WIND AND WATER have been eroding away the sandstone of the desert southwest for thousands of years, carving deep canyons and leaving buttes that rise above the surrounding desert floor. This desert landscape has been a home to people for thousands of years, from the ancient Puebloan people to Edward Abbey and today’s adventurers who explore this stark, yet beautiful region of the United States. These photos help show the beauty of the desert southwest.

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Upper Antelope Canyon near Page, Arizona is famous for its beams of light that shine into the canyon for only a matter of minutes at midday.

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Dust kicked up from the sandy bottom helps the light beams become visible in Upper Antelope Canyon in Arizona.

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Over thousands of years, water carved through the soft sandstone to create Upper Antelope Canyon and define its abstract formations.

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Anasazi ruins tucked away along Aztec Butte in the Island in the Sky District of Canyonlands National Park, Utah.

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An evening thunderstorm clears over the Island in the Sky District of Canyonlands National Park.

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Fog fills up the Colorado River Basin between Moab and Canyonlands National Park.

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An afternoon rain shower leaves puddles for a sunset reflection of Delicate Arch in Arches National Park, Utah.

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For good reason, Delicate Arch is a popular place to watch the sunset.

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During the spring, if you wait until about 4 am, the Milky Way is perfectly framed by Delicate Arch.

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While not an officially-marked trail, the scramble down to False Kiva below the mesa rim is worth the view in Canyonlands National Park.

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Snow from a spring storm melts at Green River Overlook in Canyonlands National Park.

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After a day of thunderstorms, the sun pokes through the clouds just before it sets over the Green River in Canyonlands National Park.

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Sunrise over the tightest bend in the Colorado River at Horseshoe Bend in northern Arizona.

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Sunset over the Island in the Sky district of Canyonlands National Park, Utah.

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Kolob Canyons is the lesser-visited northern section of Zion National Park with vast views and no crowds.

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Mesa Arch is the only arch in the Island in the Sky district of Canyonlands National Park — it provides a window down to the Colorado River from the canyon rim.

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Moonrise behind Merrick’s Butte and The Mittens in Monument Valley on the Utah/Arizona border.

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Sunrise between the famous West and East Mittens in Monument Valley.

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A juniper tree frames West Mitten in Monument Valley.

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900-year-old fingerprints from the original builders of the Moon House Ruin on Cedar Mesa, Utah

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The Moon House Ruin holds a number of rooms within the exterior protective wall hidden in McLoyd Canyon on Cedar Mesa, Utah.

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Until the next flash flood this tumbleweed sits in Rattlesnake Canyon in northern Arizona.

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Thousands of years of erosion cut through the Navajo Sandstone to create fascinating lines within Rattlesnake Canyon.

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Snow Canyon State Park in the far southeast corner of Utah is a red rock playground for hikers, rock climbers and mountain bikers.

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The Left Fork of North Creek cuts through the sandstone creating the short tunnel-like slot canyon called the Subway in Zion National Park.

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Washerwoman Arch pokes out of the fog as the sun rises above the La Sal Mountains near Moab, Utah.

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Cottonwoods and sandstone cliffs reflect in North Creek in the early morning light, Zion National Park.

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A small cascade in North Creek below the Subway in Zion National Park.

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Small slot canyons branch off from Pine Creek Canyon on the eastside of Zion National Park.

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