Monument Valley Layered View (Arizona)

Monument Valley is one of the most spectacular locations I have visited in my entire life. It is both breathtaking and overwhelming all at once. I do not think you can properly convey the scale and beauty of the valley through photography. You simply must visit it yourself.

At the same time, the visit to Monument Valley has its own challenges. It is located on the Navajo Indian reservation and, as a result, has tribal restrictions. You can only drive along a 13-mile dirt road loop during the day; you are not allowed to hike or explore the park on your own.

This creates some limitations in regard to photography. For example, the sunset or sunrise photography is limited in the summer months because the park is only open between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m.

I planned on taking a paid, guided sunrise photography tour, but I could not make it work with my schedule.

I took the featured photo during my drive along the 13-mile loop. I drove slowly and tried to spot any opportunities for an interesting composition so that I could stop and take a few shots along the way.

Arizona. Monument Valley
Loc: 36.944012, -110.062333

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Monument Valley Open View (Arizona)

Today's photo features the iconic view of the Monument Valey I witnessed right after entering the Navajo tribal park. I saw this open view of the valley on many photographs before visiting the park, but I still was overwhelmed by the scale of the scene. In real life, it was much larger than I expected.

When I was compositing the shot, I saw a pickup truck driving along the dirt road of the valley in the distance. I decided to wait a couple of the minutes until the truck became more recognizable so I could use it as the reference point for my composition.

​Arizona. Monument Valley
Loc: 36.983322, -110.111716

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Canyon de Chelly – Sliding House Overlook (Arizona)

The Canyon de Chelly is the lesser know National Monument in eastern Arizona, not far from ​New Mexico border. It located away from traditional tourist routes of Arizona and Utah, and as a result, it gets less attention.

When I was planning my Southwest driving trip, I made sure I had enough time to visit the Canyon de Chelly on my way from the Grand Canyon to the Monument Valley.

Even though the Canyon de Chelly residents on Navajo land it is managed by National Park services and as a result has less tribal restrictions. You still can hike down the canyon, in some places, without permits and guides and there are no entry fees.

What different about the Canyon de Chelly is people populate it and you can see the houses, the cars and dirt roads from the rim of the canyon. They look like parts of a miniature picture from the top.

Big Sur – Rocky Creek Bridge (California)

Arizona. Utah
Loc: 36.116474, -109.437430

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Green Waters of the Colorado River (Arizona)

After visiting the Valley of the Gods, Goosenecks Park, the Monument Valley, and the Horseshoe Bend, it was time to explore the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument.

I always enter the Vermilion Cliffs through the Marble Canyon where I can enjoy the spectacular views from the Navajo Bridge with the Colorado River below.

The original Navajo Bridge was built in 1929, and after serving for nearly 70 years it was replaced by modern version in 1995. But, instead of demolishing the old bridge, the kept it and transformed it into the pedestrian crossing.

The Navajo Bridge gives us the opportunity to photograph the Marble Canyon from the unique perspective.

What was different the time I took the featured photo, the color of the Colorado River. Normally, it is dark blue, but this time it was bright green, almost emerald. I knew right away it would make an interesting photo if I emphasized the contrast between colors of the river, the canyon, and the sky.

Big Sur – Rocky Creek Bridge (California)

​​USA. Utah
Loc: 36.817771, -111.631424

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Exploring Arizona an Utah – Square Butte (Arizona)

It was an eventful day during my driving trip through Arizona and Utah.

I woke up early in the morning in Bluff (Utah). I drove straight away to the Valley of the Gods with the goal to capture the morning light.

I made a quick stop at Goosenecks State Park where I photographed unforgettable curves of San Juan River.

After a short drive with the 10 min stop at Forest Gump Point, I was in the Monument Vally where I spend the majority of the day exploring the park.

I was on my way to my final destination of the day the Horseshoe Bend where I was planning to be at a sunset hour.

In the middle of a beautiful 2-hour drive from the Monument Valley to the Horseshoe Bend, I stumbled upon the Square Butte. I only had time for a brief stop and 10 min walk, but I still got rewarded with the few interesting photos.

