The best thing about traveling to Moab in early December is that you get to beat the crowds. Most children remain in school until the Christmas and New Year holidays, therefore planning a trip around the first and 2nd week of December is a good way to ensure you'll have some alone time in the beautiful natural monuments that populate this region. To watch the full video of this trip, click on the YouTube video linked below.
Our plane touched down in Salt Lake City (and side note, shout out to the managers of SLC airport because it is the cleanest airport I've ever seen in 'Murica) and snow greeted us as we began the over 4-hour drive to Moab.
Green River Overlook
Our first stop was Green River Overlook which promised some excellent views of canyons and valleys. The crisp mountain air and clear blue skies provided us with some truly amazing vistas. While we were perusing the area, a photographer and his partner were kind enough to direct us to a different area of the overlook they said should provide us with even better views and they were quite right! A quick 5-minute walk led us to the right side of the overlook and gave us some awesome, unobstructed views of the land below.
We stayed in this area for a bit, just enjoying the lovely weather and views, before we moved on toward Moab and its main attraction - Arches National Park.
Arches National Park
We drove around the park for quite some time and by the time we got to Delicate Arches - the most popular arch in the park, darkness had fallen and we were unable to get the sunset shots we were hoping for. We decided to return the next morning before dawn with the hopes that we'd catch the sunrise peaking right through the arch - the shot every photographer dreams of.
Unfortunately, it remained a very cloudy morning, and despite a long time spent waiting, no appreciable sunrise appeared and we were left with just the arch, snowy mountains, and cloudy skies. On the plus side, the arch was not crowded due to the early hour and frigid temperatures. We were therefore able to get some personal and somewhat creative shots within and around the arch.
Temple of the Sun
Our next stop was Temple of the Sun. Now, for anyone considering going to this beautiful location, keep in mind that you will need a 4x4 vehicle as the roads are unpaved and quite uneven. The journey on unpaved roads is not a quick one, so if your plan is to prevent your internal organs from becoming completely scrambled during the drive (not to mention causing massive damage to your vehicle), then a 4x4 with high clearance is the vehicle of choice for you.
Once again, we were greeted by absolute silence at this location. No other humans (or animals for that matter) were visible. I once more attribute this to the dates we chose to visit this national park. Being the only two people in the vicinity allowed us to have more freedom in our exploration of the area and we were able to spend quality time truly appreciating the absolute majesty of the steeples.
Moonscape Overlook was definitely our 2nd favorite location of the entire trip. This area is not considered a national park, therefore, it was the first location where we were allowed to fly the drone and get some overhead landscape shots. It was a race against sunset to get there and it required using some latitude and longitude coordinates found on google. When we finally arrived, it was dusk and the kaleidoscope of colors cast over the rock formations was truly breathtaking.
I highly recommend you go watch the actual video footage of this beautiful place, shown in the Youtube video.
Return to Arches National Park
We next returned to Arches National Park for some additional exploration and were able to capture beautiful photos at Double Arch and Skyline Arch.
Our final and favorite location was Mesa Arch and it was glorious because we had it all to ourselves! We got there right at sunset and enjoyed the light play across and through the arch. This location is actually a little scary because we wanted to sit right by the edge of the cliff and get some cozy shots of us. I'm very happy we didn't fall to our deaths. If you choose to get similar shots, I highly suggest you watch your steps carefully and avoid rapid movements. It is a very long way down and I don't think you want to experience that fall.
Don't let the absence of snow fool you...it was very cold! But the beauty I was beholding made up for the lack of sensation in my hands.
This was a lovely and picturesque weekend trip, filled with amazing vistas and many moments for solitude and reflection. Utah in December is beautiful and uncrowded. I highly recommend it as a travel destination.