March 31, 2014

ARIZONA : Rainbow Bridge - Bridge Creek

Rainbow Bridge National Monument

The U.S. National Park Service

Rainbow Bridge is one of the world's largest known natural bridges. The span has undoubtedly inspired people throughout time--from the neighboring American Indian tribes who consider Rainbow Bridge sacred, to the 85,000 people from around the world who visit it each year.

Rainbow Bridge spans 275 feet across Bridge Creek in an almost perfect parobolic arch. The top of the arch is 42 feet thick and 33 feet wide.

Base of West Arch, Rainbow Bridge National Monument, Arizona

Rainbow Bridge National Monument
respect sign

To Native American tribes/nations, Rainbow Bridge is sacred religious site.  In respect of there long - standing beliefs, we request your voluntary cooperation in not approaching or walking under Rainbow Bridge.

The Geology of Rainbow Bridge

The U.S. National Park Service

Rainbow Bridge is but one of the endlessly fascinating landforms found on the Colorado Plateau and the story of its formation is an intriguing one. Natural bridges are rare, and differ from arches in that they form when a watercourse breaks through rock. Arches are far more common across the Colorado Plateau, although both are SHAPED by the same erosional processes.

The Beginning
The rock formations which comprise Rainbow Bridge are hundreds of millions of years old, deposited in a time when the climate and terrain were very different from what they are today. The base of Rainbow Bridge is composed of Kayenta Sandstone, reddish-brown sands and muds laid down by inland seas and shifting winds over 200 million years ago. The bridge itself is composed of Navajo Sandstone. This slightly younger formation (about 200 million years old) was created as wave after wave of sand dunes were deposited over an extremely dry period which lasted millions of years. These dunes were deposited to depths of up to 1000 feet (305 meters). Over the next 100 million years, both of these formations were buried by an additional 5000 feet (1,524 meters) of other strata. The pressures exerted by the weight of all these materials consolidated and hardened the rock of these and other formations.

The Colorado Plateau
The landscape that we know as the Colorado Plateau is, geologically speaking, a relative newcomer to the Southwest. The Colorado Plateau is an area of uplifted land, located generally around the Four Corners (the intersection of Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico), with the largest sections of the plateau being found in Utah and Arizona. 60-80 million years ago, this area looked very different. It was a relatively stable, flat area. Then, geologic forces began to push the land upward. The greatest and most rapid uplift, however, did not take place until about 5.5 million years ago--a mere breath in geologic time. During this last uplift, the plateau rose some 3000 feet (915 meters) above the surrounding landscape. The uplift buckled the surface of the land. Mountains began pushing up and the earth warped and undulated like an ocean of rock. It began to resemble the fascinating assemblage that is so familiar to us today. But one key ingredient was still to come into play.

Water--the Absent Artist
When we look at Rainbow Bridge and other spectacular landforms on the Colorado Plateau, we are witnessing a landscape whose principle sculptor was water. Water was not always the infrequent visitor it is today. When the Colorado Plateau uplifted a few million years ago, river gradients were dramatically steepened, especially the Colorado's. These rivers combined their forces with that of the uplift to quickly cut many deep canyons into the plateau. During this time, periods of heavy rains dramatically increased the amount of water flowing across the plateau. In addition to canyon cutting, water also played a role in other ways, including the formation of Rainbow Bridge. Much of the exposed rock on the plateau, including Rainbow Bridge, is sandstone. Sandstone is really nothing more than grains of sand, some fine, some coarse, bound together by water soluble materials, like calcium carbonate. Whether it's a raindrop or a river, water dissolves this bond and washes away the grains of sand, creating a myriad of fascinating shapes and forms.

A Rainbow Made of Stone
Initially, water flowing off nearby Navajo Mountain meandered across the sandstone, following a path of least resistance. A drainage known today as Bridge Canyon was carved deep into the rock. At the site of Rainbow Bridge, the Bridge Canyon stream flowed in a tight curve around a thin fin of soft sandstone that jutted into the canyon.

This illustration shows the process of the formation of Rainbow Bridge.

