Beehives are so named because they tend to resemble beehives. This effect is
caused by erosion, mostly wind, or Aeolian processes. Aeolian erosion
has two main processes, deflation and abrasion. Nearby is evidence of
the process of deflation where sand is removed by wind and transported
across the desert forming sand dunes and abrading rock surfaces along
Although Aeolian abrasion is not often as significant as the abrasion
process in streams or along shores, it is significant over long periods
of time. The result are sculpted rocks with unusual shapes due to the in
situ erosion. In a fluvial environment erosion results in rounded shapes
as rocks are tumbled end over end. The wind based abrasion pits,
polishes, facets and shapes the exposed rock surfaces in as many ways as
the wind can blow.
the sand is ultimately deposited in dunes somewhere, it takes on the
shapes of ripples and waves like sand under flowing water. As the sand
piles up, dunes get larger. As the wind continues to blow, the dunes
migrate in the direct that it does. The shifting winds and the
continuing deposition of sand creates an effect called cross bedding.
This is caused by the sand being blown down the slip face or leeward
side of the dune.
Beehives are located near the west entrance of the park. There
is plenty of parking and there are three group camping areas
nearby where you can reserve spaces for your group or family.
Over time the dunes that were created in this area became fossilized.
Geologic process have reveal these fossilized dune fields and exposed
them to erosion. At the Beehives we see the process repeat and reveal
itself. The wind blown sand abrades the softer rock first articulating
the layers of sand originally deposited hundreds of millions of years
ago as the courser, leeward deposit remains.
Some of the erosion is now caused by people climbing on the soft
sandstone. Fortunately there is no rock climbing allowed and the
area is as pristine as possible.