It’s #funfactFriday folks! And today’s edition of the National Parks Traveler features a contribution from the Caldera Chronicles, a weekly feature produced by collaboration by scientists and the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory.
Today’s article is all about how the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone came into being. Granted, it’s not like the Grand Canyon of Arizona, but it’s a pretty cool (and colorful) place all on it’s own, “Stretching from the Lower Falls to the Tower Falls area, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is about 28 km (17 miles) long, 250–350 meters (820–1150 feet) deep, and 450–1200 meters (1500–4000 feet) across. It appears to be a surprisingly young feature of the region, having mostly formed during and immediately following the last ice age, within the past 20,000 years or so. “
To read more about this and view the video, click the image above.
These shots were captured during my autumn 2019 visit to Yellowstone National Park. I’d wanted to see the Lower Falls area back during the summer of 2018, as I made my way from TX to WA, but the crowds were horrendous and there was absolutely no place to park – seriously, every single parking space was filled. On the other hand, this visit resulting in these images was great – definitely no crowds.
Pictured here is another “same place, different season” set of images captured at Porcelain Basin, a smaller area within the larger Norris Geyser Basin purview, showing some of those 1,100 thermal features.
There are times when I deliberately set out to photograph a spot I’ve already captured at some other time, but this was not one of those times. I just happened to be standing at the same view area slong the boardwalk – one time in early October (early autumn), then again in mid February (late winter) and discovered just this morning I’d taken photos of that same landscape.
The autumn image was captured with the Canon 5DS I used to own, and the winter image was photographed with my Sony a7riv. Both cameras used a 24-105mm lens (each their own brand). The 24-105mm lens is a great travel lens with a nice focal range that produces great landscape retults.
Ok, be honest. What comes to mind when I write the word “exfoliation?” To me, a picture of dry, flaky skin first comes to mind. However, exfoliation has a geological context to it, too. It’s a weathering process and one of the best places to see this process is along Tioga Road in Yosemite National Park.
As you drive that road, take a look at the granite hills and domes all around you. Notice that interesting sort of “onion peel” effect on the rock layers? That’s exfoliation! It’s a type of weathering and is common in granites.
You see, granite formed beneath the earth’s surface, under immense pressure. So, when the surface sediments and rocks – collectively termed as overburden – covering that granite are eroded or removed and that granite is exposed, the pressure beneath which the granite lay is gone and the granite begins to expand, forming all sorts of fractures (joints). Weathering (like frost heaving) causes plates, or flakes of rock to strip away the surface rock much like onion skin peels away from the onion.
And now you know.
Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.
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It’s Fun Fact Friday, and since the North Rim of the Grand Canyon is set to open this month, I thought I’d put a few fun facts out here about this part of Grand Canyon National Park:
The North Rim is 1,000 feet higher in elevation than the South Rim. That means it’s cooler, wetter, and there are far more trees – so many, in fact, that I found it difficult to get an unencumbered photo of the canyon landscape because of all the trees.
If you are standing at the South Rim looking toward the North Rim, the distance (as the crow flies) is about 10 miles. If you choose to hike from the South Rim to the North Rim, the distance to get there is 21 miles. And if you want to drive from the south to the north, you’ll be taking the “scenic route” and it will take you about five hours to get to the North Rim.
Only about 10% of all visitors to this national park ever make it up to the North Rim, so it’s much less visited – although that doesn’t mean it won’t be crowded at times. Plus, there is only one lodge up there: Grand Canyon Lodge, and one campground (although there are other campgrounds outside the park boundary).
This image was captured at one of the two small view areas below the Grand Canyon Lodge. I spent a couple of days at the North Rim during my move from Texas to Washington state.
Click on the image above if you are interested in purchasing a print.
Yeah, yeah, I know – another one of those posts? Well, why not! Besides, I happened to be in the same spots (deliberately) in Yellowstone so I could capture similar shots. Granted, the cameras are different and the focal distance is different, too. With the winter shot, I used a focal length analogous to 48mm, and with the summer shot, I used a focal length of 70mm, so there’s a slight difference in the amount of landscape you are seeing. I tried cropping the winter shot so that it was a little bit closer to the view of the summer shot.
This may be a similar shot, but with the weather conditions / season you can see how visiting the same spot can yield different results to make it look almost like a completely different landscape.
