Ian Plant • Photographing The Colorado Plateau Desert

The desert plateaus of the American southwest are unsurpassed in the diverse opportunities they offer for photographers. Ian Plant tells us about how his recent Colorado trip provided yet more proof of this outdoor beauty

The great deserts of the southwestern United States are undeniably remarkable. Other deserts around the world might, in some respects, rival their beauty. But with deep slot canyons, precariously balanced caprocks, sheer cliffs on massive mesas, soaring sandstone arches, towering sand dunes, rainbow-hued badlands and chimerical formations carved in stone, no other desert region on Earth can fully compare to the diversity, scale and sheer audacity of the desert southwest.

I recently traveled to the Colorado Plateau in south-central Utah – a high, cold desert region of sandstone, siltstone and shale. The Plateau is just a small portion of the overall desert southwest complex, straddling the confluence of Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona. But what the Colorado Plateau lacks in relative size (in absolute terms, it is a massive geographic area, but still not as large as some of its surrounding desert cousins), it more than makes up for in sheer beauty and ruggedness. Several major rivers carve through this wilderness with seemingly endlessly repeating hairpin turns and most of the land goes year-round without ...

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About Author


Ian Plant is a full time professional nature photographer, writer, and adventurer. His work has appeared in numerous magazines, books and calendars, and he is a frequent contributor to Popular Photography and Outdoor Photographer magazines, among others.

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