Category Archives: National Parks

It’s The First Day Of Winter, 2020!

Happy first day of winter! Is it snowing where you are? It’s raining here and going to be 55 degrees, which is unusually warm for my part of Washington state this time of year. Feels odd. It’s supposed to start getting chillier tomorrow.

The shot above was captured 3 years ago, in January, along Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park. I was trying out new snowshoes (and having a devil of a time with the straps), and of course lugging a loaded camera pack with me, so I ultimately did not get too very far. The view, nonetheless, was pretty nice. There were a few cross-country skiers who zipped on past me that morning, but overall, not many others venturing outside, which was just fine by me.

Even though it’s a Monday, I hope your first day of winter is a good one.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Glacier National Park MT, Montana, Photography, winter

Fun Fact Friday: Big Bend Geology

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.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Big Bend National Park, Fun Fact Friday, Geology, National Parks, Photography, Texas, Travel

National Parks Quiz & Trivia: The Acadia National Park Edition

A View From The Summit Of Cadillac Mountain, Acadia National Park (Maine)

So, folks, just how much do you know (or think you know) about Acadia National Park, in Maine? You can test your knowledge and learn some stuff, too, about this park, by clicking on the image and reading my latest quiz and trivia piece published in today’s edition of the National Parks Traveler.

The image above was captured on a lovely, sunny, autumn day a few years ago, after I’d huffed and puffed up to the summit of Cadillac Mountain. The view sure is special up there. No, I never made it there for sunrise, but someday, when it’s safer to get out and about, perhaps I’ll visit the Eastern Seaboard again and capture a few sunrise images at this spot.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Acadia National Park, Maine, National Parks, National Parks Quiz, National Parks Traveler, Photography, Travel

Modern Graffiti Vs. Ancient Graffiti In A National Park: What’s The Difference?

Graffiti carved into a downed redwood tree sawed in half to clear the trail
Ancient petroglyphs carved into rock in Petrified Forest National Park

I maintain the National Parks Traveler’s Instagram account @national_parks_traveler. The other day, I posted a photo and commentary about Zion National Park’s continued problem with graffiti defacing parts of the park. Among all the commenters condemning the act, one Instagrammer asked why there was such a big deal about modern graffiti versus ancient graffiti, like Newspaper Rock in Petrified Forest National Park. The short answer I gave on Instagram was that back then, when Native Americans and pioneers and explorers carved, painted, or chiseled stuff onto rocks and living and dead trees, there was no National Park Service to protect the lands. Now, there is and modern graffiti, along with chopping down Joshua Trees driving ATVs over ecologically fragile ground is all illegal and considered vandalism. But I knew there had to be a deeper answer. The short answer I gave was sort of an “because I said so” thing. So, I penned a longer Op-Ed about modern versus ancient graffiti in a national park and it’s been published in today’s edition of the National Parks Traveler.

To read the article, click on either image above.

I hope the Instagrammer that asked that question in the first place reads the Op-Ed, becasue he’s the one who spurred me to think a little more deeply about the whole issue.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under National Parks, National Parks Traveler

It’s Fun Fact Friday 11-27-2020

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.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Banff National Park, Canada, Fun Fact Friday, National Parks, Photography, Travel

Looking Past Tomorrow’s Thanksgiving

A Wild Turkey In Zion National Park (Utah)

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.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under 1DX, birds, Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM, holiday, National Parks, Photography, Thanksgiving, Zion National Park

Birdy, Birdy In The Sky

Brown Pelicans Flying Over Padre Island National Seashore, in Texas

The birds you see in national parks and other protected lands are part and parcel of these places, fleshing out the story of your visit. You don’t need to stake out a site for your tripod and use a mega-telephoto lens to capture great images of the birds.

This month’s photo column in the National Parks Traveler is all about bird photography with whatever camera/lens you happen to have on you during your hike or stop at a park overlook.

To read my article, click on the image above.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under birds, National Parks, National Parks Traveler, Photography

It’s Fun Fact Friday 11-20-2020

A Very Early Morning At Oxbow Bend, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

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.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Fun Fact Friday, Grand Teton National Park, National Parks, National Parks Quiz, National Parks Traveler, Photography, sunrise, Travel, Wyoming

The Bald Eagle

After a presidential election, what better photo to post than the symbol of American democracy, the bald eagle. As I post this image, I am listening to National Parks Traveler podcast episode #91, about bald eagles in Chesapeake Bay and how populations in the national parks around the Bay have a bit of a better chance of survival. It’s a good podcast, if you feel like listening. It’s about 41 minutes long, and you can download it to listen to later.

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

This image was of a bald eagle taking off from a snag in the Brooks River in Katmai National Park, in Alaska was captured with my Canon 1DX and rented 500mm lens.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under 1DX, birds, Canon, Canon 500mm f/4L IS II, Canon Lens, Katmai National Park, National Parks, National Parks Traveler, Photography, Podcast

National Bison Day – um, it was yesterday, November 7

Ok, I’m a little late in getting this posted – a day late, actually. Nonetheless, yesterday was National Bison Day. And, in honor of that day, the National Parks Traveler published a short aerial video about a herd of 100 bison from Badlands and Theodore Roosevelt national parks being released onto the Wolakota Buffalo Range of the Rosebud Sioux Reservation in South Dakota. That article also has links to other Traveler stories about bison.

To see the video and perhaps click on the links to other bison-related articles in the Traveler, click on the top image.

The images above were captured during a visit to the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park. I was actually on my way out, but before I reached the park entrance/exit booths, I saw a small herd of bison on either side of the road. I parked in a pullout and drew out my Canon and 100-400mm lens to capture some shots of the bison and the tussle (and subsequent detente) between two male bison.

Here’s an interesting thing about the bison located on the North Rim: these particular animals are a result of an experiment at crossbreeding cattle with bison by a man named “Buffalo Jones.” Mr. Jones wanted to cross the two species to create a hardier breed that could withstand the cold and snowy winters of the Plains. Didn’t really work. The small herd made its way to the North Rim, and, if you ever see any during your own North Rim visit, look at them closely (without getting close to them, if you get my meaning) and see if you don’t spot a few that look “cow-ish” and maybe have white faces.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under 1DX Mk II, Canon, Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM, Canon Lens, Grand Canyon National Park, National Bison Day, National Parks, National Parks Traveler, North Rim, Photography