This location is going downhill on what is known as the Grand Loop Road in Yellowstone National Park. It’s between Hellroaring Trailhead and Tower-Roosevelt Junction. Since it’s Fun Fact Friday when I post this, here’s a bit of trivia for you:
During the summer and warmer days, in general, there are more water molecules in the air. During the winter (cold temps aside), there are far fewer water molecules, which is why it generally feels much drier, your hands and lips get chapped easier, and your photos are much clearer. Aside from the differences in camera resolution, this is why the winter shot here seems to be “crisper” than the summer shot, which appears softer due (at least in part) to the sort of “smoggy” morning with all those steam and summer water molecules in the air.
Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.
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Hey,it’s #FunFactFriday ! If you’ve ever visited any of the view areas along the lower falls of the Yellowstone River in Yellowstone National Park, then you’ve probably noticed a green streek of water at the top of the waterfall.
As you know, the water from the riverbed, when it falls over the edge of the cliff, becomes a mixture of spray and turbulence, much like when water flows over a shallow, rocky portion of a riverbed, streambed, or creekbed. So, there’s a notch in the Yellowstone riverbed, right at the lip of the falls, extending down a little bit past the edge. This notch allows for a short, deeper flow of the riverwater to maintain its beautiful, clear green color before ultimately changing to spray / turbulance as it falls over and then outward from the cliff edge.
It’s #FunFactFriday ! I have always liked ravens. I like crows too, but ravens more. So, here’s a few interesting facts about ravens. These birds are super smart and very curious. They are also quite acrobatic when flying, turning somersaults mid-air. They’ve got a vocabulary of about 30 calls (including flight calls, hunger calls, and danger calls) in addition to non-vocal communication (like snapping their beaks). Once mated, it’s for life, and they usually nest in the same location year after year.
You can tell the difference between ravens and crows in that (among other things), ravens are larger, have uneven tail feathers (which you can see when they fan them out) and have curvier beaks. Ravens usually travel in pairs while crows travel in larger groups (called “murders” as in a murder of crows).
When I stayed for a couple of days at the North Cascades Institute back in 2019, they talked about a pair of ravens they’d named Bonnie and Clyde. These ravens could unzip backpacks in their efforts to get at hikers’ food. I believe I actually met this pair one day while photographing at the Diablo Lake Overlook. They had landed on the fence railing and were eyeing my camera pack, then hopped down next to the pack. I had a feeling they were trying to figure out where the zippers were, so I had to shoo them away.
The one raven with its mouth open in the top photo is doing something you’ll see other birds doing: it’s called gular (goo-lur) fluttering and they do it to cool down on a hot day since they cannot sweat like humans do.
Oh, and while I am on the subject of fun facts, my latest quiz and trivia piece has been published in the National Parks Traveler. It’s all about “August notables.” To read the article, click on either of the images above.
It’s Fun Fact Friday! So, here are a few facts about Denali Mountain and Denali National Park and Preserve in Alaska. Did you know that only about 30 percent of people visiting the park ever get a glimpse of the mountain? Like Mount Rainier, Denali Mountain makes its own weather and these conditions can hide the 20,310-foot tall mountain behind a wreath of clouds and fog most of the time. The first climb to the top of this tallest peak in North America was done in 1913, and a member of the climbing party – Harry Karstens – would later become Denali’s first superintendent.
There’s an interesting article in today’s edition of the National Parks Traveler about Denali Mountain. Climbing rangers out there are voicing concerns about inexperienced climbers trying to summit the mountain, and after reading the article, I see there is very good reason for them to be concerned. To read that article, click on the image above.
I visited Denali National Park and Preserve for five days several years ago, and was lucky to have been able to see Denali every single day I was there. This image is the result of one such day of clear viewing.
Here’s something interesting you might or might not have known about life in Denali National Park and Preserve, in Alaska. There are 39 species of mammals in the park, including the Big 5 (moose, caribou, Dall sheep, wolves, grizzly bears), and 139 species of birds. But, only one amphibian has managed to adapt to life under the harsh conditions of the park’s landscape. The wood frog can actually freeze itself solid during the winter! It’s heart stops, it doesn’t breathe, but there are cryptoprotectant chemicles that keep the frog’s cells alive, and when spring arrives, the frog thaws out and starts searching for a pond and a mate. Pretty cool, huh? (pun intended).
As for this image, it was captured during my 5-day stay at Camp Denali, located near the end of the one and only road through the park. There’s a little pond right outside of the main camp building called Nugget Pond, and on this particular day, I captured three different shots of it as the morning lightened up. The first shot you can see if you look at a previous post. This is the second shot, captured a little later during sunrise, and I’ll post the final shot later on.
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