Arches National Park, UT
Balanced Rock is found in the Arches National Park, just a few miles north or Moab, UT. This unique rock formation is one of the most popular features in the park and is located right next to the park's main road.
The total height of Balanced Rock is about 130ft., with the balancing rock 55ft. above the base. From a photographic standpoint, it is easy to make a great image. The shape and profile of the rock changes based on where you stand. The rock is made from red sandstone, which glows beautifully as the late sun touches it.
Trail Difficulty - EASY
I would rate the difficulty of this trail as a 1 on a scale of 1-5 (with 5 being most difficult). The shot was taken just a few yards from the Balance Rock parking lot.
Download KMZ Trail File
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GPS Coordinates & Elevation
Google Maps Birds-Eye-View
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CLICK HERE to get driving directions to the Balanced Rock parking lot.
Balanced Rock in located in the Arches National Park (just a few miles north of Moab, UT). The directions are from Moab: Drive northwest on US 191 from Moab for approximately 4.5 miles and turn right onto the Arches National Park on Arches Entrance Rd. Go past the visitors’ entrance and continue on Arches Scenic Dr. for 8.8 miles and The Balanced Rock parking lot will be on your right. The image above was taken from the right side of the parking lot.
Best Time of Day to Shoot
You can shoot this location at either sunrise or sunset. Most photographers prefer this location at late afternoon around sunset, as the soft late sun accentuates the red sandstone. The shot above was taken about 30 minutes before sunrise.
Best Time of Year to Shoot
This location is great any time of year. The image above was taken in mid January, when the sun rises behind the rock. In the summer, the sun rises to the far left of this shot. I would suggest using The Photographer’s Ephemeris to help best understand the direction of the sunrise and sunset.
What Lens(es) Do You Need
You can use lenses from 16mm to 70mm to shoot The Balanced Rock. The shot above was taken with a 28mm lens.
Once you have paid for the admission into Arches National Park, there are no permits required.
Direction of the Shot
The direction of the shot is mainly east @ 110°.
Special Nuances of Shot
This shot is pretty straightforward from the visitors’ parking lot. There is a path around the rock and area to get other perspectives.
Special Equipment Needed
Other than a tripod and potentially a polarizer, there is no special equipment needed.
Number of Other Photographers to Expect
Arches National Park and Balanced Rock will have a ton of tourists each day. However, if you are going to shoot this location as sunrise or sunset, there most likely won’t be a lot of other photographers there.
The Arches National Park is a high desert climate where temperatures can vary up to 30° to 40° a day. Spring and fall are nice, but summer can get into the high 90s. The monsoon season (in late summer) brings violent but brief thunderstorms, which can be great for photography.
I use Verizon, and there is limited cell service in the Arches National Park. There is cell service once you get back to the highway.
Balanced Rock is in the Arches National Park 5 miles northwest of Moab, UT. Moab is a nice town and has an abundance of lodging.
There are at least 10 campground sites in and around Arches National Park. Devils Garden campground is the only campsite in the park. Most campsites include potable water, picnic tables, grills, and flushing toilets. Some sites will accommodate RVs. An Arches National Park map, available at the park entrance, will provide information on the available campsites.
Nearby camping and lodging
Camping - click on the campground below for directions
Lodging - click on the lodging below for a TripAdvisor review
Red Cliffs Lodge
Mile Post 14 Hwy 128, Moab, UT
INCA Inn and Motel
570 N Main St, Moab, UT
100 W 200 S, Moab, UT
There are no restaurants or lodges in the park. Moab, UT, is the nearest town (5 miles) and has a nice choice of restaurants. There are several good places to eat in Moab. Eklecticafe is a nice place for breakfast, and the Desert Bistro is a high-end place for dinner.
Nearby Restaurants - click on the restaurant below for yelp review
36 S 100 W, Moab, UT
352 N Main St, Moab, UT
Twisted Sista's Cafe
11 E 100 N, Moab, UT
The closest laundry mat is - Moab Laundry Express LLC @ West 100 North, Moab, UT. Open 24 hours and has Wifi.
Other Photography Opportunities Around
The closest airport is Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC), which is 230 miles west and services most of the major airlines in the US. Walker Field (GJT) in Grand Junction Colorado (110 miles north and then east), is a small regional airport and services United Express, SkyWest/Delta, and America West Express/Mesa Airlines.
Area Guides and Workshops
The Photographer's Ephemeris is a very valuable tool for landscape photographers to determine the direction of the sunrise/sunset & moonrise/moonset from any place on earth on any day (past and future). Click here to take you to The Photographer's Ephemeris for this location.