The view along UT 14 as it winds its way up from Cedar City to Cedar Breaks National Monument
Since I visit the western US to shoot mostly during the fall, I’ve had the opportunity to see the aspens at peak fall color on several occasions. It’s always a magnificent experience. While planning this trip to Nevada, Utah, and Arizona, I hoped that our schedule, elevation, and an aspen forest would intersect at some point. While at Great Basin National Park, the aspen forest had already turned and shed its leaves. Even so, the park was fun to visit and beautiful.
But, as we headed southeast toward Cedar City, I hoped that a beautiful aspen forest at the peak of fall color would be visible along the way. About thirty minutes out from Cedar City I began to see the mountains rising in the distance. I *thought* I could see pops of yellow on the mountainsides but I convinced myself that it was simply the way the sun was hitting the mountains. As we got closer, though, it became obvious that the large patches of yellow and orange that we could see were actually huge aspen groves. Needless to say, I got pretty excited.
I became even more excited once we dropped off our bags and headed up the mountain from Cedar City to Cedar Breaks National Monument. While on prior trips to southern Utah I had heard of Cedar Breaks and its beauty but I had never visited. So, I was pretty stoked to pay it a visit. What I hadn’t anticipated was the amazing beauty of the road up the mountain. It was one of those drives where we were stopping at least once a mile, and sometimes more often, just to gape at the landscape. I had gone from no leaves on the aspen trees to grove after grove at the peak of their fall beauty. And, I hadn’t even made it to the main attraction yet!
This shot was taken during one of those stops. There was a county park where we parked the car and moved up and down the road for a while. I loved the way that he fence and the road led my eye into the mass of the aspen-covered mountain we had just driven past. The colors were amazing and there were even a few clouds in the sky to break up the otherwise perfect blue sky overhead. The scenery was so beautiful that we utterly enjoyed two or three trips up and down the mountain pass just so we could soak it all in. I hope this image conveys some sense of the beauty of the scene that we experienced.
A thirteen-mile long straight stretch of road in the Utah high desert
I’m showing my age a bit, but with apologies to 70s supergroup SuperTramp, I’ve titled this post after their famous song. I was actually in high school when it came out… It just seems appropriate given the length of the highway pictured stretching out seemingly to infinity.
As you might imagine the distance between population centers virtually anywhere in Nevada outside of Las Vegas is vast. It was not uncommon for us to drive stretches of highway where there was thirty, forty, or even fifty miles between towns. And, with few towns and relatively flat ground, the roads could be very, very straight. We finally started guessing how far it would be until we reached the next bend in the road and using the odometer to referee our guesses. As it turned out, parts of adjoining Utah were very similar.
This stretch of Utah state highway 21 was the longest stretch of straight road that we encountered. We started where the road disappears in the far distance and stopped just before a bend in the road immediately behind us in this image. That stretch of road was over thirteen miles long! While I was taking this series of shots, a car would appear and we would still literally have minutes to compose and shoot before the car came even remotely close to us. My only regret from this part of the trip was not having a supercar that we could have opened up to full throttle on these long, deserted stretches of road. Oh well. Maybe next time… Enjoy!
The last bit of straight road before hitting the bends and turns of the Pacific Coast Highway along the Big Sur coast
As we worked our way up the California coast, I was anxious to get to the twists and turns of CA-1 and the jaw-dropping views from high atop the cliffs of Big Sur. I had experienced the road a few times before and I was looking forward to seeing if it lived up to my high expectations.
Before we made it to the twisty bits, we came upon this view. Given my expectation of winding roads I hadn’t remembered this long straight stretch before we entered the coastal range. It was one of those “Wow! I’d better stop the car and capture this!” moments. I have quite a few of those as I’m out shooting. In fact, my favorite shots are often ones that I hadn’t visualized and catch me quite unawares.
So, I quickly pulled off the road, made a u-turn, and worked my way back to where I first saw the shot. I took a few different angles including these in the middle of the road. Fortunately, Pamela was there to act as my spotter. Otherwise I likely would have been so absorbed in taking the shot that I would have been struck by another photographer’s car as they soaked in the sights oblivious to my presence.
I love leading lines in my images. It doesn’t get much better than the yellow center stripe of a perfectly straight stretch of road with a scenic vista at the end. Hopefully, you will enjoy the image as well.
The road from Page, AZ to Kanab, UT as the sunset paints the sky brilliant hues of red and orange
Our trip to Arizona and Utah had been very productive. As is usually the case for a trip like this one, many of the shots I had envisioned hadn’t turned out quite the way I had hoped, but we had encountered many other unexpected visual delights. Such was the case with this image. As we stood in the streets of Page contemplating shooting the balloon glow in the streets of Page that evening, the gathering clouds on the horizon suggested that the sunset could be worth shooting. We began to evaluate our options. Pretty quickly we decided that hitting the road early and taking our chances on the road from Page to Zion gave us the best chance of capturing a beautiful sunset.
So, we headed for our car and hit the road toward Kanab. It quickly became apparent that the sunset would be worth shooting. Now the dilemma common to photographers became paramount. We were in search of a foreground to use with the beautiful emerging sunset.
Having driven in the area for a couple of days we had some ideas about places that might work, but we were running out of time. The sunset was quickly peaking and we would have to get somewhere quickly. As it turned out, somewhere turned out to be a pullout offering views of the surrounding mesas and Page in the distance. After taking a few test shots, it occurred to me that the foreground could be the road we were just driving on. So, I set my tripod up in the middle of the road and began composing.
I had to move a few times for oncoming traffic, but that was pretty easy. I could see for at least a mile in either direction so I had plenty of warning if a car or truck was approaching. After taking a few shots this image resulted. The sunset is waning but there is still a glow on the surrounding cliffs. The road trails off nicely in the distance and its distinctive yellow and white stripes provides a nice contrast to the gray-black of the asphalt.
It’s a simple image but a fitting one for my last one from the trip. We were on the road home and it felt good to be going there. Enjoy.