A surreal sunrise at Mesa Arch at Canyonlands National Park. I love witnessing the belly of the arch slowly glow brighter and brighter as the sun bursts over the La Sal mountain range. The canyon below is also accented with the Washerwoman Arch, Monster Tower, and Airport Tower, and the full palette of colors and textures makes this one of the best spots to witness a sunrise. Maybe that's why every morning this place is littered with about 10 photographers who have all dragged themselves out of bed at odd hours of the night to become a part of the long legacy of photographers and sunrises at Mesa Arch.

But this capture almost didn't happen. After we took quick afternoon naps during our rest outside Bryce Canyon, we noted a huge storm front sweeping the southwest. One look at my friend and the crazy thoughts started spinning as we both agreed to make the redeye drive to Moab to catch the sunrise and also get good light at House on Fire and False Kiva. We left a little before midnight and made the US-89/I-70 trek towards Moab. Just be careful on US-89 at night as there are multiple deer just hanging out, and I had to pull a swerve and brake combo move as we barely dodged, by a mere 2-3 feet, a deer who couldn't make up her mind on which way to run. Thank you, indecisive deer. Once we recovered from the adrenaline rush, the rest of the drive was a breeze and we pulled into the Mesa Arch parking lot and crashed for a few minutes before sunrise.

Suddenly, we see another car pull up and someone jumping out and bolting along the trail to the arch. Fearing pole position was now gone, we quickly dragged ourselves out and lugged our gear, 3 tripods, and a stool towards the arch so we could get some early positioning. Luckily the Olympic runner who had dashed out earlier was not only friendly but also generous with his positioning and we all got our shots. But more importantly, we all had another opportunity to enjoy one of life's simple pleasures - to savor a majestic sunrise in speechless wonder. We even all headed out to False Kiva and Island in the Sky sunset later that day and enjoyed just relaxing.

Discover more inspiring photos like this one.

Download the FREE 500px app Open in app