Category Archives: National Parks

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

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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Filed under flowers, National Parks, National Parks Quiz, National Parks Traveler, Photography

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

“Half The Park Is After Dark”

A starry sky and mirror-smooth Reflection Lake in Mount Rainier National Park (Washington)
A busy night at the Sunrise Area of Mount Rainier National Park (Washington)
Comet NEOWISE over Crater Lake National Park (Oregon)
Taking the road to the stars in Big Bend National Park (Texas)
A starry sky over the Watchman and Virgin River, Zion National Park (Utah)

“Half the Park is After Dark,” as the saying goes. This week is International Dark Skies Week, so here are a few images of some dark skies over Mount Rainier, Crater Lake, and Big Bend national parks. To read more about this week, click on any of the images above.

I don’t do much night photography, but that’s mainly because it’s hard for me to stay up past my bedtime. I’m not a “night owl” and never was. I’m an “early bird” and have no problem getting up at 3 a.m. to get to a spot for sunrise shots. I really do need to get more night shots of the parks I visit, and I’ll try to make that a mission. Another part of the problem, besides light pollution and staying up late, is that clear skies and moonless nights are the best circumstances in which to view and photograph the stars and Milky Way. Sometimes, I remember to time my trips during the week of a new moon, but oftentimes, I simply forget.

Night shots are a good way to work on your photography skills. To get a decent star image, though, you need to set your camera to Manual (not Auto or Program), put it on a tripod, increase the ISO to greater than 640, and experiment with different slow shutter speeds, anywhere from 10 seconds to greater. It’s also helpful to use a corded or wireless remote shutter release, or utilize the 2-second timer on your camera. That reduces blur from camera shake when your finder touches the shutter button.

It takes a little expertise with the editing software to really bring out that Milky Way and landscape. Some photographers blend anywhere from two to more images to get enough light on the landscape while keeping the dark sky dark. If they are honest, they will say what they did. But most photographers keep quiet. That’s why you will be amazed at seeing something like the night sky over the Watchman and Virgin River at Zion Park, where the landscape is beautifully lit. when in reality – as you can see from the image above, captured around 2 a.m. on a cold, clear February night – it is a a bit darker. Nonetheless, it doesn’t detract from the beauty of the shot.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Big Bend National Park, Crater Lake National Park, Mount Rainier National Park, National Parks, Night Photography, Photography, Zion National Park

Fairyland Canyon Scenery

Fairyland Canyon Landscape, Bryce Canyon National Park (Utah)

I’ve been working on a series of short articles for the National Parks Traveler, titled “Traveler’s Checklists.” These are bulleted lists with tips on what to do, where to go, where to stay, what to eat, etc. for national parks and other protected lands I’ve visited. I’ve finished three already (Redwood National and State Parks, Big Bend National Park, Padre Island National Park) and each one is scheduled to show up weekly on a Wednesday.

I’m now working on my 4th Checklist, which deals with Bryce Canyon National Park. I’ve already found the images I’ll use for this Checklist, but as I was perusing the files, I noticed a number of images I have never worked on and thus never posted. So, I thought I’d do a little photo editing today, in addition to writing.This image was captured during my short hike along the Fairyland Loop Trail, in Fairyland Canyon, a separate amphitheater in Bryce Canyon National Park.

My one regret is that I never completed the 8-mile loop trail – I only hiked parts of it. Someday, when I return to this national park, I’m going to make it a priority to actually finish hiking the entire damned trail. It’s a well-maintained trail, and all I need to really remember (aside from bringing camera gear) is to take plenty of water. It doesn’t matter whether it’s hot or cold out there – the dry atmosphere will suck the moisture from your body in the blink of an eye before you even realize you might be dehydrated.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Bryce Canyon National Park, National Parks, Photography, Travel, Utah

Early Morning At Roaring Mountain

An early autumn morning listening to the low hiss of Roaring Mountain fumeroles, Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming)

This shot was captured on my last day in the park. Actually, I was heading out and back to Bozeman to meet up with some friends, but I was loath to leave the park. I could have stayed there for another week and been happy.

Roaring Mountain doesn’t really roar. Instead, it has a low hiss that is sometimes difficult to hear – especially as cars passed by on the road behind me. All those spots where you see steam issuing forth are from fumeroles – openings that emit steam and other gases.

If you ever visit this national park, take a moment to fathom that you are standing upon a volcanically active (hydrothermally active) landscape. The crust is not quite as thick as you think it might be, which is why it’s good to obey the signs that say “Stay On Trail.”

2022 marks Yellowstone National Park’s 150th birthday. I’m going to try and be there at some point in time to celebrate that year with the park.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Geology, National Parks, Photography, Travel, Travel and Photography, Wyoming, Yellowstone National Park

World Water Day 2021 … Yesterday

A Summer Sunset Over Kalaloch Beach, Olympic National Park (Washington)

I’m a day late in posting this – probably because I didn’t realize that March 22, 2021 was World Water Day. So, better late than never, I’m posting a water image the day after World Water Day.

We are a very lucky world to have so much life-giving water. It behooves us, as a species, to take better care of this precious resource. With climage change, I have a feeling that future battles will be fought over water.

As for this image, it was captured during a late August visit in 2019, and while there were people out there, there were not as many as I thought, given that it was summer. If you’ve never visited Olympic National Park, you should put it on your to-see bucket list. It’s a national park with a bit of everything: lush green temperate rainforests, ocean beaches, and rugged mountains.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under National Parks, Olympic National Park, Photography, Travel, Washington State

Falling In Love With The National Parks

A Minimalist View Along The Fairyland Canyon Loop Trail, Bryce Canyon National Park (Utah)

I just finished reading a very good opinion article in the NY Times, and thought I’d share it. The link is embedded in the photo above, so click on the image to be taken to the article.

As for this image: I’ve visited Bryce Canyon National Park twice in my life – both in 2018. My first time to see this geologically surreal place was in April 2018, and then again in July 2018, during my road trip move from TX to central WA. Each time, I ventured out on the Fairyland Canyon Loop Trail, but never completely hiked the 8 miles. I’d sure like to finish what I started, so maybe I’ll schedule a road trip back to this park in 2022.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Bryce Canyon National Park, National Parks, Photography, Travel, Utah

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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Filed under Acadia National Park, Fun Fact Friday, National Parks, National Parks Traveler, Photography

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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Filed under National Parks, National Parks Traveler, Photography, Photography In The National Parks, Travel and Photography, Whiskeytown National Recreation Area