As you can see from the illustration, the force of the stream eventually cut a hole through the fin. Rainbow Bridge was created when the stream altered course and flowed directly through the opening, enlarging it. This process continues to this day, imperceptibly altering the shape of the Bridge. The same erosional forces which created the bridge will, eventually, cause its demise. Rainbow Bridge, along with the rest of the spectacular landscapes of the Colorado Plateau, will exist for only the blink of an eye in geologic time. We should consider ourselves fortunate, indeed, to be witness to these awe-inspiring formations. Let us treasure them while we can.

Rainbow Bridge National Monument
Location : San Juan County, Utah, USA
Nearest city : Page, Arizona

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March 24, 2014

NAVAJO NATION : Monument Valley Sunrise - AZ/UT

The Mittens at Sunrise, Monument Valley, Arizona-Utah

The land, the hills, and the mountain has a life in it.

The ground which we stand on has a life in it.

Monument Valley

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Monument Valley (Navajo: Tsé Biiʼ Ndzisgaii, meaning valley of the rocks) is a region of the Colorado Plateau characterized by a cluster of vast sandstone buttes, the largest reaching 1,000 ft (300 m) above the valley floor. It is located on the Arizona-Utah state line (around 36°59′N 110°6′WCoordinates: 36°59′N 110°6′W), near the Four Corners area. The valley lies within the range of the Navajo Nation Reservation and is accessible from U.S. Highway 163.

Monument Valley has been featured in many forms of media since the 1930s. Director John Ford used the location for a number of his best-known films, and thus, in the words of critic Keith Phipps, "its five square miles have defined what decades of moviegoers think of when they imagine the American West.

Geography and geology
The area is part of the Colorado Plateau. The elevation of the valley floor ranges from 5,000 to 6,000 feet (1,500 to 1,800 m) above sea level. The floor is largely siltstone of the Cutler Group, or sand derived from it, deposited by the meandering rivers that carved the valley. The valley's vivid red color comes from iron oxide exposed in the weathered siltstone. The darker, blue-gray rocks in the valley get their color from manganese oxide.

The buttes are clearly stratified, with three principal layers. The lowest layer is the Organ Rock Shale, the middle is de Chelly Sandstone, and the top layer is the Moenkopi Formation capped by Shinarump Conglomerate. The valley includes large stone structures including the famed "Eye of the Sun".

Between 1945 and 1967, the southern extent of the Monument Upwarp was mined for uranium, which occurs in scattered areas of the Shinarump Conglomerate; vanadium and copper are associated with uranium in some deposits.

Monument Valley is officially a large area that includes much of the area surrounding Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, a Navajo Nation equivalent to a national park. Oljato, for example, is also within the area designated as Monument Valley.

Visitors may pay an access fee and drive through the park on a 17-mile (27 km) dirt road (a 2-3 hour trip). Parts of Monument Valley, such as Mystery Valley and Hunts Mesa, are accessible only by guided tour.

Monument Valley experiences a desert climate with cold winters and hot summers. While the summers may be hot, the heat is tempered by region's aridity and high altitude. Although the valley experiences an average of 54 days above 90 °F (32 °C) annually, summer highs rarely exceed 100 °F (38 °C). Summer nights are comfortably cool, and temperatures drop quickly after sunset. Winters are cold, but daytime highs are usually above freezing. Even in the winter, temperatures below 0 °F (−18 °C) are uncommon, though possible. Monument Valley receives an occasional light snowfall in the winter; however, it usually melts within a day or two.

The Mittens at Sunrise on black & white, Monument Valley, Arizona-Utah

Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park


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March 17, 2014

ARIZONA : Saguaro Cactus in Sonoran Desert - S.N.P.

