Category Archives: National Parks Traveler

It’s Trivia Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Young Hopeful Geyser, Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming)

It’s Trivia Tuesday ! So here’s a little trivia about Yellowstone National Park. The world’s first national park, it is the size of Delaware and Rhode Island, combined. 5% of the park is covered with water, 15% grasslands, and 80% forests. Half of the world’s hydrothermal features, including Young Hopeful Geyser, pictured here, are found in this park. Barring any snowstorm, most of the roads in this park will be open to the public this Friday, April 16th. If you are interested in seeing which roads are open and which ones remained closed, there’s an article reporting this info published today in the National Parks Traveler. To read the article, click on the image above.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Let Others Know You Are A Parks Traveler

I won’t ever ask for money on my behalf, but I will promote issues and entities about which I feel strongly and support, myself. Sure, I have a vested interest in the National Parks Traveler, but even if I didn’t, I’d support it because I believe in it.

The Traveler is the only media organization, profit or nonprofit, that covers national parks and protected areas on a daily basis. The Traveler publishes a wide range of articles, including the most recent about a visit to Big Thicket National Preserve in Texas in search of carnivorous plants, the history of sea chanteys as told at San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, the loss of Joshua trees at Mojave National Preserve, and the struggle Navajo artisans have had with closure of the Hubbell Trading Post due to Covid. 

No other outlet is telling these stories, daily or otherwise.

In the days and weeks ahead, among the stories the Traveler plans on posting is one looking at the increasing cost, due to additional fees, of a national park visit; another on the staggering loss of sequoias at Sequoia National Park and elsewhere; a piece that examines the uniqueness of Fort Laramie National Historic Site as a keeper of Westward Expansion history, and; a look at Catoctin Mountain Park, home to Camp David. There will be more in-the-park reporting, plus a continuation of the Traveler’s podcast series, which recently published it’s 113th episode!

I’ll be a part of the stories you see, too, with the Traveler’s Checklists, quizzes and trivia pieces, and monthly photography articles.

Think about a monthly donation to the Traveler, and you can choose from some pretty cool swag (see photos above) to show others that you are a parks traveler. To make a donation, click on the National Parks Traveler highlighted link, above. And, thanks!

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National Parks Quiz and Trivia #28 – The Spring Wildflower Edition

Blooming claret cup cactus in Big Bend National Park (Texas)

It’s time to test your knowledge with my latest quiz and trivia piece published in today’s edition of the National Parks Traveler. It’s all about spring wildflowers in the national park system. See just how much you know and maybe learn something new.

To take the quiz, click on the image above. After you’ve finished with the quiz, take a look at the other articles in today’s edition of the Traveler, while you are at it.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Traveler’s Checklist and Celebrating International Dark Sky Week

Redwoods and rhododendrons, Lady Bird Johnson Grove, Redwood National Park (California)

Today is a two-fer-one day. A couple of my articles were published in the National Parks Traveler. One of them is what is called a “Traveler’s Checklist,” and the other one is titled “Celebrating International Dark Sky Week In A National Park.”

The Checklist deals with listing things you might want to do or see, places to stay or eat, and reminders for reservations you might need to make. There have been Checklists published in the Traveler in the past, but then they sort of stopped. We’re trying to start them up again and I have a series of them written and scheduled for publication. This week’s checklist deals with visiting Redwood National and State Parks. To read that article, click on the image above.

To read the Celebrating International Dark Sky Week article, click on the image below.

The start of morning colors over The Mountain and Reflection Lakes, Mount Rainier National Park (Washington)

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under National Parks, National Parks Traveler, Photography, Redwood National and State Parks, Star Photography, Travel and Photography

Fun Fact Friday 3-19-2021

A Leaf-Strewn Carriage Road, Acadia National Park (Maine)

Ever heard of “mud season?” It’s a term used in northern climates and starts around the end of March, lasting through the beginning of May, more or less – it starts when the weather becomes warmer, snow and ice melt, and the rains begin. It can really, literally, muck up roads and trails, creating potholes, ruts, and exacerbating erosion of those roads and trails.

