Tag Archives: scenery

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 😉

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.

Comments Off on Happy New Year!

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

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.

Comments Off on Fun Fact Friday 12-16-2022

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

Photography In The National Parks: My Favorite Parks For Photography – Part 1

Painted Hills Unit Landscape Color, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument (Oregon)

In my lifetime, I’ve visited over 30 units of the National Park System. This includes national parks, national monuments, and national historic sites. This also includes a national historic trail, a national natural landmark, and a national geologic trail. Some of these places were visited B.D.C. (Before Digital Camera), which means I have no images of them (like Mammoth Cave, which I did photograph with a film camera but no longer have the prints or the film strips, unfortunately).

Most photographers will tell you they have no specific favorite park for anything. Well, while I love every single one of these units I’ve visited, I do have favorites for specific photography categories. You probably do too, although you may not have thought about it much. For instance, what are your favorite parks for photographing color? No, not autumn color, but landscape color. What is/are your favorite park(s) for photographing a sunrise or a sunset? What is/are your favorite park(s) for photographing mountains?

Today’s edition of the National Parks Traveler has published my latest Photography in the National Parks column. In this Part 1, I list my favorite parks (of the ones visited and photographed) for specific categories (sunrise/sunset, landscape color, mountainous landscape, wildlife, etc.). I don’t include the recent visits to sights along national historic or geologic trails, or the national natural landmark. So, there’s the caveat to my favorites. Future national park unit visits may change the order of my favorites. We’ll see.

For now, check out the article by clicking on the image above.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

Comments Off on Photography In The National Parks: My Favorite Parks For Photography – Part 1

Filed under National Parks, National Parks Traveler, Photography, Photography In The National Parks

One Heck Of A Pothole!

It’s Trivia Tuesday! So, what are you looking at in this image, you may be asking yourself. You see a teeny white SUV to the upper left of this image, some golden grass and scrubby sagebrush. You see a large hole in the center and center-left of the image. Well, that’s a pothole you are looking at. Yes, a pothole – like the ones your vehicle drives over and it doesn’t get fixed until some member of the city council or their relative damages their car driving over it and they demand it gets fixed. Only this pothole was created by something entirely different, and is out in the middle of Drumheller Channels National Natural Landmark, a part of the Channeled Scablands landscape seen along the Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail in Eastern Washington state.

Ever heard of a “kolk”? Tens of thousands of years ago, colossal floodwaters surged through the area, higher than that white SUV, higher than any of the buttes you see in the image. Those waters were so strong and fast that they created corkscrew vortices called kolks (whirlpools) within the water. Those kolks drilled down into the ground and eroded and carried away boulders and soils to other destinations, leaving scraped and scoured landscape with these large potholes. And they are large. If you were to hike within the landscape of Drumheller Channels (much of which is located within the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge), you’d see dry potholes and water-filled potholes.

I’m writing a series of photo columns about the Channeled Scablands for the National Parks Traveler. Part 1 has already been published. Parts 2 and 3 are going to be published in later months.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

Comments Off on One Heck Of A Pothole!

Filed under Channeled Scablands, Drumheller Channels National Natural Landmark, Eastern Washington, Geology, Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail, National Parks, Travel, Trivia Tuesday, Washington State

Road Trippin’

Road Trippin’ Through Oregon Landscape

Despite the price of gas, you should not be dissuaded ever from taking a road trip. You see far more, closer, than you would in a plane filled with maskless people hacking, coughing, and sneezing and prone to fits of rage. I should know. I have flown my share of miles over the years. Now, I drive to places I would not have thought to go, otherwise.

Road Trippin’ Up Washington Pass To North Cascades National Park
Road Trippin’ Along The Chisos Basin Road In Big Bend National Park

I read a great article this morning in the National Parks Traveler. It’s written by the Traveler’s Editor-in-Chief about his 2,500 mile road trip from his home in Utah to attend a family wedding. Along the way to and from, he stopped at four park units within the National Park System, in Kansas and Nebraska, America’s heartland. He’s written about these places before, but he acknowledges that it’s one thing to write about them, but another thing entirely to actually visit them and speak to the rangers helping to protect these pieces of history and landscape. There’s a visceral feeling and a certain amount of satisfaction in reaching your destination via a road trip as opposed to flying (although reaching your flight’s end in one piece and on time – more or less – is a visceral satisfaction of its own, too, I guess).

