(The “honey moon, as captured by Gavin Heffernan in Red Rock Canyon. (Alll photos: Sunchaser Pictures/Flickr)
Red Rock Canyon is ready for its close-up.
Los Angeles-based photographer Gavin Heffernan recently made the two-hour drive to the California state park to capture some glorious shots of the giant, amber-toned “honey moon.” The star-filled sky and dramatic cliffs served as a beautiful backdrop.
A filmmaker by trade, Heffernan takes photos that have a cinematic feel. With only one night to shoot, the 34-year-old chose Red Rock Canyon for its “amazing cliff structures and dark skies,” he told Yahoo Travel.
The time-lapse images trace “star trails” as they move across the sky with a stunning Technicolor effect. Sienna-hued rocks jut against a sparkling blue sky or a dusky sunset. Heffernan woke every few hours to reset the two cameras’ positions.
The full moon gave the photos an almost artificial glow.
“Once it began to rise over the cliffs, the entire park became completely illuminated, almost as if the sun was up instead of the moon,” Heffernan recalled. “It was an extremely surreal perspective, almost the way things look during an eclipse.” The cliffs, which would normally be silhouettes at night, are bathed in light.
The otherworldly desert locale is no secret to Hollywood: The soaring red rocks served as a film location for “Jurassic Park” and “The Mummy,” Heffernan said. Red Rock Canyon was also the setting of the 2005 Destiny’s Child music video “Cater 2 You.”
Tourists like it, too: Located where the southernmost tip of the Sierra Nevada meets the El Paso Range, the scenic site is filled with history — along with a good view.
Kawaiisu Indian petroglyphs have been preserved, according to the park’s website, along with the remains of an 1890s mining operation. Day-trippers can hike miles of trails — and those who prefer to stay longer can make camp at the base of the cliffs.
“There is outstanding hiking right out of the campground,” notes Rob G. on TripAdvisor.
Another commenter recommends taking more water than you need, as the days are hot, hot, hot. (This weekend is projected to reach a high of 104 degrees Fahrenheit.)
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