Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

The Chimney Rock in Montezuma County, Colorado

with 12 comments

Chimney Rock with Clouds 1395

There are at least two geological formations in southwest Colorado called Chimney Rock. Here’s the one near the intersection of US 491 and US 160 in Montezuma County as it looked on the morning of September 27th. I wondered if this might be the core of an ancient volcano, the rest of which has disappeared after aeons of erosion, but the strata of rock in the “chimney” make me question that. If anyone knows, please let us us know too.

As promised, I’ve returned to pictures from the American Southwest. After some more of those I’ll come back to central Texas in the autumn, then keep alternating for a while.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman


Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 1, 2014 at 5:30 AM

12 Responses

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  1. For some reason, I felt compelled to build a scale sized replica of this last night from our bowl of mashed potatoes.

    Nice detail, lines and contrast throughout, Steve. It’s amazing the patterns and forms that wind erosion can create. I was surprised to find several Chimney Rock Parks in the U.S.

    Steve Gingold

    November 1, 2014 at 5:48 AM

    • Something weird is going on here, because just last night I had mashed potatoes too. And it was Halloween. And Friday the 13th, if you reverse the 31 (and Yadirf, if you reverse the Friday).

      The Southwest was a great place to play with patterns created by erosion, but fences even around many arid and seemingly unused parcels of land kept me from going where I wanted. Fortunately this formation was close enough to the highway that I didn’t even have to zoom my telephoto all the way.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 1, 2014 at 9:36 AM

  2. Lovely shot!
    Geology is a hobby of mine.
    This site can explain faster than I can type! http://www.chimneyrockco.org/geology.php
    I thought the same as you at first. Like the Iao Needle in Hawaii. However, there’s a bunch more going on here.

    Midwestern Plant Girl

    November 1, 2014 at 5:51 AM

    • Thanks, and thanks for the link to a geological explanation (which caused WordPress to put your comment in the spam folder, where I just discovered it a day late). I imagine the explanation still holds for “my” Chimney Rock, which is the other one of the same name I’m aware of in southwestern Colorado. I’d originally planned to go to “yours” on the afternoon I arrived in Durango, but instead ended up driving north and lucking out with some views of aspens turning colors. There were so many places I wanted to see but didn’t have time for. Given that geology is a hobby of yours, you would have had a great time in that region.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 2, 2014 at 6:23 AM

  3. I love this powerful composition, Steve.


    November 1, 2014 at 11:12 AM

  4. I’m so happy those clouds were in the neighborhood. Sometimes stark contrast works well with this kind of formation, but this is a different kind of perfect: more diffused light, a nice balance between the rock and the sky, and muted colors. It feels not at all overwhelming, and more approachable than some of these landmarks — which I guess it was, given your comment about the highway.


    November 1, 2014 at 5:44 PM

    • As you know so well, when you’re traveling you take whatever the weather gives you. All right, a photographer has some discretion: a different angle can make a difference, and waiting a while can too. On the day in question here, the sky started out fairly clear in Durango and had lightly fleecy clouds across it a couple of hours later at Mesa Verde. Then the weather was as you see it in the Chimney Rock picture, cloudier, with resulting subdued tonalities on the land formations. A couple of hours after that the sky clouded over more heavily and the rain poured down, which it did intermittently for the rest of the day. In fact the storm had been severe enough in Phoenix that by the time we arrived a bit after nightfall, the hotel that we had a reservation in had been without power for six hours and we had to scrounge for a room elsewhere.

      Steve Schwartzman

      November 1, 2014 at 7:22 PM

  5. wow


    November 1, 2014 at 9:19 PM

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