At the end of the road up into the heart of Zion Canyon in Utah’s Zion National Park lies the Temple of Sinawava, a large bowl-like enclosure where the north fork of the Virgin River emerges from the narrows and flows through some of the most spectacular geology in the world. In the center of this bowl sits the Pulpit, a rock column jutting skyward along with a smaller column known as the Altar.
I’ve been fascinated by the geology of the Colorado Plateau and its surroundings since making my first visit to the area in 2013. The Pulpit and the surrounding walls of the Temple are beautiful examples of the Navajo Sandstone, which was being laid down between 200 million and 146 million year ago, a time during which dinosaurs were roaming the Earth. Tectonic forces generated when the Pacific Plate began to interact with the North American Plate about 66 million years ago created the fractures that erosion would eventually turn into the towers, ridges, and canyons in southwestern Utah. Being harder than many of the layers above and below it, the Navajo Sandstone has resisted those erosional forces.
This photo was taken with a Canon EF28-135 mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM lens zoomed to 65 mm on a Canon EOS 5D Mk. III. The exposure was set to 1/10 sec at f/11 and ISO 400.