19 April 2013

Friday Field Notes: Spring Break Edition

Note: Two weeks ago, like many others around the state, I took the opportunity to get away from Montana's moody spring weather and head out on a Spring Break adventure to warmer climes. Each year, I am drawn by some invisible force to Utah's red rock country, and that is precisely where I landed yet again.  My home will always be amongst the mountains of the Northern Rockies, but the desert offers a type of experience that drives my imagination wild. For anyone with a remote interest in natural history, desert ecology and geology is truly fascinating. Of course, the landscape is also highly photogenic, its bizarre colors and sleek curves a dramatic contrast to the rolling mountains and valleys of Montana. The following are a handful of photos from my recent trip through Utah's Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. I hope they inspire you, excite your senses, and conjure up the adventure spirit found within all of us. - Mike Canetta

Fifty-Mile Mountain, a distinct "step" in the southwest's unique geologic formation known as "The Grand Staircase," is an ever-present feature near the town of Escalante.

Over eons, a large, abrupt bend in the river has carved a stunning amphitheater in Coyote Gulch.

(More photos after the jump)

The power of erosion: Jacob Hamlin Arch meets another spectacular amphitheater, highlighting the area's unique geology.
Steep, narrow "slot canyons" reflect one of nature's most violent forces: Flash Floods. 
While Utah's red rocks are alive with color, removing it brings out the feeling of desolation, an emotion one experiences in this setting.
Water. The scarcity of this life-giving fluid has kept people away from Utah's harshest environments, but it is the continued presence of it over geologic time that has transformed the southwest into the dramatic canyon country that it is today.

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