Taken from a bluff overlooking the entrance to Neon Canyon near Escalante, Utah, on October 10, 2016.
In late 2016 my Hungarian friend Julia let me know she was planning another trip to the America Southwest. She’d lived in New York for six years and during her time there a yearly pilgrimage to Utah was a staple in her spiritual diet. And since I enjoy exploring southern Utah almost as much as my own beloved Sierra I leapt at the chance to head out there for 10 days of canyon goodness. Julia recommended we make a backpacking trip into one of the more famous canyons in the Escalante area, Neon Canyon, and having never been there I was happy to agree.
The hike in to the entrance of Neon canyon is fairly easy, if a little boring and exposed: five miles of trudging across sandy, rocky desert, followed by a startlingly quick descent down to the Escalante River. A thigh-deep ford of the river, followed by 50 feet of knee-deep, sucking mud, and you’re in the mouth of the canyon. Then the question becomes where to put your tent. After exploring a few bends up canyon we settled on a wonderful bluff a few hundred feet above the seasonal creek that has hollowed out the canyon.
From our campsite we could see a clear use trail leading to the top of the cliffs to the west so we wandered up that way and found a high perch with incredible views of the Escalante River to the west and Neon Canyon to the east. We spent the next day exploring Neon Canyon, which ends with a truly spectacular sandstone cathedral. As well as Ringtail Canyon, an extremely tight and narrow slot which at the time was chest-deep with frigid water. Brrrr.
On our final morning of the trip I woke up early and hustled up the use trail to the canyon rim. And although the day began with relatively few clouds in the sky they soon developed, and filled the heavens horizon to horizon with puffy, colorful goodness. I set up my camera low between two giant boulders and used a number of technical techniques (including focus stacking and exposure blending) to capture the beauty of the morning. All that was left to do was tear down camp and hike back out.
Check out these behind the scenes photos: