Category Archives: Travel

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

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

Steps Up The Trail

A leading line shot, Flood of Fire Trail, Foree Area, Sheep Rock Unit, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument

It’s Saturday, folks! Or does it matter? For the past year, the days have all run together and I’m glad I have a calendar (a real paper one, no less) to which I can refer and find out what day it actually is ;).

This photo is looking up the very short .4-mile round trip Flood of Fire Trail in the Foree Area of the Sheep Rock Unit of John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, in Oregon. It was the last trip I made pre-pandemic, before things shut down. Not the last trip I made during the entire year, mind you, but the last regular trip I made prior to Covid.

Anyway, if you are ever looking for a nice little road trip to make, a trip to any of the three units within this national monument will allow you to stretch your legs, since the few trails in each of the units are short. I really wish there were more, longer trails, but I have a feeling that perhaps, national monuments don’t get quite the love (or money) that national parks get. Then again, national monuments probably don’t get the visitor headaches that national parks get – or do they?

Last year, I saw a post, either on Facebook or Instagram, by this national monument asking that people park responsibily in the Painted Hills Unit. Apparently there was a crowding issue, brought on by people wanting to get out and away from Covid for a little bit. Many of those people were probably the kind who are only accustomed to water parks or theme parks, and a trip to an actual, outdoor, in-the-wild-type park unit is a new experience for them – an experience for which they don’t know how to practice the Leave No Trace etiquette.

But, I digress. Central Oregon is a place of winding roads, slower driving (so as not to hit the cattle ranging freely), stunning geology, awesome landscapes for your camera, but few large towns or gas stations. If you prepare accordingly, it’s a great excuse for a road trip.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, National Parks, Oregon, Photography, Sony Alpha a7r IV, Travel

Fun Fact Friday 3-12-2021

Velvet Landscape, Painted Hills Unit
Folds Of Velvet – A Telephoto Landscape

Here;s a wide-angle and a telephoto shot of the same area in the Painted Hills Unit of John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, located in east-central Oregon. The telephoto image focuses more on those beautiful folds of maroon and olive hills, which was the objective with the telephoto shot. This is also to prove you can get some really nice telephoto landscapes, too. Telephotos are not just for wildlife, birds, and sports.

It’s #FunFactFriday , so here’s some interesting facts about this national monument located in Oregon. There are three units in this national monument, and each unit is about an hour’s drive from any other of the two units (the roads are winding so it’s important to drive the actual speed limit). The monument, as a whole, contains fossils of plants and animals that date back as far as 44 million years. The varigated colors of the hills denote periods of climate change, between wetter and drier periods. The darker colors of the hills represent wetter atmospheres, in which water oxidized (rusted) the iron minerals within the soils.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, National Parks, Oregon, Photography, telephoto lens, Travel

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

Fun Fact Friday, 3-5-2021

Chief Mountain

It’s #FunFactFriday ! Meet Chief Mountain. Half of it is in the eastern portion of Glacier National Park, and half of it is in the Blackfeet Reservation. Named Ninaistako by the Blackfeet, it’s a place of sacred ritual and ceremony going back thousands of years.

According to the National Park Service’s Geodiversity Atlas for Glacier National Park, it’s also a premier example of a klippe: “a geologic term for the erosional remnant of older rocks in a thrust sheet completely detached from comparably aged rocks trailing behind. Like the Lewis Overthrust itself, Chief Mountain is considered one of the world’s outstanding examples of a klippe; its images grace the pages of many geologic textbooks.” Come to think of it, I believe I *have* seen this mountain in one of my geology textbooks.

Back in 2017, when I told my editor I was heading into Glacier National Park, he asked me for images of Chief Mountain to go with a National Parks Traveler article about bison, I think. On the day I traveled over to this area, it was really hazy with smoke from the Sprague Fire over on the west side of the park. So getting a clear image was impossible – on that day, at least – and took a little bit of editing and Adobe Lightroom’s dehaze slider to bring forth any details.Veiled with wildfire smoke or not, Chief Mountain is an impressive site.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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

Searching For Glaciers In The National Park System

Athabasca Glacier, Jasper National Park, Canada

A few weeks ago, my editor asked me to write an article about being able to see glaciers in national parks. So, I did. It’s been published in today’s edition of the National Parks Traveler. Click on the image to read the article.

As for the image, this is one of the first things you see when you cross the border from Banff National Park into Jasper National Park. You can even buy a ticket to go on a sort of bus kitted out with big honkin’ snow tires and ride out to, and walk onto, the glacier. My parents did it decades ago, and I wish I would have done the same thing, in retrospect. Maybe someday, when Canada lets us back in, I’ll take a little drive back into Jasper National Park and walk on that glacier.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Geology, glaciers, National Parks, National Parks Traveler, Photography, Travel