Right now, it’s the start of mud season at Acadia National Park, so park staff are closing the carriage roads until things dry up a bit. There’s even an article about this in today’s edition of the National Parks Traveler.

To read the article, click on the image above.

The image above was captured many years ago. I was telling my sister the other day that someday, when I actually feel like flying and cramming myself in with a jillion other coughing, sneezing, hacking people on a plane, I may take another autumn trip out to that national park. And while I’m there, stuff my face with as many lobster rolls as I possibly can. 😉

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Photography In The National Parks: Whiskeytown National Recreation Area

Paddling the lake in the Whiskey Creek area, Whiskeytown National Recreation Area (California)

The National Parks Traveler has (finally) published my article about my photographic visit to Whiskeytown National Recreation Area, just 8 miles west of Redding, California. I’d made the visit last fall, during a time when smoke from the surrounding wildfires wreathed this park, which suffered its own wildfire back in 2018, devastating 97 percent of its 42,000 acres. Like a phoenix rising, this recreation area has rebuilt most of its infrastructure and there are signs of regrowth on the landscape, and people continue to visit and recreate here.

To read the article and see the photos, click on the image above.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Careless Visitors Gain Arches National Park An Ignoble Designation

New Year’s Eve Morning At Turret Arch, Arches National Park (Utah)

The National Parks Traveler has run a number of articles about graffiti in the national park units. I even wrote an op-ed for the Traveler regarding graffiti, and one commenter rightly said that the people who really need to see the articles are not the ones who read the Traveler, or probably even anything else regarding behavior and the Leave No Trace Principles in national parks, except how to make lodging reservations or how many miles away it is from where they live.

So, I thought I’d write this post and embed the link to the latest article about Arches in the image above, captured back in 2017 – a year before I retired from my day job and moved up to central Washington.

To read the article, click on the image above.

To read other articles published in the Traveler about graffiti in national parks, click on this link.

Feel free to pass this post with its links on to others. The more people that understand it’s NOT ok to leave graffiti in a national park, or otherwise trash a park unit with garbage, human waste, and pet waste, the less cleanup that will need to be done to the precious natural resources within a park unit.

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National Parks Quiz And Trivia #26 – Superlatives

A Lakeside View, Crater Lake National Park (Oregon)

Crater Lake National Park is one of the parks mentioned in my latest National Parks Quiz And Trivia piece, published in today’s edition of the National Parks Traveler. Jumpstart your Monday with a test to see how much you know about the national parks – you might even learn something you didn’t know!

To look at the quiz and trivia piece, click on the image above.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Crater Lake National Park, National Parks, National Parks Quiz, National Parks Traveler, Oregon, Photography

National Parks Photography And The Art Of Patience

Got Milk?

The National Parks Traveler has published my latest photography article. This month’s column is about photography and the art of patience. If you are interested in reading the article, then click on the image above.

As for this particular image, this was the reward for me and the rest of the crew on a photo tour of Lake Clark National Park and Preserve, in Alaska. If it wasn’t for this mother bear and her cubs appearing throughout our stay there, we would not have seen much in the way of Alaskan brown bear action, at all, during our stay. Having the privilege of watching her nurse her cubs was the reward for sticking around with the three of them instead of moving on to someplace new to look for other bear action.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Truth And Honesty In Photography

The View From Emmons Vista, Sunrise Area of Mount Rainier National Park
The View From Glacier Overlook, Sunrise Area, Mount Rainier National Park

Yesterday, I happened to look at the National Parks Traveler’s Facebook post about my latest article on glaciers, titled “Searching For Glaciers In National Parks.” There were 5 comments for that post, one of which (a guy) accused me by name of photoshopping lakes in the two images above. Two or three others (guys) were all quick to enforce this guy’s comment that yeah, they could see it themselves. I’d photoshopped that lake into a photo. Insert exaggerated eyeroll.

