Coal Pit Wash, Utah, USA by Dave Noordhoff

Picture Story

Coal Pit Wash is reached along a dirt road which intersects with Highway 24, east of Capital Reef National Park and west of Hanksville. There’s plenty of places to pull off the road and explore the area on foot. I have visited on three different trips to Utah. My favourite time to visit is early and mid fall. The worst of the heat is gone, but there’s no chance of snow or serious cold weather. On my first trip I accidently found Coal Pit Wash while using the road to get closer to the famous Factory Butte.

My wife and friends decided to skip the journey to Coal Pit Wash, as it meant leaving the campsites in Capital Reef before sunrise. It had rained the day before and the road is not a good place to venture when the ground is too wet. The soil turns the road surface into a slurry that can trap the unwary, especially if they venture off the dirt roads in a standard low clearance two wheel drive vehicle. However, my 4x4 Ram pickup handled the road and several flooded washes very well.

I had the road and the Wash completely to myself (except for several free range cattle) for a couple of hours. Although the sunrise was nothing special that morning, the light was clear, and the sky had enough clouds to be interesting. It was quite cool, gradually warming up as the morning progressed. I only carried one camera body, two lenses, a remote shutter release and a tripod.

This part of the wash was about 500 metres from the road, and I found it as I wandered around. I tried several different angles and tripod placements, but liked this this one the best.

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