GrosvenorArch

Grosvenor Arch is a spectacular double arch in Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument.
Well out in the middle of nowhere, 10 miles down a dirt road from Kodachrome Basin, this is one
of the most magnificent spectacles in Utah’s Grand Staircase Escalante. The arch is 152 feet tall
and spans 100 feet. This page contains 63 images from two separate visits to Grosvenor Arch.

Click an image to open a larger version.
Use your back button to return to this page.

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Direct Link to the Grosvenor Arch images:

Grosvenor Arch

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Grosvenor_Arch_1029


Grosvenor Arch 1029
(430 KB)

Grosvenor Arch, one of the most spectacular features in Grand Staircase Escalante, is
an unusual double arch formed in a ridge of yellowish Henrieville Sandstone with darker
Cedar Mountain and Dakota Formation sedimentary rock forming the capstone layer.

Grosvenor Arch is in south-central Utah’s Paria River Valley, 10 miles from Kodachrome Basin
down a washboard dirt track called Cottonwood Canyon Road. The Scenic Backway traverses
a rather desolate landscape punctuated by the ridges known as the Coxcomb (or Cockscomb),
where the sedimentary rocks folded upwards, exposing the strata at an angle along the ridge.

PariaValley_Coxcomb_GrandStaircase_6823


Paria Valley Coxcomb Grand Staircase 6823
(499 KB)

Southern Utah’s Coxcomb ridge from an overlook on Cottonwood Canyon Road
a few miles to the west of the turnoff to Grosvenor Arch. The ridge was uplifted at
an angle, exposing Entrada Sandstone along the edge of the Paria River Valley.

CottonwoodCanyonRoad_PariaValley_1179


Cottonwood Canyon Road Paria Valley 1179
(377 KB)

Cottonwood Canyon Road is a Scenic Backway through Utah’s Paria River Valley.
This is part of the section between Grosvenor Arch and Kodachrome Basin, on the way
to Cannonville. There are about ten miles of bone-rattling washboard road between the
paved section (which ends at the turnoff to Kodachrome Basin) and Grosvenor Arch.
This was taken on the way out, but I put it here to give you an idea of the landscape.
The thought came into mind that we were travelling through a trackless waste...

Tracks_at_Grosvenor_Arch_1024


Tracks at Grosvenor Arch 1024
(347 KB)

... so of course, the first thing I saw upon arriving at Grosvenor Arch
(other than the rock formation itself) were tracks in the trackless waste.
After I finished laughing at myself for the thought, I had to take this shot.

Now that I have gotten that out of my system... on to Grosvenor Arch.

Grosvenor_Arch_6828


Grosvenor Arch 6828
(561 KB)

The approach to Grosvenor Arch from the south, framed
by the scrub brush and a brilliantly blue southern Utah sky.

Grosvenor_Arch_6830


Grosvenor Arch 6830
(521 KB)

A frontal view of the formation from right of the scrub brush,
using 25% polarization to increase contrast and saturation.

This page contains images from two separate visits to Grosvenor Arch.
1000-series images were taken during my first visit (full-size images are XL)
and the 6000-series images were taken during a training session, using a
different camera (full-size images are LG). All of these images were
shot from mid-morning to late morning in the late summer and fall.

Grosvenor_Arch_1157


Grosvenor Arch 1157
(543 KB)

The people in the foreground help to provide scale (Grosvenor Arch is 152 feet tall).

To avoid some questions I received last time (“do you have this angle with more polarization”;
“do you have a little tighter crop with a bit more saturation”, etc.), I am displaying nearly all of the
available images on this page. Several compositions of the most popular angles are displayed,
from various distances and in some cases with different amounts of polarization for additional
contrast and saturation. This display style is intended to show image buyers what is available
and it is also useful to the viewer as it shows alterations in character caused by polarization.

Grosvenor_Arch_6853


Grosvenor Arch 6853
(472 KB)

The approach to Grosvenor Arch from the Southwest. For this image I used a
graduated density filter to darken the left side of the image, reducing reflections
from the rock in front of and below the arch (also darkening the sky on the left side).

