Zion Canyon Reflections

April 05, 2016


Photographer: Ray Boren
Summary Author: Ray Boren

As the midwinter Sun rises, morning light bounces off Zion Canyon’s dramatic sandstone cliffs, reflecting upon mirror-like Pine Creek. Loose cobbles and last autumn’s fallen and decaying leaves wallow in the stream’s shallows, in a photograph taken in southwestern Utah’s Zion National Park on January 26, 2016.

The Virgin River and its tributaries, such as Pine Creek, are the primary carvers of today’s Zion Canyon, which is part of the Colorado Plateau. Together they have been down-cutting and eroding through geologic formations deposited over a period of 250 million years by shallow seas, ancient rivers and swamps, and the lithified dunes of a vast primordial desert. Erosion-resistant 2,000-foot-high (610 m) Navajo sandstone walls tower above and bracket the canyon channel. The river’s north fork cuts more readily into a weaker underlying foundation of mudstones and siltstones called the Kayenta Formation, notes a National Park Service placard near the Zion Narrows. As erosion accelerates in the Kayenta base, the sturdier, higher Navajo sandstone is undermined, and slabs and pieces of stone topple, slowly widening the spectacular canyon.

Photo Details: Camera Model: NIKON D3200; Exposure Time: 0.03333 second; Lens F-Number: ƒ/7.1; ISO Speed Ratings: 400; Focal Length: 70 mm.