June 9, 2022

State of Canyons

A photo collection of canyons and dams I saw in Arizona.

The US has many impressive canyons from Alabama to Wyoming. Colorado has America's highest suspension bridge over one; Utah has so many of them that it even has a national park called Canyonlands, but Arizona has the king of them: the Grand Canyon.

Its size and details feel out of this world. So much to admire.

Geologists' dream!

But the Grand Canyon isn't the only famous one here. Arizona is also home to the most popular slot canyon: Antelope.

Instead of being carved by the constant flow of a mighty river, Antelope got its shape due to flash floods, and it is much smaller. If it wasn't already a sought-after point of interest, one could easily miss its narrow entrance.

Its scale offers a much more personal experience, and the best part is how the sandstone walls reflect the sunshine in vivid colors. Together with its formational shape, it looks like one walks through frozen flames.

The two above are extraordinary places; however, they can get quite crowded even if one has to obtain an access permit. Thankfully, Arizona also offers calm alternatives without the rush and restrictions. Such as Jacobson Canyon:

...and Gila Box Canyon, whose bottom forms an oasis in an otherwise arid landscape:

Besides the natural prettiness, many of Arizona's canyons feature examples of fascinating engineering: As evident from the photos above, water is pretty scarce here, so many river-carrying canyons got plugged to create reservoirs. One is downstream of the Gila River...

... the Coolidge Dam:

It is from the times when spending extras on decorating infrastructure was cool.

And its design of three reinforced concrete domes is unique.

Yet, perhaps the most striking nowadays is how low the water level is.

The same issue is present in the US' largest reservoir in terms of water capacity: Lake Mead.

Mead is at Arizona's border with Nevada, where the Hoover Dam blocks the Colorado River.

I took these photos in 2013 when the water situation was far from overflowing but better than today. Recently, the water level dropped so low that it revealed bodies of decades-old murder victims. The local mob is the last "industry" that comes to mind as those affected by drought, but here we are. Anyway, back to the engineering...

Theodore Roosevelt Dam is also an interesting project: The original dam was made from stone, but that structure was later wholly encased in concrete to increase its height.

While it holds less water than Hoover Dam, the view on its scale is still rather impressive.

And the surroundings make it a fab spot for recreation.

On the other side of the sizing is the Frye Mesa Reservoir.

It is also the only Arizona dam I saw filled up to its capacity.

That's it for now, but Arizona has more in store. That will be another post, tho. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, you might also enjoy other my posts about other canyons, such as..:


Palo Duro



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Published by: Jakub Stepanovic in Collections


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