Capitol Reef National Park

The Wildflowers of Capitol Reef National Park

When driving through southern Utah, one thing that is really striking is the desolation of that land.  There aren't many trees; not much green of any kind.  Every direction is mainly reddish-orange rock or soil of some type.  It's a place that receives very little rain.  A place that is hot in the summer and cold in the winter.  It is a harsh place, as evidenced by the sparse population of the area.  Although Utah has a population of nearly 3 million, the majority of those live in the northern part of the state in the area centered around Salt Lake City.  

With the abundance of sandstone and apparent lack of water, you might not expect to find much life.  And certainly not much color.  However, getting off the interstate and taking the time to explore reveals surprisingly abundant life.  A diversity of life...and plenty of colorful scenery.  

I've always enjoyed taking pictures of wildflowers.  Seems that on a hike, I'm always way behind everyone else as I stop along the trail to capture images of the flora along the way.  It's something about the intricate detail and the inherent beauty that catches the eye and begs to be recorded on the digital sensor.  I wrote an article a couple of years ago for the Improve Photography website about flower photography.  Go check it out for more information.  

Now, back to Utah.  You may have been following along with my previous posts about my trip to Capitol Reef National Park.  I'm still working through the images from that adventure and enjoying every minute of it.  I thought it would be interesting (well, interesting to me anyway) to show the wildflower images from the trip.  Just to prove that they are there.  Even in the desert. Take a look.

Tansyleaf Aster

Central Prickly Pear

Utah Daisy


Claret Cup

Utah Daisy

Cliff Rose

Basin Blanketflower

Tufted Evening Primrose

Golden Mariposa

Harriman's Yucca

Dwarf Lupine

Scapose Greenthread

Prince's Plume

Rough Mulesear

Life finds a way

Cathedral Valley

There are two main reasons why I share these blog posts and images from my photography adventures. First, I enjoy sharing with others, and hope that doing so will provide a brief glimpse of the incredible beauty of our natural world and maybe even provide some inspiration.  Another reason is more self-serving, in that I want to document and remember the places that I've been and the amazing things seen along the journey.  

On our first full day in Capitol Reef National Park, we ventured into Cathedral Valley to see what we could see.  Cathedral Valley is a great place to get lost, and perhaps a place to find yourself. After driving 15 or so miles to the southeast on Highway 24, we turned onto a dusty, gravel/dirt road that would eventually lead back into the park.  There are no traffic stops, or traffic for that matter, out here.  Just miles and miles of rocky terrain, sandy soil, and roads that change their personality with the seasons and the occasional torrential downpour.  This is no place to be without a high clearance vehicle, and no place to be if there is a threat of rain.  

After driving for about 26 miles, we arrived at our destination for the morning.  The Temple of the Moon and Temple of the Sun are sandstone monoliths towering above the valley floor, emphasizing our smallness in the grand scheme of things.  A variety of scrubby vegetation, some wildflowers, and an occasional juniper tree litter the valley floor.  Sand created from erosion of the native bedrock is pervasive.  Although we were there in late May, the sun was still powerful overhead.  One could only imagine the proverbial oven this place would become in July and August.  However, despite the harshness of climate and the desolation (or maybe because of it), life thrives here.  

In the couple of hours we were there, we each went our separate ways.  Soaking up the scenery and the carefree breezes was a delight.  This place is not just peaceful, but ever so quiet.  The stillness is immersive, and such a welcome attribute in the otherwise non-stop hustle and bustle of everyday life.  Walking in the shadows of the sandstone giants and up one of the numerous washes, as sporadic desert lizards flitter to the safety of the nearest brush at my approach, my mind is filled with imaginings of what it must have been like for those who first explored here. Pleasant thoughts abound and are not quickly forgotten.  

Eventually, we felt the need for a hasty exit due to threatening clouds moving into the area, but not before capturing a few memories on the image sensor.  A few of those memories are here and I hope you enjoy them....   

Temples of the Sun (left) and Moon (right) 

Somehow, life finds a way

Geology Layer Cake

A Trip Through Capitol Reef National Park

In a few short days (Thursday, June 9 to be exact), my fifth article will be published on the Improve Photography website. The article will be titled "A Photographer's Guide to Capitol Reef National Park". You may not have been to, or even heard of Capitol Reef National Park, but take a look at this article. If you are travelling through Utah, take the time to stop at this amazing place. The history, geology, and just sheer beauty is worth the trip. I'll be posting more about this trip on my blog over the coming days and weeks as I get around to processing all the images. Here are a few to whet your appetite.