The southwestern United
States is one of the most spectacular places to visit as well as photograph.
National parks, State parks, recreational areas, scenic drives, and
lakes are plentiful and create spectacular vistas, landscapes, and
nature scenes. In all my travels, I still find Utah to be one of the
most scenic areas on Earth. My photos in the landscape and nature
gallery have been taken mostly in California, Arizona, Utah, Nevada,
and Colorado. The specific regions in those states are Yosemite National
Park, Lake Powell, Sedona, Bryce Canyon National Park, Zion National
Park, Mammoth Lakes, June Lake, Rock Creek Canyon, Red Canyon, Lone
Pine, and other areas in the Pacific Southwest. I have provided information
for each area below with links to the related photos in my Nature
and Landscape collection. Click on the photograph or the listed photo
links to see the larger versions of each photo.
Powell: (Photos of Lake
Powell Slot Canyon, and Castle
Lake Powell, the second largest reservoir in North America,
is 186 miles long and has 1,960 miles of shoreline. Slot canyons,
inlets, and coves shelter the Indian ruins and natural wonders
made by this lake. There are 6 marinas along the lake: Dangling
Rope, Wahweap, Bullfrog, Hall's Crossing, Hite and Antelope
Rainbow Bridge, one
of the most fascinating and most visited sites on Lake Powell
is approximately 10 miles southeast of Dangling Rope. It is
called "Nonnoshoshi" by the Navajo people, or "rainbow turned
to stone." Many of the slot canyons or inlets around Wahweap
are highly photographed as well and provide for some unusual
rock formations on the water. Castle Rock is just north of Wahweap
Marina and lies between Warm Creek and Antelope Island.
Lake Powell was created
from many formations over a long period of time: Morrison, Kayenta,
Entrada, and Carmel. The Entrada formations make up Castle Rock
as well as Tower Butte. Some of the formations resulted in cliffs
and ledges colored in black and hues of blue. Other rock formations
are white or creamy yellow and consist of sandstone, limestone,
and mudstone. Some of the formations closer to Wahweap are made
of red, orange, and white Navaho sandstone. There is a wonderful
mixture of color and texture throughout the marinas that make
Lake Powell a truly unique experience. Castle
rock is one of the more Scenics rock formations near Antelope
Island and is composed of Navaho and Entrada Sandstone. Slot
canyons and inlets can be found at the end of the long lake
passageways and main channels. It is best to go out on a smaller
boat to reach the slot canyons and inlets due to the shallow
waters. The blue waters of the lake are a result of many different
rivers draining from the upper regions of Colorado and Utah.
Lake Powell is located within Glen Canyon National Recreational
Area on the Arizona-Utah border and lies in the heart of The
Grand Circle. For more information about Lake Powell, contact
the Chamber of Commerce at (520) 645-2741.
Powell Surrounding areas: (Photos of Energy
(Corkscrew Canyon), Fractal
Topology (Inside Antelope Canyon), and Horseshoe
In Page, Arizona, there are other sites to photograph besides
Lake Powell. Antelope-Corkscrew Canyon is one of most interesting
canyons in the United States. Antelope Canyon is so unique, it
has also become known as The Corkscrew, Corkscrew Canyon, Upper
Antelope, Wind Cave, or The Crack.
Canyon is a slot canyon and was formed over many years as rushing
water eroded the Navajo sandstone. The canyon was cut and scoured
by water and wind and the striations of sandstone have become
almost incandescent. This phenomenon has created "hollows" in
the canyon and eventually they form a patina. A slot is a series
of these convoluted hollows connected by narrow passages of varying
width and length. The cave is only ¼ mile long and only a few
feet wide at some of the narrow defiles and bends. The canyon
is very dark except for the sunlight that filters down through
the top plateau onto the curved sandstone walls. It is required
that you pay an entrance fee and be taken down to the canyon by
a guide. You can contact Lake Powell Jeep Tours at (520) 645-5501.
