The Gold Butte Time Lapse Collection features many different cloud formations, fast moving weather fronts and a few night sky scenes. Gold Butte National Monument is located between the Lake Mead National Recreation Area and Grand Canyon Parashant National Monument. The closest gas station is in Mesquite, Nevada and a lot of mileage can be racked up by just getting to destinations in Gold Butte or Grand Canyon Parashant. This is a very desolate area with few visitors, so it is best to be well prepared for the journey. Cellular communications are strong near the Lake Mead shoreline in some places, but nonexistent everywhere else. A lot more information about Gold Butte and the neighboring parks can be found in the Destination West website.
Based upon observation, Lake Mead seems to be a place where storm fronts collide and this large body of water in the desert certainly does contribute to the local meteorological activity. The towering mountains bordering Gold Butte also enhance what is happening in the skies. What this all adds up to is a place in the desert where the clouds put on a fascinating show that is well worth capturing with time lapse video!
There are a few examples of atmospheric phenomena that briefly flash by in this video. Half of a tremendous sun halo can be viewed at the top of a few scenes. I often start filming a time lapse sequence in the morning by positioning the frame just barely under the sun if that is the direction where clouds are present. This way the sun will move away from the scene as the session progresses. This method also catches an occasional partial sun halo, which can be mistakenly identified as the world's worst lens flare. Aiming directly at the sun is not good for a camera sensor so it is best to minimize the urge to capture sun starburst effects or full halos, unless a neutral density filter is employed.
Another interesting scene in this video is a fast approaching storm crossing the Virgin River basin that dumped a solid wall of white water all the way up to the filming site. I remember this one well, because hundreds of blister beetles came out of nowhere to do their mating ritual shortly after the storm passed.
Later I heard something that sounded like a loud buzzing drone heading towards me. I looked toward the dreaded drone sound and saw a huge bee swarm approaching fast. All that I could do was stare in awe. Because I was sitting in a bright blue Jeep, it stuck out like a sore thumb in the desert landscape and the color attracted the bees that were obviously moving to a new hive location.
What happened next was something that I will never forget. The swarm of bees swooped down and passed right over the Jeep. Several hundred bees actually flew through one open window and out the other, then a few hung around to check me out. I was not scared at all and I greatly enjoyed the moment. In fact, I could not contain my laughter and smiled ear to ear! Part of the reason the bee swarm visit cheered me up was because this all happened near the end of my two and a half year Covid isolation camping tour and the loneliness made me appreciate any creature that stopped by to say hello. I composed a lot of soundtrack music the rest of that week that I consider to be personal bests, so inspiration was certainly found.
I did the entire 2.5 year Covid camping tour with a Jeep and a tent. A summer sleeping bag and a zero degree mummy bag kept me warm at night. I never used a heater or built a campfire during the entire tour. I only cooked with an alcohol backpacking stove, because propane has too many issues. Recharging batteries was done with a solar panel. Nearly every place where I camped was a pack it in-pack it out wilderness and I simply left no trace. Personal sanitation was handled responsibly as well. When bored while filming time lapse or other tasks, I went hiking with a garbage bag to pick up trash discarded by careless human beings. The overall goal was to minimize my own environmental impact and never have any regrets. The effort worked well and very few negative memories linger from the Covid camping tour experience.
On a side note, Gold Butte Road and the dirt trails that meander through this park are rough. A high ground clearance vehicle is recommended and a 4x4 is an even better choice. There are only a few RV worthy campsites around Whitney Pocket, no drinking water and no restroom facilities. Emergency rescue might as well be a million miles away, so it is best to behave responsibly in this desolate region and not take risks. As far as the wide open spaces are concerned, Gold Butte is one of the most fascinatingly diverse scenic areas in the southwest and there is great native cultural significance. A trip to this destination is guaranteed to provide fond memories that will definitely last a lifetime!
Leave no trace!
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