Category Archives: Big Bend National Park

The Traveler’s Checklist for Big Bend National Park (Texas)

Blooming Cholla Cactus, Big Bend National Park (Texas)

It’s that time of year when the cactus should be in bloom in Big Bend National Park. It’s a glorious thing to see something so potentially painful to humans produce these saturated blossoms of magenta, orange, yellow, and red. If you are planning a trip to this national park for the first time, or re-visiting, then you should take a look at my Traveler’s Checklist for Big Bend, published in today’s edition of the National Parks Traveler.

To read the article, click on the image above.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

Comments Off on The Traveler’s Checklist for Big Bend National Park (Texas)

Filed under Big Bend National Park, National Parks, Photography, Texas, Travel, Travel and Photography, Traveler's Checklist

“Half The Park Is After Dark”

A starry sky and mirror-smooth Reflection Lake in Mount Rainier National Park (Washington)
A busy night at the Sunrise Area of Mount Rainier National Park (Washington)
Comet NEOWISE over Crater Lake National Park (Oregon)
Taking the road to the stars in Big Bend National Park (Texas)
A starry sky over the Watchman and Virgin River, Zion National Park (Utah)

“Half the Park is After Dark,” as the saying goes. This week is International Dark Skies Week, so here are a few images of some dark skies over Mount Rainier, Crater Lake, and Big Bend national parks. To read more about this week, click on any of the images above.

I don’t do much night photography, but that’s mainly because it’s hard for me to stay up past my bedtime. I’m not a “night owl” and never was. I’m an “early bird” and have no problem getting up at 3 a.m. to get to a spot for sunrise shots. I really do need to get more night shots of the parks I visit, and I’ll try to make that a mission. Another part of the problem, besides light pollution and staying up late, is that clear skies and moonless nights are the best circumstances in which to view and photograph the stars and Milky Way. Sometimes, I remember to time my trips during the week of a new moon, but oftentimes, I simply forget.

Night shots are a good way to work on your photography skills. To get a decent star image, though, you need to set your camera to Manual (not Auto or Program), put it on a tripod, increase the ISO to greater than 640, and experiment with different slow shutter speeds, anywhere from 10 seconds to greater. It’s also helpful to use a corded or wireless remote shutter release, or utilize the 2-second timer on your camera. That reduces blur from camera shake when your finder touches the shutter button.

It takes a little expertise with the editing software to really bring out that Milky Way and landscape. Some photographers blend anywhere from two to more images to get enough light on the landscape while keeping the dark sky dark. If they are honest, they will say what they did. But most photographers keep quiet. That’s why you will be amazed at seeing something like the night sky over the Watchman and Virgin River at Zion Park, where the landscape is beautifully lit. when in reality – as you can see from the image above, captured around 2 a.m. on a cold, clear February night – it is a a bit darker. Nonetheless, it doesn’t detract from the beauty of the shot.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

Comments Off on “Half The Park Is After Dark”

Filed under Big Bend National Park, Crater Lake National Park, Mount Rainier National Park, National Parks, Night Photography, Photography, Zion National Park

Fun Fact Friday: Big Bend Geology

It’s #FunFactFriday so I thought I’d write about the geology seen in Big Bend National Park (Texas). The Chisos Mountains (part of which you see in the image above) are volcanic in origin. One of those volcanic things you’ll see while driving the road through the park are intrusive dikes. Igneous means the rock is volcanic in origin. Dikes are igneous, and they are called “intrusive” because the magma intrudes upon and into the existing rock layers above it. You can see a long stretch of dikes exposed and sticking up out of the ground in this shot. The rocks around the dikes eroded away, leaving those flat-looking walls of rock, sort of like a zig-zaggy-edged rock fence running over the hillsides and up into the mountain flanks.

I’m looking through past Big Bend (as well as other parks) images to see if there are shots I have not edited, or – at the time – didn’t do as good a job of editing. I honestly can’t remember if I ever posted this image or not, back in 2013 (can it be 7 years ago??) captured during my December visit to this national park in southwest Texas. It was my first (out of four) trips there.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

Comments Off on Fun Fact Friday: Big Bend Geology

Filed under Big Bend National Park, Fun Fact Friday, Geology, National Parks, Photography, Texas, Travel

It’s Trivia Tuesday 4/7/2020!

StarknessOcotillo RaysOcotillo BloomOcotillo - With Flash

It’s Trivia Tuesday, folks! Did you know that the ocotillo, found all over the Chihuahuan Desert in Big Bend National Park in Texas is a shrub and not a cactus? Those spindly, evilly-thorny branches can grow up to 20 feet tall! In the spring, at the tips of each branch grow a cluster of little bright orange-red flowers, the nectar of which attracts carpenter ants and hummingbirds.

And now you know!