Anyway, these images represent road trips I’ve taken in my own SUV. These are trips I might not have driven had I not been able to finally afford a vehicle that would not only take me to these places, but allow me to pack what I want without having to worry about weight limits and, if I wanted, I could camp overnight in (sorry, poor grammar here).

You might want to read the Traveler’s article, yourself. It’s a good one and might urge you on your own road trip.

Just click on the very top image to be taken to the Traveler’s article.

Oh, I don’t plan on driving to Nebraska or Kansas or anyplace out East anytime soon, but it brings to mind the road trips I’ve recently taken in Washington state and Oregon, along the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, the Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail, and even my winter road trip to Yellowstone National Park.

I’ll be continuing my road trips as long as I am able to do so.

On Top Of Columnar Basalts At Drumheller Channels National Natural Landmark

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

Comments Off on Road Trippin’

Filed under National Parks Traveler, Photography, Travel

Photography In The National Parks: Exploration Along The Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail

Dry Falls Vista

The National Parks Traveler has published my latest photo column. This month, it’s all about my day trip to Eastern Washington’s Dry Falls and Channeled Scablands landscape along the Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail.

To read the article, click on the image above.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

Comments Off on Photography In The National Parks: Exploration Along The Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail

Filed under Eastern Washington, Geology, Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail, National Parks Traveler, Photography, Travel, Washington State

Canada’s Most (And Least) Visited National Parks And Sites For 2021

A lovely spring morning at Lake Louise in Banff National Park, Canada

Back in 2016, I spent about a week visiting Canada’s Banff and Jasper national parks. I hadn’t visited in decades – not since I was a little girl maybe not quite nine years old (perhaps a little older, I can’t really remember) – we might have already moved to Kentucky when we went.

Anyway, spring is a beautiful time to see the rugged mountain landscapes, but be aware there is still plenty of snow up there to cover many of the trails.

And, speaking of Banff and Jasper national parks, today’s edition of the National Parks Traveler has an article about Canada’s most (and least) visited national parks and sites for 2021. If you are curious, or planning your own Canadian park trip, then check out that article.

To read the article, click on the image above.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

Comments Off on Canada’s Most (And Least) Visited National Parks And Sites For 2021

Filed under Banff National Park, Canada, National Parks, Photography, Seasons, Spring, Travel

Foot Prints And Face Mask Trash In Yellowstone National Park

Footprints And A Face Mask At Crested Pool
I Spy With My Little Eye A Discarded Face Mask At Biscuit Basin
Boot, Paw, And Hoof Prints On The Shallow Terraces Of Grand Prismatic Spring

I visited Yellowstone National Park back in mid February 2022. It was a fantastic trip and I came home with memories of wonderful experiences and great photos. I also returned with a somewhat lower-than-usual opinion of people who visit this national park and leave marks and trash like those you see in the photos above. I guess people are either ignorant of park etiquette, or they think they are above it all and none of the rules apply to them.

Regarding the human foot prints among the wildlife foot prints at both Crested Pool and Grand Prismatic Pool: bison and foxes and wolves and coyotes cannot read the signs the national park has posted warning of the dangers of straying off the boardwalk in the geyser basins. People, on the other hand, can read the signs – they just don’t want to follow the warnings and are what I consider willfully ignorant. What these people don’t realize is that the crust really is thin around thermal features. Proof of that can be found at spots like Blue Star Spring in Upper Geyser Basin. Look into that searing hot, saturated aqua-blue pool and you’ll see the bones of a young bison who made a misstep back in the 80s.

This brings to mind my 2019 autumn visit to Yellowstone. Among the idiots who walked up to Old Faithful Geyser that year was one moron who decided it would be awesome to walk right up to Old Faithful that night – around midnight, I think. The burns he ultimately sustained made him decide to seek medical help, no matter how much trouble he might get himself in. The next day, as I was wandering along the boardwalks up there, I noticed rangers and other orange-vested people out there walking around near Old Faithful, retrieving articles of clothing that guy left behind, and checking to see if there was any damage to the geyser and surrounding area. These thermal ecosystems – and really, all ecosystems within any national park – are fragile and it doesn’t take much to screw them up. If they can be healed, it takes a looonnnnggg time. The snowcoach guide who took me and four other people through Midway Basin told us it takes a very long time for hoof, paw, and human foot prints to disappear from those shallow terraces around the edges of Grand Prismatic.