Saguaro Cactus Forest, Tucson, Arizona

Tucson, Arizona is home to the nation's largest cacti. The giant saguaro is the universal symbol of the American west. These majestic plants, found only in a small portion of the United States, are protected by Saguaro National Park, to the east and west of the modern city of Tucson. Here you have a chance to see these enormous cacti, silhouetted by the beauty of a magnificent desert sunset.
National Park Service

Saguaro National Park
Tucson, Arizona

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March 3, 2014

ARIZONA : "slanting rays" - Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon background at Sunset, seen from Yaki point, South rim

Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon National Park is the United States' 15th oldest national park. Named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979, the park is located in Arizona. The park's central feature is the Grand Canyon, a gorge of the Colorado River, which is often considered one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. The park covers 1,217,262 acres (1,901.972 sq mi; 492,608 ha; 4,926.08 km2) of unincorporated area in Coconino and Mohave counties.

Grand Canyon background at Sunset, seen from Desert view point, South rim


Grand Canyon National Park was named as an official national park in 1919, but the landmark had been well known to Americans for over thirty years prior. In 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt visited the site and said: "The Grand Canyon fills me with awe. It is beyond comparison—beyond description; absolutely unparalleled through-out the wide world... Let this great wonder of nature remain as it now is. Do nothing to mar its grandeur, sublimity and loveliness. You cannot improve on it. But what you can do is to keep it for your children, your children's children, and all who come after you, as the one great sight which every American should see."

Despite Roosevelt's enthusiasm and his strong interest in preserving land for public use, the Grand Canyon was not immediately designated a national park. The first bill to create Grand Canyon National Park was introduced in 1882 by then-Senator Benjamin Harrison, which would have made Grand Canyon National Park the nation's second, after Yellowstone National Park. Harrison unsuccessfully reintroduced his bill in 1883 and 1886; after his election to the presidency, he established the Grand Canyon Forest Reserve in 1893. Theodore Roosevelt created the Grand Canyon Game Preserve by proclamation on 28 November 1906 and Grand Canyon National Monument in 1908. Further Senate bills to establish the site as a national park were introduced and defeated in 1910 and 1911, before the Grand Canyon National Park Act was finally signed by President Woodrow Wilson in 1919. The National Park Service, established in 1916, assumed administration of the park.

The creation of the park was an early success of the conservation movement. Its national park status may have helped thwart proposals to dam the Colorado River within its boundaries. (Later, the Glen Canyon Dam would be built upriver.) In 1975, the former Marble Canyon National Monument, which followed the Colorado River northeast from the Grand Canyon to Lee's Ferry, was made part of Grand Canyon National Park. In 1979, UNESCO declared the park a World Heritage Site.

In 2010, Grand Canyon National Park was honored with its own coin under the America the Beautiful Quarters program.

Grand Canyon background at Sunset, seen from Yaki point, South rim


The Grand Canyon, including its extensive system of tributary canyons, is valued for its combination of size, depth, and exposed layers of colorful rocks dating back to Precambrian times. The canyon itself was created by the incision of the Colorado River and its tributaries after the Colorado Plateau was uplifted, causing the Colorado River system to develop along its present path.

The primary public areas of the park are the North and South Rims of the Grand Canyon itself. The rest of the park is extremely rugged and remote, although many places are accessible by pack trail and backcountry roads. Only the Navajo Bridge near Page connects the rims by road in Arizona; this journey can take around five hours by car. Otherwise, the two rims of the Canyon are connected via the Mike O'Callaghan–Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge and the Hoover Dam.[8]

The park headquarters are at Grand Canyon Village, not far from the south entrance to the park, near one of the most popular viewpoints. Park accommodations are operated by Xanterra Parks and Resorts.

North Rim

The North Rim is a smaller, more remote area with less tourist activity. It is accessed by Arizona State Route 67.

South Rim

The South Rim is more accessible than the North Rim; most visitors to the park come to the South Rim, arriving on Arizona State Route 64. The highway enters the park through the South Entrance, near Tusayan, Arizona, and heads eastward, leaving the park through the East Entrance. Interstate 40 provides access to the area from the south. From the north, U.S. Route 89 connects Utah, Colorado, and the North Rim to the South Rim. Overall, some thirty miles of the South Rim are accessible by road.

Grand Canyon National Park

Coconino and Mohave counties 
Arizona, United States

Grand Canyon, AZ 86023

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