Moab Happenings Archive
Return to home


Photographing the Red Rocks Country
La Sal Mountains Offer a Different Range of Photo Opportunities
By David L. Brown

When we think of photo subjects in the Moab area, our minds first go to red rock cliffs, winding rivers and soaring arches. But raise your eyes and you will see a whole different world just a few miles away. Throughout the year, the La Sal Mountains provide a scenic backdrop to the Red Rocks country.

Figure 1As Spring arrives, these lovely peaks are still covered with snow, but soon they will emerge as aspen trees and wildflowers take center stage for a new season. I’ve found that my photo tour clients love to visit the high country, whether in spring or fall. And in the summer, when temperatures rise, the cool mountain air offers a pleasant refuge.

The La Sals contain no less than twelve peaks that rise to more than 12,000 ft. above the surrounding Colorado Plateau. The highest is Mt. Peale, reaching 12,721 ft. Although they may sometimes appear to be of volcanic origin, the mountains were formed by the intrusion of igneous rock 25-28 million years ago and the later erosion of surrounding sedimentary rock.

Figure 2I have several favorite spots in the La Sals. One of the best is along the graded road leading up from the La Sal Loop to Warner Campground, home to a natural mountain lake located at 9200 ft. Fig. 1 shows the lake, surrounded by aspen groves and overlooked by mountain peaks. The campground is a favorite retreat by in-the-know locals who come here to escape the summer heat. You may be able to photograph fly fisherman working the trout-filled lake, and mountain reflections make the place come alive through your lens.

The road to Warner Lake passes through meadows where wildflowers grow in profusion, such as shown in Fig. 2. Kelli Price, one of my clients from last year, asked me to take her picture among blooming mule’s ears. Named for the shape of their leaves, these plants bloom in early June in the high country of the La Sals.

Figure 3Fig. 3 shows another example of the high country in bloom, a field of wild iris. The image was captured near Warner Lake around the first day of summer last year. In a week or so the iris blooms were gone, replaced by succeeding waves of different wildflowers, each taking their turn in the sun.

Another fascinating location in the La Sals is located around the north end of the range, along the road that leads to Gateway, CO. Here among towering Ponderosa pines you can enjoy amazing views from above Fisher Valley and see mysterious dinosaur tracks where giants walked over 100 million years ago. The Forest Service recently improved the site with a paved parking lot, vault toilet and an informational display. Fig. 4 shows one of the dino prints, made by an early relative of Tyrannosaur Rex. Follow the road through Castle Valley and keep going straight for five miles past the La Sal Loop road turnoff.

Figure 4One of the highlights of the year in the La Sals is when the aspens put on their golden show. There are many groves at a wide range of altitudes, so the color display goes on for quite some time, starting at the higher altitudes and moving steadily downward. Fig. 5 is a photo made along one of the improved forest roads.

There is nothing like the feeling of crisp mountain air and the chance to photograph the changing patterns of the seasons. There are many more aspects to these nearby mountains, and many subjects for your camera. If you haven’t already discovered this wonderland, you have a treat in store.

David L. Brown lives in Moab where he leads photo tours and workshops. His website is at and he can be reached at 435-210-8158.Figure 5




Hot Dog! and Badgers
The proverbial pooch has more than a “long” history behind its humorous hot dog credentials. Other than the obvious elongated body we wanted to know the real facts about this little frankfurter.

The question came about one afternoon when someone had made the comment that badgers, American badgers, are “bad asses”. There seems to be a common misperception, we thought. The American badger, identifiable by their distinctive lightning bolt shaped, head-markings and their huge fore claws are commonly compared to a wolverine, a member of the mustelidae family. Thus, the obvious comparison and ferocious, character assumption.

Our ever so popular culture, saturated with superheroes and internet fads has helped to create a fierce variation of the, “true” American badger when in-fact this furry, little walking footstool has been fought and hunted for centuries by Germany’s little sausage sniper, the dachshund.

In German, “Dachs” means badger and “Hund” means dog; thus, dachshund = badger dog. So who’s the “bad ass” now?! Does this mean the badger loses its superhero status or can we defend its predaceous demeanor? The badgers are definitely the biggest and toughest of the dachshunds quarry but it’s probably not saying much when you’re up against a “wiener” dog.

The wiener dog acknowledgments date back to the early 1540’s when royalty along with local foresters demanded destruction of dangerous pests, (such as the badger), so they could enjoy their land and more important forms of hunting with their prestigious guests. The dachshund’s characteristics make it difficult to tangle with and well adapted for fighting pests historically, such as the badger.

Drum roll please…. The name “wiener dog” was born in Frankfurt Germany in 1852 by a popular butcher in town. The butcher was not only well known for his delicious frankfurters but his lovable, little dachshund. The ever so obvious resemblance between the two led the butcher to name one of his popular frankfurter recipes, the Dachshund Sausage.
It wasn’t long before sausage vendors began selling dachshund sausages outside student dormitories and local events. The vendor carts eventually became coined as “Dog Carts”. The first recorded use of the term Hot Dog, according to Yale University was in 1895 although it hadn’t caught on until 1902 at a Giant’s baseball game.

Now, I know most of us have eaten a hot dog at a baseball game, after all, it is a favorite American pastime… eating that is. I know that one of the best parts of the purchase is flagging down the vendor who’s yelling “Get your red hot dog heeeere!” In 1902 the phrase commonly used was “get your dachshund sausage while it’s red hot”.

A cartoonist leaped at the opportunity to capture this iconic pastime and quickly threw together a sketch of a frankfurter with a tail and short, little stubby legs, not knowing what breed of dog or the history of the butcher’s buddy and captioned it “Hot Dog”!! The name stuck and from that day forward the wiener dog whether it be for eating and/or walking, has conquered our hearts, our super bowl commercials and our stomachs!

This article is brought to you by Animals of Montana specializing as a wildlife casting agency that has over 20 years of experience in this industry. They cater to the needs of photographers, amateur and professional and also to the motion film industry. For more information about tours please call 800-315-6948 or visit our website at
Return to home

© 2002-2016 Moab Happenings. All rights reserved.
Reproduction of information contained in this site is expressly prohibited.