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Photographing the Red Rocks Country
Many Photo Opportunities Found Along Potash Road
By David L. Brown

Fig. 1Last year I wrote a series of twelve articles for Moab Happenings on how to make better landscape photos. Now I am starting a new series that will focus on photogenic places to go in the Moab area. This article will feature Utah 279, or Potash Road. This state highway is a paved road leading for16 miles along the west side of the Colorado River. It was built in the 1960s to provide access to the potash plant southwest of Moab.

Potash Road offers a wealth of photo opportunities. Set your odometer as you turn off of U.S.191 to follow my mileage notations. In its first couple of miles there are distant views of the La Sal Mountains, seen across the waters of the Colorado. At mile 2.2 there is a pull-off and information board with details about the route. From this spot I made the picture in Fig. 1, showing the La Sal Mountains with a load of winter snow.

Just past that spot the road enters a canyon where cliffs hug both sides of the river. You will enter a section with sheer cliffs along the right side. This is known as Wall Street and you will almost always find teams of rock climbers testing their skills.

Watch for a sign denoting “Indian Writings” to discover a number of ancient petroglyph panels. At mile 4.8 look up the slope to the right where a pinyon pine shelters a large image of a bear pecked into the rock hundreds or perhaps even thousands of years ago (Fig. 2). The bear is a gigantic figure with tiny human figures pointing arrows at its nose, back and one of its feet. There are also depictions of mountain sheep.Fig. 2

About another mile along the road is the Poison Spider trailhead, a rugged Jeep and mountain bike trail. Park and take a short hike to view dinosaur tracks and more petroglyphs. There is a toilet and informational panels.

At about 9.5 miles, across the road from Gold Bar BLM Campground, is another trailhead, this time leading to Corona Arch, one of the most spectacular features in the area and well worth a moderately difficult hike of about three miles round trip. The huge size of this arch can be appreciated by the knowledge that a local pilot is reported to have flown his plane through the arch several hundred times.

I visited Corona Arch in early February on a delightful winter afternoon, wearing shorts and a short-sleeved shirt for such is the nature of Moab’s mild winters. At about 5 o’clock the sun was sinking in the west, lighting the arch with warm rays of light. As I watched, the Moon rose beyond the cliffs and into the sky, making my photograph in Fig. 3 complete.

Incidentally, the time when the Moon is nearly full is called the “photographer’s full moon,” since it appears before the sun has set allowing the camera to capture the landscape is late afternoon light with the Moon in the sky above it.Fig. 3

Continuing on until your odometer reads 13 miles you can view Jug Handle Arch, a relatively uninteresting but curious arch. This is at the mouth of Long Canyon, featuring a Jeep trail that leads up to the Island in the Sky near Dead Horse Point.

The paved road continues past the potash processing plant and ends after 16 miles at a riverside parking area used by river rafters. There you will find an interesting informational panel describing the potash mining process, desert sheep management and other subjects. From here Potash Road becomes a four-wheel drive road leading up to the Shafer Trail that climbs into Canyonlands National Park. I will feature this area in a future article.

Potash Road is accessible, located just north of Moab and with good pavement suitable for any vehicle. It makes an ideal location for a few hours of photo-making or even a longer time if you want to hike or explore Poison Spider Mesa, Long Canyon and take the hike to view Corona Arch and its nearby little brother Bow Tie Arch. It is emblematic of the allure of the Moab area, replete with red rock wonders, marks of our ancient predecessors and the awesome presence of the great flowing waters of the Colorado River.

GCHS student’s photo wins Congressional award
Kirsten BroderickGrand County High School senior Kirsten Broderick recently had one of her photographs win the First Place Award in the 3rd Congressional District art and photography competition. The piece, titled “Working Hands,” shows a pair of gloved gardener’s hands.

 Broderick said she entered the picture in the 45th annual Utah All-State High School Art Show sponsored by the Springville Museum of Art. It was then chosen by Jennifer Andelin, who works for Utah’s 3rd Congressional District Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah).

 A framed copy of the print will hang in the U.S. Capitol throughout the coming year. Broderick said she will be traveling to Springville to receive her award on Feb. 4, after which she will later be flown to Washington, D.C. for the official opening presentation of the artwork.Kirsten Broderick

 More information about the U.S. Congress’ annual student art competition, along with pictures of winning art pieces from around the country, can be found at

 Broderick said her piece is a combination of photography and post-production artistic effects.
 “After taking the picture, I edited it in PhotoShop by adding a vignette and increasing the contrast and saturation,” she said.

 Broderick added that winning the award has caused her to rethink her post-high school plans somewhat.
 “My original plan after high school was to become a dental hygienist and run a photography business on the side,” she said, adding, “With the recent news, I have become undecided about what I want to do.”

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