Utah Photo Safari With William Shepley

A meeting with legendary William Shepley

8Grand Cyn Solo man

My passion to explore the high deserts, plateaus and mesas of Arizona, Utah and Colorado began when I was ten years old. My parents took the family to this region and we visited the Grand Canyon National Park and other places like Sedona, AZ, Zion Canyon NP and Bryce Canyon NP in Utah.

The region is called the Colorado Plateau. The Colorado Plateau is characterized by regional formation consisting of several hundred million years of built up sediments deposited horizontally in a vast ancient basin that formed the center of the North American continent. Here, like pages in a book, layer upon layer tell us the history of life on earth going back to the Precambrian period. Fossils are common. The most valuable are the rare fossilized bones of Dinosaurs. Dinosaur tracks are plentiful in certain areas in the Colorado Plateau and it's fun to discover them and ponder the age of the earth.


The region has many National Parks due to it's unusual rock formations and panoramic vistas. Spires of red colored rock, deep narrow tiered canyons are common and elevations ranging from 1000 meters to 3000 meters in altitude provide every kind of climate and vegetation. The high plateaus are densely forested with pine, spruce and aspen trees and the lower canyons are noted for the shorter Pinion Pine and Juniper forests around which desert sage is abundant. Hundreds of species of flowers adorn the landscapes throughout Spring Summer and Fall.


Wildlife includes mountain lion (cougar), bear, mountain goat, elk, deer, fox, coyote, bobcat, cottontail and jack rabbits, and an assortment of reptiles and amphibians. Birds include the large ravens, golden eagles, vultures, condors, hawks, falcons, geese, wild turkey, ducks and hundreds of species of birds. There are a vast amounts of reptiles and amphibians that are rare and only found on the Colorado Plateau. Insects are also in abundance but the nasty ones don't appear until May and leave by September.


Few people know that this region has an abundance of rivers and streams that run all year round. They are fed by the Rocky Mountains, high plateau mountain snows and ancient aquifers. The Colorado, Green and San Juan rivers are supported by hundreds of streams and smaller watercourses like the Escalante, Price and San Rafael Rivers.


One very interesting attraction to the region is the abundance of Rock art and native American stone towns of the Puebloan Culture that thrived here in the 8th thru 14th centuries. Mesa Verde NP and Chaco Canyon National Monuments have been meticulously preserved as are the many hundreds of smaller and less know sites. There descendants are the modern day Hopi Tribe who still live on reservations in Arizona and New Mexico.


The aesthetic beauty of Colorado Plateau is well known. My explorations have taken many times into the backcountry that few people see. The profound connection one can have with this landscape is like no other in the world. There is an intense feeling of solitude in the backcountry far from any cities or towns.


Photographing the Colorado Plateau is also a phenomenal way to explore it. My photo tour of Utah (which will also include the Grand Canyon NP, Arizona) will take the participants into the wilderness like no other tour could. We will experience the vast mesas and plateaus, Puebloan ruins and rock art, National Parks in one large round trip (the 'Grand Circle') beginning in Las vegas and ending in Las Vegas. We will experience Zion NP, Grand Canyon NP, Monument Valley, Natural Bridges NM, Canyonlands NP, Arches NP, Capital Reef NP and many places in-between.


Our evenings will be under the stars and around the campfire enjoying great BBQs and beverages to suit the participants desires. There will be stores and stops along the way to fill any conceivable need.


This is a caravan tour. I am in the lead car/truck. The first and last days there will be about five hours of driving. during the week there will be only 2 to 3 hours car time per day. There will be some hiking in rugged areas to rarely visited sites. Good physical condition is recommended but not necessary because any participant can op out of any particular hike and just enjoy the experience from the camp. (which will be quite amazing by itself.) We will camp very close to the best photographic locations.


William Shepley




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