Category Archives: National Parks

Fun Fact Friday, April 30th, 2021

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.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Alaska, Denali National Park, Fun Fact Friday, National Parks, Photography, Travel

Traveler’s Checklist For Glacier National Park

The view along Grinnell Glacier Trail in the Many Glacier Area of Glacier National Park (Montana)

The National Parks Traveler has published my latest Traveler’s Checklist. This week’s helpful planner is all about visiting Glacier National Park. If you are thinking about visiting this park for the first time, or are revisiting it again for the hundredth time, check out this checklist to see if you find anything helpful, or if it jives with the list you might be making for your trip.

To read the article, click on the image above.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Glacier National Park MT, Montana, National Parks, National Parks Traveler, Photography, Travel

An Interview With The National Parks Traveler

If you are wondering what the National Parks Traveler is all about, then you should listen to this CNN Reliable Sources Podcast interview between Brian Stelter and my editor and Traveler founder, Kurt Repanshek. Kurt discusses what the Traveler is all about and what it’s like to run a nonprofit news organization dedicated to all things national parks. This is the organization for which I contribute articles and images, and it’s one of the things I am most proud: contributing to the National Parks Traveler for almost nine years, now.

To listen to the podcast interview, click on the image above.

As for the image above, it was captured during my last couple of days in Denali National Park in Alaska. We were walking along the park’s dirt and gravel road, looking for birds. I happened to look over to the right side of the road and saw Denali Mountain with its top wreathed with clouds. Only 30 percent of people who visit this park ever get to see Denali in its totality on a clear day. I was lucky and got to see it the entire five days I was there.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under National Parks, National Parks Traveler, Podcast

National Parks Quiz And Trivia: April Notables

An overview of Fountain Paint Pots in Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming)

So, what do John Muir, Ulysses S. Grant, Voyageurs National Park, and Isle Royale National Park all have in common? They are all April notables. The two parks were established in April, Ulysses S. Grant (born in April) signed legislation establishing Yellowstone as the first U.S. national park (hence the image below), and, also born in April, John Muir’s writings convinced the U.S. government to protect Yosemite, Sequoia, Grand Canyon, and Mount Rainier as national parks.

The latest quiz and trivia piece penned by yours truly and published in today’s edition of the National Parks Traveler is all about these April notables. To test your knowledge about these notables and maybe learn a little something, too, click on the image above.

And, speaking of this image, I was pretty tickled that I finally got to visit this part of Yellowstone, back in autumn of 2019. When I’d tried to see this (and other sights) during my 2018 summer move from TX to WA, I couldn’t because all the parking spaces were filled, and – to be honest – I was starting to tire out from my road trip, as it was going on 3 weeks now that I’d been on the road. Autumn is a good time to visit Yellowstone, with the caveat that it might snow on you and roads might get closed because of the weather. There are still crowds there, but nothing on the scale (not yet, anyway) that there are during the height of summer.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under National Parks, National Parks Quiz, National Parks Traveler

Happy Earth Day 2021!

Today marks the 51st anniversary of Earth Day, a celebration every April 22nd of Earth and the wondrous things we see in nature. I thought I’d mark this day by posting an image I captured while spending five days at Camp Denali in Denali National Park (Alaska).

Every morning, I’d get up, dress, leave my little cabin, and walk up the gravel road to this little pond right outside of the main camp building. It’s called Nugget Pond and it has an awesome view of Denali Mountain and the Alaska Range, towering in the background over the mirror-smooth water of this little pond, with a hint of mist rising from the water.

How will I celebrate Earth Day? By pulling weeds out in the flower beds to make more room for the tulips and iris that are in bloom – nothing very glamorous.

How will you celebrate Earth Day? At least, take a moment to appreciate nature in all of its forms. If you go hiking today, remember to pack out what you pack in and follow the Leave No Trace principles.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Denali National Park, holiday, National Parks, Photography

The Yin And Yang Of A Composition

Sunsets afterglow at Kalaloch Beach, Olympic National Park (Washington)

My latest photography column has been published in the National Parks Traveler. It’s about the yin and yang of a composition, Click the image above if you would like to read the article.

Sunrise at the seashore, Padre Island National Seashore (Texas)

My latest Traveler’s Checklist has also been published, and it has a beach theme like the image above, because it’s all about Padre Island National Seashore. To read that article, click on the image above.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under National Parks, National Parks Traveler, Padre Island National Seashore, Photography, Photography In The National Parks, Traveler's Checklist

April Showers Bring May Flowers Part II

Here’s another spring (and summer and maybe even fall) flower you’ll see in quite a few national parks: Indian paintbrush (aka scarlet paintbrush, magenta paintbrush, pumice paintbrush, etc. etc.). Here’s an interesting little fact that you would have picked up if you’d read my National Parks Quiz and Trivia Piece #28: the paintbrush flower is quite opportunistic, digging its roots into neighboring plants to steal their nutrients. This plant, therefore, is hemiparasitic – it has chlorophyll, so it doesn’t get all of its nutrition from other plants.

The next time you are out in a park, or even when you look alongside the road and you spy a paintbrush flower, look around to see if there are other flowers nearby. You’ll usually (not always, but usually) see Indian, scarlet, magenta, or pumice paintbrush quite close to other flowers and plants.

Oh, and if you are interested in looking at that wildflower quiz, then click on the image above.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under flowers, National Parks, Photography

Tiger Lily

Tiger Lily (Lilium columbianum), Mount Rainier National Park (Washington)

“April showers bring May flowers.” While that might be the case in the lower elevations of the park, that’s not really so in the upper elevations. If you visit during mid-late July, however, you’ll see an explosion of wildflowers in the park, including the beautiful tiger lily.

As I was driving up the road from the Nisqually Entrance toward Paradise, one July a few years ago, I saw this patch of bright orange, strangely-shaped blooms. There was no place for me to stop along the narrow road, so I drove on, trying to figure out where I could park and then hike down to this patch. Luckily for me, a day later, while driving Stevens Canyon Road, I saw these flowers again, right next to a convenient pullout.The tiger lily plant, also known as the Columbia lily, can grow to a little under 4 feet in height, with a few or numerous orange blooms dotted with brownish spots. They are apparently lightly-scented, which I did not know, otherwise I would have bent down to sniff (and probably breathed in pollen and then gotten an allergy, so probably just as well I didn’t know this). Tiger lilys are just one of the many wildflowers you’ll see during a July visit to this national park.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under flowers, Mount Rainier National Park, National Parks, Photography

The Traveler’s Checklist for Big Bend National Park (Texas)

Blooming Cholla Cactus, Big Bend National Park (Texas)

It’s that time of year when the cactus should be in bloom in Big Bend National Park. It’s a glorious thing to see something so potentially painful to humans produce these saturated blossoms of magenta, orange, yellow, and red. If you are planning a trip to this national park for the first time, or re-visiting, then you should take a look at my Traveler’s Checklist for Big Bend, published in today’s edition of the National Parks Traveler.

To read the article, click on the image above.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Big Bend National Park, National Parks, Photography, Texas, Travel, Travel and Photography, Traveler's Checklist

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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Filed under National Parks Traveler, Trivia Tuesday, Yellowstone National Park