White Arch in the Valley of Fire
On the west side of Parking Area #3 in the Valley of Fire State Park is a trail down a ravine that leads to several arches. Park at the far right end of the #3 parking lot and pull out your gear. Along with the mandatory tripod, you’ll need your shortest wide-angle lens, like a 10 mm, and a zoom lens in the 24-120 mm range. These arches face the west and should be photographed in the morning. During my midwinter trip, I was out there at 7:00 am and found both arches in the shade. Only an overcast day with a sky filled with dramatic clouds would be better. Lock up your car and walk fifteen feet to the west, away from the pavement. Follow the footprints in the sand down the ravine. In three hundred feet, at a point where the ravine begins to widen, you will see the first point where another ravine leaves the one you’ve been following and heads to the right. At that point, you can see a large white formation in the distance on the right side of the trail. Look carefully and you can see the arch called Fire Cave on the left side of the same trail. While you are standing beside the Fire Cave, turn and look in the other direction across the ravine. That canyon wall is white and on the other side of that wall is the next arch you’ll want to find and photograph. Continue downstream to a point where the canyon ends and a high sandy bank covered with sagebrush begins. Turn right here and climb the sand dune. At the top of the dune, head to the right again and make your way up another parallel ravine. You can walk down the other side of the sand dune and head up stream, or you can stay high and walk up the sandstone ridge. By staying on the sandstone, you will walk through this white arch in 50 feet. If you walk up the sandy bottom of this ravine, you will go past the arch where you will find an easy stair step route up and onto the slick rock. It’s hard to get low enough to include much sky in this opening. I was lying on my stomach with my camera on a GorillaPod. Then I backed off and tried a 120 mm lens from a spot on the edge of the wash.
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Notes and images from Bob Hitchman.