Our neighbor to the North sure has some pretty national parks of its own, don’t you think? And since it’s #FunFactFriday here are some pieces of trivia about Banff National Park:
Banff National Park was Canada’s first national park. The mountains in this park are believed to be between 45 and 120 million years old. Before Europeans came into the region, this area had been inhabited by the Peigen, Kootenay, Stoney, and Kainai aboriginal peoples, to name a few.
This image was captured off of the Icefields Parkway, while on my way from Banff National Park into Jasper National Park. Even in April, when it’s spring in the lower elevations, it’s still winter in the higher elevations of the mountains.
Whew! Is the coast all clear? Can I safely do my turkey trot? Yup, you and your rafter (aka flock) of wild turkey friends in Zion National Park have made it to Thanksgiving Day intact. (I’m keeping mum about the not-so-lucky turkeys).
However you celebrate Thanksgiving – if you even mark it at all – please have a safe day and think about all the things for which you are thankful. I’m thankful for my family, a roof over our heads, food to eat, my cameras (of course), and that we all continue to be healthy within this pandemic (hope I haven’t jinxed anything).
On my next-to-last day in Zion National Park, I happened upon a flock (actually, it’s called a “rafter”) of wild turkeys. I first encountered them along the road through the park and thought that was pretty cool and I was tickled to have seen them then. Then, during a hike where I was crossing the bridge from Sand Bench Trail toward the Court of Patriarchs, I found a flock – er – rafter – of them hanging out around a park maintenance building. I had the best time walking along with them, photographing them. They weren’t the least bit afraid of me and that’s where I learned they can actually fly – enough to get up into a tree, at least. Wild turkeys, for all their grizzled faces, are pretty cool birds to watch, and their feathers are beautiful.
The birds you see in national parks and other protected lands are part and parcel of these places, fleshing out the story of your visit. You don’t need to stake out a site for your tripod and use a mega-telephoto lens to capture great images of the birds.
This month’s photo column in the National Parks Traveler is all about bird photography with whatever camera/lens you happen to have on you during your hike or stop at a park overlook.
Did you know that Grand Teton National Park is part of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem? You can read more trivia like this and test your knowledge about this national park with the latest quiz and trivia piece penned by yours truly and published in the National Parks Traveler. If you’ve visited this park, then see how much you really know. If you’ve not yet visited, then this should encourage you to put this place on your bucket list of parks to see.
To take the quiz and read the trivia, click on the image above.
As for the image above, I captured it one lovely summer morning during my 1-1/2 day stopover in the park while making my Big Move from Texas to Washington state. Summers are hideous in terms of crowds here, but if you get up early enough, you can stake out a spot with ease for lovely sunrise shots like the one here, along the banks of the Snake River at Oxbow Bend.
After a presidential election, what better photo to post than the symbol of American democracy, the bald eagle. As I post this image, I am listening to National Parks Traveler podcast episode #91, about bald eagles in Chesapeake Bay and how populations in the national parks around the Bay have a bit of a better chance of survival. It’s a good podcast, if you feel like listening. It’s about 41 minutes long, and you can download it to listen to later.
To listen to the podcast, click on the image above.
This image was of a bald eagle taking off from a snag in the Brooks River in Katmai National Park, in Alaska was captured with my Canon 1DX and rented 500mm lens.
Ok, I’m a little late in getting this posted – a day late, actually. Nonetheless, yesterday was National Bison Day. And, in honor of that day, the National Parks Traveler published a short aerial video about a herd of 100 bison from Badlands and Theodore Roosevelt national parks being released onto the Wolakota Buffalo Range of the Rosebud Sioux Reservation in South Dakota. That article also has links to other Traveler stories about bison.
To see the video and perhaps click on the links to other bison-related articles in the Traveler, click on the top image.
The images above were captured during a visit to the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park. I was actually on my way out, but before I reached the park entrance/exit booths, I saw a small herd of bison on either side of the road. I parked in a pullout and drew out my Canon and 100-400mm lens to capture some shots of the bison and the tussle (and subsequent detente) between two male bison.
Here’s an interesting thing about the bison located on the North Rim: these particular animals are a result of an experiment at crossbreeding cattle with bison by a man named “Buffalo Jones.” Mr. Jones wanted to cross the two species to create a hardier breed that could withstand the cold and snowy winters of the Plains. Didn’t really work. The small herd made its way to the North Rim, and, if you ever see any during your own North Rim visit, look at them closely (without getting close to them, if you get my meaning) and see if you don’t spot a few that look “cow-ish” and maybe have white faces.
This is Emerald Pool, at Black Sand Basin, just a couple of miles or so from Upper Geyser Basin in Yellowstone National Park. Black Sand Basin is pretty cool because it doesn’t seem to be visited as much, being between the very popular Upper Geyser Basin, where Old Faithful is located, and Midway Geyser Basin, where Grand Prismatic is located.
So, it was on a quiet autumn day back in 2019 that I visited this pool of hot water. It was a teeny bit breezy so that the steam rising from the hot spring was not so thick you couldn’t see the actual color and shape of the pool.
I posted it today because National Parks Traveler published an article yesterday about some crazy idiots who took a couple of plucked chickens with them on a hike out to Shoshone Geyser Basin. They then put those chickens in a burlap bag and threw the bag into a hot spring to boil.
I’m sure those people thought they were being incredibly clever, but instead, they were being incredibly stupid. First of all, the waters in those hot springs are pretty caustic, so I’m sure the chicken would not have tasted very good, if they had not been dissolved in the first place by those caustic waters. Secondly, doing something like that disturbs and changes the delicate ecological and chemical balance and character of the hot spring, just like people throwing trash and coins into Morning Glory Pool have, over time, changed the once pristine saturated blue color into a yellow and green color. Thirdly, those morons on their little backcountry trip were extremely lucky they didn’t step onto thin crust and fall into a boiling hot spot during their little cooking venture.
Thankfully, a backcountry ranger caught them. But I’m sure the penalty will only be a slap to the wrist. Honestly, if those people wanted cooked chicken (and I wonder how they got that chicken out there on their backcountry hike in the first place, without it spoiling in the process), they should have just gone to a Wally World-type recreational venue, with lodging and restaurants.
Ok, that’s my eye-roll story for the day. Click on that image above to read the article.
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