Exploring Canyonlands: Potash Road and the Shafer Switchbacks

The Shafer Switchbacks have been on my to do list since I caught the off-road, 4-wheeling, Overlanding bug a few years ago and on this last trip to Moab I had the opportunity drive them. This route was on my mind both from reading the Guide to Backroads around Moab and from viewing posts from the blog New Mexico Backroads a few weeks before my trip. Needless to say I was psyched! Above: Evaporation ponds and red rock. Below: Really red rock! If you look close in the center of the picture you can see a few ladders that are part of a ropes course.

Below: Looking up at Dead Horse Point State Park from Potash Road. Classic western landscape.

Below: Thelma and Louise Point looking at the Colorado River.

Below: Looking North from Thelma and Louise Point. The rock wall in the image produces amazing echo with 4 or more distinct slap backs. A very cool stereo experience. Give it a yodel and see for yourself. A few miles later we would enter Canyonlands National Park and be greeted with a small but very rocky section of road that required low range gearing and all of the driver’s attention (thus no photos of this section). My stock Xterra handled the rocky section beautifully. (edit summer 2014 the road has been improved and is now very smooth. Conditions can change with one good rainstorm, if in doubt contact the National Park.

Below: Shafer Switchbacks. Notice the very small people in the top right corner. Next time I’ll have to remember to stop at a few points and get some pictures. For my first time up I just kept my hands on the wheel and eyes on the road. The switchbacks and the climb were not that bad however I was not ready for the long drive on the narrow shelf road once we were at the top. That section was a bit nerve racking.

Below: Looking down on a group of cyclists that were starting multi day trek on the White Rim Trail. The road was first used as a cattle trail and later as a road for mining trucks. The thought of driving trucks on that road makes me think of the movie The Wages of Fear.

Exploring around Moab: Fisher Towers

On our last trip to Moab we decided to not just take 191 south from Cresent Junction but instead go north of I-70 and do some exploring in the Book Cliffs and Sego Canyon. That part of the adventure ended in the (almost) ghost  town of Thompson Utah and the next part would be the Colorado River Scenic Byway. A pullout near Fisher Towers would be the location of a quick road side dinner and some creative photography. Recently I have become interested in the technique of tilting the camera lens for artistic and technical effects. Most of the examples I have seen are of city or industrial scenes so I thought I would try it out on some southern Utah landscapes. Above: Fisher towers. Below: Mesa near Fisher Towers with tilt blur effect.

Below: Fisher towers with with tilt blur effect on the sky and the top of the red rock.

Below: Road into Moab (128) with tilt blur effect. It takes some practice using the lens in the field and getting the effect where you want it. The look is easily faked in Photoshop, for me though it is way more interesting to think about and apply the technique in camera.