Zion Cottonwoods

During my recent trip to SW Utah, I was fascinated by the old and large cottonwoods in the canyon bottoms. While they do have good fall color, I was more mesmerized by the hypnotic bark patterns.

A close-up of the bark reveals such interesting patterns to something thought to be more random in nature. This old tree had fallen from last year’s big floods, a completely normal thing for Zion Canyon. It’s truly amazing that cottonwoods can resist so many flash floods over an 80-120 year lifespan. Of course, there could be “micro-evolution” at work here, in this specialized environment of Zion Canyon.

In these narrow slot canyons, only those trees with the strongest roots can withstand the debris torrents that reshape channels and move boulders, like this one lodged under the huge, water-altered cottonwood branch. To the right of this tree is a house-sized boulder. To the left, outside of view, is another giant boulder. Up the canyon is a giant, super-narrow slot canyon, which drains a substantial watershed of solid bedrock. What an awesome experience it would be to find a safe spot to watch a flash flood here.

To see my recent pictures from SW Utah, go here



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