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.
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.
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.
It’s Fun Fact Friday! Did you know that coast redwood trees have a very shallow root system? When I saw these and other downed trees while wandering the Stout Grove Trail in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, it brought to mind the downed oak trees I’d seen after hurricanes while living in southeast Texas. I asked a park ranger about this and she said yes, coast redwoods have shallow root systems that only go about 3 feet down, but the roots migrate outward around the tree for quite a distance, some as far as 80 feet from the tree. And, studies have indicated that one coast redwood tree’s root system can communicate with another redwood tree’s root system, providing nutrients and water to that other tree if it needs them.
It’s Fun Fact Friday, folks! The image above is of a plant called devil’s club. It’s quite striking among the other greenery growing in the forest interior at Mount Rainier National Park. And, as you can see, it’s got little stickers on it. But, there’s more to this plant than what you think.
In addition to using devil’s club for an arthritis remedy, fishhooks and deodorant, Alaska Natives have also used this plant for coughs, colds and fever, skin disorders, and digestive ailments.
It’s Fun Fact Friday! Did you know that the petrified logs you see in Petrified Forest National Park range in age from 211 – 218 million years? And those saturated colors come from such trace minerals as hematite, pyrite, goethite, chromium, and manganese. Pretty cool, huh? And now, you know.
I wish I would have had one more day to spend in this national park located in Arizona. It was the very first national park I visited during my 3-week road trip move from Texas to central Washington. I’d never been to this park before, and as what usually happens, even if you’ve done prior research about a park, you still are a little unprepared for what you’ll see and what you’ll do. This national park is one of those less-visited gems, so it’s very easy to practice a social distancing along the trails. This particular trail is called the Crystal Forest Trail.
Recently, I received my book Scenic Science of the National Parks. The National Parks Traveler had done a podcast interviewing the two authors of this book and it sounded pretty cool, so of course, I ordered it. I love learning things about the national parks I’ve photographed, and am pleased and proud that I’ve photographed some of the things mentioned in the book. Here are some interesting facts straight from the book.
This veiny-lettucy-cabbagey lichen in the photo above is called Oregon Lungwort, and it can pull nitrogen straight out of the air.
Oregon Spikemoss can grow 6 feet in length. When parts of this moss die, the spiky leaves curl up and turn brown.
These bright green, delicate ferns waving in the breeze are called licorice ferns. They grow on epiphytes (plants growing on plants) on Bigleaf Maple trees (I didn’t even know this was a maple tree until I looked closely at the leaves) and really do taste like licorice … if you like licorice, that is (ugh).
It’s Fun Fact Friday! Here’s some interesting facts for you if you happen to visit John Day Fossil Beds National Monument in Oregon.
In the first photo, that’s the first hill you’ll see that will get your attention as you drive past the sign welcoming you to the Painted Hills Unit. The top of this hill is capped with a volcanic tuff called the Picture Gorge Ignimbrite. This tuff is 28.7 MILLION years old.
The other images show other sides to this same hill as you drive further along the gravel road into the Painted Hills Unit. The red and tan soils are called paleosols, and the red paleosols are indicative of a warmer, wet, tropical to subtropical climate, while the tan soils represent a cooler, drier, more temperate climate.
Those blue-ish shadowed mountains in the background of a couple of the images are the Sutton Mountains.
In Bryce Canyon National Park, you’ll see mule deer. They got their name because their ears look alot like mule ears. They are closely related to the white-tailed deer. And now you know.
Speaking of fun, I have made trip plans to visit John Day Fossil Beds National Monument in Oregon next month! You know, I’ve not visited many national monuments (come to think of it, I may never have visited a national monument) because I’ve always been so focused on national parks, because of my work for the National Parks Traveler. Then, I realized a few things. There are over 400 units within the National Park System. National monuments, as well as other protected lands (national recreation areas, national historical sites, etc.) are lands covered by the National Parks Traveler’s reporting too, plus, there are a number of national monuments that are within driving distance of where I live, now that I’m back out in the Pacific Northwest. So, I’m traveling there in March, then to Crater Lake in May. Depending upon what I hear from the two Artist-in-Residency programs for which I applied, I *might* be traveling to Yellowstone and/or Glacier National Park. Not holding my breath on that, so if either one of those don’t pan out, then Plan B is to make a big photographic road trip around Montana, to many of the Nez Perce National Historical Park units, going onward to Little Bighorn National Monument, and maybe stopping in at Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area. Those are great photo ops in the making with probably some pretty good storytelling for the Traveler!
In the meantime, planning is half the fun of traveling. Hope your Friday is a fun one!
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