Santa Elena Canyon

The premier, must-see attraction in Big Bend is Santa Elena Canyon.  That is really saying something since there are so many things to see in the park and if asked for the best five, I would be hard pressed to narrow it down to just that many.

However, I think it is easy to pick the best-Santa Elena Canyon.

Here literally at the end of the road and right on the border (you need a passport to go any farther) the Rio Grande flows out of a canyon carved in the 1500' tall Sierra Ponce wall.

It is impressive to say the least.  

As I have written here and on my large format blog, you can go to the Grand Canyon and stare down, but it is a great effort to go to the bottom.  Here you are at the bottom looking up.

After a good day of clouds the skies had returned to (what seems to be the normal) clear.  I decided to watch sunrise on the canyon wall and also to catch it from the overlook which is where Ansel Adams made his image of the canyon.  It puts you about a half mile from the canyon but gives a nice view that you can still see the river.

I arrived well before dawn and set up both the large format camera (see that on my Large Format Blog linked to the right) and had my digital camera too.

I made a series of images from predawn light to the first sunlight on the rocks.  I even did some black and white to come away with an image a-la Ansel.

Here are a couple of favorites showing both the golden first light of the day and a monochrome one too.


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