In the red rocks of Utah, almost everyone has seen the famous Delicate Arch of Arches National Park. While most people haven’t actually walked up to it in person, they’ve at least seen it on the Utah State license plates. The walk up to Delicate Arch is three miles round trip, and is a bit more than some people want to tackle.
There’s another arch that attracts a lot of attention too, and it’s just ½ mile round trip from the closest parking area. That’s Mesa Arch. Mesa Arch is located in the Island in the Sky District of Canyonlands National Park. It’s popularity probably comes from the extreme red glow it seems to emanate, and the close proximity for viewing when you arrive. You can almost reach out and touch it, but not quite.
Mesa Arch is situated along a large east facing cliff made from mostly red colored Navajo Sandstone. The red material reflects a great deal of light up onto the underside of Mesa Arch and gives it a distinctly red tint. Photographers gather most mornings before sunrise and compete for the best positions, waiting for the sun to rise.
We were amused the last time we were there. We arrived a few minutes before sunrise, and sure enough, there were so many photographers already in position that we didn’t have room to set up. At sunrise, everyone made their shot of the sun rising over the distant La Sal Mountains and started breaking down their gear. As the sun rose, the light increased on the cliff face and the bottom of Mesa Arch really started to shine bright. Bonnie simply walked up and made her image. Everyone else was concentrating on getting their gear stowed and no one noticed that the picture actually improved after the first few minutes of sunrise.