Tag Archives: summer

Fun Fact Friday, May 6, 2022

One Heck Of A North Rim View, Grand Canyon National Park (Arizona)

It’s Fun Fact Friday, and since the North Rim of the Grand Canyon is set to open this month, I thought I’d put a few fun facts out here about this part of Grand Canyon National Park:

The North Rim is 1,000 feet higher in elevation than the South Rim. That means it’s cooler, wetter, and there are far more trees – so many, in fact, that I found it difficult to get an unencumbered photo of the canyon landscape because of all the trees.

If you are standing at the South Rim looking toward the North Rim, the distance (as the crow flies) is about 10 miles. If you choose to hike from the South Rim to the North Rim, the distance to get there is 21 miles. And if you want to drive from the south to the north, you’ll be taking the “scenic route” and it will take you about five hours to get to the North Rim.

Only about 10% of all visitors to this national park ever make it up to the North Rim, so it’s much less visited – although that doesn’t mean it won’t be crowded at times. Plus, there is only one lodge up there: Grand Canyon Lodge, and one campground (although there are other campgrounds outside the park boundary).

This image was captured at one of the two small view areas below the Grand Canyon Lodge. I spent a couple of days at the North Rim during my move from Texas to Washington state.

Click on the image above if you are interested in purchasing a print.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Fun Fact Friday, Grand Canyon National Park, National Parks, North Rim, Photography

Red Spouter Is A Great Example Of Cool Geology

Red Spouter fumerole at Fountain Paint Pots, Yellowstone National Park during summer 2018
A close-up view of Red Spouter as a fumerole during summer 2018
Red Spouter as a hot spring (or really wet mud pot – take your pick) in the winter (February) of 2022

Geology is such a cool science. I have degrees in geology (which meant, at the time, diddly squat in terms of getting a job, but it was a cool branch of science to study, anyway). Yellowstone National Park is a great place to see geology, past and present. Take Red Spouter, for example.

Before August 1959, Red Spouter did not even exist. In its place was a small grassy hill in the Fountain Paint Pots area. Then, on August 17, 1959, the Hebgen Lake earthquake occurred about 25 miles northwest of Fountain Paint Pots with a magnitude of 7.3. It was quite a shaker and “rippled through Yellowstone,” creating Red Spouter.

The interesting thing about Red Spouter is, depending upon the season, it can be a hot spring, a mudpot, or a fumerole. Back in the summer of 2018, as I was moving from TX to central WA, I stopped for a brief visit to Yellowstone. At the time I explored the Fountain Paint Pots area, Red Spouter was a fumerole (steam vent). During my recent February 2022 visit, I toured the same area while on a snowcoach trip, and Red Spouter was a splashing, muddy red, hot spring (well, maybe you’d call it a mud pot, although it seemed really watery to me).

Why is this? Well, it all depends upon the water table just beneath the surface. If the water table is high, like when snow melts and in the spring, then it’s either a splashing hot spring or a bubbling mudpot. If the water table is low, which it can be during the height of a dry summer (and it’s pretty dry out in Yellowstone, anyway), then Red Spouter is a steam vent.

Geology is cool, and it’s even cooler when you can get nicely-composed photos of that geology, right?

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Geology, National Parks, Photography, Yellowstone National Park

National Parks Traveler Webinar: Exploring Overlooked Jewels

Sunrise at the Mather Overlook area, Great Basin National Park, Nevada

Ok, I’m not certain that Great Basin National Park in Nevada is an overlooked jewel or not, but I can tell you from personal experience that it is out in the middle of nowhere, and during my late summer visit, while the park was busy, the crowds were definitely fewer than, say, Yosemite or Yellowstone or any of the other of the most-visited park units back in 2021. The infrastructure at Great Basin is small, and the town of Baker has a population of about 98 people, so lodging there is pretty sparse. The closest town of any real size is Ely, Nevada, about 1-1/2 hours’ drive from the park. This national park is located in basin-and-range country, so getting there means your vehicle had best be in good shape, because a breakdown out there would definitely ruin your day.

That said, there are definitely other places within the National Park System with fewer summer crowds that can offer great park experiences, and the National Parks Traveler will be hosting a webinar on April 12, 2022, to discuss those park units.

