Sunset Windows at Bryce Canyon National Park

September 01, 2017

Mossy Cave (1)

September 2017 Viewer's ChoicePhotographer: Noni Todd
Summary Author: Noni Todd

The photo above taken along Mossy Cave Trail in Water Canyon, of Utah's Bryce Canyon National Park, is a good example of windows formed in limestone. The canyons of Bryce are not true canyons formed by the flowing of water. Rather, they were created predominantly by frost wedging -- ice expanding in cracks in rocks. In Water Canyon, pioneers during 1890-1892 carved a ditch known as the Tropic Ditch to provide irrigation for communities downstream. As a result, Water Canyon has two distinct geological faces. In the upper part of the canyon, you can see the typical hoodoos and windows seen in the rest of Bryce. The lower section has smooth angled sides shaped in a V from the flowing water.

This unique man-made water feature retards the formation of naturally formed hoodoos. Eventually, the hoodoos of Water Canyon will most likely disappear, completing the geological metamorphosis of Water Canyon into a true canyon. The Mossy Cave Trail also boasts a shelter cave and waterfall. The waterfall results from the presence of dolomite, a special form of limestone fortified by magnesium that makes it harder than ordinary limestone -- it's more resistant to the slight acidity of rainwater. Dolomite is also the cap rock for some of Bryce Canyons more durable and famous hoodoos. Photo taken on June 11, 2017.
Photo Details: Camera Model: Canon PowerShot SX160 IS; Focal Length: 16.38mm; Aperture: ƒ/6.3; Exposure Time: 0.0010 s (1/1000); ISO equiv: 400.