“The finest workers in stone are not copper or steel tools,
but the gentle touches of air and water working at their leisure
with a liberal allowance of time.”
— Henry David Thoreau
I’m sure that Thoreau never visited North Dakota, but these strangely artistic spires in Theodore Roosevelt National Park certainly prove his point. Sixty-five million years ago, right after the lights went out for the dinosaurs, thick layers of sand, silt, and mud were deposited on the flanks of the rising Rocky Mountains. Since that time, rain and wind have been slowly whittling away at these rocks leaving some rather peculiar pillars.
The badlands of North Dakota are arid, and it doesn’t rain very often. But when it happens, it can be intense, and the lack of vegetation allows the water and wind to have their way with the exposed stone. Leave the destructive siblings at play for a few million years, and nature struts her artistic stuff.
Geologists call this process “differential erosion” because the sandstone in the cap rock is harder than the softer clay beneath, and it erodes at a slower rate. The result is these strangely shaped monoliths standing in a stark, Daliesque landscape. In the States they’re known as “hoodoos.”
Nature has provided a number of these beautiful and unusual artworks in the Western US. The best examples are Utah’s Arches National Park …
… and Bryce Canyon National Park.
But the US doesn’t have the market corned on these beautiful, natural carved rocks. There are other famous locations all over the world. We saw colorfully layered examples in Petra.
And the “fairy chimneys” at Cappadocia, in Central Turkey entice intrepid travelers from all over the globe.
Hoodoos aren’t common, because a number of specific conditions must come together to form these otherworldly formations. But when nature pulls it all together, the results are remarkable.
James & Terri
P.S. And BTW, did you know that the trendy Chinese term feng shui, literally translated into English means “water and wind?”
5. Cedric Gouyvenoux via Wikimedia Commons
6. Luca Galuzzi via Wikimedia Commons
8, 9. Michael Day via Wikimedia Commons