From this angle, you can see sky through the smaller arch to the left of the main arch.

Grosvenor_Arch_6849


Grosvenor Arch 6849
(481 KB)

A close view from the path approaching Grosvenor Arch. This unpolarized image was tricky to avoid overexposing the rock and still retain shadow detail in the foliage.

Grosvenor_Arch_1149


Grosvenor Arch 1149
(425 KB)

This image was taken at nearly the same time of day during the previous visit, using 25% polarization to increase contrast in the sky and rock and increase color saturation.

Grosvenor_Arch_1031


Grosvenor Arch 1031
(497 KB)

The Western Spire and Grosvenor Arch shot at late morning (about 10 AM).
The lower part of the formation is Henrieville Sandstone, the dark upper layers are
late Cretaceous Dakota Formation formed of layers of mudstone, sandstone and shale.
The light layer in between is the Cedar Mountain layer (siltstone, mudstone and sandstone)

Grosvenor Arch was “discovered” by a 1947 expedition of the National Geographic Society
(it was already known to local ranchers). The expedition named nearby Kodachrome Basin
for the film most widely used by National Geographic magazine for its saturation (originally
called Kodachrome Flat, the area is very colorful as you will see when you visit the page).
The arch was named for Gilbert Hovey Grosvenor, the father of photojournalism and the
first full-time editor of the National Geographic Magazine (1899-1954). He was also
the President of the National Geographic Society at the time (from 1920 to 1954).

Grosvenor_Arch_1151


Grosvenor Arch 1151
(569 KB)

These two nearly identical images were shot a half hour apart on two separate visits with two different cameras.

Grosvenor_Arch_6890


Grosvenor Arch 6890
(567 KB)

This image was taken at 85mm, f/8, the previous image at 85mm, f/5.6 from a slightly greater distance.

Grosvenor_Arch_6836


Grosvenor Arch 6836
(455 KB)

Two slightly different angles, again taken on separate visits. They were shot at the same time of day, but the image above was taken without the use of a polarizing filter.

Grosvenor_Arch_1138


Grosvenor Arch 1138
(423 KB)

Image 6836 was taken with an 85mm lens. Image 1138 was taken from closer in with a 50mm, and 40% polarization was used to increase the contrast and color saturation.

Grosvenor_Arch_6855


Grosvenor Arch 6855
(603 KB)

Grosvenor Arch stands 152 feet over the path,
and the span of the main arch is 100 feet across.

Compare this image with the two images above. This shot was taken at
35mm with 25% polarization to increase the contrast and color saturation.

At the bottom of this page are shown several images taken from atop the
rock which is framed in the larger arch (I climbed the rear of the formation).

Grosvenor_Arch_6887


Grosvenor Arch 6887
(430 KB)

Two close portraits. This was the version which I originally posted (an editor asked for a tighter version).

Grosvenor_Arch_6885


Grosvenor Arch 6885
(432 KB)

Both were shot at 85mm, f/5.6 but 6885 was closer and more saturated. This is why I display multiple versions.

Grosvenor_Arch_1040


Grosvenor Arch 1040
(498 KB)

Two low-angle shots from separate visits. This was taken at the base of the western spire with 50% polarization.

Grosvenor_Arch_6864


Grosvenor Arch 6864
(583 KB)

Image 6864 was taken later in the morning from the right side of the approach path with 20% polarization.

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Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Scenic Collections page where a Gallery can be selected.

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Direct Link to the Grosvenor Arch images:

Grosvenor Arch

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Grosvenor_Arch_1037


Grosvenor Arch 1037
(515 KB)

25% polarization at 50mm, 1/400, f/8. The baseline shot.

Grosvenor_Arch_1039


Grosvenor Arch 1039
(494 KB)

10% polarization, 1/3 stop lighter exposure (1/320, f/8).

A set of four classic views of Grosvenor Arch with different angles, exposures and polarization levels.
The image shown at right above was taken from a bit closer in than the one on the left, and the two below
were taken from a lower angle (and with different polarization levels). Each image has a different character.

