Tag Archives: National Park

Happy New Year!

Where’s that trail going to take you in 2023? For me, it took me along a New Year’s Day snowshoe hike at Mount Rainier National Park. I think it was the prettiest winter day I’ve seen at the park, to date (not that I’ve been up there too many times in the winter, but of those times I *have* been there, this day had to be the best).

Mount Rainier staff only open the Paradise area on the weekends, now, due to understaffing, so I thought it was going to be a zoo. When I first arrived, there were rangers out there directing traffic and helping people park (correctly), so every single parking space was taken. Really, though, the only real crowding I saw was in the parking lot, near the start of the snow climb. About a mile into the hike, there were few people. And oh, the scenery!

I gotta send a shout out to all those skiers who hiked (most on their skis, some on snowshoes) way up to a snow-covered ridge on what I believe is part of the Skyline Trail. That was a good 2-3 mile hike to get there. Those people are in very good shape, and serious about their skiing, powerhousing it up to the ridge.

Speaking of skis and snowshoes, if you decide to take a little weekend trip up to Paradise, then go early (the gate at Longmire usually opens at 9 a.m. unless weather dictates otherwise), and for goodness sake, take snowshoes or skis. I noticed some people did not have either, so they stuck close to the parking lot, or risked “post holing” (where your foot sinks waaaaay down into the snow, potentially causing an injury or at the very least, a face plant). Not even the “packed” snowshoe/ski trails were that hard-packed. I can tell you that from personal experience, because I lost one of my snowshoes (due to faulty securing on my boot) and had to back down the trail to get it, post holing a couple of times along the way, on the trail. Not so much afraid for myself, but rather for getting snow in/on the camera ūüėČ

Oh, and make sure you keep track of your time, because the Longmire gate closes at 4 p.m. You miss that deadline and you are stuck – seriously. Annnnd, drive slowly. Black ice (that’s ice invisible to the naked eye, more or less, so it looks like a part of the asphalt) was all over the road. One SUV ahead of me skidded completely off the road, and I skidded slightly a couple of times, even with my 4WD and great tires. I finally figured out if the road was shiny-looking, it was probably icy, and drove accordingly.

This morning, muscles hurt in areas I guess I haven’t used much. And I was exhausted yesterday once I made it back to my vehicle. But oh, what a day. Couldn’t have been a better start to the New Year for me: gorgeous scenery, great exercise, and awesome photography.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Holidays, Mount Rainier National Park, National Parks, New Year

Photography In The National Parks: A Matter Of Perspective

Photography is a matter of perspective, you know. It’s how *you* see things through your camera lens. My latest photography column has been published in the National Parks Traveler, and it deals with photographic perspective, using sample images I captured while visiting Lassen Volcanic National Park in California.

To read the article, click on either of the two images above.

The first image is the ground level view of the wall of blocky, black lava rock comprising the Fantastic Lava Beds, next to Butte Lake in the northeastern section of the park.

The second image is a much higher view of the lava beds from the summit of Cinder Cone, about 2 miles away from the first view.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Lassen Volcanic National Park, National Parks, National Parks Traveler, Photography, Photography In The National Parks

Fun Fact Friday 12-16-2022

It’s #FunFactFriday folks! According to the 2021 annual report put out by Yellowstone Volcano Observatory, which continues to work at locating every single hydrothermal feature within Yellowstone National Park, there is a current count of 1,100 thermal features within Norris Geyser Basin alone!

Pictured here is another “same place, different season” set of images captured at Porcelain Basin, a smaller area within the larger Norris Geyser Basin purview, showing some of those 1,100 thermal features.

There are times when I deliberately set out to photograph a spot I’ve already captured at some other time, but this was not one of those times. I just happened to be standing at the same view area slong the boardwalk – one time in early October (early autumn), then again in mid February (late winter) and discovered just this morning I’d taken photos of that same landscape.

The autumn image was captured with the Canon 5DS I used to own, and the winter image was photographed with my Sony a7riv. Both cameras used a 24-105mm lens (each their own brand). The 24-105mm lens is a great travel lens with a nice focal range that produces great landscape retults.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Fun Fact Friday, National Parks, Photography, Yellowstone National Park

Same Spot, Same Year, Different Season

Ok, here’s yet another example of why you should take your camera out to a favorite spot during different times of year, weather patterns, and/or times of day. In the case of these two images, one was captured in mid-spring (June) 2020, and the other was captured in mid-late winter (December) 2020. Both were captured during the morning hours. Notice the difference in water flow and vegetation amount and color.