Horseshoe Bend is one of the lesser known areas around Page, Arizona
and unless you know where to turnout to see this site, you will
most likely not find it. Follow state highway 89 south of the
town of Page. Look for a gravel road heading west towards the
canyon near mile marker 545 (about 2.5 miles south of the gas
station). Drive to the end of the road, then walk to the overlook.
Lake Powell has many more exciting areas to explore including
Cottonwood Canyon, the Paria Wilderness area, and Grand Staircase
Escalante National Monument.
(Photos of Blue Mood and Reflections)
Sedona is located at the lower end of Arizona's spectacular Oak
Creek Canyon, known for its stunning red buttes and monoliths,
as well as its surrounding lush forests. Located in the Coconino
National Forest it has some of the most unique rust and red colored
Creek traverses down a steep grade from the Mogollon Rim, south
of Flagstaff, to Red Rock Crossing where Cathedral Rock proudly
awaits onlookers. Cathedral Rock is topped by twin spires and
a large saddle and can be seen from both the east and west sides.
Just prior to sunset, looking eastward, you can see the reflections
of the great rocks in Oak Creek. This place is held as sacred
and is considered a vortex, a place where rock formations act
as focal points for electromagnetic Earth energies. This vortex
is a conical pile of black lava rocks just below the western ledge
of the saddle. The rust-red
color of the landscapes, the brilliant colors of the trees along
Oak Creek, the pink wild lilies mixed in with the golden poppies
make Sedona a great place for photography. Contact
the Sedona - Oak Creek Canyon Chamber of Commerce at (800) 288-7336.
National Park: (Photos of Yosemite
Fall, Vernal Fall Stage
I, and Vernal Fall Stage
II. Yosemite National Park is located in California's Eastern
Sierras. It is comprised of Yosemite Valley, Tuolumne Meadows,
Glacier Point, and other high country wilderness areas. It is
probably the world's best known example of a glacier-carved canyon.
Yosemite's giant waterfalls, towering cliffs, rounded domes, and
massive monoliths make it a natural marvel which have inspired
poets, painters, photographers, and millions of visitors beginning
with John Muir for more than one hundred years.
Yosemite Valley is characterized
by sheer walls and a flat valley floor. Its evolution began
when alpine glaciers moved through the canyon of the Merced
River. The ice carved through weaker sections of granite scouring
the rocks but leaving the harder, more solid portions, such
as El Capitan and the Cathedral Rocks. As the glacier began
to melt, the moraine advanced into the valley to form ancient
Lake Yosemite in the newly cut valley. Sediment eventually filled
in the lake and formed the flat valley floor we see today. This
same process is now filling Mirror Lake at the base of Half
Dome. The valley is a mosaic of open meadows sprinkled with
wildflowers and flowering shrubs, oak woodlands, and forests
of ponderosa pine, incense-cedar, and Douglas-fir. Wildlife
such as monarch butterflies, mule deer, and black bears inhabit
this area and you will usually some, if not all, of them while
on your trip. One of the main attractions of Yosemite are its
majestic waterfalls. The main falls are Yosemite, Bridalveil,
Vernal, Nevada, and Illilouette. The best time to visit the
falls is in May since the water is gushing. Bridalveil usually
has a neat rainbow in the afternoon.
Wilderness Areas: (Photos of Tuolumne
Meadows, Mirror Lake,
and Lake Tenaya).
Yosemite is also know for its
surrounding wilderness areas of which Tuolumne Meadows is the
best known. Glacier Point, Badger Pass, Mirror Lake, the Mariposa
and Tuolumne Groves, and Hetch Hetchy Valley are also quite spectacular.
Tuolumne meadows has very unique
domes, creeks, and lakes which make for wonderful hiking trips
in spring. Lake Tenaya is one of the more interesting lakes
in the high country of the Pacific Southwest. Attactions such
as El Capitan, Half Dome, Sentinel Rock, the Ahwahnee and Wawona
hotels round out Yosemite Valley and make your visit to this
park a truly remarkable experience in every season.
