Well, sure enough, it happened. On Tuesday, October 1, the first full day of the Southwest Photo Caravan Workshop, the government shutdown caused all the national parks to close. Four of Utah's national parks - Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce, and Zion - were to be the primary destinations of this workshop. But the parks were off limits, and rangers were guarding the entrance (at least at Arches) to ensure that nobody tried to sneak in.
Our workshop leader had to come up with alternate plans, and quick! This was no problem for Rick Sammon. The decision was made to shoot sunrise and sunset at locations around Moab, and just outside of the national parks, for this day. Our first stop was at the Monitor and Merrimac buttes, just outside of Canyonlands National Park. These large formations, named for the ironclad ships that battled during the Civil War, seemed to be afloat on the distant landscape.
Next, we enjoyed a drive along the Colorado River, stopping at Jug Handle Arch to explore the interesting sandstone formations and ancient petroglyphs in the area.
It was a beautiful morning for a stop along the Colorado River. The red sandstone formations and clear blue skies made for some nice color contrast and reflections in the water.
That evening, we ventured out to Fisher Towers, about 16 miles northeast of Moab. Fisher Towers is not only a popular photographic stop in this area, it is also very popular among the rock climbing crowd. The sandstone towers have been featured in a number of movies and television commercials. If you look closely, you will see a climber to the left of the tower in the center of the photo below.
It was a great day, and we didn't let the closure of the national parks dampen our spirits. There are plenty of other things to see and photograph, and we were going to find them. As you know, the government shutdown lasted for a number of days, keeping us out of the national parks for the entirety of the trip. That was OK though, and as you will see, we had a great time in a beautiful part of the country.