Delicate Arch and the La Sal Mountains

Delicate Arch and the La Sal Mountains, Arches National Park, Utah

I’m sure that literally millions of photographs have been taken of Delicate Arch in Arches National Park. All day long, a steady parade of supplicants hike the steep, 1.5-mile trail and emerge from behind a rock fin to get their first view of the world-famous, free-standing arch perched atop a cliff with the La Sal Mountains visible through the opening. Each evening, as sunset nears, the crowd grows thicker. A thicket of tripods manned by professional and dedicated amateur photographers sprouts along the sloping sandstone shelf that offers the best view. On a higher shelf, above and behind the first, a throng of less ardent worshippers gathers. Everyone is waiting – hoping – for “the glow”: the magic moment when the setting sun, on clear evenings, turns Delicate Arch a fiery red. Boorish unbelievers who dare to walk under the arch when the glow is about to peak are politely (or not so politely) asked to move so the assembled parishioners can capture an unspoiled view. In March of 2007 I began my own series of pilgrimages to Delicate Arch. I knew from my compass work that at that time of year the sun would set at the correct angle to light up the entire face of the arch while the La Sal Mountains would be crowned with a thick mantle of snow. Alas, the same storms that were so richly frosting the La Sals repeatedly stifled “the glow.” After nine attempts, I finally captured this classic view. My joy turned into a rueful chuckle at my own expense, however, when the photographer next to me casually remarked, “Wow, that was nice! This is the first time I’ve ever been here!”

Glenn Randall Photography

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