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Thread: Most photogenic region of the U.S. on Memorial Day

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Aug 2004

    Most photogenic region of the U.S. on Memorial Day

    I have frequent flyer miles burning a hole in my pocket - and want to photograph landscapes in May (I'll take a week off around memorial day). Considering the Colorado plateau - but am open to suggestions...

    Where would you go?

  2. #2
    Photographer, Machinist, etc. Jeffrey Sipress's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Santa Barbara, CA

    Most photogenic region of the U.S. on Memorial Day

    I never go anywhere on Memorial weekend, or any big holiday for that matter. Way too many people and traffic for me. It defeats the purpose of why I travel about. However, there are some remote places where you may only find like minded folks and not too many of them. Backpacking or driving to very remote locations may still yield a pleasant experience.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Frisco, Texas

    Most photogenic region of the U.S. on Memorial Day

    Hi Jack,

    Why not take advantage of your frequent flyer miles and your available time to attend the View Camera Conference in Springfield, Mass. on May 20th. I realize that it is not the same as wandering around in the wilderness looking for interesting subject matter, but it just may be an opportunity to gain some knowledge about LF photography. Traveling, and trying to find accomodations on the Memorial day weekend, is not my idea of fun. The conference will take place about a week before the big crowds hit the road, so it may be more a more practical time to get away.

  4. #4
    Moderator Ralph Barker's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 1998
    Rio Rancho, NM

    Most photogenic region of the U.S. on Memorial Day

    How about Window Rock, Arizona (north of Hwy 40, near the New Mexico border) within the Navajo Nation? It's close to other interesting "Southwest" spots (e.g. Canyon de Chelly), and has a nice memoruial to the Navajo who served in the military during WWII.

  5. #5
    Is that a Hassleblad? Brian Vuillemenot's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Marin County, California

    Most photogenic region of the U.S. on Memorial Day

    If you do decide to go to Window Rock or anywhere else on the Colorado Plateau, watch out for the wind! I was just out at Canyon de Chelley and Petrified Forest over the weekend, and had to return early. It was so windy I could barely stand up! A blizzard moved through Colorado into New Mexico yesterday- pretty unusual this late in the year, but the weather has been extreme this year. The wind will continue in this part of the country until around June.
    Brian Vuillemenot

  6. #6

    Most photogenic region of the U.S. on Memorial Day

    For what's it wotth, just stay away from the National Parks on any holiday. However, I can say that I have fould solitude arounf Moab, UT Canyonlands, Dead Horse Point State park, Fisher Towers Be hard to get a good picture of Delicate Arch. Shouldn't be a problem geting sunrise / sunset shots.
    Petrified Forest, Painted Desert, shouldn't be a problem. If you go to Canyon DeChelley - hire a Guide and go into the valley. Might call ahead to the lodge and verify whether Memorial Day is bad or not.
    Could spend some time on Lake Powell around Page. Locals says that past photographers think May has the "sweet light". Call the marriott Courtyard to see if they are "booked up"

    So I think there are a lot of possibilities arounf Memorial Day, just have to grab the early and / or late light

    I can say that I wouldn't try Mesa Verde, Grand Canyon on that particular weekend thought

    AZ resident

  7. #7

    Most photogenic region of the U.S. on Memorial Day

    May and October have always been my favorite months for photography. The light and conditions are good at many places during those times of year. The weather can change fast, but that's part of the appeal.

    If you're interested in the Colorado Plateau, by all means go. Don't let the threat of crowds keep you away. We spent the week leading up to Easter in SE Utah, including several days in Moab. This also happened to be the week of the Jeep Safari in and around Moab. Yeah, there were a lot of people in and around town, but I'm still glad we went. The Colarado Plateau is a BIG place. It's easy to avoid the crowds, if that's your wish. Even at the more popular places (Arches, Canyonlands, Monument Valley, etc.) I did not find the crowds intrusive when I was out taking pictures. This is especially true in the early morning hours when most people are still sleeping. I headed out for sunrise shooting every day on our trip and rarely saw another single person out and about - and when I did it was a fellow photographer.

    Parts of Oregon, Washington and California are also great in May. In Oregon, both the Columbia Gorge and Oregon Coast can be great at that time of year. The Gorge (about 45 minutes East of downtown Portland) and Northern Oregon Coast (about 1 1/2 - 2 hours West of Portland) and close enough to combine in one trip. Same goes for the Olympic Peninsula up in Washington. If the weather is overcast and rainy (which is a definite possibility), head for the rain forests and waterfalls. If there are some sun breaks, head for the beaches. I did a very nice trip to the Southern Oregon Coast several years ago that ended over Memorial Day weekend in Redwoods National Park. Again, overcast and rainy weather makes good photography - and the rhododendrons should be blooming, too. We had our campsite reservations (Prairie Creek Redwoods) in advance, but it didn't sem very crowded for a holiday weekend.