Click on each image to see where they go.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

 

 

2 Comments

Filed under Big Bend, Big Bend National Park, Canon, National Parks, Photography, Texas, Travel, Trivia Tuesday

It’s Fun Fact Friday 2/21/2020!

The View Along Lost Mine Trail - 14mm

The view along the Lost Mine Trail, Big Bend National Park, in Texas

Hey folks, it’s Fun Fact Friday! Here are some interesting facts for you about Big Bend National Park, in Texas.

  • There are over 60 species of cactus, 450 species of birds, 1,200 plant species, and 3,600 insect species found in this national park.
  • The name Big Bend comes from a bend in the Rio Grande River, which runs along the park boundary.
  • In 2012, the park was named an International Dark Sky Park, which means it’s awesome for star gazing.

I first visited this national park in 2013 and made 4 more trips there before moving out of Texas. I visited during the winter and spring, when the temperatures were at their most ambient. Late spring was awesome for blooming cactus. And, speaking of visiting, Big Bend is entering it’s busy season, so if you are planning to travel there anytime soon, you’d probably better have alternate lodging plans in case you can’t find an available campsite, according to an article published in today’s edition of the National Parks Traveler.

To read more of that article, click on the image at the top of this post.

Strawberry Pitaya Bloom

A strawberry pitaya bloom, Big Bend National Park, in Texas

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

 

 

Comments Off on It’s Fun Fact Friday 2/21/2020!

Filed under Big Bend, Big Bend National Park, Canon, flowers, Fun Fact Friday, Landscape, National Parks, National Parks Traveler, Photography, Seasons, Spring, Texas, Travel, winter

Climate Change And Big Bend National Park

Morning View of Big Bend Scenery

Whether people want to believe it or not, climage change is a real thing and it’s being factored into many things, such as the water supply for the Chisos Mountains Lodge at Big Bend National Park in West Texas. There’s an article about this in today’s edition of the National Parks Traveler.

To read the article, click on the image above.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

 

 

Comments Off on Climate Change And Big Bend National Park

Filed under Big Bend, Big Bend National Park, National Parks, National Parks Traveler, Photography, Texas, Travel

Where In The National Park System Would You Go?

Lost Mine Trail - 14mm

Ok, so say a loving aunt gave you $100,000 for Christmas, and you have to spend it in the next 365 days. Let’s also suppose you have to use at least some of that money for national park travel. Where would you go?
To read the short article and leave your own comment, click on the image above. I left my comment so you’ll know where I would want to go with that amount of money.
On a side note: this image is a 14mm wide-angle shot of the Lost Mine Trail in Big Bend National Park. It’s a cool hike with some great desert, valley, and mountain scenery.
Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

Comments Off on Where In The National Park System Would You Go?

Filed under Big Bend, Big Bend National Park, National Parks, National Parks Traveler, Photography

USPS To Honor Big Bend With Stamp

Santa Elena Canyon VERT

Hey Big Bend National Park fans: in January 2020, the U.S. Postal Service will be honoring this national park in Texas with a priority mail postage stamp!

To read about this and when you can pick up your own stamp, click on the image above to be taken to the National Parks Traveler article.

 

Comments Off on USPS To Honor Big Bend With Stamp

Filed under Big Bend, Big Bend National Park, National Parks, National Parks Traveler, Photography

Most Photogenic Parks, and Invasive Animal Species in Our Parks

The Road To The Desert

Where will that park road take you? Well, if you are driving through the park road above, which winds through Big Bend National Park in Texas, you’ll be taken to some pretty neat photo ops.

And, speaking of neat photo ops, I’m interviewed in this week’s National Parks Traveler Podcast, Episode #44, about most photogenic parks to visit (some of which might surprise you). The podcast also discusses the invasive animal species in national parks (such as Burmese pythons in Everglades National Park, and wild hogs in Smoky Mountains National Park, and even feral cats at Cape Hatteras National Seashore) and how the National Park System is working on the problem.

If you feel like sitting back for an hour and listening to the podcast (and these podcasts are quite popular, according to our stats), then click on the image above to be taken to the podcast.

 

 

Comments Off on Most Photogenic Parks, and Invasive Animal Species in Our Parks

Filed under Big Bend National Park, National Parks, National Parks Traveler, Photography, Podcast

Favorite Spots For Pretty Pics

Pelican Sunrise

A pelican sunrise over Padre Island National Seashore, in Texas

We all have favorite spots for photos in the national parks we visit. We go there time and time again to see (and photograph) them.

Today’s edition of the National Parks Traveler has published my latest article in which I list some favorite spots and why I and my cameras like them so much.

To read the article, click on the image above.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

 

 

Comments Off on Favorite Spots For Pretty Pics

Filed under Acadia National Park, Arches National Park, Big Bend, Big Bend National Park, Maine, National Parks, National Parks Traveler, Padre Island National Seashore, Photography, Texas, Travel