A Quick Photo Trip to Providence Canyon State Park

Providence Canyon State Park looking up toward the blue sky from down in one of the canyonsProvidence Canyon State Park

What a difference a week makes!

Today's a chilly, rainy, gray day in Atlanta. Last Wednesday was a beautiful day. 

I spoke with my friend Lauren last Tuesday morning, and she told me about a place called Providence Canyon State Park. I'd never heard of it.

We decided to do a spur-of-the-moment photo trip down there on Wednesday. I doubled-down on Tuesday and got lots of work done so I could clear my calendar for Wednesday.

I noticed on the website that dogs were allowed in the canyon.

I wasn't sure I wanted to take Bauer because he can be a bit crazy, but I knew how much he'd love it, so I decided to bring him anyway. That way, I wouldn't have to worry about getting back to feed him, and he wouldn't be alone all day. 

I picked Lauren up at 5:30 am Wednesday. Providence Canyon is a 2-1/2-hour drive from Atlanta. It's not what I'd call a scenic drive either, at least not this time of year. 

We hit a drive-through for coffee about 40 minutes into the trip and made it to Providence Canyon around 8:30 am. We saw the sun come up from the road - a big, bold, orange fireball near the horizon. 

Providence Canyon State Park

By the time we arrived, it was sunny and bright - not ideal shooting conditions. But at least the sky was a beautiful blue. 

There are two hikes at Providence Canyon. One is about seven miles long and the signs caution that it takes at least four hours. We opted for the shorter two-mile hike that's moderate and takes about two hours. 

We picked up the trail and followed it down into one of the canyons and wandered around getting photos. The landscape is fascinating. If I didn't know better, I'd have thought I was at the Grand Canyon.

The rim of Providence Canyon in Georgia with a blue sky

Standing on the rim of the canyon

We were looking for some panoramic views that we'd seen online and weren't finding, so we headed back up the trail. Soon enough, we realized we'd done a big loop and come to the end of the trail without really finding the great view we were looking for.

There are fences keeping you back from the ledge which makes it hard getting a good panoramic shot, but it's a fool's game ignoring them.

The whole reason Providence Canyon exists is due to poor farming practices in the 1800s that led to extreme erosion. The continuing erosion is evident and you can see that they've had to move the fences back and add new fences.

I wasn't going to risk my life for a photo, so we stayed on the right side of the fences. 

We ran into a woman, Christina, who had driven up from Florida to check out the canyon. She was getting ready to leave because she said she had hiked the loop and was concerned about being alone and getting lost down in the canyons. 

We invited her to explore with us, so she did.

Back down in the canyons, I agreed with her. It was a quiet day with almost no people around and it would be easy to get lost and end up walking in circles.

Ever since reading the book Deep Survival by Laurence Gonzalez, I've made it a habit while hiking someplace new to turn around - a lot - and snap a few photos. One of the reasons people get lost is because things look totally different when you're hiking back out.

It helps to turn and see things as they'll look when you're trying to find your way back. 

Anyway - we wandered around in the canyons getting photos for a while and then finally made our way back to the top. 

Bauer had an absolute blast! It is such a joy watching that dog run loose.

I let him off-leash since there weren't any other people around.

He's such a nervous dog, he never lets me out of his sight. The great thing is that when he's off-leash, he gets a TON of exercise. He runs ahead and runs back to me and then runs ahead and back again. He goes about four times as far as I do.

He loved splashing around in the water at the bottom of the canyons. By the end of the day, he was sooooo dirty!

My dog, Jack Bauer, running through Providence Canyon The side of the canyon at Providence Canyon with a blue sky in the background
Jack Bauer was in heaven running around the canyon. Here he jumped up about three feet to get on the ledge. A view looking up from down in one of the smaller canyons.

Ideal Season for Providence Canyon

We spent about five hours hiking around the canyon.

I'm glad we visited in March because any hotter and the conditions would have been uncomfortable at best. 

When you're slogging through the canyons, there's water everywhere, so your feet get muddy and wet. I was glad I wore my hiking boots because they kept my feet nice and dry. 

I can only imagine what the mosquitos are like there in the summer! The shooting conditions weren't great. The sun was harsh and the way it peeked out from behind the rocks made it difficult.

You can see how hard it was in the photo of Bauer. I was trying all sorts of angles to get one that didn't wash out the shot with the sun coming almost in my face.

Remember to underexpose your shots in these conditions so you don't blow out your highlights and lose all your details. 

If you make the trip to Providence Canyon, carry plenty of water and plan to spend several hours. It takes a while to explore the canyons. 

I'd like to go back and get photos when the light is better at sunrise. The park closes at dusk, so you can't get sunset photos unless you spend the night in the park. I don't own any camping equipment so that's not going to happen any time soon!

I hope you're having a great St. Patrick's Day!

See you between the raindrops!