Grosvenor_Arch_1041


Grosvenor Arch 1041
(456 KB)

40% polarization, 1/200 at f/5.6 (the higher polarization
level reduces the light so I opened the aperture to f/5.6).

Grosvenor_Arch_1042


Grosvenor Arch 1042
(499 KB)

20% polarization, 1/320 at f/5.6 (f/5.6 yields a shallower
 depth of field, but the exposure is similar to image 1037).

Below are two low angle views with different polarization levels and exposures.
At left is a shot with a higher level of polarization (darker sky and greater saturation),
but to bring up the arch I opened the aperture to f/5.6 and pushed the exposure 1/3 stop.
The downside is the slightly overexposed rock at bottom left center, but the arch explodes
from the darker blue sky. The image below right is a more conventional shot with exact
exposure and half of the polarization. There is no overexposed rock and good color
saturation, but the left image is a more dynamic presentation to some people.

Grosvenor_Arch_1074


Grosvenor Arch 1074
(500 KB)

50% polarization, pushed 1/3 stop (1/320 at f/5.6).

Grosvenor_Arch_1077


Grosvenor Arch 1077
(503 KB)

25% polarization, exact exposure (1/250 at f/8).

Grosvenor_Arch_1143


Grosvenor Arch 1143
(508 KB)

The last image of this group was taken later in the morning with more even light on the arch.
Here again, I am using 20% polarization to increase color saturation and add some contrast.

Enough of the photographic information... I’m probably boring most of you anyway.
You’ll see more images below with multiple views and less photographic commentary.

Grosvenor_Arch_6841


Grosvenor Arch 6841
(541 KB)

Grosvenor_Arch_6842


Grosvenor Arch 6842
(537 KB)

Four similar classic views of Grosvenor Arch taken in the second visit from different angles with different polarization.
This was during a training session, when I was illustrating polarization setting differences to a group of photographers.

Grosvenor_Arch_6846


Grosvenor Arch 6846
(503 KB)

Grosvenor_Arch_6854


Grosvenor Arch 6854
(512 KB)

Grosvenor_Arch_1048


Grosvenor Arch 1048
(457 KB)

Grosvenor Arch from directly below, accented by feathery clouds in a polarized sky.

This set of four steep low angle views from directly under the arch shows the delicacy of the
upper portion of the main arch. Taken with different polarization settings on two separate visits.

Grosvenor_Arch_6865


Grosvenor Arch 6865
(468 KB)

An oblique view from in front of the eastern (right) pillar.

Grosvenor_Arch_6867


Grosvenor Arch 6867
(443 KB)

This image was shot from directly under Grosvenor Arch.

Grosvenor_Arch_1044


Grosvenor Arch 1044
(458 KB)

Close detail of the upper structures of the arch. The central section of the top of the arch
and the top of the central pillar (lower left) are getting a bit thin. Someday it will collapse.

Grosvenor_Arch_6886


Grosvenor Arch 6886
(566 KB)

Grosvenor_Arch_6889


Grosvenor Arch 6889
(580 KB)

Above are two final classic views of Grosvenor Arch, taken in late morning when the light
was more evenly distributed, with different polarization levels from slightly different angles.

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Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Scenic Collections page where a Gallery can be selected.

PhotoshelterGallerySection


Direct Link to the Grosvenor Arch images:

Grosvenor Arch

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Grosvenor_Arch_Inner_Side_Detail_1065


Grosvenor Arch Inner Side Detail 1065
(501 KB)

The rear of the larger arch, taken with my back against the rock. A landscape version is also available (not shown).

Grosvenor_Arch_Small_Arch_Detail_1070


Grosvenor Arch Small Arch Detail 1070
(395 KB)

A detail closeup of the small arch and the cave below. Note the white guano below the cave (probably home to birds).

