Everyone says Mesa Arch is a “must see” in Canyonlands National Park.

Over and over we had heard stories of tens of photographers lined up in front of the arch for the morning sunrise. The moral of the story is you better get there early or you shoot into the back of someone’s head.  Determined, we got up insanely early and drove one hour down winding canyon roads. And then hiked a half mile in the dark.  We arrived at the arch just before 6:00 am, about 70 minutes before sunrise.

We were the only ones there. Mission accomplished.

Now at the arch, we all  started setting up our camera gear for the sunrise shoot (we had convinced two other workshop-mates to go with us).  But it was near impossible as it was pitch black .  We huddled together trying to figure out where exactly to set up. Once the predawn started, we were surprised at what we saw. The arch was so much smaller than expected. At just 10 feet high and 90 feet wide, it was disappointing.  All the hullabaloo about how great this arch is and it is only 10 feet tall?  Come on… Give us something grand to capture.

Then the sun started to rise… and we were awed.


Mesa Arch just as the sun rises, Canyonlands National Park

Mesa Arch just as the sun rises, Canyonlands National Park

Size doesn’t matter after all.