American Southwest Day 3: Milky Way at the Balanced Rock 平衡石銀河攝影

National Parks in Utah offer some of the darkest skies in the United States. On a clear, moonless night, it’s easy to see the Milky Way with naked eyes. Thousands of natural sandstone arches provide the perfect foreground for night photography, making the Arches National Park one of the best night photography spots.


Balanced Rock is one boulder defying gravity, sitting on top of a tall rock pedestal. Since erosion continues to work its wonders, one day the boulder will tumble and the Balanced Rock will no longer be the same. It was weird to look at something enormous but not here to stay.

Balanced Rock trail is a very easy 0.3 mile roundtrip paved loop. To take pictures, you do not even need to walk the trail. Simply park your car in the lot and the Balanced Rock is right there.

平衡石 (Balanced Rock) 基本上是個紅色砂岩女王頭,看著這個大石頭的感覺很奇妙,風化不斷進行,說不定我們有生之年的某一天平衡石就要斷頭了。


“Half the Park is After Dark” is a very true statement; the night sky is not to be missed at the Arches National Park. Here are some of the spots I have seen night photos of or vantage points where park rangers host stargazing parties:

  • Delicate Arch: 3 miles roundtrip moderate to difficult hike but the sight is incredible. See my hike and Milky Way photos here.
  • Balanced Arch: Easy access
  • The Windows area
    • The Windows
    • Turret Arch
  • Double Arch
  • Garden of Eden Viewpoint
  • Panorama Point

Balanced Rock has its pros and cons. This spot offers a super easy access so it is also very crowded at night.

I had wanted to shoot at Mesa Arch in Canyonlands or somewhere in The Windows area, but we were exhausted at this point. Canyonlands was a drive plus a short hike; we did not scout The Windows area. So we chose to go to the Balanced Rock at the end.


  • 精緻拱門 Delicate Arch: 步道來回4.8公里,有一點難度,但是景很美,我的爬山和拍銀河網誌在這
  • 平衡石 Balanced Arch: 下車就到懶人景點
  • 窗戶區 The Windows area
    • The Windows
    • Turret Arch
  • Double Arch
  • Garden of Eden Viewpoint
  • Panorama Point


我本來想去峽谷地的Mesa Arch或拱門國家公園的窗戶區拍銀河,但這兩天是爆肝之旅,大家都非常需要睡眠,開車去峽谷地好遠,Mesa Arch又要爬山,窗戶區還沒去勘景過,最後就選了懶人景點平衡石。


The parking lot was nearly full when we made it at about 11 pm. Some people were stargazing; some were shooting pictures.

It was entertaining to listen to the chatter.

To the right, a group of photographers who were very well equipped with lawn chairs were probably shooting light trails. The need of light on the subject for their one-hour minimum exposure is obviously very different from those shooting the Milky Way at 30 seconds per shot at best. There’s some sort of handbook of night photography etiquette 101 in their mind that they wished they could broadcast to all visitors. Whenever someone turned on their red light or doing excessive light painting on the rock, you’d hear grumpy mumbles from this group.

Right under the rock, a group of people were light painting and clearly had communications with the photographer in a distance to adjust the light and direction. Light trail photographers in the back were shaking their heads and rolling their eyes. Milky Way shooters were judgemental, muttering their opinion about how the lighting can be improved. If all the photographers were bugged with audio being played at a central spot, it would sound like there were 15 back-seat drivers in one vehicle.

Whenever someone pulled in but did not turn off their headlights right away, the grumpiness was universal.





I watched people with bad night vision almost trip over a camera. I’d recommend marking your tripod legs with glow-in-the-dark tape.

We shot from about 11:10 pm to 12:30 am. The end results were 8-11 light frames with 3-4 dark frames made in Starry Landscape Stacker.


我們從晚上十一點拍到大概十二點半,照片是8到11張銀河加三到四張全黑照片用Starry Landscape Stacker疊圖的成果。

Day 3 Itinerary

5:20 am Sunrise at The Windows at the Arches National Park → 8:30 am Breakfast → Power nap! → 3:00 pm Lunch → 5:30 pm Canyonlands National Park Island In The Sky → 8:00 pm Mesa Arch → 8:45 pm Leave for bnb → 10:00 Dinner → 11:00 pm – 12:30 am Balanced Rock Milky Way Photoshoot


5:20 拱門國家公園窗戶區拍日出 → 8:30 早餐 → 補眠! → 15:00 午餐 → 17:30 峽谷地國家公園天空之島 (Island in the Sky) → 20:00 峽谷地國家公園梅薩拱門 (Mesa Arch) → 20:45 回民宿 → 22:00 晚餐 → 23:00 pm → 00:30 平衡石拍銀河



One thought on “American Southwest Day 3: Milky Way at the Balanced Rock 平衡石銀河攝影

  1. Pingback: American Southwest Day 3: Cayonlands National Park 峽谷地國家公園 | Near and Far

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