On this Trivia Tuesday, did you know that you could once actually drive up to view Morning Glory Pool in Yellowstone National Park, instead of the 1.5-mile walk you take now? You can read about this and other interesting facts about this unique hot spring in today’s edition of the National Parks Traveler.
To read the story, click on either of the images above.
Thanks to people, this pool has changed its colors due to all the trash and coins folks have thrown into the water. Just a reminder: none of those colorful hot springs are wishing wells or trash cans, folks. They are unique, rare, and delicate geologic features that deserve our wonder, respect, and appreciation, not rocks, kleenex, snack wrappers, and coins.
For this July 4th, how about a bit of flower fireworks, courtesy of these blooming spider lilies. They make me think of bursting white and yellow fireworks. A bit of a throwback to 2015, courtesy of Brazos Bend State Park in Texas.
Where ever you are folks, regardless of the day (which feels to me a bit marred thanks to tRump’s little Covid party last night at Mount Rushmore National Memorial), please stay safe out there. The coronavirus is here to stay until there is a viable vaccine available to everybody, so please practice social distancing and wear a mask. It aint a hoax.
Here’s your Monday morning sunrise, courtesy of the Green River Overlook in the Island-In-The-Sky District of Canyonlands National Park in Utah. The National Parks Traveler has both a Feature Story and a podcast centered around the impacts that could be made to Utah parks (including Canyonlands) and national monuments due to the sale by the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) of oil and gas leases in these areas.
To read the Feature Story, click on the image above. To listen to the podcast, click on the link below.
As for this image, it was captured the day after New Year’s, back in 2018. I was trying to divide my time between Arches and Canyonlands national parks. I did not want to hike to Mesa Arch and be greeted by a gazillion other photographers and tourists who were waiting to see sunrise beneath the arch, so I drove on to the Green River Overlook to capture the saturated golden and orange hues bestowed upon the red rocks by the rising sun. I was the only one there and it was great!
It’s #WaterfallWednesday ! So here’s a bevvy of waterfalls, and if you click on each photo, you’ll read an interesting fact or two about each.
This image was captured during a winter in Zion National Park, in Utah, so the water is more of a trickle or a track, indicating it’s falling down the side of a hanging valley. According to the placard I read: “Side valleys began to form at the same time as the Virgin River Canyon. But, the main stream downcut faster than its tributaries, leaving them hanging high above the canyon floor. The mouths of hanging valleys are a likely place to look for waterfalls; they also indicate the river’s former level – a measure of the stream’s carving power.”
This image was captured after a bit of a sweaty trek for me, carrying a heavy camera pack (as per usual) and a heavy tripod, working hard to match the pace of my two new friends who insisted I hike with them to Fairy Falls in Yellowstone National Park, because of a bear frequenting the area. I enjoyed the hike more than the falls itself, because I had a pleasant time visiting with the very nice couple.
According to the NPS site page for this park: “Fairy Falls, 200 feet (61 m) high, is one of Yellowstone’s most spectacular waterfalls. From the trailhead, walk 1.6 miles (2.6 km) through a young lodgepole pine forest to the falls. You can continue 0.6 miles (0.97 km) to Spray and Imperial geysers, which adds 1.2 miles (1.9 km) to the hike.” I was too pooped to hike to the geysers, so I and the couple turned around after a short looksee at the falls. I saw that waterfall in October, so the falls wasn’t as “spectacular” in terms of water volume as it probably is during the late spring and early summer.
A waterfall that I *did* think was pretty spectacular was Gibbon Falls in Yellowstone National Park. There is a large parking lot for this next-to-the-road sight with several different vantage points you can walk to along a nice, wide, paved trail. If this is what the waterfall looked like during the autumn, I can only image how powerful it must look during times when the water volume is higher.
According to author Lee H. Whittlesey in his book Yellowstone Place Names: “Gibbon Falls is believed to drop over part of the wall of the Yellowstone Caldera, which is thought to be 640,000 years old.”
Marymere Falls in Olympic National Park, is reached via a very popular, less-than-2-mile hike on a trail that starts behind Storm King Ranger Station, a hop-and-a-skip from Lake Crescent Lodge. This long, narrow waterfall seemingly nestled within a bed of green ferns reminds me of a whiskey bottle, with a long, tall neck and a shorter, fuller, bottom. To get there, you cross a couple of neat log bridges then handle some steep stairs up to two different viewing areas.
