Dean M. Chriss
Desert Potholes at Sunrise, Arches National Park, Utah

Desert Potholes, Sunrise Storm, Arches National Park

(Click image to enlarge)

This photograph shows water filled potholes at sunrise immediately after an early September thunderstorm. The wet entrada sandstone takes on a glow all its own in the warm light while textures are emphasized by the sun's low angle. Sandy soil laying on the stone foreground surfaces becomes very dark when wet. Because stone potholes retain precious water for a considerable length of time after a rain, they are an important water source for desert wildlife.

The photograph shown here was captured on film in 1993. The film was scanned and the image optimized in 2019. This picture brings back very fond memories of what used to be my favorite place in the world at my favorite time of year. It also brings sadness that having the same experience today is nearly impossible. Arches may be the first national park in America to have its very essence destroyed by tourism, but it will not be the last.

In 1956 and 1957 Edward Abbey worked as a seasonal ranger in Arches National Monument (now national park). Visitation then was less about 25,000 people per year. In Desert Solitaire, a book based on that experience, he wrote: "Unless a way is found to stabilize the nation's population, the parks can not be saved. Or anything else worth a damn. Wilderness preservation, like a hundred other good causes, will be forgotten under the overwhelming pressure of a struggle for mere survival and sanity in a completely urbanized, completely industrialized, ever more crowded environment." Today about 1.5 million people visit Arches National Park every year.

See this article about my time in the Moab area, and the changes since my first visit in 1983.