Wild Lands of the West | The BLM, National Geographic Magazine: Aerial Of Castle Valley Landscape

Glowing orange monolith formations look like hats in red rock canyon from a bird's eye view.

Castle Valley’s regal monoliths shadow a red rock landscape near Moab, Utah. Long shunned for its tortured terrain, the Moab area first found celebrity in 1949, after director John Ford shot “Wagon Master” there. Since then, the picture-perfect scenery has provided the backdrop for more than two-dozen films.

Castle Valley is part of a large collapsed salt anticline (folded rock layers with an uplifted core) from when an ancient sea was buried over 300 million years ago. The entire area was lifted up in the late Tertiary creating the Colorado Plateau. As the land eroded, salt layers dissolved when mixed with ground water and the rock strata collapsed and eroded, forming the valley.

The total valley is approximately eight miles long and three miles wide. The average annual precipitation for Castle Valley is about 9 inches, and temperatures range from the high nineties in the summer to the mid-thirties in the winter.