Desert varnish decorates gorgeous Leprechaun Canyon, Hanksville, Utah, USA.
Explore the elegant subway and slot of Leprechaun Canyon in North Wash, between Hanksville & Hite, Utah, USA. Desert varnish coats the Triassic-Jurassic sandstone. Directions: from Hanksville, drive 26 miles south on Highway 95 to the junction with Utah 276 and stay left on H95 for another 2.0 miles across a wash, then park on the left (east) along a short road within the first 100 feet before its sandtrap end. Walk up the wash of Leprechaun Canyon 2 miles round trip to a subway which narrows to a tight squeeze called Belfast Boulevard. Manganese-rich desert varnish requires thousands of years to coat a rock face that is protected from precipitation and wind erosion. The varnish likely originates from airborne dust and external surface runoff, including: clay minerals, oxides and hydroxides of manganese (Mn) and/or iron (Fe), sand grains, trace elements, and usually organic matter. Streaks of black varnish often occur where water cascades over cliffs protected from wind. Varnish color varies from shades of brown to black. Manganese-poor, iron-rich varnishes are red to orange, and intermediate concentrations are shaded brown. Manganese-oxidizing microbes may explain the unusually high concentration of manganese in black desert varnish, which can be smooth and shiny where densest. Nearby, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area is just 8 miles south on H95.Add to Cart Add to Lightbox Download