Moab is truly a year-round destination for photographers. Each season has its own particular characteristics and photographic opportunities. Any time of year is a good time to photograph around Moab. The only season you can’t get beautiful pictures in Moab is one when you aren’t here.
Winter time is the least photographed time of year around Moab, at least by those not fortunate enough to live here. Winter weather patterns provide photographic opportunities missed by most visitors. You will have the chance to get photos that few other photographers get. The Lasal Mountain peaks provide a beautiful snow-covered back-drop for the red sandstone desert landscape. Snow on the red rocks and arches of Arches National Park can make for beautiful and unique images. Because of the low southerly light in winter, the good light for photography is present much more of the day. Because winter is outside the normal tourist season, the town is quiet and peaceful, and you can often have the entire landscape to yourself. You also don’t have to get up so early to shoot a sunrise, or stay out so late to shoot a sunset!
Winter temperatures in Moab are generally mild, with daytime temps ranging from the 20’s to the 50’s, with nights in the freezing range. This gives the opportunity to photograph ice patterns on frozen sandstone potholes or along the Colorado River. Occasional freezing fogs and temperature inversions produce some of the most spectacular winter photography, with huge hoarfrost crystals on the plants. The canyons may be filled with a sea of fog while the mesa tops are brilliant, clear and sunny. While we periodically get storms moving through the area, clear blue skies are the norm for Moab winters.
With spring comes beautiful temperate weather and the chance to photograph the wildflowers against the red sands. The Lasal Mountains are still snow-covered for a contrasting back-drop. An occasional late storm can provide winter-like photo opportunities but with milder temperatures. The wildflowers start to appear later in March while the cacti and flowering shrubs begin to flower in late May and early June. As the weather warms, the desert lizards start to appear, basking on the rocks for great photo ops. The milder night temperatures make spring a great time for star-trail photography since sunset is not so late. We at Moab Photo Tours can teach you the techniques for night landscape and star-trail photography so you can produce some truly unusual landscape images.
Daytime temperatures can range from the 60’s to the 80’s, and even the 90’s as June approaches. Night temperatures may still be below freezing in early spring, but warm up into 40’s and 50’s as spring progresses. As the weather warms, the town begins to awaken from winter hibernation and things get busier.
Note: Moab has the world’s largest Jeep event, the Annual Moab Jeep Safari, starting the week-end before Easter and continuing through Easter. This is an extremely busy time in Moab, so reservations for accommodations must be made far in advance. Solitude is harder to find during that week, but it can be found, and we know where to find it.
Summertime in Moab is hot, with average highs at or just over 100 degrees. Moab is, after all, in the desert. Many of the cacti and wildflowers are still blooming through the summer, and the very pleasant (70’s) evening temperatures are very comfortable for night/star-trail photography. We at Moab Photo Tours can tell you what phase the moon will be in, when it will rise and set, and just as importantly, where on the horizon it will rise and set. This makes it possible to plan for particular landscape shots with a rising moon if you’re here at the right time. All-day tours are usually discouraged in the summer because the day length, starting with a sunrise and ending with sunset, makes for more than 16 hours in the field and in the heat. More desirable are combo tours, with a sunrise shot, followed by more early morning photography while the light is good, then back to the motel for lunch, swim, and a nap in air-conditioned comfort. We can then go back out for the good afternoon light and a sunset. This makes for a much more pleasant day, and high, flat midday light in the desert is particularly photographically unproductive. About late July or early August, Moab’s “Monsoon Season” begins with towering thunderheads developing through many afternoons. This provides us the opportunity to get some spectacular cloud formations in our landscapes, beautiful sunsets, and the chance for red-rock reflections in water-filled potholes in the slickrock terraces. The national parks are busiest during the summer, so solitude in the parks is sometimes in short supply. Again, we know where to go outside the parks for spectacular scenic photo ops without the tourists.
FALL:Fall is also a beautiful season in Moab. Things are cooling down with the daytime temps averaging in the 70’s and 80’s with lows still in the 40’s and 50’s. The sun begins to move south, providing better photographic lighting, and the fall colors appear on the Lasal Mountains. Snow can start to cover the peaks again as early as September. The cottonwood trees along watercourses begin to turn brilliant yellow in October and November and provide striking contrast to the red sandstone canyon walls and colorful reflections in the water. The brilliant yellow rabbitbrush blooms in the fall and adds more color to the landscape. Large numbers of migratory birds also pass through Moab in the autumn, utilizing the wetlands along the Colorado River by the town. Migratory bird photography is definitely an option at this time of year. Fall has to be one our four favorite seasons for photography in Moab. As we said, there isn’t a bad photographic season in Moab, just seasons when you aren’t here to photograph it.