Tag Archives: National Park

National Parks, Wildfires, and National Geographic

The Sprague Fire in 2017, Glacier National Park

Woo hoo! I can finally say I made it onto National Geographic. Online, but still, it’s Nat Geo. They used a couple of my images to go with an article written by my National Parks Traveler editor-in-chief.

To read the article about national parks and wildfires, click on the image above.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Standing Amongst The Fallen

Standing between a couple of downed coast redwood trees

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.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under California, Fun Fact Friday, National Parks, Photography, Redwoods National and State Parks, Travel, trees

The Difference In Elevation

The next time you visit a place that has some elevation difference, take a moment to observe the other differences due to that elevation difference. For instance, notice the differences in these images here? The lowland forest interior, captured at the entrance to Westside Road in Mount Rainier National Park, looks deep and dark and is filled with lush vegetation like ferns and devils club along with dead logs and moss on parts of the trees. Sunlight makes its way into the forest in spots. Whereas the forest along Trail of Shadows in the Longmire Historic District looks – well – clearer, with more space in between the trees, less moss, and a clearer forest floor. Yes, there’s vegetation there, too, but as you can see, not quite as thick. In part because it’s not quite as wet as it is in the lowland forest, plus the difference in elevation between the Nisqually entrance and Longmire creates a difference in temperatures, too. Observation is key to getting nice photos, rather than just a grabshot.

Peering Into The Lowland Forest At Westside Road, Mount Rainier National Park
Looking Into A Smoky Forest Along The Trail Of Shadows, Longmire Historic Districe, Mount Rainier National Park

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Forest, Mount Rainier National Park, Mt. Rainier National Park, National Parks, Photography, Sony Alpha a7r IV

National Parks Quiz And Trivia #16 – The Road Edition

The Chisos Basin Road in Big Bend National Park (Texas)

According to the National Park Service, there are over 5,000 miles of paved roads through the National Park System. Park roads (paved or unpaved) allow us to reach amazing vistas we might not otherwise see within a national park, national monument, or national recreation area. These roads are marvels of construction and merit a nod of appreciation to those builders who may have risked life and limb to ensure completion of that navigable ribbon of gravel or pavement.

So, my latest quiz and trivia piece published in today’s edition of the National Parks Traveler is all about National Park unit roads, paved and unpaved, and what you can see along those roads. Why not test your knowledge of these roads by clicking on any of the photos. If you take the quiz, try to answer them first before looking at the answers at the bottom of the piece.

The road through Arches National Park (Utah)
The Rim Road as seen from the summit of Watchman Peak in Crater Lake National Park (Oregon)
The road through Denali National Park (Alaska)
Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park (Montana)
The Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway in Zion National Park (Utah)

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Fun Fact Friday, National Parks, National Parks Quiz, National Parks Traveler, Photography

Wildfire Smoke Affects More Than Just Your Ability To View A National Park Landscape

Tipsoo Lake in Mount Rainier National Park on a clear day versus a wildfire smoke-filled day

I know, I’ve been pretty remiss about posting to this site. I have good intentions and then I get either lazy or sidetracked.

Putting that aside, I recently visited Mount Rainier National Park during the week the smoke rolled in from the wildfires in California and Oregon. I didn’t realize this until after I got there, since the weather reports were calling for clear, sunny skies and I wanted to get out along Stevens Canyon Road and the Nisqually-Paradise Corridor to photograph and video some scenes. My plan changed a bit, as you can see.

When I returned home, I had questions about what might and might not be impacted by all this smoke (aside from being able to photograph a landscape), so I did some quick research, wrote an article, and the National Parks Traveler published it today.

To read that article, click on either image above or below.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

Viewing the Nisqually River from the bridge over the river on a clear day versus a smoky day

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Filed under climate change, Mount Rainier National Park, Mt. Rainier National Park, National Parks, National Parks Traveler, Photography, Travel and Photography

Waiting For Sunrise At Sunrise

Ok, I know it’s Tuesday, but the Labor Day holiday makes today feel like a Monday. Anyway, here’s a video for your Tuesday morning. I call it “Waiting For Sunrise At Sunrise.”

I’m trying to capture more videos when I visit the national parks. I tend to keep them relatively short because most readers’ attention spans aren’t that long, and most of the videos (99/9%) are captured with my iPhone 11 (it’s just easier and the iPhone does a nice job).

So, here’s a video I took while waiting for sunrise in the Sunrise area of Mount Rainier National Park. I was at my favorite spot on Sourdough Ridge Trail. I’d like to capture sunrise looking the other way, instead of looking straight at The Mountain, someday, but the parking lot for that particular “other way” spot is always jam-packed and I don’t want to be standing cheek-by-jowl with others at this point in time.

Anyway, enjoy the almost-sunrise at the Sunrise area of the park.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Mount Rainier National Park, Mt. Rainier National Park, National Parks, sunrise, Travel, video, Washington State

Since My Crater Lake Visit In July

The Kiss Of Dawn, Tipsoo Lake, Mount Rainier National Park

I was trying to remember what I’d done/seen since my previous post about visiting Crater Lake National Park in July, and I had to go to my Facebook photography page to figure it all out.

