My May 2018 Photo of the Month is Buckhorn Beyond, an image made on Cedar Mountain overlooking Utah’s San Rafael Swell.
Buckhorn Beyond Background
In 2008, I led the Operations of a large service project, one of 5 held under the name ArrowCorps5. As a group of Scouts and 19 Federal, State, and Local agencies, we removed invasive Tamarisk from 33 miles of Utah watershed in the Manti-La Sal National Forest and BLM’s San Rafael Swell.
The 10th anniversary of the project is coming up on June 14, and I wanted a chance to see how our work has held up after a decade. Given the extended Memorial Day weekend, I drove 1,594 miles round-trip.
While surveying our work in the extensive canyon system in the photo known as Buckhorn Draw, I also found time to make some good photographs. One of the items on my to-do list was to photograph from Cedar Mountain, which overlooks the Buckhorn Canyon system. With monsoonal moisture coming in, I suspected it would be enjoyable to see.
Geology On Display
This photograph is made with my Nikon 20mm f/1.8 wide-angle lens. While it has some barrel distortion (not nearly as much as my 14mm had), it is easy to correct. Still, the roll on the horizon has more to do with geology than engineering.
This region of Utah, central and North of the hot tourist spots in the National Parks, is called the San Rafael Swell. The name is apt. Much of the region has seen geologic uplift that has “tilted” many of the mountains and landforms. Much of the areas to the Southeast are uplifted compared to their Northwest counterparts, bringing a series of tilted plateaus and hills. The mountain I am standing on is similar. Much of the region on the right shows much of that tilt in an area called The Wedge. This Swell also creates a row of cliffs extending for miles into Capitol Reef National Park.
So why did I pick Buckhorn Beyond? I gravitate to using beyond when talking about the grandest of views. The entire Buckhorn Canyon system is profiled here, including it’s extensive side-canyons. In fact, Buckhorn itself is a side-canyon system of the San Rafael River. How far is beyond? If you look closely, you can make out the Henry Mountains along the horizon, 75 miles away. While not in this photograph, you can also spot Moab’s La Sal Mountains 90 miles away. That is the sort of thing that makes a grand view truly grand.
As always, thank you for reading, and I hope you enjoy the image.
T.M. Schultze is a San Diego-based photographer, traveller, and writer. He writes, photographs, and draws things of the outdoors that have inspired humans for thousands of years. He co-authored the Photographer’s Guide to Joshua Tree Park which can be purchased here.