National Park: (Photos of Eastern
Zion, Lone Tree, Checkerboard
Mesa, Emerald Pools,
and Road through Zion).
Zion National Park is one of
five major National parks in Utah. Bryce National Park, Arches
National Park, Canyonlands National Park, and Capitol Reef National
Park make Utah one of my favorite places to visit and photograph.
The Grand Canyon is in Arizona and is also quite spectacular.
All of these parks are in the Grand Circle.
The Hebrew word, "Zion",
refers to a place of safety or refuge and was given this name
by the Mormon pioneers in the 1860's. Zion is located at the
southwestern edge of the Colorado Plateau that includes an area
of colorful cliffs and eroded rock layers between Bryce Canyon
and the Grand Canyon. The rock layers over time were tilted,
worn, uplifted and extremely eroded forming a feature known
as the Grand Staircase. Bryce Canyon is much higher in elevation
than Zion and the rivers that flowed through these canyons cut
strongly and carried with it much more sediment than normal.
The streams went over the western edge of the plateau and created
deep and narrow canyons causing Zion to become what it is today.
The bottom layers of rock at Bryce Canyon are the top layers
of rock at Zion Canyon, and the bottom layers of rock at Zion
are the top layers of the Grand Canyon. Zion has primarily three
main areas to explore: The scenic loop, the eastern side, and
Zion is famous for the hike along
the Riverside Walk at the Temple of Sinawava which lets you
out into The Narrows, a place truly unforgettable. Here, you
will hike through the Virgin River with sheer walls over 1,000
feet high and at some spots the river is only several meters
across. This hike is by far the most invigorating experience
in my life of travel. The scenic loop has wonderful hiking trails
with canyons filled with hanging gardens, western columbine,
ferns, and scarlet monkey-flowers. The eastern side of Zion
is slickrock country. Rocks colored in white and orange-red
have been eroded into fantastic shapes with odd patterns. Checkerboard
Mesa, a mountain of Navaho sandstone, is naturally sculptured
and one of the most unique places to visit in Zion. The eastern
part of Zion is filled with arches, alcoves, hoodoo formations,
and wind and water sculpted rock. Roadrunners, eagles, and mule
deer inhabit the areas and are easy to spot in the early morning
hours. The Kolob Canyon road offers great views of red rock
finger canyons, while the Kolob Terrace Road overlooks the white
and salmon-colored cliffs of North Creek. Both routes climb
into forests of pinyon and juniper as well as aspens. This road
ends at Lava Point which offers a great view Zion. You can contact
the Zion Canyon Visitor Center at (435) 772-3256.
Canyon National Park: (Photos of Thor's
Hammer, Bryce Canyon
Ridge, Bryce Theatre,
Paria Point, and Blue Horizons.).
Bryce Canyon National Park
is named for one of the many canyons which form a series of horseshoe-shaped
amphitheaters on the edge of the Paunsaugunt Plateau in southern
Utah. Erosion has carved the colorful limestone and sandstone
formations into spires, fins, arches and mazes.
The Paria River and its many tributaries
have carved the plateau edges around Bryce Canyon as rushing
water carries dirt and gravel to the edges and steep slopes
of the Paunsaugunt Plateau. Over a period of time, tall thin
ridges called fins emerge. These fins then further erode into
pinnacles and spires, now referred to as "hoodoos."
Since Bryce Canyon is located well over 8,000 feet, you will
mostly look down over these hoodoos and into the canyons, unlike
Zion where you mostly look up at the sheer walls of the canyons.
This makes a trip to both of these National Parks a must. Bryce
and Zion are less than two hours apart through a very scenic
drive. Other fantastic locations like Red Canyon, Kodachrome
Basin, Escalante, Boulder, and Capitol Reef National Park can
be found along Scenic Byway 12. You can contact the Bryce Canyon
Visitor Center at (435) 834-4420.
Soon to come: Joshua Tree National Park, Arches National Park, Canyonlands
National Park, Capitol Reef National Park, and the Mammoth Lakes and
June Lake areas including Rock Creek!.