To read more and register for the webinar, click on the image above.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Same Park, Same Spot, Different Season, Different Camera

A 2022 winter morning view of the landscape between Hellroaring Trailhead and Tower-Roosevelt Junction in Yellowstone National Park
A 2018 summer view of the landscape between Hellroaring Trailhead and Tower-Roosevelt Junction in Yellowstone National Park

Yeah, yeah, I know – another one of those posts? Well, why not! Besides, I happened to be in the same spots (deliberately) in Yellowstone so I could capture similar shots. Granted, the cameras are different and the focal distance is different, too. With the winter shot, I used a focal length analogous to 48mm, and with the summer shot, I used a focal length of 70mm, so there’s a slight difference in the amount of landscape you are seeing. I tried cropping the winter shot so that it was a little bit closer to the view of the summer shot.

This may be a similar shot, but with the weather conditions / season you can see how visiting the same spot can yield different results to make it look almost like a completely different landscape.

This location is going downhill on what is known as the Grand Loop Road in Yellowstone National Park. It’s between Hellroaring Trailhead and Tower-Roosevelt Junction. Since it’s Fun Fact Friday when I post this, here’s a bit of trivia for you:

During the summer and warmer days, in general, there are more water molecules in the air. During the winter (cold temps aside), there are far fewer water molecules, which is why it generally feels much drier, your hands and lips get chapped easier, and your photos are much clearer. Aside from the differences in camera resolution, this is why the winter shot here seems to be “crisper” than the summer shot, which appears softer due (at least in part) to the sort of “smoggy” morning with all those steam and summer water molecules in the air.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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

Different Seasons, Same Location

A winter sunrise view of Canary Spring at Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone National Park
A summer sunrise view of Canary Spring, Yellowstone National Park

Ok, it’s Saturday, so here’s a 2-fer to go with the previous post.

From one of the National Park Service’s pages:

“Imagine you are here in the late 1800s, a time when yellow filamentous bacteria was prominent. What colors are present today?

This spring occasionally goes dormant for brief periods of time. Vibrant pinks and neons are sometimes seen.

A network of fractures and fissures form the plumbing system that allows hot water from underground to reach the surface at Mammoth Hot Springs. Small earthquakes may keep the plumbing open. The water comes from rain and snow falling on surrounding mountains and seeping deep into the earth where it is heated.

The volcanic heat source for Mammoth Hot Springs [in Yellowstone National Park] remains somewhat of a mystery. Scientists have proposed two sources: the large magma chamber underlying the Yellowstone Caldera or a smaller heat source closer to Mammoth.

For hundreds of years, Shoshone and Bannock people collected minerals from the Mammoth Hot Springs terraces for white paint.

Travertine terraces are formed from limestone (calcium carbonate). Water rises through the limestone, carrying high amounts of dissolved calcium carbonate. At the surface, carbon dioxide is released and calcium carbonate is deposited, forming travertine, the chalky white rock of the terraces. Due to the rapid rate of deposition, these features constantly and quickly change.”

The images you see here reflect Canary Spring seen during a winter 2022 sunrise and a summer 2018 sunrise. Aside from the colors and lighting, what other – if any – differences do you see? I saw some much brighter colors during the summer on the terraces of Canary Spring. Aside from anything else, I’ve noticed that colors during the winter seem to be much more muted and darker, as well. I saw this not only here at Canary Spring, but also at Morning Glory Pool and Doublet Pool at Upper Geyser Basin.

FYI, the winter image was captured with my Fujifilm GFX 100s and 23mm prime lens, and the summer image was captured with a Canon 5dsr and 24-70mm zoom lens.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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

Photography In The National Parks: A Great Time At Great Basin National Park

Waiting For Sunrise Along The Wheeler Peak Scenic Road, Great Basin National Park (Nevada)

The National Parks Traveler has published my latest photography column. This one is all about tips, techniques, and places to photograph within Great Basin National Park, in Nevada.

To read the article, click on the image above.

As for this image, I had started out on the narrow, winding Wheeler Peak Scenic Road at dark-thirty, probably an hour and a half or so before sunrise. It’s a good idea to get started along this road early, because you really, really need to drive slowling along the curvy and did I mention narrow (?) road with plenty to time to get to where you want to set up for sunrise. I placed my camera on a tripod as the light was beginning to glow a little above the horizon. That helped me with focusing on the distant scenery.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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National Parks Traveler Checklist: Great Basin National Park

A Mid-Morning View Of Stella Lake, Great Basin National Park (Nevada)

The National Parks Traveler has published my latest Checklist. This one’s for Great Basin National Park in Nevada. To read the article, click on the image above.

As for the image above, this was my first day and first hike in this national park. I’d driven up Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive and managed to snag a parking spot at a pullout across the narrow road from the actual Wheeler Peak Summit Trail parking lot, which was almost full (the parking lots are small in that park and they fill up quickly).