If you ever have the opportunity to spend a few days in the remote community of Stehekin, Washington, located at the head of Lake Chelan in Lake Chelan National Recreation Area, then take a hike (after visiting the Stehekin Bakery) or take a bus ride to popular Rainbow Falls. The waterfall cascades 312 feet down to Rainbow Creek, and there are a couple of vantage points from which to view this misty falls – near the bottom of the falls and a short hike toward the middle portion of the falls. It’s one of the most popular stops for day trippers to Stehekin (aside from the bakery, that is) 😉
The beautiful, cold, clear, turquoise water of the Stehekin River winds its final mile through a portion of North Cascades National Park before emptying into the head of Lake Chelan and Lake Chelan National Recreation Area. During my visit to the small, isolated community of Stehekin, a favorite place for photography was at High Bridge, the dividing line between the national park and the national recreation area.
You can learn more of my favorite places for national park (and national monument) photography in the latest article published in today’s edition of the National Parks Traveler. Some of these places have partially or completely reopened to visitors, so if you decide to go out with your camera, please do so safely and at a safe distance from others. Who knows? My favorite places might become yours, or my favorite places might already be your favorite places!
To read the article, click on the image above.
Oh, if you use Instagram, go on over to @national_parks_traveler and check out the video I posted of the Stehekin River. Yes, I’m still maintaining and posting to the Traveler’s Instagram site. Show the Traveler some love and start following the account.
If you really must get out this Memorial Day weekend, then it’s worth a check with the National Parks Traveler to see which parks are open and how much of those parks are accessible. Mesa Verde National Park will open this Sunday, but the cliff dwellings will not be accessible. That said, other parts of the park will be accessible.
To find out what national park units are open, click on the image above.
I’ve only visited Mesa Verde once, but it was a cool trip and I did lots of stuff while there. I took most of the guided cliff dwelling tours (like the one pictured here, of Balcony House) and a guided backcountry tour to Mug House (also very cool) as well as a twilight tour of Cliff Palace. I checked out the ruins on the ground, too, in addition to those above the ground. The scenery is stark and beautiful. The sunrises are gorgeous – especially at Park Point Overlook. I stayed at Far View Lodge, which was very nice … except for the part about finding a black widow spider on the bathroom wall – that shook me a little bit. All in all, it was a great trip and one I recommend if you are interested in learning about the culture and architecture of an ancient people.
A highlight of my summer visit to Padre Island National Seashore a few years ago was the opportunity to photograph a public Kemp’s ridley sea turtle hatchling release into the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. If you are thinking of attending a public viewing of the releasing of these nacho-sized little guys, however, you’ll have to wait until 2021, as all public viewings have been canceled for this year due to the coronavirus. As you can see in the last photo, there is definitely NO social distancing of the 700 – 1200 participants who attend these viewings. On that particular day I took the photo, there ended up being 900 people.
Fruiticose lichen and sphagnum moss on Acadia’s forest floor
You can learn a lot from children’s books, you know. That’s one of the things Jeopardy phenom James Holzhauer did: go to the library and read books from the children’s section. So, in this latest quiz and trivia piece I penned for the National Parks Traveler, I used a children’s book about national parks for most of the information in the quiz. Click on the image and go on over and check it out. See how much you know, and how much you learn. One of the questions deals with what you see in the photo above, which was taken of the forest floor when I visited Acadia National Park, years ago.
Heart Spring, Upper Geyser Basin, temperature > 190 degrees Fahrenheit
Belgian Pool, Upper Geyser Basin, temperature ~ >150 degrees Fahrenheit
Did you know that the colors of the beautiful hot springs you see at Yellowstone National Park indicate the water temperature? Make no mistake, you do NOT want to soak in any of these after a long day hiking. Rule of thumb: the bluer the H2O, the hotter it is. And the orange, yellow, and brown colors you see ringing the springs and leading away from them are thermophilic (heat loving) bacteria.
It’s Fun Fact Friday! Did you know that the petrified logs you see in Petrified Forest National Park range in age from 211 – 218 million years? And those saturated colors come from such trace minerals as hematite, pyrite, goethite, chromium, and manganese. Pretty cool, huh? And now, you know.
I wish I would have had one more day to spend in this national park located in Arizona. It was the very first national park I visited during my 3-week road trip move from Texas to central Washington. I’d never been to this park before, and as what usually happens, even if you’ve done prior research about a park, you still are a little unprepared for what you’ll see and what you’ll do. This national park is one of those less-visited gems, so it’s very easy to practice a social distancing along the trails. This particular trail is called the Crystal Forest Trail.
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