Big Sur – Rocky Creek Bridge (California)

​​USA. Utah
Loc: 36.606120, -110.927131

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John Ford’s Point (Arizona)

The John Ford's Point, without doubt, is the most iconic and recognizable spot in the Monument Valley. At the same time, it is probably the busiest place in the park. Because its proximity to the park's entrance and huge parking lot it is always full of tourists.

I did not have big plans for the Ford's Point when I was planning the trip. My goal was to explore more remote spots in the park.

But, when I was entering the park, the rain came out of nowhere. In a matter of minutes, the temperature dropped by at least 15°C. It scared away most of the tourists. For the next few hours, I had the Monument Valy pretty much to myself.

Even the John's Ford Point was empty and I had enough time to explore it and to take plenty of exciting shots without people in them.

Big Sur – Rocky Creek Bridge (California)

​​USA. Utah
Loc: 36.953240, -110.086364

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Hopewell Rocks Arch (New Brunswick)

The featured photo is from my latest driving trip to Atlantic Canada. I took it in one of my favorite places, Hopewell Rocks which is located in New Brunswick province of Canada.

What makes Hopewell Rocks famous is the tides. They reach the incredible 14 meters in vertical elevation, making them the highest tides in the world.

In Hopewell Rocks, you can rent a kayak in the morning and explore the cliffs of the Bay of Fundy. And, in the afternoon, when tide reaches the lowest point you can walk at the bottom of the see.

It is probably one of the most rewarding spots for hiking and photography.

Hopewell Rocks Arch (New Brunswick)

Hopewell Rocks Arch. New Brunswick
Loc: 45.816176, -64.577140

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Big Sur – Rocky Creek Bridge (California)

The specifics of the Big Sur coastal drive is you drive along the coast and see something interesting so you stop to take a couple of shots and, in five to ten minutes, you continue on your way.

But, for the featured shot, I had to work. When you shoot from the road, the Rocky Creek Bridge is almost entirely shielded by the coastal cliffs. I wanted to include the bridge into my composition.

I had to climb down along the edge of the cliff through the dense and sharp bushes. And even from the very tip of the cliff, I could not capture the entire bridge.

But, I had fun, and it was worth it.

Big Sur – Rocky Creek Bridge (California)

California. ​Big Sur
Loc: 36.379474, -121.902504

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Lees Ferry – Ready for Departure (Arizona)

The Lees Ferry is a unique and historic site in Arizona, near Utah’s border.

This is the only place in over 1000 km where you can access the bench of the Colorado River by car. Before the Navajo Bridge was built in 1929, the Lees Ferry was the only spot where travelers could cross the river between Arizona and Utah.

These days it is the most popular spot for the departure of Colorado River and Grand Canyon multi-day rafting tours. The most extended tour lasts almost for 2 weeks.

I took the feature photo approximately one hour before the rafting tour departure when the guides were still loading the boats.

Arizona. ​Lees Ferry
Loc: 36.857246, -111.602352

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Camel Butte in Monument Valley (Arizona)

The Camel Butte is one of Monument Valley’s signature landmarks and was very high on my to-do list during my first visit to the region.

When I approached the GPS coordinates of Arizona’s Camel Butte, I was a bit confused at first because I could not find it. The famous formation was completely covered by the combination of low, dark clouds and fog that made it invisible even from a distance of only a couple hundred meters. It was also raining very hard.

What I learned from my previous visits to the Southwest was that the weather is unpredictable and constantly changing in the middle of spring. That’s why I decided to take a pause and wait out the rainy and foggy conditions.

Luckily, I did not have to wait for long. By the end of my 20-minute lunch break in the car, the storm was gone and the sun was back illuminating the rocks with beautiful, soft light.

Travel Photography - Giant Cloud Shadows Over Vermilion Hills  (Arizona)
USA. Arizona. Monument Valley
Loc: 36.952014, -110.079115

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