Though the gusting winds bring only more oppressive heat rather than cool relief and the pot-holed and neglected asphalt roads do their best to return to the land, there is something so achingly beautiful and magical about the desert Southwest. In this landscape of extremes, it’s easy to be humbled by nature. Two hundred and twenty-five million years ago, this arid badland in northern Arizona was near the equator — part of the supercontinent Pangea. A tropical forest filled with strange and wondrous wildlife covered the Colorado Plateau. Streams and rivers cut their way through the prehistoric Earth, flooding with seasonal rains that carried downed trees in their current. Covered with sediment containing volcanic ash, the organic material within the logs, leaves, and even the bones of animals were transformed by the silica from the ash into quartz crystals. As time passed, the continents parted company and North America began to move away from the equator. Sixty million years ago, the Colorado Plateau was pushed upward by tectonic forces, exposing what is now Petrified Forest National Park and the Painted Desert to the eroding effects of the wind and rain. For millions of years, these forces have slowly carved out a landscape of staggeringly beautiful badlands, sculpting — millimeter by millimeter — the layers of finely grained siltstone and shale soils, colored in a rainbow of hues by iron and manganese compounds. As the Earth continues to age, the landscape of the Painted Desert is forever changing. These images were captured with a Canon 5D and Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 L ultra-wide angle lens. petrified-forest-1 petrified-forest-2 petrified-forest-3 petrified-forest-4 petrified-forest-5 petrified-forest-6 petrified-forest-7 petrified-forest-13 petrified-forest-8 petrified-forest-9 petrified-forest-10 petrified-forest-11 petrified-forest-12

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