Canyon Bend and Tree

Posted on 21 November 2014 | Comment

Canyon Bend and Tree

Canyon Bend and Tree

Canyon Bend and Tree. Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. October 24. 2014. © Copyright 2014 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

A box elder with autumn foliage grows along the stream at the bend in a red rock canyon

There are many patterns familiar to those who enter these canyons. In many cases, the creeks and rivers meander back and forth, and over time they may have cut paths deep into the sandstone layers that also meander in the same way. Walking along such a small creek, looking up, and realizing that a winding canyon hundreds of feet deep was cut but the little creek gives you a sense of deep time… and also a clear indication that such creeks are not always so gentle. The winding patterns also lead you on as you descend the creeks. Each time you round a bend like this one you get a view further along in the canyon… to the next bend, where the creek turns out of sight again. And you say/think to yourself, “just one more bend and then I’ll turn around.” So you keep going and round that next bend, where you can see a bit further into the canyon… to the next bend. And you say/think to yourself, “just one more bend and then I’ll turn around…”

This creek doesn’t follow the perfect pattern of consecutive meanders that are found in some canyons, but it did in this section where I found a single box elder tree growing at the edge of a rock that butted up against the wetter, sandy section of the water course. And far above, the gigantic walls of this canyon mirrored, as expected, the curves of the bottom of the canyon, and warm light bouncing among the canyon walls filtered down here to gently illuminate the depths of this red canyon.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist whose subjects include the Pacific coast, redwood forests, central California oak/grasslands, the Sierra Nevada, California deserts, urban landscapes, night photography, and more.
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Text, photographs, and other media are © Copyright G Dan Mitchell (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

Zion Canyon Trees — Three Photographs

Posted on 20 November 2014 | Comment

Not wanting to string this out too long, I’m grouping some photographs together in single posts. This set includes three from Zion Canyon, near the road’s end and the beginning of the route into the Narrows. (My hiking on this visit was largely limited to this short walk, as I had messed up my knee a few days earlier.)

I find the juxtaposition of canyon trees, especially when the foliage is taking on fall colors, and the sandstone cliff walls to be irresistible. Here the trees are mostly cottonwoods — including some very large and old specimens — and perhaps a few box elders. The coloration of the sandstone in this part of the world varies, sometimes in obvious ways (such as the contrasting red and white layers higher in the park) and sometimes more subtly. Here the contrast is subtle, with some of these rocks picking up an almost purple quality, which is then further modified by the color of light reflecting down from canyon walls high above.

Cottonwood Tree, Sandstone Cliff

Cottonwood Tree, Sandstone Cliff

Cottonwood Tree, Sandstone Cliff. Zion National Park, Utah. October 29, 2014. © Copyright 2014 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

And old cottonwood tree towers over streamside autumn foliage deep in a sandstone canyon

This giant and magnificent tree stands near a trail junction in a curve of the canyon, from some angle forming an impressive centerpiece of this amphitheater-like location.

Box Elder, Autumn

Box Elder, Autumn

Box Elder, Autumn. Zion National Park, Utah. October 29, 2014. © Copyright 2014 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Box elder trees with autumn foliage along the base of a sandstone cliff

The box elder trees provide much the same fall color as the aspens, but they have a more delicate form, with thinner branches that seem to more likely bend and drop toward the ground.

Autumn Color and Sandstone Cliff

Autumn Color and Sandstone Cliff

Autumn Color and Sandstone Cliff. Zion National Park, Utah. October 29, 2014. © Copyright 2014 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Autumn color along a canyon stream at the base of sandstone cliffs

These colorful trees are just a few of many that grow along the edges of the Virgin River as it flows right along the base of this sandstone cliff at the bottom of the canyon.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist whose subjects include the Pacific coast, redwood forests, central California oak/grasslands, the Sierra Nevada, California deserts, urban landscapes, night photography, and more.
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Text, photographs, and other media are © Copyright G Dan Mitchell (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

Canyon Cottonwood Trees, Autumn

Posted on 20 November 2014 | Comment

Canyon Cottonwood Trees, Autumn

Canyon Cottonwood Trees, Autumn

Canyon Cottonwood Trees, Autumn. Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah. October 26, 2014. © Copyright 2014 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Cottonwood trees with autumn foliage fill the bottom of a red rock canyon near Boulder, Utah

After a week or so of camping out in a range of Utah locations, one of which was rather remote, I emerged from this backcountry of gravel roads and red rock and canyons and came back to the (relative) civilization of Escalante, Utah. Gas stations! Espresso! Restaurants! Even better, I had an appointment to meet my cousin and her husband over in Boulder, Utah… and dinner was on the calendar!

I arrived in Boulder a bit early, and having a bit of extra time I decided to use it by traveling out on the Burr Trail. I’ve been on that road a few times in the past, so I figured that it would be fairly easy to find red rock canyon walls and perhaps more cottonwood color. As I arrived at the first narrow section of canyon the road traversed the side of a ridge and offered overhead views looking down into the canyon and up a larger nearby wash. While elsewhere in the state I had seen a combination of green cottonwoods and other trees that were just about at peak color, here is seemed that the cottonwood color had already peaked, and instead of a wall of gold I saw a mixture of a few intense golden trees and many others that had lost leaves and exposed their trunks and branches. In this spot the trees lined up against canyon walls, and a nearby they marched off down the canyon.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist whose subjects include the Pacific coast, redwood forests, central California oak/grasslands, the Sierra Nevada, California deserts, urban landscapes, night photography, and more.
Blog | About | Flickr | Twitter | FacebookGoogle+ | 500px.com | LinkedIn | Email

Text, photographs, and other media are © Copyright G Dan Mitchell (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

First Light, Capitol Reef

Posted on 19 November 2014 | Comment

First Light, Capitol Reef

First Light, Capitol Reef

First Light, Capitol Reef. Capitol Reef National Park, Utah. October 22, 2014. © Copyright 2014 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

First dawn light on the high ridges and domes at Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

Before dawn we drove across Capitol Reef National Park to the east, with a plan to head down the rural road that goes south on the park’s east side. We were hoping for interesting dawn light, but we weren’t quite ready for it when it arrived just after we exited the park and arrived at our intersection. The sun wasn’t up yet, but we could see a light show about to develop, with interesting light likely to strike the high ridge to the west and fantastic clouds appearing in the sky.

We quickly found a spot with an open view on much of the surrounding terrain, left the main “road,” grabbed camera gear and headed off to photograph. Within moment the first real light hit these domes and ridges to our west and turned the sky slightly pink. The formations were a good distance away, so I worked quickly with a long lens — and this light diminished within moments.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist whose subjects include the Pacific coast, redwood forests, central California oak/grasslands, the Sierra Nevada, California deserts, urban landscapes, night photography, and more.
Blog | About | Flickr | Twitter | FacebookGoogle+ | 500px.com | LinkedIn | Email

Text, photographs, and other media are © Copyright G Dan Mitchell (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

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