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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This is Emerald Pool, at Black Sand Basin, just a couple of miles or so from Upper Geyser Basin in Yellowstone National Park. Black Sand Basin is pretty cool because it doesn’t seem to be visited as much, being between the very popular Upper Geyser Basin, where Old Faithful is located, and Midway Geyser Basin, where Grand Prismatic is located.
So, it was on a quiet autumn day back in 2019 that I visited this pool of hot water. It was a teeny bit breezy so that the steam rising from the hot spring was not so thick you couldn’t see the actual color and shape of the pool.
I posted it today because National Parks Traveler published an article yesterday about some crazy idiots who took a couple of plucked chickens with them on a hike out to Shoshone Geyser Basin. They then put those chickens in a burlap bag and threw the bag into a hot spring to boil.
I’m sure those people thought they were being incredibly clever, but instead, they were being incredibly stupid. First of all, the waters in those hot springs are pretty caustic, so I’m sure the chicken would not have tasted very good, if they had not been dissolved in the first place by those caustic waters. Secondly, doing something like that disturbs and changes the delicate ecological and chemical balance and character of the hot spring, just like people throwing trash and coins into Morning Glory Pool have, over time, changed the once pristine saturated blue color into a yellow and green color. Thirdly, those morons on their little backcountry trip were extremely lucky they didn’t step onto thin crust and fall into a boiling hot spot during their little cooking venture.
Thankfully, a backcountry ranger caught them. But I’m sure the penalty will only be a slap to the wrist. Honestly, if those people wanted cooked chicken (and I wonder how they got that chicken out there on their backcountry hike in the first place, without it spoiling in the process), they should have just gone to a Wally World-type recreational venue, with lodging and restaurants.
Ok, that’s my eye-roll story for the day. Click on that image above to read the article.
All images on these posts are the exclusive property of Rebecca L. Latson and Where The Trails Take You Photography. Please respect my copyright and do not use these images on Pinterest, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, Snapchat or any other business, personal or social website, blog site, or other media without my written permission. Thank you.
You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org