Stargazing and Night Photography at Hellgate Spring

Hellgate Spring - Search Nearby - Added by Bryony Richards

Explore Hellgate Spring and capture a unique photograph of our dynamic universe with Utah’s Wasatch Mountains as the perfect foreground.

From the base of Little Cottonwood Canyon, follow the road approximately 7 miles until you reach the area between the Snowbird and Alta ski resorts. Looking north, several mountain peaks are visible, including both Mount Superior and Hellgate Spring.

The mountain face of Hellgate Spring (GPS coordinates in decimal degrees 40.5886200 latitude, -111.6494200 longitude) comprises a dramatic 500 million year old outcrop of layered rock types, dominated by limestone, sandstone, and shale, giving the mountain a unique stripy appearance. Not only is the mountain face dramatic, its position facing northward with the star Polaris (commonly known as the Pole Star or North Star) located above it’s peak, provides a perfect place for photographing star trails.

From the base of Hellgate Spring, set up your shot and camera settings: for star trails 30 frames (or more) of 10-20 seconds each, will give defined movement as the stars move from east to west. A DSLR camera and a lens with a wide aperture between f/1.4-f/2.8 with fully manual settings works best for astrophotography; allowing the user to fully control the light sensitivity (ISO) of the camera, in addition to the shutter speed and aperture of the lens (exposure value).

For the photos featured in this article a Canon 5D mark iii with a Rokinon 24 mm lens was used to take 60 individual photographs using the following settings and stacked using Photoshop:

  • ISO 640
  • Shutter speed: 10 seconds
  • Aperture: f/1.4
  • Other settings of note: Evaluative metering, automatic white balance
Activities

Photography, Snowshoeing, Hiking

Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Food Nearby
Groups
Romantic
Scenic

Nearby Lodging

From $300/night

The Cliff Lodge

Sandy, Utah

Salt Lake City KOA

Salt Lake City, Utah

Springville / Provo KOA

Springville, Utah

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

Reviews

Leave a Review

Overall rating:  Rate this Adventure

Have you done this adventure? Leave a review!

Nearby Adventures

Adventure

Hike and Climb the S. Ridge of Mt. Superior

Adventure

Backcountry Ski Suicide Chute on Mt. Superior

Adventure

Photograph Little Cottonwood Creek at Snowbird

Adventure

Hike Mt. Superior and Monte Cristo

More Nearby Adventures