Hellhole Canyon - Mike Carr

When Hellhole Canyon Cries


When it rains in the desert, the canyon walls cry. Millions of raindrops combine to form temporary streams which then flow off the edge of cliffs into raging waterfalls. It's the power of nature at its best.

Near my home in St. George, there is a little-known trail called Hellhole Canyon that undergoes this awesome transformation. Waterfalls feel like poetry in motion for me, and I love to capture that peaceful tranquility in a photo.

Big and Small, They all Fall

On my first trip up Hellhole Canyon, I discovered that during a heavy rain there is not just one main waterfall that forms but actually many that form. All along the sheer cliff face, waterfalls spring to life. They then combine to form one churning stream that takes a bunch of little drops. It's like watching a never-ending slinky.

Patience and Sacrifice

To me, good landscape photography is a lot about luck. But sometimes, even luck isn’t enough. Most times, you have to kind of create your own luck. I usually create some of my best work when I combine patience with sacrifice, whether that means getting up crazy early or staying up really late. Or, in this case, going out in the pouring rain and balancing an umbrella over my camera and tripod. Keeping the lens clean of water drops is a constant battle. To me, getting wet and cold for a day is a small price to pay for pictures like this.

Water Makes the Colors Bleed

This applies to most landscapes, but when it rains on red rock sandstone, the color saturation is taken to a new level. It's not photoshop magic or filters that make it look incredible. If you were there with me, it would look just as deep red to you in person as it does in my images.

There is beauty in the temporary nature of these waterfalls to me. The fact that you can’t go see them anytime you want adds more value to me. The harder I work to get them, the more I appreciate them.