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Waterfalls & Rainbows Around Moab

Thursday, October 10, 2013

What a crazy day! The weather was all over the place which made for some great dynamic conditions- perfect for photography! My camera sure got a workout today. It started out by raining all night. My tent kept me dry and the rain actually stopped when my alarm went off so I could get up and photograph the sunrise. I hopped in my Jeep and drove up the Sand Flats Road to the Castle Valley Overlook but the sunrise never happened. It was just too cloudy and another storm rolled in while I was up there.

A view of the La Sal Mountains before another storm rolled in and completely blocked the view.

Over the Edge by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

As I was driving back down towards Sand Flats it started raining hard again so I went into town and had some breakfast at the Moab Diner.

Low clouds hang above yellow cottonwoods in the upper reaches of Rill Creek as I drove back to town.

Under the Clouds by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

When I finished my breakfast the rain finally started to let up, so I decided to follow the River Road in search of waterfalls since it had been raining pretty hard. I found plenty of them…

Courthouse Falls by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Temporary Fall by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Tall Fall by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

As I was driving back towards town I caught a glimpse of what looked like a very nice waterfall, but it was hard to tell from the road. I decided it was worth checking out, so I grabbed my camera and tripod and started hiking. I’m glad that I did!

Hidden Waterfall by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

I climbed up higher for a different view.

Desert Oasis by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

This waterfall was located just below the previous one.

Lower Waterfall by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Before heading back towards town I made a short detour to the entrance of Arches. I figured I should at least get a photo of the barricaded entrance while it was closed since I had never seen that before…

Welcome to Arches by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

While driving down Main Street Moab I looked up and saw that the La Sal Mountains were still hidden in clouds and figured with all the rain down in the valley that there might be a good amount of snow up in the mountains. And if I was lucky there might even be some fall colors around, so I continued south to the Loop Road.

This lone tree in the field stuck out to me as I started climbing the Loop Road.

Lone Tree by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

There was still a lot of green down at the lower elevations with touches of changing colors.

Change by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

As I climbed higher the snow got deeper and I managed to find some yellow aspens.

Yellow, Green & White by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Fall Meets Winter by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

There was some great scenery along Geyser Pass Road.

Touch of Winter by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Leaves by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Geyser Pass Road by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Another lone tree that caught my eye…looking down towards the Moab Valley.

Lone by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

There were nice autumn colors where the road crossed Mill Creek.

Creeping by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

La Sal Loop Road by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

When I reached Mason Draw I had an expansive view of Castle Valley and this low cloud sort of made the Castleton Tower look like a chimney.

Chimney by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

The amazingly vibrant colors of the Pinhook Valley never disappoint. This area burned a few years back and since then there has been an amazing display of colors here in the fall.

Patches of Color by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Pinhook Color by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

The Dance by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Pinhook Colors by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Another view of the Castleton Tower from Pinhook Valley.

Burn View by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Every now and then I had a good view over into Arches National Park, too.

Arches in the Storm by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Since the sunrise at the Castle Valley overlook was pretty much a bust, I thought I would check it out again in this constantly changing weather.

Sandstone & Mountains by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Spotlight on Castleton Tower.

Castle Light by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Shortly after arriving back at the overlook this faint rainbow appeared in front of Adobe Mesa.

Cliff Rainbow by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Cloudy view down Porcupine Rim.

Porcupine Rim by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

After hanging out at the overlook for a little while another storm rolled back in over Round Mountain and Castle Valley.

In the Rain by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Castleton Tower Storm by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Soon it started hailing and raining on me so I got back in my Jeep and considered leaving and going somewhere else. But something stopped me. Even though it was windy and pouring, I decided to stick around and see what would happen. I am so glad that I did, because once that storm passed, the sun came out again through breaks in the clouds and created a rainbow.

Rainbow Below by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Here’s the amazing thing, a few more storms rolled through the area while I was up there. Each time it started to rain I would take shelter in my Jeep and wait it out. When it would blow over I would hop of out my Jeep again ready to take photos. This must have happened five or six different times and each time there was a new rainbow over Castle Valley and Pinhook Valley. I’ve never seen so many rainbows in one day! It was awesome!

Castle Valley Rainbow by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Double Rainbow by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Pinhook Rainbow by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Little Rainbow by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

The dynamic weather also created some beautiful spotlighting.

Castle Valley Overlook by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Another Rainbow by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

After sticking around at the overlook for much longer than I had originally planned I finally started driving back down the Sand Flats Road towards town so I could meet up with some friends.

There was still nice light on the sandstone fins and domes as I drove back down.

Sandstone Dome by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

I took one last detour before reaching town so I could try and catch the sunset from near Mill Creek Canyon.

I didn’t find a good view of the sunset on the La Sal Mountains as I had hoped, but I turned around and caught these sun rays filtering down through the Moab Rim.

Moab Rim Rays by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Oh yeah! I even caught one last rainbow as I made it back to my Jeep.

Mill Creek Rainbow by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

This definitely turned out to be a day I will not soon forget 🙂

>> Waterfalls & Rainbows Photo Gallery


  1. John Spurr
    John Spurr November 19, 2013

    Awesome stuff! I especially like Lone Tree.

  2. Paul Johnson
    Paul Johnson November 21, 2013

    Some really spectacular shots—Outdoor Photographer cover material.
    Scrolling through the blog, it is fun to see how your photography
    and eye for composition improve over time. Being in the right place
    at the right time is important, but knowing that you are in the right
    place at the right time is critical to high end outdoor photography. I would be curious
    to know what your camera/lens matchup was for some of these.
    Very nice work.


    • Randy Langstraat
      Randy Langstraat November 21, 2013

      Thanks Paul. Most of my recent images were taken with a Canon 6D and a 24-105mm lens. I also use the 16-35mm and 100-400mm lens.

  3. Bob Webster
    Bob Webster November 25, 2013


    What software are using for color corrections? And are you shooting bracketing and converting to HDR somewhat?

    • Randy Langstraat
      Randy Langstraat November 25, 2013

      All my photos are just a single RAW file. I rarely ever bracket (most of my shots are handheld, too). I develop them in Adobe Camera Raw/Photoshop

  4. bh weber
    bh weber November 29, 2013

    castle valley rainbow is an outstanding image with great depth and color. hope you post on 500px again.

  5. Irina
    Irina February 7, 2016

    These are some of the most beautiful images I have ever seen! What an incredible day indeed! And masterfully captured!

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