Photographers love Utah and all its stunning scenery! The red rock country of Southern Utah is very popular and offers some of the most diverse landscapes on the planet. Red rock walls, arches, vast canyons, sand dunes, and the stunning scenery preserved in Utah’s National Parks, it’s no wonder landscape and nature photographers flock to this area. In this video, pro photographer Charlie Borland takes you on a canyon adventure and shows how he photographed the ruin and processed his digital image files.
Scattered throughout the region are the ruins of communities built by the Ancient Ones: the Puebloan Culture of the Southwest’s Four Corners Region. While many of the largest communities like Mesa Verde and Chaco Canyon have been well preserved, there are many more, even thousands, or lesser known and even undiscovered ruins spread across the region.
The Cedar Mesa region is one such area, with Pueblo ruins spread across its many canyons and one of the most popular for landscape and nature photographers is Fallen Roof Ruin. Fallen Roof ruin is in Road Canyon, about 15 miles SE of Natural Bridges National Monument. The hike is around 1.75 miles in and takes anywhere from an hour to hour and half depending on how fast you are.
The trail begins in the forest before opening up at the canyon rim and from there it is a few switchbacks to the bottom. From there you follow rock cairns and the trail that occasionally disappears when it cross slick rock before reappearing. The trail is not difficult with the most challenging part the switchbacks that drop from the rim to the bottom (and back up), but are less than a few hundred yards at most. The trail is fairly easy to follow, but does disappear from time to time as you cross slick rock slopes.
It is best to have a GPS unit to track your trail, plus you can enter the GPS coordinates (37° 23’ 46” 109° 52’ 21”) prior to starting the hike and monitor your progress. When you are getting close to the GPS coordinates, or feel you have gone about 1.75 miles, start to look up high on the left and you will see the ruins at some point.
This Pueblo ruin is easy to reach and photograph. Camera equipment is up to your preference but for the ruin itself a wide angle lens such as a 16-35 mm on a full frame camera body or a 10-22 mm lens on a cropped sensor will capture all the ruin in the frame. A lightweight tripod and cable release will also be very useful. A flash unit might be helpful as well because the inside of the alcove has some dark areas, but if you are proficient at Photoshop then bracketing exposures far and wide will insure that you have images with bright shadows for blending. Packing only what is needed into a camera backpack will keep your gear light weight making the hike over varied terrain much easier.
Be sure and include proper footwear for hiking on angled slopes, rocky areas, and sand. Extra clothing just might be needed, even a rain parka if you plan to go in the summer. Take plenty of water and snacks as well. And I previously mentioned, a GPS unit can save your life.
The Cedar Mesa region has ruins all over it. It is an area of over 400 square miles with an average elevation of 6,500 feet. Many canyons drain from there including Arch, Texas, Mule, McCloyd, and Road Canyons. These canyons as well have cliff dwellings scattered throughout and all make good hikes to more ruins.
The Ancient Pueblo people lived in the region from AD 1150 to 1350 and built large cliff-dwellings, multi-storied pueblos, or cliff-side house communities. By the end of the period the people migrated south into larger, centralized pueblo communities in Arizona and New Mexico.
This is one of those locations on many photographers bucket list. It’s an enjoyable hike and a great location to photograph.
Have you been there? Please share your experience.
Watch on YouTube: How to Find and Photograph Fallen Roof Ancient Pueblo Ruin in Utah
Cedar Mesa https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cedar_Mesa
Ancient Pueblo Culture http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancient_Pueblo_peoples
Ancient Ruins https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lweR8gMPCkM
Chaco Canyon https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CEbWKTxDOJA
More ruins https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7H4jwnwEbls