On a February evening in Buffalo Bill State Park, Cody geologist and photographer Gretchen Hurley captured the fascinating freeze-thaw transformation of water on a shoreline.

The moon rises above Buffalo Bill State Park as the reservoir’s water takes on a variety of freeze-thaw shapes. (Gretchen Hurley)

As the sun set and the moon rose, she wrote in an email, ethereal light cast over ice slabs on the surface of Buffalo Bill Reservoir and crystalline cylinders near the shore. 

Cody photographer Gretchen Hurley captured these ice cylinders forming near the shore of the Buffalo Bill Reservoir in February 2022. (Gretchen Hurley)

Hunks of ice in the water become porous or “rotten” as they melt, she wrote, before producing what’s known as “candle ice” — a fibrous frozen structure oriented vertically through the ice column. 

“Observing these gorgeous ice formations has inspired me to learn more about the formation and deformation of ice on lakes and rivers in the West,” Hurley told WyoFile.  

Crumpled ice and water intermingle on the surface of the Buffalo Bill Reservoir as the sun sets on Feb. 13, 2022. (Gretchen Hurley)

Do you have a striking photo of winter in Wyoming? Submit high-resolution entries to WyoFile’s Cold Snap Challenge by emailing them to editor@wyofile.com under the subject line “Winter photos.” Be sure to tell us when and where the images were taken. We’ll gather the images and publish our favorites through the winter.

Katie Klingsporn

Katie Klingsporn is WyoFile's managing editor. She is a journalist and word geek who has been writing about life in the West for 15 years. Her pieces have appeared in Adventure Journal, National Geographic...

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  1. Great photography. Gretchen Hurley is a great artist, I still have her drawing, “the mountain will remember” hanging on my wall.