Let’s see: I managed to visit Crater Lake just prior to all the stupid stuff people started doing there, like illegally hiking (slipping, sliding, rolling) down the very steep rim of Crater Lake to get to the shore (FYI there’s only one legal place to get down to the shore and that’s the Cleetwood Cove Trail). I also managed to visit prior to people defacating along the shoreline of the lake, flicking their cigarette butts into the lake, throwing underwear into the lake, and bringing their little paddle boards and other illegal watercraft to navigate the lake (illegal watercraft can have invasives like quagga mussels encrusted on their bottoms), all of which pollute the pristine waters of this amazingly blue lake that only gets its water from rain and snow and no sort of creek, stream, or river.

There’s a new kind of visitor to the national parks since the coronavirus pandemic: those people who are used to going to Wally World and waterparks and theme parks where there are restrooms and trash cans and food kiosks. These people don’t know how to conduct themselves in a national park, where there may not be those little conveniences. Unfortunately, there are not enough ranger staff to educate the ignorant, so environmental destruction has run wild in these places. While I think it’s great that more people discover the joys of being outside and exploring national parks, it would help if they visited the NPS.gov sites for these national parks to learn what they can and cannot do and can and cannot bring and at least care a little bit about keeping parks in good shape for future visits.

Since that Crater Lake visit, I’ve taken a short, mid-August trip to the Sunrise area of Mount Rainier National Park to fulfill a bucket list of goals such as photographing sunrise, sunset, and the Milky Way in that particular area of the park. I accomplished that and have written a photography article that should post late next week (Sept 4th) in the National Parks Traveler.

As for future plans, I am considering a trip in October to Redwoods National and State Parks to see (and photograph and report) if the California wildfires affected the redwoods there, but that remains up in the air at this point in time.

I still practice social distancing and wear a mask when out. Many people don’t do either, unfortunately. Until we have a valid, tested vaccine for Covid, I’ll continue doing that. Washington state has three face mask orders currently in place.

That’s pretty much it. In between writing photo articles and creating national parks quiz and trivia pieces for the Traveler, I help out around the house and yard and plan for future trips I may or may not take.

Stay safe out there, folks.

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Filed under coronavirus, covid-19, Crater Lake National Park, Mount Rainier National Park, Mt. Rainier National Park, National Parks, Photography, Travel

Photography In The National Parks: A Short Stay At Crater Lake

Crater Lake just after sunrise

If you read my previous article published in the National Parks Traveler, then you’ll know how I prepared for my photography trip to Crater Lake National Park during the Coronavirus pandemic. My latest article published by the Traveler is about the photography you can achieve within this park.

To read my photo article, click on the image above.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Canon, coronavirus, Crater Lake National Park, Equipment, National Parks, National Parks Traveler, Nikon, Oregon, Photography, Sony Alpha a7r IV, Travel

Now You, Too, Can Identify Yourself As A National Parks Traveler

For those of you who travel to national parks and protected lands, you can now identify yourself as a national parks traveler With a donation to the Traveler of $50 or more, you’ll receive an American-made Liberty Bottleworks double-wall water bottle with the Traveler logo and an image of Grand Teton National Park captured by yours truly.


The Traveler is a non-profit institute that needs your help to continue publishing daily articles (with no paywall) about our national parks and protected lands. No other news organization does that – they only publish articles about big issues that will grab the eye, like a person being gored by a bison in Yellowstone or falling off a cliff in the Grand Canyon. Not many organizations – if any, other than the Traveler – will publish stories about satellites being used for wildfire detection in Denali National Park & Preserve, or the Traveler Special Reports about climate change and invasive plants and animals within the parks, or how continued retreat of glaciers at Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve could force park staff to choose between protecting Johns Hopkins Bay for seal pupping or opening more of it up for cruise ships.


Make a donation, get a bottle, and capture a photo of yourself with the water bottle in a national park and the Traveler may publish it as a Park Photo of the Week on the Traveler’s website to show that you, too, are a national parks traveler and you’re helping the Traveler continue to publish stories about these special places within our nation.

To see where you can make a donation and get a Traveler water bottle, click on the image above.

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Photography In The National Parks: Getting Out There With My Cameras During The Coronavirus Pandemic

The view from the summit of Watchman Peak in Crater Lake National Park

It is possible to take a safe and enjoyable trip into a national park, if you prepare and use some precautions. I returned alive and well (it’s been 14 days since my return) to write how I did it and what I saw at Crater Lake National Park in Oregon.

To read the story published in the National Parks Traveler, click on the image above.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under coronavirus, covid-19, Crater Lake National Park, Equipment, health, Life, National Park Lodging, National Parks, National Parks Traveler, Oregon, Photography, summer, Travel, Travel and Photography