Rain in the Canyonlands

The red rock country of Utah is a parched dry desert. It is known for bluebird clear skies and getting very little rain. On a trip like this my normal big fear is a week of blue sky. So when I arrived in Canyonlands National Park late one evening to thick cloud cover I was hoping for some bad weather to get me some great light. The next morning started off completely overcast-no sunrise at all. The cool overcast of morning gave way to a day of mostly thick clouds and then occasional breaking clear. As a photographer it was a perfect day as it allowed me to be out all day and make images.

As the day wore on we could see distant rain showers over the canyon country. It was a perfect way to spend a day exploring Canyonlands. Every overlook had tremendous views across miles of canyon country and toward distant mountains. The rain spilling out of a dark distant clouds on this canyon landscape was just what you would hope for to make a great image. At first it was just a light rain but as we closed in on sunset the storm clouds built up became darker and spread across the western sky.

The late afternoon sun was lost behind then rain and as it approached sunset it began to make the rain glow. I raced across the plateau at Grandview Point to get get a view west and hopefully north where I could take in the Green River canyons. I got to the western rim of the plateau with mere moments before the sun would pop underneath the distant rain. I frantically worked to set up two tripods and two cameras. The light would happen fast but it also look very spectacular, so I wanted to capture it on both 4x5 chrome and digital.

I was able to get both cameras working and worked both as the sun made it's appearance under the clouds and behind the rain. The light was intense as I moved between cameras.
As the light faded into evening the rain kept falling and the reddish light of the after sunset glow kept filling the sky and the canyons. Every direction had a decent image.
Even after starting the hike back I kept finding images and would stop. Make an image. Make another. Hike some. Stop and do it again.
It was everything I could hope for in a day here.
The images in this post follow the day. From the mid-day clouds at the Green River Overlook to the rain starting to form up at Grandview, to the sunset to the rain and glow of the last light.


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