June 07, 2005

Ooooooh, shiny!

Slot canyons in the US Southwest!

Water Holes Canyon, Arizona
Water Holes Canyon, near Page, Arizona

Few places on Earth have such beauty and mystique on an intimate scale as the delicately scupltured and coloured slot canyons of the American Southwest. There are thousands of scenic canyons in this region but most are relatively wide and often descend in steps through rock layers of differing hardness; in contrast, slot canyons have vertical walls and may be hundreds of feet deep but only a few feet wide.

The general rock is sandstone, in various shades of red and orange; it is sunlight, shining down and reflecting along the canyon walls that gives the canyons their special beauty; the shadows and colours change constantly as the sun moves overhead.

Most slot canyons are remote, hidden and difficult to reach and explore, but this only adds to their appeal; one can get a good idea from a photograph, but this is no substitute for visiting in person. The canyons tend to be dry for most of the year but receive occasional flash floods of great force, most frequently during the late summer months. It is these sudden torrents of water, carrying logs, stones and other debris that have been cutting through the relatively soft rock for millions of years, resulting in a great variety of colourful rock shapes and forms.

A much larger version of the Water Holes Canyon photo is here. More photos of the same canyon are here.

The slot canyons photos are part of a larger site of photos and information about natural areas in the US Southwest. The main page for the site is here. If you liked the slot canyons, you'll find plenty more of interest elsewhere in the site.

Posted by Magpie at June 7, 2005 12:11 AM | Shiny Things | Technorati links |