Dean M. Chriss
Zion Towers, Utah

Zion Towers, Utah

(Click image to enlarge)

The stone towers in this photograph are collectively known as "Towers of the Virgin" in Zion National Park. Some say the towers and other features bearing the name "Virgin" were named for Virgin Mary from the Bible. A 1936 National Park Service publication says the features were named for Thomas Virgin, a friend of Jedidiah Smith. Other towers include the West Temple, the Sundial, the Altar of Sacrifice, and Meridian Tower. These features are massive, rising well over 3000 feet (914 m) from the valley floor and reaching altitudes of 7810 feet (2380 m) above sea level.

To capture this photograph I stood alone in the dark on a cold December morning waiting for something to happen. When the official sunrise time came the sky was filled with clouds, but having nothing better to do I stayed a while longer. Soon there were a few glints of red light that rapidly spread to fill a large portion of the sky with red light.