Canyonlands National Park: Murphy Point Rainbow Sunset #2

Murphy Point is a 3.6-mile round trip hike with excellent views off the western end of the Island in the Sky. The trail is downhill most of the way with only 150 feet of elevation to contend with.

I started hiking with with clouds brewing and they kept getting darker and darker. When I got to the overlook, I looked around and found a small ledge I could duck under if needed.

I needed.

Winds soon started howling at perhaps 40 miles per hour and would have blown a sturdy tripod with a my camera on on it had I not held on to it.

It started raining and sleeting so I ducked under the ledge I found. Sand was blowing all around like mad. Sand got into my camera and tripod despite the shelter and despite me attempting to shield them from the wind.

The wind, rain, and sleet lasted about 5-10 minutes. Then it became dead calm again.

I came out from the shelter announcing “there should be a rainbow”. And there was, right in front of me.

Plan the Shot

Just be at Murphy Point at sunset. Good luck with the clouds, light, and rainbow.

Curiously, I was at the visitor center about two hours earlier and asked the ranger if he could deliver a rainbow for me that evening.

Feature Image Details

These clouds were exceptionally low, discounting fog, the lowest I have ever seen.

This was a a simple shot.

I emerged from the shelter and started shooting with a fairly standard range zoom.

I used a Canon 24-105MM F4 L Lens at 60mm, F16, for 1/4 second at ISO 200.

My general lens of choice for most landscape photography is the Canon 16-35MM F4 L Lens.

Rainbow Math

To find the apex of the rainbow, look 180 degrees from the sun. In this shot, there is no apex. just a very low end of a bow due to the low clouds.

At noon, in the summer, the rainbow will be beneath the horizon unless you are up in a plane or a high elevation looking down. From a plane, you might actually see a full circle, especially at sunrise or sunset.

On a double rainbow, the colors are inverted. Note that red is on the left in one rainbow and the right on the other.

The primary rainbow is on the inside. A secondary rainbow, on the outside, is caused by the light being reflected twice on the inside of the droplet before leaving it.

A secondary rainbow appears about 10° outside of the primary rainbow, with inverse order of colors.

Memory Trick

Roy G Biv

The colors are always in this order, one way or the other: Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet

More Rainbow Details

Wikipedia has more Rainbow Details including this interesting tidbit.

A spectrum obtained using a glass prism and a point source is a continuum of wavelengths without bands. The number of colours that the human eye is able to distinguish in a spectrum is in the order of 100. Accordingly, the Munsell colour system (a 20th-century system for numerically describing colours, based on equal steps for human visual perception) distinguishes 100 hues. The apparent discreteness of main colours is an artefact of human perception and the exact number of main colours is a somewhat arbitrary choice.

Newton, who admitted his eyes were not very critical in distinguishing colours, originally (1672) divided the spectrum into five main colours: red, yellow, green, blue and violet. Later he included orange and indigo, giving seven main colours by analogy to the number of notes in a musical scale. Newton chose to divide the visible spectrum into seven colours out of a belief derived from the beliefs of the ancient Greek sophists, who thought there was a connection between the colours, the musical notes, the known objects in the Solar System, and the days of the week. Scholars have noted that what Newton regarded at the time as “blue” would today be regarded as cyan, and what Newton called “indigo” would today be considered blue.


Roy G Cbv is not that easy to remember.

There are many other interesting facts in the above link.

Other Canyonlands Images

Both Mesa Arch and Murphy Point are easy trails.

Note. This post is conceptually the other end of the rainbow in the second link above.

It is much wider as lighting conditions changed. The right portion vanished.


If you are at the Canyonlands Island in the Sky district, then Arches National Park is nearby.

For most, it’s probably the reverse, visiting Arches then going to Canyonlands as a side trip.

Arches National Park Images

Equipment List

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2 thoughts on “Canyonlands National Park: Murphy Point Rainbow Sunset #2

  1. Hi Mish,

    I like your shot of the rainbow in Canyonlands. Interesting that you mention getting possible full rainbow if photographed from an airplane. I got back from trip to Glacier National Park in late August. The friend I hike with lives in Kalispell (Creston) and told me he had a photographer/videographer coming to stay with him and do some additional photography at Glacier during September. The guy does all of his photography from a bush plane. My friend has a 2000ft. strip carved out of a farm field. I suppose long enough for a bush plane. I thought you might be interested in his website as he has quite a bunch of stuff from Utah, your future stomping grounds. I think his website is still a work in progress. He has some interesting shots from altitude, a bit different perspective from your shots as his are not as focused on a particular feature. His stuff covers miles of territory when shot from his plane.

    Hoping you enjoy your relocation. Too bad about Illinois. People being taxed out of existence. [] About Aerial Wilderness – Where Eagles Fly Dynamic Photo Albums Shooting with a handheld high-resolution still camera through an open cockpit window is difficult, but the rewards justify the efforts. Wilderness as seen from this rarified lofty zone ~ Where Eagles Fly ~ is truly an awe-inspiring, almost mystical encounter. Because Aerial Wild

    Robert J. Ducanis Winter Park, FL


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