From the Bureau of Land Management’s Tumblr post, 1/22/16. Photos by their employee, Bob Wicks.
Some of my favorite photo locations are in the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, located in northern Arizona along the Utah border. The area contains colorful sculpted rock formations that are beyond description. Most famous is “The Wave” which has a very limited number of entry permits issued through a lottery to protect its unique and fragile features. However, South Coyote Buttes (permit required) and the White Pocket (no permit needed) offer equally spectacular and unique formations. The area offers year-round photo opportunities, although winter access to remote locations may be blocked by snow, and back roads become impassible when wet at any time of year. Summer visitors should bring plenty of water and plan outings to avoid the unrelenting mid-day sun.
Photo tip: The many slickrock basins hold water at certain times and provide for great reflections of the adjoining formations. To capture water reflections, photograph in early morning and late evening when glare is lower and the water is more likely to be calm. Optimally the sun should be shining on the subject that is being reflected. Interesting skies with textured clouds also make excellent reflection subjects.
The Vermilion Cliffs themselves form a dramatic rampart in the southern part of the monument and offer endless photo angles. Make sure to stop at the California condor release site, just two miles up House Rock Road from the main highway. The majestic condors are visible year-round at the site which is used to reintroduce them into the wild. A very long telephoto lens is needed to get good photos of the condors.
Photo tip: The “golden hour”, such as the time close to sunrise and sunset, almost always offers the best light for photography and this is especially true in the Vermilion Cliffs and other areas of the Colorado Plateau. Here the rock colors come alive with vibrant reds, oranges and golds with low sun angles, but become washed out during the mid-day. Photographing with sidelight (camera pointed 90 degrees from the sun) will ensure that you have more texture and three dimensional qualities to your images.