Sands of Time

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Slot canyons – narrow passages between soaring sandstone walls – are rare natural beauties. Only a tiny handful of places in the world have the right combination of desert, geology, and flash-flooding to carve out the earth so precisely. In the U.S., these intricate mazes of light and shadow are concentrated in the high-elevation desert along the border of Utah and Arizona. Each slot canyon is a little different – some are tame with the distance between the palisades never narrower than just a few feet, while others are treacherous, filled with giant boulders to scramble, ice-cold pools to swim through and walls so narrow that the average hiker can’t fit through without turning to the side and sucking in the gut.

The day I took this photo, high winds had filled the canyon passageways with blowing sand that stung the face, blinded your vision, and compromised your camera equipment. At the point where I had decided, I had had enough and it was time to turn back, I came across this quiet alcove. The sand drifting down from above had created three soft sand waterfalls – and, you could suddenly begin to envision how time, wind, and erosion had created these magnificent canyons.

Location: Antelope Canyon; Page Arizona.