Cottonwood Cove, Arizona, USA by Roy Goldsberry

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Picture Story

A few years ago my wife and I took a two week trip to northern Arizona, most of which is desert country. One place that we wanted to visit was a remote area in the north central part of the state called Coyote Buttes South, which features very beautiful sandstone rock formations. I got the necessary permit online several months before. Not only is this area very dry, but the rock outcroppings make it hard for plants to take root. The look of the formations is a function of how they were laid down in many layers, then later tipped and eroded.

The location is within the Vermillion Cliffs National Monument. The area, however, is well off of any regular roads, and is reachable only by four wheel drive over deep sand rutted tracks. Not wanting to get lost or stuck, we booked a tour to get there.

Specifically, the guide took us to Cottonwood Cove. The Cove covers many acres and we only had a couple of late morning hours there, so the time and light were not ideal. It was fairly hot as well. We saw just a few sparse plants and the occasional small lizard. There was only one other couple in the tour group, and they stayed in a small area on the site. I tended to range out away from the group looking for compositions, then returning to get additional water.

One spot that I found featured a wide expanse of rock layers on a slope, leading to a line of turret formations with slanted layers. I set up my camera very low on the wide expanse to use the layers as leading lines toward the turrets. There were even some wispy clouds in the dark blue sky for contrast in color and texture.

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