Grosvenor_Arch_Small_Arch_Detail_1056


Grosvenor Arch Small Arch Detail 1056
(489 KB)

Detail of the small arch and cave, taken about 20 minutes before # 1070 (above).
Because of the position of light and shadow I was able to shoot from an angle a bit
more in front of the arch, but unable to shoot a portrait image because of the strong
light out of picture at the bottom left. I came back later when the light had evened out
to get the portrait image, but I was unable to shoot this angle because of the strong
light on the formation behind the arch (and lost some color on the front of the central
pillar due to the very wide dynamic range). It’s always something... isn’t it?   [sigh]

Grosvenor_Arch_Capstone_Detail_1066


Grosvenor Arch Capstone Detail 1066
(343 KB)

Telephoto detail of a small spire, showing the layering of the Dakota Formation sedimentary rock forming the capstone.

Grosvenor_Arch_East_Spire_1073


Grosvenor Arch East Spire 1073
(287 KB)

A dramatic view of the eastern spire. You can easily discern the boundaries between the various types of sandstone.

Grosvenor_Arch_East_Spire_1034


Grosvenor Arch East Spire 1034
(300 KB)

Another shot of the eastern spire taken about a half hour earlier. The lighter rock is the
upper layer of the Henrieville Sandstone, the dark boundary layer is the Cedar Mountain
Formation, and the capstone layer is Dakota Formation sandstone. Grosvenor Arch is
one of the best places to see definition of these three layers of sandstone. Henrieville
Sandstone is one of the members of the Jurassic-period Entrada Sandstone group
which forms the rock which makes up most of the natural arches in Utah (you may
want to stop by the page on Arches National Park). The Dakota Formation was
laid down during the Late Cretaceous period, which was the first deposition
after millions of years of erosion. The formation of the Cretaceous Seaway
raised the mouths of rivers, and the lowering of their gradient made rivers
 deposit suspended material (the lowered velocity could no longer carry it).

Grosvenor_Arch_Pothole_Arch_1088


Grosvenor Arch Pothole Arch 1088
(332 KB)

Behind Grosvenor Arch is a pothole arch. Most natural arches are formed by weather erosion.
Cracks form in sandstone which are widened by erosion and by the expansion caused by water
freezing and thawing in winter. Some of the rock falls away, and eventually further erosion forms
the arch. Pothole arches are different. They form under natural depressions which hold water.
The chemical weathering eventually cuts through to the layers below and erode the material.

Grosvenor_Arch_Pothole_Arch_Detail_6875


Grosvenor Arch Pothole Arch Detail 6875
(320 KB)

Grosvenor_Arch_Pothole_Arch_Detail_6878


Grosvenor Arch Pothole Arch Detail 6878
(320 KB)

Detail of the pothole arch and square window behind Grosvenor Arch. The two images above were
taken at different apertures to illustrate ways to make use of the sun when it could not be avoided in
an image. By placing the sun behind a small opening, rays form (the smaller the lens aperture used,
the longer the rays). By placing the sun behind a straight section of the rock, no rays form, and using
a smaller aperture just softens the coma (blurring of the gradient) while giving greater depth of field.
The left image was shot at f/5.6 to keep the rays from becoming intrusive. The right image is at f/8.
For shots like this, I prefer using f/5.6 or f/8. I shoot both and select the one with the preferred look.

Grosvenor_Arch_Pothole_Arch_Detail_6881


Grosvenor Arch Pothole Arch Detail 6881
(426 KB)

Grosvenor_Arch_Pothole_Arch_Detail_6883


Grosvenor Arch Pothole Arch Detail 6883
(401 KB)

A diagonally rotated pair of images of the pothole arch behind Grosvenor Arch. 6881 was taken from an angle
avoiding the sun, and for 6883, the sun was placed behind a flat section of rock to avoid rays, and shot at f/5.6.

Grosvenor_Arch_Pothole_Arch_1083


Grosvenor Arch Pothole Arch 1083
(372 KB)

The pothole arch behind Grosvenor Arch with its square window. This wider angle
(50mm rather than the 85mm used for the detail shots) shows roughly the scene as
seen by the naked eye from an angle to the right which centers the square window.

Grosvenor_Arch_Rear_Fin_6871


Grosvenor Arch Rear Fin 6871
(607 KB)

The fin behind Grosvenor Arch. These fins are formed by erosion in the same way as the arch.

