Planning to visit a national park this 3-day holiday weekend? If so, make sure you check that park’s website for alerts/closures and whether or not you might need a reservation to access certain parts of that park.
Take Glacier National Park, for instance. No, you don’t need to worry about forest fires if you visit now. This image was captured several years ago, during the Sprague Fire on the western side of the park. But, you do need to be aware that the Many Glacier Road is closed this weekend, and visits to this national park now require not only a park pass to enter, but also reservations since it’s ticketed entry to drive Going-to-the-Sun Road.
Same thing with Rocky Mountain National Park – timed entry tickets are required and all the pre-reserved tickets are sold out. This national park does keep a percentage of tickets for those wishing to enter the park on that day. If you want to avoid a reservation, then you need to enter the park before 5 a.m. or after 6 p.m. Good reasons to be an early riser or night owl for sunrise, sunset, and night photography.
I’m staying home this weekend. I do NOT want to encounter the huge crowds I know will be in the parks, and I’m still prepping for my Big Trip that I’ll be taking in about 2 weeks.
Where ever you go, whatever you do, stay safe, keep a good social distance, and be nice to people … unless they are doing something totally stupid, in which case, gently remind them to not do whatever stupid thing it is they are doing (like trying to get a selfie in front of that momma grizzly and her cubs). Your reminders probably won’t work, but at least you’ll have done your part.
Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.
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The National Parks Traveler has published my first photography article for the New Year. It’s a tradition I began some years ago, where I choose my 10 favorite shots from the previous year, why I like each shot, and how I captured each image.
Nature does a fine job at making her own Christmas tree, don’t you think? I photographed this lovely, snow-frosted evergreen along the side of the road in Mount Rainier National Park.
And, since it’s Fun Fact Friday as well as Christmas Day, here’s a little bit of Mount Rainier tree trivia for you: The trees in this park extend all the way up to over 6,000 feet along the mountain flanks (over 1,800 meters, more or less). Forests cover approximately 58% of this national park. And most of the trees here are evergreen conifers, meaning they have needles and they keep their needles on their branches year-round.
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.
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.
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.
Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.
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If you are out and about (and a good distance apart from any other hiker) in a nationanl park or national monument or national forest, then after viewing the wide-angle vistas before you, take a look at the greenery that makes up the scenery, since it’s the little things that flesh out a landscape’s Big Picture.
“May you have all the happiness and luck that life can hold, and at the end of all your rainbows, may you find a pot of gold.” … of course, you might have to engage in some sort of shillelagh fight with a leprachaun to get that pot of gold for yourself, but I know you can do it.
Wherever the trails take you in 2020, remember to pack out what you pack in, stay safe, and enjoy the journey as much as the destination.
As for myself, well, I kept trying to think of what to say for myself and couldn’t come up with anything. The “travel bug” is biting hard and I want to get out and travel right now, but responsibilities keep me anchored to home at this point. This is as it should be, actually, because time at home gives me the much-needed time to spiffy up my photo website (adding keywords to each and every photo, beginning with the national park shots), build up my brand, and work harder at getting out there for more national park photography. Which leads me to this phrase which I have borrowed from a Facebook friend:
“I plan to carry the momentum of small steps on to bigger things in 2020.”
All images on these posts are the exclusive property of Rebecca L. Latson and Where The Trails Take You Photography. Please respect my copyright and do not use these images on Pinterest, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, Snapchat or any other business, personal or social website, blog site, or other media without my written permission. Thank you.
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