The Moab area is an exceptional region and has some of the most spectacular, photogenic sites on earth.   Canyonlands and Arches provide countless photo opportunities, many of which can be had with walks of just a few minutes.

As a single destination Moab vies with Rocky Mountain National Park as one of the top destinations for photographers.  Photographers can work in the desert settings of Canyonlands National Park, Arches National Park, the Colorado River basin, the vast areas of the Bureau of Land Management or the forested La Sal Mountains.


Canyonlands National Park

A host of major iconic sites beckon photographers in Canyonlands:  Mesa Arch, Aztec Butte, Grand View Point and the Green River Overlooks are long time favorites, but nearly every trail, cliff wall and wash contain petroglyphs, pictographs, ruins and stunning views.


Arches National Park

The quintessential iconic photo site in Arches is Delicate Arch.  This one is a 3 mile round trip and can be the perfect ending to a great day of photography.  On my trips we’ll leave the trailhead 2 to 2 ½ hours before sunset to take in the Wolf Ranch petroglyph panel on the way.  My favorite is a pair of formations called North-South Window and The Turret.  You can shoot these as individual sites or shoot The Turret through the North Window, shooting from the east.  As with most of the sites in the area timing is everything.  Shooting in the right season and at the right time of day is critical.  Other worthwhile sites include Double Arch, Balanced Rock. Courthouse Towers, the Three Gossips and Klondike Bluffs.


BLM Sites

The vast expanses of BLM land around Moab provide what I think are some of the best opportunities for great non-iconic shots.  Bartlett Wash, Fisher Towers and Poison Spider Mesa are a few of the “named” sites, but nearly every cliff wall and wash present photo opportunities.


How hot is it in the summer?    How cold is it in winter?

Average maximum temperatures in June, July and August are in the mid to upper 90's  That's hot!  Add to that the effect of the rock holding the heat well into the night, making the heat "relentless", and you have potentially dangerous conditions. 

Around 1993 I took off on my mountain bike to ride the slick rock trail on a June day with the temperature around 95.  I thought I could handle it for a 2 to 2.5 hours ride.  About an hour into it I realized I was in trouble and my usual 2 water bottles were not nearly enough.  I was trying to pace my water consumption so it would last and was just ready to start my second bottle.  I picked up the bottle containing Gatoraide and it turned out the plasstic was so hot that when I squeezed it the hot, mushy lid poped off and drenced me in hot, sticky Gatoraide.  I spent the next hour or so riding short distance, then looking for a bush big enough to provide me ANY shade. 

When I eventually made it back to the car I had full-blown symptoms of heat exhaustion.  I took my 5 gallon jug of water and poured it over my head and sat in the car with the AC blowing full-blast on my body for a long time.  Hence... I don't work Moab in June, July and August!  :)

Winters around Moab can be equally harsh.  Average January lows are 18 degrees.  Author Craig Childs wrote of hiking (and canoeing!) Canyonlands in December and January and having to shake the ice of his sleeping bag each morning (Stone Deseret).  Even on the warmer, sunnier days of winter the wind often makes things faily unpleasant.  Thus, spring and fall are THE SEASONS in the Moab area.  Pleasant days and cool night.



Period of Record Monthly Climate Summary

Period of Record : 1/ 1/1890 to 12/31/2005

  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Annual
Average Max. Temperature (F) 42.4 50.8 62.1 72.1 82.2 92.5 98.1 95.2 86.6 73.4 56.9 44.4 71.4
Average Min. Temperature (F) 18.2 24.6 32.8 40.8 48.5 56.0 62.8 61.0 51.5 39.5 28.2 20.3 40.3
Average Total Precipitation (in.) 0.67 0.61 0.83 0.81 0.72 0.43 0.78 0.86 0.85 1.01 0.70 0.75 9.01
Average Total SnowFall (in.) 3.9 1.5 0.9 0.2 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.6 2.8 9.8
Average Snow Depth (in.) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

Percent of possible observations for period of record.

Max. Temp.: 94.8% Min. Temp.: 94.8% Precipitation: 95.8% Snowfall: 91.2% Snow Depth: 58.7%