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.
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.
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.
It’s Fun Fact Friday! Did you know that coast redwood trees have a very shallow root system? When I saw these and other downed trees while wandering the Stout Grove Trail in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, it brought to mind the downed oak trees I’d seen after hurricanes while living in southeast Texas. I asked a park ranger about this and she said yes, coast redwoods have shallow root systems that only go about 3 feet down, but the roots migrate outward around the tree for quite a distance, some as far as 80 feet from the tree. And, studies have indicated that one coast redwood tree’s root system can communicate with another redwood tree’s root system, providing nutrients and water to that other tree if it needs them.
According to the National Park Service, there are over 5,000 miles of paved roads through the National Park System. Park roads (paved or unpaved) allow us to reach amazing vistas we might not otherwise see within a national park, national monument, or national recreation area. These roads are marvels of construction and merit a nod of appreciation to those builders who may have risked life and limb to ensure completion of that navigable ribbon of gravel or pavement.
So, my latest quiz and trivia piece published in today’s edition of the National Parks Traveler is all about National Park unit roads, paved and unpaved, and what you can see along those roads. Why not test your knowledge of these roads by clicking on any of the photos. If you take the quiz, try to answer them first before looking at the answers at the bottom of the piece.
It’s Fun Fact Friday, folks! The image above is of a plant called devil’s club. It’s quite striking among the other greenery growing in the forest interior at Mount Rainier National Park. And, as you can see, it’s got little stickers on it. But, there’s more to this plant than what you think.
In addition to using devil’s club for an arthritis remedy, fishhooks and deodorant, Alaska Natives have also used this plant for coughs, colds and fever, skin disorders, and digestive ailments.
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.
“Bobby socks” around Opalescent Pool in Black Sand Basin, Yellowstone National Park
“Bobby socks” along the Fountain Paint Pots Nature Trail, Yellowstone National Park
Hey folks, it’s Fun Fact Friday!
If you’ve ever visited Yellowstone National Park, you’ve seen these dead, desolate trees with the white rings around their bases. Those are called “Bobby socks” and are formed when the trees absorb the silica (natural glass) from the thermal waters. This, of course, kills the trees and “freezes” them to keep them standing.
Recently, I received my book Scenic Science of the National Parks. The National Parks Traveler had done a podcast interviewing the two authors of this book and it sounded pretty cool, so of course, I ordered it. I love learning things about the national parks I’ve photographed, and am pleased and proud that I’ve photographed some of the things mentioned in the book. Here are some interesting facts straight from the book.
This veiny-lettucy-cabbagey lichen in the photo above is called Oregon Lungwort, and it can pull nitrogen straight out of the air.
Oregon Spikemoss can grow 6 feet in length. When parts of this moss die, the spiky leaves curl up and turn brown.
These bright green, delicate ferns waving in the breeze are called licorice ferns. They grow on epiphytes (plants growing on plants) on Bigleaf Maple trees (I didn’t even know this was a maple tree until I looked closely at the leaves) and really do taste like licorice … if you like licorice, that is (ugh).
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