I never cease to be amazed by the geology of the Colorado Plateau. I first heard about Yant Flat above Saint George, Utah while preparing to visit The Wave during the summer of 2013. While a visit didn’t work out during that trip, in October of 2014 I was finally able to make it to the site. Yant Flat actually refers to a broad flat area that lies above Cottonwood Canyon in the Cottonwood Forest Wilderness in the mountains to the northwest of Saint George. The spectacular geology there is known more appropriately as the Candy Cliffs, since the structure and color of the rocks give the area the look of brightly colored candy of a peppermint stripe variety.
There are two main areas that are accessed via the trail across Yant Flat. Followed to its obvious conclusion, you arrive above that area called the West Candy Cliffs, which have a more or less southwestern exposure. The East Candy Cliffs are found by departing from the main trail and striking out to the southeast. Both locations exhibit amazing colors, layering, and quilting of the sandstone.
On my first visit I arrived mid-morning and found my way to the West Candy Cliffs. While the sky was a brilliant blue, lack of clouds dictated finding compositions that largely ignored the sky. Fortunately, being October, the sun angle was low enough to provide interesting shadows that brought out the structure of the rocks.
Photographic opportunities range from close focus wide angle to capture the interesting shapes of the sandstone, to broad landscapes of the area. Today’s photo is something a bit in between, at least visually. While the images lacks a really good scaling element, the rocks in the lower right corner were at my feet, top of the quilted mound in the center right of the frame was likely 150 feet from my position, the layered cliffs beyond some 200 feet further, and the distant green plateau in the upper right about a mile away.
This large gash in the edge of Yant Flat exposes the colorful Candy Cliffs, and plunges steeply down toward the bottom of Cottonwood Canyon. Standing on the sloping edge, I got a feeling of being able to reach out and touch the sandstone in front of me, while at the same time becoming somewhat disoriented by the strong diagonal layers making me question what was sloped, and what was actually level.
This photo was taken with a Canon EF17-40 mm f/4.0 lens zoomed to 40 mm on a Canon EOS 5D Mk. III. The exposure was set to 1/125 sec at f/16 and ISO 100.