Wednesday, July 2, 2014

A Special Place: False Kiva in Canyon Lands

There is a place in Canyon Lands, Utah that is one of my all time favorites. Like so many places I’ve been I first learned of it through images published in photography magazines and on line. When I first saw a picture of it I knew it was a place I just had to visit. I began searching for its location and how to get there. Much to my surprise there were no maps showing the route into it. I did discover it is located high up on a canyon wall in an isolated area of Canyon Lands National Park in Utah. And I learned that it is a Class II Archeological Site, still being excavated and studied.

This location is called False Kiva, and it dates back to the 1200’s.  It was believed until recently to belong to the Anastasi Indians. More recently the thinking is the site belonged to the Pueblo Indians, likewise of the same period of time. The Park authority does not permit the printing of maps showing its location because of its archeological status. So finding it is quite and adventure in itself.

Hidden On The Canyon Face

The day I went there I had been traveling all day, with very little sleep the night before. Upon arrival in Moab all I wanted was a couple hours of rest. But, alas, there were clouds in the sky, presenting a perfect condition for photographing the False Kiva! Knowing that I couldn’t rest. So off I went, and what a great adventure it was!

The False Kiva is completely hidden. It is located high up on the wall of the canyon and out of sight  from anywhere on the route to get there. When one hikes into the canyon, they must pass under the kiva, walk past it, then double back and hike up higher on the canyon face. It is not until you step into the kiva that you finally see it! And oh what a site it is.


If you have the opportunity to visit the False Kiva, come prepared to spend some time in deep contemplation. I know of no other place like it.

For the Photographer:

The Kiva is an alcove. This image was taken from the very back of the alcove looking out over Canyon Lands. As you can see, a bright sunny day would make capturing this shot difficult, requiring a graduated neutral density filter and/or bracketed shots. As it was, with the cloud cover the shot was much more manageable. Canon 5D Mk III, on a tripod, focal length of 16mm, aperture f/22, taken in the late afternoon.

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