the painted landscape

April 02, 2023  •  2 Comments

Before humans (including painter Georgia O'Keefe) arrived on the scene, the earth's geologic forces were at work, and the shaping is ongoing. We are simply unable to see the change in terms of a day, week, month or year, or even decades.  The painted landscape in northern New Mexico, west of Abiquiu, could easily be a geology master class, millennia in the making.

Echo Amphitheater is part of New Mexico's Carson National Forest.  Most people who enter the area do so to experience the acoustic wonder. Below is an image of the amphitheater itself that produces the great echoes.  

Echo Amphitheater 1Echo Amphitheater 1  

Listening to people whispering, yelling, whistling, clapping their hands and making assorted noises and then hearing the sound ricochet is compelling.  But to me, the formations around it are the most amazing elements of the place.  You can almost see the original artist at work, layering the sandstone and applying  desert varnish over the centuries.

Echo Amphitheater 2 (1)Echo Amphitheater 2 (1)  

Formations surrounding the amphitheater are stunning in their layering and color palette.

Echo Amphitheater 5Echo Amphitheater 5

Echo Amphitheater 3Echo Amphitheater 3

Weather shapes, softens, and alters the colors over time. 

Echo Amphitheater 4Echo Amphitheater 4

One can see pillars forming in the monolithic masses of Jurassic Entrada Formation sandstone (pink to orange) and in the caps of Jurassic Todilito Formation limestone.  These are just the basics of a very complicated geological region, described further in an article from the New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources.

Echo Amphitheater 6Echo Amphitheater 6

The geological region extends east of Echo Amphitheater, as shown here, and into the Ghost Ranch area.  Jurassic Entrada sandstone is found throughout much of the American West, including in Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, and Arizona, in addition to northwestern New Mexico.     

Echo Amphitheater/O'Keefe County 1Echo Amphitheater/O'Keefe County 1

Although Echo Amphitheater is currently closed for renovation, work is expected to be complete by late fall or early winter.  (The irony of the previous sentence just hit me!). You can still drive up to the bar gate and enjoy the landscape and quiet.  

Thanks to Barbara F. R., Peggy, Veronica, Christina, Catherine, Donna & Dave, Steve, Lisa S., Sara, and Jean and Sam for your comments on last week's blog.  

until next Monday,


a passion for the image©



These wonderful photos make me want to go on a road trip!
Steve Immel(non-registered)
Thanks for the Geology 101. Jurassic Entrada and Jurassic Todalito formations are new to my vocabulary and understanding. I'd say that O'Keefe Country is known for exactly the formations in your your post. If you were trying to encapsulate New Mexico in ten images, you'd have to include at least one of these beauties. What others would be in your ten essential locales or subjects?

Anyway, these are wonderful and do the Grand Dame proud. Are these from a recent jaunt or from the archives? The road is certainly calling me.


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