And let’s get to the face mask issue. This is yet another form of trash that people carelessly leave behind. Ok, more than likely, the mask either slips off the face or slips out of a vest or pant pocket when a person is pulling out something else, but they are sloppy at keeping track of things like face masks. Certainly mars the view, don’t you think? Sure, I can clone out the offending trash, but I have it here so you can see what I saw when I pointed my camera in that direction. It made me sad and angry at the same time.

Most photographer whose pages you visit on some platform like Facebook are pretty careful to not say anything political or otherwise incendiary to alienate prospective purchasers of their work. I suppose I should do the same, but I’ve never kowtowed to conventional practices and am of the belief that there are times when you have to take a stand one way or another. I don’t fence sit when I believe in something strongly enough.

Many people don’t care if they “foul their own nest” when it comes to visiting a national park, rather than leaving no trace so future visitors can appreciate the wild beauty. As such, I have very little patience with people, nowadays. I’m sure my attitude does not win me any fans or photo purchases, but I’ve never been one to shy away from writing (or saying) what I think, regardless of how it may irritate people. I point out human ignorance, stupidity, and hate where ever I see it. I find the people who write to tell me what a bitch I am are generally the ones who have committed the sins about which I write.

I hope the idiots who left that face mask trash and marked up the fragile areas within and around the hot springs were not photographers. That kind of cretin gives the rest of us photographers a bad name. I’m thankful there are still photographers out there who respect the land and the wildlife they photograph. I just wish they would speak up a little louder in defense of these ecosystems.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

Comments Off on Foot Prints And Face Mask Trash In Yellowstone National Park

Filed under National Parks, Photography, Seasons, winter, Yellowstone National Park

Revisiting A Favorite Spot In A National Park

Myrtle Falls, Mount Rainier National Park, 9/30/2020
Myrtle Falls, Mount Rainier National Park, 9/23/2021
Myrtle Falls, Mount Rainier National Park, 9/6/2016

I know I’ve written this before, and I tend to hammer it in to the readers of my photo column on the National Parks Traveler. But, I’m not going to stop hammering it in, so here we go again: it’s always a great idea to revisit and rephotograph a favorite national park spot, because – depending upon the season, time of day, and weather – things can look quite different from the last time you visited. If you are using a newer/different camera, the level of detail can look quite different, as well.

Take these shots of Myrtle Falls in the Paradise area of Mount Rainier National Park (Washington state). Each of the three photos were actually captured in September, from late summer to autumn, and during the morning (I didn’t realize they were all captured in September until I looked at the file info). However, these images were photographed in different years (2016, 2020, 2021) and under different weather conditions. Makes quite a difference, doesn’t it?

The first image shows a sort of veiled mountain view that I photographed with my Sony a7riv. Smoke from a wildfire had wafted in that morning, when the previous morning was crystal clear. The second image is the most recent, captured the day after official autumn and conditions were perfect for a clear photo of everything and was photographed with my Fujifilm GFX100. The last photo was taken during a rainy day when The Mountain was completely hidden from view by fog/mist/low-hanging clouds, so I focused on the waterfall rather than the gray background with my Canon 5DSR. And the really nice thing is that during each of those photo sessions, I had the place all to myself (I may forget what I ate for breakfast the other day, but stuff like that, I tend to remember). Most people up there at that time of year tend to want to sleep in, I guess.

Anyway, look at these images and compare them to one another, then take my advice and revisit your favorite spots for more photos.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

Comments Off on Revisiting A Favorite Spot In A National Park

Filed under Canon, Fujifilm GFX 100, Mount Rainier National Park, National Parks, Photography, Sony Alpha a7r IV

Photography in The National Parks: Yosemite Tried, True, and New

Yosemite Valley Landscape, Yosemite National Park (California)

The National Parks Traveler has published my latest photography column. This month’s column is all about capturing iconic as well as new perspectives of this particular national park. To read the article, click on the image above.

As for this image: I drove into Yosemite Valley several times during my week’s stay in the park. Every time, I’d pass by this one spot along the road – a small pullout large enough for a vehicle, right next to the rocky banks of the Merced River, which was a trickle of its former self. So finally, I stopped, took out my camera and tripod, and gingerly picked my way to a spot to photograph forest, river, and El Capitan (I believe that’s El Cap) all beneath a blue sky with wispy clouds.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

Comments Off on Photography in The National Parks: Yosemite Tried, True, and New

Filed under National Parks, National Parks Traveler, Photography, Photography In The National Parks, Travel and Photography, Yosemite National Park