Steve Berlin Photography
Geology
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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.

Lake Powell, Slot Canyon, Utah
Lake Powell: (Photos of Lake Powell Slot Canyon, and Castle Rock)
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 Point.

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.

Antelope-Corkscrew Canyon, Page, Arizona near Lake Powell
Lake Powell Surrounding areas: (Photos of Energy (Corkscrew Canyon), Fractal Topology (Inside Antelope Canyon), and Horseshoe Bend.)
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.
Corkscrew 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 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.

Cathedral Rock, Sedona Arizona, along Oak Creek Canyon
Sedona: (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 landscapes.
Oak 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.

Yosemite Fall, Yosemite National Park, California from across a meadow
Yosemite 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.

Lake Tenaya, Yosemite National Park, Tuolumne Meadows area
Yosemite 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.

Eastern Zion National Park, Utah
Zion 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 Kolob Canyon.

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.

Paria Point at Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
Bryce 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!.