The Delicate Arch Paradox

It’s not exactly a paradox, and it’s not exactly ironic, but it is frustrating.

How do I justify my love of exploration and photography in spectacular places like Antelope Canyon, Arches National Park, Yosemite, and White Sands, yet still feel contempt for the way these places have become desperately overcrowded?

You can't elope with an antelope's cantaloupe, and you can't really have fun in Antelope Canyon any more.
You can’t elope with an antelope’s cantaloupe, and you can’t really have fun in Antelope Canyon any more.

Part of my problem with this issue is that I feel oddly outmatched by the crowds photographically, not because they have more talent, but because they have diluted the landscape so much with geotags and armchair photographers, squeezing professional photographers and naturalists into an empty corner.

On the third hand, shouldn’t Abby and I have special Delicate Arch creds, since, after all, we got married there?

Am I being whiney because I don’t want to share its specialness, or has it been made universally unspecial by its discovery and overpopulation by the Instagram crowd?

I’ve been sitting on this post for a month, yet can’t quite solidify it. Help me work this out.

I photographed this passel of visitors at Delicate Arch in October 2005.
I photographed this passel of visitors at Delicate Arch in October 2005.


  1. I feel the same. For me, I’d much rather find an out of the way beauty than be in the middle of a throng in nature. I got outdoors to get away, not to be thrust into crowds. I love Delicate Arch, but will only go when not crowded.

  2. Maybe it’s like when you learn a secret – it feels special and powerful, but only if you let someone else you know it – at which point it’s no longer a secret.

    It also reminds me of “there are many like it, but this one is mine” – a rifle quote from a movie. I feel special when I acquire something, discover something, build something, but it becomes less significant over time, especially if it turns out to be very common.

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