wind did not help matters.  I had no gloves, so I shot with a remote inside my pocket.  I only took my hands out to recompose the photo or move the tripod, which was often.  My face, however, had no escape.  By the end of my two hour shooting spree, my nose and cheeks were numb and my eyes were glassy.  Yet I was euphoric!

One Response to “Sand and Snow on the Same Day in Utah!”

  1. Unbelievable images ! And all this happened in May? Wooow ! Jason congratulations for these breathtaking images – and I am happy that you could withstand the cold !:)

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