Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography


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Probably the best-known sandstone formations at Nevada’s Valley of Fire State Park are the ones that people have nicknamed beehives. Here’s an example from our visit on October 24, 2016. Notice how one set of compact rock layers slices across many thicker layers.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 4, 2017 at 4:45 AM

16 Responses

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  1. That diagonal layer certainly adds interest to an already interesting formation, and I think the cloudy skies help to highlight the sandstone patterns. I’ve become so accustomed to thinking of beehives as square or rectangular that it’s fun to be reminded of this more traditional shape.

    Of course, not only bees live in homes of this shape; people do, too. It’s sobering to realize that Harran today also is the location of refugee camps for people fleeing the Syrian conflict.


    January 4, 2017 at 6:45 AM

    • Thanks for the introduction to the beehive houses of Harran. Though fully man-made, those Turkish structures reminded me of the cave domes in Cappadocia:


      While looking for a website showing those, I found there are other rock formations in the area as well:


      And yes, it’s a shame what has gone on in Syria. It didn’t have to turn out that way.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 4, 2017 at 7:53 AM

      • The photos shown in both of those links are remarkable. As strange as it may seem, the second and especially the third photo on the first page remind me of these pastel tubes you photographed. From Nevada to Harran to Cappadocia and back to Austin, all in one long, associative sweep!


        January 4, 2017 at 9:58 PM

        • That’s a great associative sweep, allowing for a huge change in scale. The last time I was at the limestone overhang, a few months ago, the pastel tubes were still there. Maybe someday I’ll be able to say the same about the formations in Harran and Cappadocia.

          Steve Schwartzman

          January 4, 2017 at 11:00 PM

  2. I’ve never seen this before. Thanks for the shot and information.


    January 4, 2017 at 7:33 AM

    • You’re welcome. I hadn’t heard about the beehives until I went to the Valley of Fire. It’s a great place in many respects, definitely worth visiting if you can.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 4, 2017 at 7:55 AM

  3. Fascinating formation and get shot, Steve. Happy New Year!

    Jane Lurie

    January 4, 2017 at 10:25 AM

    • Happy New Year to you, too, Jane. Valley of Fire is a bit of a stretch from the Bay Area, but definitely worth it if you can go.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 4, 2017 at 10:49 AM

  4. Beautiful! Next place to visit next time I’m in Nevada. Thank you.


    January 4, 2017 at 12:02 PM

    • You’re welcome. I toyed with the idea of flying back to Las Vegas as soon as I got home to Austin. Valley of Fire has more than a day’s worth of things to see.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 4, 2017 at 12:09 PM

  5. Amazing. Happy New Year!


    January 4, 2017 at 4:30 PM

    • Yes, it’s an impressive place, one I wish I’d been able to visit with better weather. Next time.
      Happy New Year to you too.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 4, 2017 at 4:41 PM

  6. An extraordinary sight. Made all the more interesting by that oblique slice of sedimentary rock. How on earth did that arise?


    January 8, 2017 at 2:29 AM

    • I’d heard of igneous intrusions but the oblique slice is apparently caused by a different process. According to the website at


      we’re looking at an example of “geologic cross bedding. Those are the grooved lines going in different directions. The layers or beds represent different layers of silt that are deposited at different times. The beds indicate the angle of the wind or water was moving at the time the material was deposited. Cross bedding is very common in sand dunes, beach deposits, and river sediments.”

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 8, 2017 at 7:24 AM

  7. This is such an interesting sight. I wish these happened to be over the line in Utah, that’s the Beehive State!

    Robert Parker

    December 7, 2017 at 8:52 AM

    • Yes, I thought about Utah’s nickname when I saw the beehives in Nevada. Regardless of what state the beehives are in, they’re definitely worth visiting if you make it back to that area. I’d like to return, too. There was more than I could absorb in one afternoon, especially given the rain that got in our way for an hour or so.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 7, 2017 at 9:24 AM

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