Ok, granted, the cameras and lenses are different, but the location – right off the side of Westside Road, about a mile away from the Nisqually Entrance (Mount Rainier National Park), is the same.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Mount Rainier National Park, Mt. Rainier National Park, National Parks, Photography, waterfalls

Texture And Color

In many articles I write for the National Parks Traveler, I stress a couple of things for capturing a great image: look for texture and look for color(s). This telephoto shot of a bison seen between Mammoth Hot Springs and the Lamar Valley in Yellowstone National Park is an example of both color and texture. Take a look at the thick, wooly textures of the bison. And take a look at the differing shades of red-brown. When you look at a bison from a distance, you don’t necessarily see all those color gradations within its furry coat. And you know that the bison has a thick, wooly coat for the winter, but when you look at a close-up, you see the fine differences in texture, from what looks like soft undergrowth to much coarser wooliness. Even the bison horn has a certain amount of textural and color differences.

I captured this image at a turnout on the way to the Lamar Valley, testing out my previously-underused 200-600mm lens on the Sony A1. While not a prime lens, it’s a pretty decent lens for getting close to the subject.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Photography, Wildlife, Yellowstone National Park

Podcast 197: Overlooked Gems Of The National Park System

“This year has been a year of firsts for the¬†National Parks Traveler¬†Editor Kurt Repanshek. First-time visits to units of the National Park System, that is. This year Repanshek has taken road trips through Nebraska, Kansas, and New Mexico to explore overlooked gems of the park system. To discuss these and other must-see sites with us today are Rebecca Latson,¬†Traveler’s¬†contributing photographer, and Kim O‚ÄôConnell, a¬†Traveler¬†contributing editor.”

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

The background image is one I captured during my visit to the Painted Hills Unit of John Day Fossil Beds National Monument in Oregon.

The podcast interview was a fun one, and maybe it will encourage some of you out there to take your own road trip to one or more of these “overlooked gems” within the National Park System.

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Filed under National Parks, National Parks Traveler, Podcast

3 Days In Lassen Volcanic National Park

What can you do and see in Lassen Volcanic National Park if you only have three days? Plenty! Today’s edition of the National Parks Traveler has published my three-day itinerary of this park.

To read the article, click on the image above.

As for this image: this is one of the views you get at the top of Cinder Cone, located in the northeastern corner of the park. From right to left: Lassen Peak, Fairfield Peak (I think – the closer tree-covered cinde cone), Painted Dunes and Fantastic Lava Beds.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Lassen Volcanic National Park, National Parks, National Parks Traveler, Photography

Forest Restoration, Resilience, And Protection At Lassen Volcanic National Park

Restoration, resilience, and protection are key words used in my Feature Story published in today’s edition of the National Parks Traveler. I had the opportunity to speak with the Lassen Volcanic National Park superintendent and information officer during my recent October stay at this national park, and subsequently wrote an article about the proactive steps park management has been taking and continues to take to ensure a healthy forest ecosystem in the face of past and possibly future wildfires.

Click on the image above to read my article.

The image was captured during my early morning drive toward the Bumpass Hell area.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Lassen Volcanic National Park, National Parks Traveler, Photography

National Parks Traveler Checklist: Lassen Volcanic National Park (California)

Becky And The Glacial Erratic

If you are thinking about travel and making plans to maybe visit a national park, you should check out my latest National Parks Traveler Checklist. It’s all about planning for Lassen Volcanic National Park in California and is published in today’s edition of the National Parks Traveler.

Click on the image above to check out the checklist.

As for this image, I captured it at the Bumpass Hell parking lot before heading out on a 1.5-mile hike to Bumpass Hell. If you go, not only can you see this huge glacially-deposited boulder for yourself, but you’ll also see nicely-defined striations on surrounding rocks indicating the direction of travel the glacier took.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Lassen Volcanic National Park, National Parks, National Parks Traveler, Traveler's Checklist

Pika And Plague In Lassen Volcanic National Park

When you think of plague, what comes to mind? The Black Death of the mid 1300s? Certainly not cute, furry little mammals in a national park. And yet, plague is there. In national parks.

During my recent short visit to Lassen Volcanic National Park, I had the good fortune, thanks to the park’s superintendent and it’s chief of resources, to follow along with the park’s “pika crew” as they conducted field research on the extent of plague in the park, with emphasis on pika.

My article has been published as a feature story in today’s edition of the National Parks Traveler. To read the story, click on the image above.

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Filed under Lassen Volcanic National Park, National Parks, National Parks Traveler, Photography