Monday, October 22, 2007

Back to the Colorado Plateau

Rather than focus on one of the National and State Parks that abound in the Colorado Plateau area I figured I would just highlight some of the natural land features. For those of us familiar with this area of the country there really is no such thing as a bad view. And the effect of wind, rain and time have created some fantastic formations.

The one to the right is of Navajo Sandstone - it's the white stuff. Usually when people think of sandstone they are apt to think of the red stuff like found in the Grand Canyon. The following rather typical "wedding cake" formation is of the red sandstone.

The hints of sage green in the middle ground are vegetation very much like that in the foreground; rabbit bush, snake weed, gamma grass. Livestock has to walk a long way to get a meal and even further for water.

This photo was taken working up and over one of those wedding cake formation ridges. It was 11 miles of this sort of switchbacks. No guard rails. You can see the switch from the Navajo sandstone to the red and the vast emptiness of the land beyond. Those lines are roads. It is not unusual to be able to see 100 miles or more on a clear day. And the days are seldom not clear.

The View from the top. I really had to stop for air. I don't think I took any deep breaths on the way up and I had a feeling the way down was not going to be any easier.

Looking off toward Monument Valley in the far distance. The fence is to keep sheep and cattle off the road. This is part of the Navajo Indian Reservation.

Some formations are up like the ones we have just seen and some are down. This is one of the many natural bridges at Natural Bridges Park in the southern corner of Utah. It is carved out of the Navajo Sandstone laid down by ancient seas. The hallows in the rock catch not only rain but condensation and seeps from springs. The vegetation grows where it can get roots into the cracks that capture moisture. The black vertical streaks on the rocks are called desert lacquer.