Metate Arch in Devil’s Garden, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah
This moonscape of oddly shaped arches and stone monoliths looking like alien life forms is a virtual playground—both visually and physically. It’s easy to get to and stroll around, making it an ideal side trip. To make the best photographs here, consider stopping to scout for locations early in the day on your way along Hole-in-the-Rock Road to other sites. Then, on your return trip to town, stop for golden hour with a “shot list” already in mind.
In late afternoon, the stone comes alive with magical honey-gold colors. The scenery already looks like you’re on another planet, and just before sunset, you’ll find it hard to believe you’re not walking on Mars.
One of the best features is that you are entirely free to wander. There are no designated trails, so roam about without hesitation. The relatively small expanse of outcrops and shifting sands is vegetated with grasses, stunted shrubs and scattered junipers. It would be difficult to get lost here.
To get here from Escalante, head southeast on Scenic Byway 12. After a few miles turn southeast onto Hole-inthe-Rock Road, a dirt road suitable for passenger cars—unless wet. After about 12 miles, look for the turnoff on the right, and in a half mile the parking area offers picnic tables and a restroom.
With the easy access, less than a half mile down from Hole-in-the-Rock Road, it’s also an ideal location for night photography. Learn more about the planets, star clusters and our Milky Way at the Annual Astronomy Festival held at Bryce Canyon National Park, about an hour away.[Excerpt from “Southwest Serenity,” published in Outdoor Photographer magazine, 2019 Special Issue.]