I replied to that guy (who claims he knows Mount Rainier intimately, so that’s why he would see I’d photoshopped lakes into these images) that if he looked closer at the top first image, he’d see that’s not a lake but a large shadowed area since the image was captured shortly after sunrise. He’d also see the squiggly line of the river running through that shadowed area.

In the second image, there actually, truly, really is a lovely glacier-fed turquoise-blue lake there below the mountain. You can see it if you hike to Glacier Overlook in the Sunrise Area. If you go to Flickr.com and type the words “Glacier Overlook Mount Rainier” into Flickr’s search field, you’ll pull up all sorts of images – many of that same area, where you’ll see the lake there.

I stand by my photography, and so does the Traveler. I’m a pretty damned good photographer (yes, I’m tooting my own horn here), and I have no need to do something stupid like photoshop into an image something that wasn’t originally there. I don’t want my street cred ruined. If I ever did change my original image in any way – like clone out (remove) something, like a tracking collar from wildlife, then I would definitely indicate that. An honest photographer will do that.

Here’s another example for you. How many of you have seen awesome star images of the Watchman over the Virgin River in Zion National Park? You can see so clearly the mountain and the river and these amazing stars overhead. I’m here to tell you that what you are looking at is a blended image. One (or more) image(s) was/were captured of the mountain and river at an earlier time, when there was more sunlight, and then blended with the dark, starry image. Go back to Flickr.com and type in the words “night photography zion utah” and see what pulls up. Then, see how many photographers will actually tell you whether or not that star shot is a blended one. Does it make the image less lovely? No, it’s still beautiful, but the photographer should, at least, indicate that the image is a composite of one or more shots taken at different times of the day. The really good photographers do that (well, at least one of them that I happen to admire who is honest about his shots). The image below is what the place actually looks like at 2 a.m. on a February morning, when the atmospheric conditions are at their clearest.

A Starry Winter Sky Over The Watchman, Zion National Park

To that guy’s credit, he did apologize, once I replied to his comment, defending my images, he did take a look at them on a bigger monitor (I get the gist he was bragging he has a 30-inch monitor, so what, he’s a better photographer than I? I dunno.) and realized that yes, I was right about my images and no, I had not photoshopped anything into my already beautiful images (the “beautiful images” part are my words, not his). He then went on to tell me how he was intimately familiar with Mount Rainier because yadda yadda yadda. At least he apologized, so that’s something.

Another photographer with whom I am acquainted once noted that, if you are photographing for journalistic work, then you should be honest and leave your image as-is. If you are photographing for fine art purposes, then knock yourself out. I agree, to a point. Yes, you should absolutely be honest with those journalistic images. Since my imagery is used for the National Parks Traveler, you can sure bet that I not only use my best images, but I also don’t photoshop anything into or out of them. I do sharpen and use other editing tools to bring out the texture or add more color saturation or more brightness. Standard stuff. The camera captures the data, but sometimes, you have to pull the data details out with a little editing tool help.

As for fine art imagery, it’s the same thing. I’m not going to add that new sky feature Photoshop now has, where you can add a beautiful sky to your images in case the sky in your photo was blah on the day you captured the photo (as you can tell, I’m not a fan of something like that). If I photograph a beautiful close-up of wildlife, then I probably would remove the tracking collar, and would indicate I’d done that, in addition to saying the close-up was made with a telephoto lens.

It’s all about honesty and truth, and photographers who adhere to that policy fare much better than those that do not, in the end. So, if someone challenges you or accuses you of doing something fake to your image when you know you did not, you should stand up and fight back. You’ll still have plenty of naysayers just because they think they know better and are jerks about it – can’t fix that, unfortunately, but you’ll have championed your images and your talent as a photographer. Don’t stay silent and let the dickheads think they are right.

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