By P. Dale Ware
Vegas, Zion and Bryce Canyon
If you’ve ever seen slides or prints of Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks, or visited those locations yourself, you know the reason why Pat, Wendy and I had to make the pilgrimage to this photographer’s Mecca in Southwestern Utah. Ours was a week-long trip, filled with exciting mountain scenery and spectacular photography opportunities.
Zion and Bryce are beautiful places, and all you have to do is turn around in a 360-degree circle, aim your camera and shoot. Well, that’s almost true.
The most memorable part of our experience for me was a 3hour jaunt into the back country of Zion. I crowded into the back of a truck with ten other people and bumped along narrow, muddy roads with camera at the ready. The truck was outfitted with seats and a tarp-like cover, which kept most of us warm and dry in the rain. A few women complained about the cold air, but it didn’t bother me because I was dressed appropriately.
The charter company was Outback Zion Safaris. Dustin Spadaro, owner of the company, was our driver. He was very competent and knew all of the background details about the mountains and terrain, etc.
The trip was called “Zion Sunset Safari” so the light was right for most of my shots. However, I wish I’d have asked Dustin to stop the truck more. The vibration of the motor running spoiled most of the shots I took from the back of it. Even though I had a vibration reduction lens, that didn’t help. Fortunately, there were a few stops, so I did get some good shots while on the ground.
The price of the trip was $50. I think it was a reasonable amount to pay for what I got out of it. I have only one regret: I wish there had more serious amateur photogs like me. Most of the other people were snap shooters.
If you’re interested, you can call Dustin at 435-668-3756. His e-mail address is email@example.com. If you ask, I’m sure he’ll charter his truck to small groups. While I was on the back country trip, Pat and Wendy remained at the motel and unpacked our things. We stayed in Springdale, a small town at the entrance of the park. Our motel was called the Bumbleberry Inn. My first night there was a terrible one, so I can’t recommend the place.
The manager rented us two non-smoking rooms, but mine still had the smell of smoke in it. Someone tried to cover the smell with a deodorizer, but I still had trouble breathing. Having a good sense of smell and being an asthmatic is a curse for me, sometimes.There are other, newer motels in town, so I’d try one of those if I were you.
The next two days, we toured the park in a shuttle bus. Since you can’t drive into the park on the scenic drive, you have to Zion towering mountain take the bus and you can get off when you want to.
Other roads are open to cars, but we didn’t have the time to explore those. There were lots of tourists from many different countries in the park, so it was difficult shooting at ground level once in awhile.
Thank goodness for tall mountains and your ability to shoot upward most of the time! You really needed a neutral density filter if you included the sky in your shots. It was so bright and the park area was shaded because of the tall, rocky peaks towering over us. The variety in light levels was too much for my camera, so I kept the sky out of my shots as much as I could. The next two days were spent in Bryce Canyon.
We were allowed to take our car into the park, so we had a lot more freedom, it seemed. I think my pictures reflected that, too. I took more of them there than in Zion. Our first day in Bryce was blessed with a 70-mile-an-hour wind and rain blowing horizontally in our faces.
I had my handy little clear plastic baggie with a hole cut in it, so my camera was safe from the rain.
My pictures that day were OK, but nothing was remarkable. The second day was beautiful, and I got some gorgeous shots of the pinnacles from Bryce Point. The Natural Bridge lookout was also outstanding for pictures. We stopped a few other places, but I can’t remember their names.
Photos by P. Dale Ware