    Finally, there is Yosemite. Memorial Day weekend will be crowded in the Valley, and if you don't already have reservations, it's probably too late (unless you can get lucky and snag a cancellation). However, the week before (especially) and the week after won't be nearly as crowded as most kiddies are still in school and summer vacation season has yet to begin . I'm not sure what the conditions are like this year, but in years past the road to Glacier Point, and occasionally the Tioga Pass road (in years of very low snow pack) open as early as Memorial Day weekend. If so, it will give you a chance to head for the high country and escape the crowds. Regardng the crowds, the Valley generally isn't as crowded as it used to be. During January of 1997 (or was it 1996?), the Merced River flooded the Valley, including Upper and Lower River campgrounds. As a result, the NPS decided to permanently close these campgrounds. That cut the number of campsites in the Valley nearly in half. The good news is it's less crowded (but still not exactly a wilderness experience). The bad news is it's even harder to get a campsite - but worth the effort if you plan ahead. The weather in late May is usually great. Typically in the 70s (occasionally low 80s) during the day and the 40s (or low 50s) overnight. The waterfalls are booming and the dogwoods blooming and get a mile up just about any trail that doesn't have Mist in the name, and you'll escpape most of the crowds.


  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2002

    Most photogenic region of the U.S. on Memorial Day

    If you can do it, I always try to go out west the first week in May. Memorial Day and after is always a zoo. I have hit Yellowstone/Tetons, Yosemite, Mesa Verde, Olympic and Great Sand Dunes that way and have had the places "almost" to myself (Great Sand Dunes had four cars in the main parking lot last year on a Friday). The weather is usually warm enough during the day, but there's still usually snow in the higher areas. You're also more likely to get a seat with frequent flyer miles.

  9. #9

    Most photogenic region of the U.S. on Memorial Day

    I'll bump Kerry's recommendations, but I would tweak the Yosemite info a bit...

    In recent years, the weekends before and after Memorial Day are almost equally challenging traffic-wise. Given the heavy snow pack and accompanying monstrous waterfalls this year (some of the best in nearly a decade), it is a good bet those days will be busy. That same snowpack makes it highly unlikely that either the Glacier Point Road or Tioga Road will be open by Memorial Day, which is just a target date for NPS road crews.

    Aside from the park's overnight accommodations being full, it is the day visitors that will cause one the most consternation. There is a mass influx that peaks from 10 am to Noon and a mass exodus between 3 pm and 6 pm. In the middle of the day, the one-way loop can come to a standstill. NPS has done a better job of managing the traffic in recent years, but river levels, boo boos and people parking where they are not supposed to can make it an adventure. It is always best to try and visit mid-week.

    Regardless, photographers don't encounter all the same access difficulties as regular visitors, as most filmies are up before dawn before lines form at the entrance to the park, and go home after the sunset. Parking will be difficult as the park fills up, so it is best to find a shady spot and stay put for the day. Having lived in the valley for fourteen years, I found a mountain bike a big help in moving from location to location in the east end of the valley on the paved bike paths. I carry my gear including the tripod in a Lowepro Super Trekker on my back and this worked well. They rent bikes in the park (mostly single-speed) and a few with child trailers that make good equipment haulers on the paved trails. There are a few spots off limits to rental bikes (you have to park at the botttom of the hill to Mirror Lake and Yosemite Falls due to past liability cases) and you can't take them up the trails off the valley floor, but otherwise, they let one cover more territory than just on foot, or during peak craziness, in a car.

    David Brower used to say that the number of people one encounters in Yosemite diminishes proportionally by the square of the distance from the parking lot and the cube of the elevation gained. It is possible to have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend there, just park your car and leave it parked (without any food in it).

    In summary, go early, get away from the developed areas, bring, lots of film, waterproof shoes and raingear both for the changeable (and beautiful) weather ... and all those trails with Mist in their name and in the air. ;-)

    I'll be getting my fix the first week in May.

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    NJ / NYC, USA.

    Most photogenic region of the U.S. on Memorial Day

    Whiteoak Canyon. Shenandoah National Park, Va.

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