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Fiery colors highlight the evening sky in Valley of Fire State Park, and frames the photographer against its brilliant reds.

Ray Ford

Fiery colors highlight the evening sky in Valley of Fire State Park, and frames the photographer against its brilliant reds.


Wonderland of Rock

up close and personal


It is just an hour before the sun will drop over the hills behind me. it is warm but a light breeze keeps things cool enough to enjoy these moments. Quickly hopping out of the car, grabbing my camera and a bottle of water, I scurry off toward the distant skyline.

I’ve been here many times before but no matter how often, I am always impressed. As the sun tilts towards the horizon, the desert air filters it, turning the red, yellow and purple sandstones an intensely brilliant hue of their former selves. The rock is alive with color.

A wonderland of rock, the multi-colored sandstone invites you into its depths.
Click to enlarge photo

Ray Ford

A wonderland of rock, the multi-colored sandstone invites you into its depths.

As with most photographers, there are few times I insert myself into the image, but this is one of them. I’ve come a ways from the car; no trail guides me, but rather I follow the flow of the rock. Here the sandstone is soft and yields to the erosive forces of wind and water, softening what might otherwise be steep cliffs, making it easy to scramble up and over them. This is an explorer’s paradise.

Slowly the feeling begins to prevail that I am somehow a part of this place; no mere visitor intent on collecting experiences and photos. It is quiet here. Being off trail it is easy to find oneself alone or with just a companion or two. Most of the people who visit here rarely venture more than a football field’s distance off the pavement or pathway.

In the morning light the park is equally impressive; yet it is available only to those who rise early. By 10AM the light has faded and the bright sunshine has turned the air an uncomfortable shade of hot. Never matter; sunset is not that far off.

By Ray Ford

Morning light provides a different coloring than evening sun, but is still ever-so-intense. Explorers are welcome here.

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