Malpais Palisade


Malpais Palisade shows off New Mexico’s stunning red rocks in El Malpais National Monument. There is nothing more dramatic than a southwestern sunset.


The sky was calm the evening Malpais Palisade came to life. The sky was perfectly flat and grey from horizon to horizon, as far as the eye could see. And since I was standing on top of the sandstone bluffs, far above the valley floor, at El Malpais National Monument in New Mexico, I could see quite some ways. The sun made its afternoon journey, unseen, above the featureless sky.

But the clouds, I knew, had a mind of their own. They were drifting slowly to the east. This is probably because they wanted to be nowhere close when the sun decided to set and they were in the way. Wisely, they began quickly scurrying to the east, somewhat breaking up in their haste to get away.

The sun was indeed perturbed when it began its final descent, and let everyone in sight know it. It sent out tendrils of fiery pink and purple, with a heart of oranges and yellows immediately around the sun itself.

The clouds reflected all the colors, mirroring the sun’s displeasure far and wide, glowing with a light all their own. The red rock of the bluffs stood fast, a palisade from the clash of clouds and sun, protecting me. And in the process, providing this glimpse into an extraordinary southwest sunset.

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Matted Photograph, Finished Aluminum