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Twilight Glow at Dead Horse Point

Twilight Glow at Dead Horse Point, Dead Horse Point State Park, Utah

Twilight Glow at Dead Horse Point, Dead Horse Point State Park, Utah

Dead Horse Point, near Moab, Utah, gives visitors a spectacular insight into the power of flowing water when it is given 150 million years to do its patient, inexorable work. From the canyon rim, where this photo was taken, to the Colorado River far below is a precipitous drop of 2,000 feet. The lone Utah juniper, growing from a crack in the arid rock, illustrates how tenacious life must be to survive in this harsh yet beautiful landscape. According to legend, Dead Horse Point got its name because the mesa top served as a natural corral with tall vertical cliffs on every side but one. Only a narrow neck of land some 30 yards wide connected Dead Horse Point to the much larger mesa called the Island in the Sky, now part of Canyonlands National Park. Local ranchers herded the wild mustangs living nearby onto Dead Horse Point, then closed the gate on the short stretch of fence they built across the neck of land to prevent the horses’ escape. After selecting the best horses for their own use, the culls, called broomtails, were allowed to escape. On one occasion, however, either the gate was left closed or the horses were unable to find their way out. All died of thirst within sight of the Colorado River flowing through the abyss below.

I have photographed many times at Dead Horse Point, but only once have I seen such a stunning example of "clear-sky glow light." On this morning, an intense golden glow developed along the eastern horizon about 20 minutes before sunrise. This glow was so strong it overpowered the light from the blue sky directly above Dead Horse Point and flooded even the depths of the canyon with soft, magenta light. For a full explanation of clear-sky glow light, please see my blog post The Science of Glow Light.

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