Grosvenor_Arch_Rear_Fin_1033


Grosvenor Arch Rear Fin 1033
(534 KB)

The rear fin shot fairly early during the first session. The other 1000-series images
of the rear fin were taken in the late morning, after the light on the arch was less attractive
and I decided to climb atop the arch. Grosvenor Arch is to the right of the formation which is
at the right center of this image. The gap between the fin and small formation is the approach
to the rear of the arch, where I climbed to the top of the arch. The next image was taken from the
trees where you can see light at the base of the small formation to the right of the image above.

Grosvenor_Arch_Rear_Fin_Detail_1079


Grosvenor Arch Rear Fin Detail 1079
(287 KB)

Detail of the rear fin behind Grosvenor Arch. The rock
at the very top of the fin is Dakota Formation Sandstone.

Grosvenor_Arch_Rear_Fin_1085


Grosvenor Arch Rear Fin 1085
(488 KB)

A wide angle view of the rear fin and the small formation...

Grosvenor_Arch_Rear_Fin_Detail_1080


Grosvenor Arch Rear Fin Detail 1080
(506 KB)

... and a detail shot of the central rear fin (late morning).

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Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Scenic Collections page where a Gallery can be selected.

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Direct Link to the Grosvenor Arch images:

Grosvenor Arch

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Grosvenor_Arch_Rear_Fin_from_Top_1096


Grosvenor Arch Rear Fin from Top 1096
(579 KB)

This is the left and central portion of the rear fin shot from atop Grosvenor Arch.
Note the extremely colorful mineral-laden rock of the Dakota Formation capstone of
Grosvenor Arch, seen in the bottom left of this image (detail of the minerals are below).

Grosvenor_Arch_Crown_1098


Grosvenor Arch Crown 1098
(706 KB)

The colorful mineral-laden capstone rock atop Grosvenor Arch provides foreground
color. In the center is the crown atop the arch, and in the background is Butter Valley.

Nice view. Made the climb (with a bunch of camera gear) well worthwhile.

Grosvenor_Arch_Crown_Detail_1113


Grosvenor Arch Crown Detail 1113
(659 KB)

Detail of the crown atop the arch from the rock behind
the arch, seen at bottom center of the previous image.

Grosvenor_Arch_Crown_Detail_1128


Grosvenor Arch Crown Detail 1128
(803 KB)

Another view of the crown of the arch from a higher point
on the formation to the right of the arch. Note the file size.

Grosvenor_Arch_Capstone_Minerals_1137


Grosvenor Arch Capstone Minerals 1137
(485 KB)

Detail of the extremely colorful mineral-laden rock of
the Dakota Formation capstone atop Grosvenor Arch.

Grosvenor_Arch_Top_Detail_1130


Grosvenor Arch Top Detail 1130
(596 KB)

The view down through Grosvenor Arch from the
high point on the formation to the right of the arch.

Grosvenor_Arch_from_Top_1127


Grosvenor Arch from Top 1127
(592 KB)

A tighter composition of the view through Grosvenor Arch
from the high point on the formation to the right of the arch.

Grosvenor_Arch_from_Top_1109


Grosvenor Arch from Top 1109
(642 KB)

The view down through Grosvenor Arch from the rock
above and behind the arch (seen in images from the front).

Grosvenor_Arch_from_Top_1103


Grosvenor Arch from Top 1103
(963 KB)

A wide-angle view down through Grosvenor Arch from the rock above and behind the arch.
Note the people at the bottom center of the image, 150 feet below. Also, note the file size.

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Images in this section are in a number of different Galleries on the Photoshelter website.
The Banner below leads to the Scenic Collections page where a Gallery can be selected.

PhotoshelterGallerySection


Direct Link to the Grosvenor Arch images:

Grosvenor Arch

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ArchesNP


Click the Display Composite above to visit the Arches National Park page

Indian_Lands_and_Anasazi_Sites


Click the Display Composite above to visit the Indian Lands and Anasazi Sites Index page.

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