I knew I was not going to hike the 8-mile round trip up to and back down from Wheeler Peak summit – I wanted to, but didn’t feel I was in good enough shape nor as acclimatized for a hike up to 13,000 feet, even though my visit to Yosemite National Park the prior week helped some with that aspect. Instead, I opted for the 2.6-mile roundtrip hike to Stella Lake, which is accessed via the Wheeler Peak Summit Trail but with a 0.1-mile turnoff to the lake. It’s a beautiful hike through stands of quaking aspen, some of which sported leaves already turning gold. It is, however, a narrow, uneven, rocky trail and would be easy to take a fall if one is not watching their step. No, I didn’t fall, but one little girl I watched almost did, because she was wearing sneakers with no tread and not paying attention to the trail.

At this time of year, Stella Lake looks more like Stella “Pond.” You can even see a sort of “bathtub ring” of different colored grass and bits of driftwood around the lake to indicate a higher water level during an earlier part of the season.

The mountains you see behind you are Wheeler Peak, to the right, and Doso Doyabi (formerly Jeff Davis Peak), to the center.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Great Basin National Park, National Parks, National Parks Traveler, Nevada, Photography, Travel, Traveler's Checklist

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.

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Nevada Basin And Range Landscape

A Long Ribbon Of Road From Ely To Great Basin National Park
A Hazy Summer Morning Over Wind Turbines And Nevada Valley And Mountain Landscape

I’d left Ely (pronounced Eee-lee), Nevada, around 6:30 a.m. for an hour’s drive to Great Basin National Park. I was about 30-ish miles south of Ely when I rounded a corner and started heading down into this wide, flat valley. The wind turbines, ribbon of road that looks like it goes way up into the mountains on the other side of the valley, and the sunlight highlighting the veil of haze captured my photographer’s eye and I just had to pull over and get a few photos.

In reality, that long road going up into the mountains is actually a dirt road on someone’s private property (lucky them). This paved road takes an almost sharp turn to the left and parallels the mountains before rounding the corner to the right.

And those wind turbines made a great geographic marker for me on the way from the park back toward Ely on the day I headed back home to Washington state. I’d left the Baker area at 2 a.m. so it was dark heading toward Ely. Distances are difficult to discern in the dark because you can’t see the landscape. However, when I saw the synchronous blinking red lights, I knew I was driving toward and past that small wind turbine farm and that Ely was closer than I thought.

Nevada has some amazing landscape and geology, and the roads are very good, but the stretches of road through the state are long and out in the middle of nowhere, seemingly far away from civilization (and gas stations).

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under leading lines, Nevada, Photography

Tiny Climbers Scaling The Granite At El Capitan

I spy with my little eye left of center the two teeny tiny climbers – Captured at 100mm focal length
Can you see the climbers now? See the guy in the orange shirt – left of center – 93% crop of the original image above

I think rock climbers (and mountain climbers, too) are CRAZY! Of course, this is coming from someone who has more than a healthy respect (read fear) of great heights and gets a little vertigo just looking at photos of such things as people hiking Angels Landing in Zion National Park.

That said, one of the things I wanted to do while visiting Yosemite Valley in Yosemite National Park was try to first spot, then photograph, climbers hanging from the sheer granite wall of the famous El Capitan. I’d already googled where good places to stand and watch for climbers would be, and one of the best places is actually right across the road from El Cap. I remember first driving by that spot and wondering what the heck people were doing pointing their smartphones way up in the air. And then, I realized, they were trying to get photos of the climbers on the wall (duh, Becky).

So yesterday afternoon, while driving through the valley, I parked along the road (at a nice, wide, long parking area all along that road) brought out my 100-400mm lens, and started scanning the sheer walls. With a little pointing from others nearby, I finally found these two guys (thank you, climber, for wearing that bright orange shirt). Took me awhile to suss them out, though, because I am not kidding when I tell you the climbers are so tiny against the sheer grandeur of El Cap’s cliff wall. These photos hopefully give you an idea. The first photo is the original captured at a focal length of 100mm. Can you spot them hanging from the cliff wall? They are just a tad left of center.The second photo is a 93% crop of the first, so you can see them a little better (the orange shirt helps). Even with that crop, they still look tiny against the granite elements. I have other photos taken at a focal length of 400mm, but think this original and crop make a better point of humans conquering the elements – in this case, conqering the granite height of a famous landmark in the park.

Oh, FYI – I was curious as to how climbers get back down, once they’ve made it to the top. They can rappel back down, but also, there are trails that take them back down to the famous Camp 4, which is considered the “climbers’ camp.”

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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