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.
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.
According to one of my twin nephews, nobody uses wall calendars anymore when they can keep everything digitally on their computer and smartphones. I guess I’m old school, because I (and my sister, at least) still use calendars onto which we write everything. Plus, we love the beautiful scenes for each month.
So, here, for 2021, are four 12-month wall calendars filled with gorgeous images (at least, I think so) captured at three national parks, one national monument, and one national recreation area this year. I ended up safely traveling around to more places than I imagined I would this year, and four of those five places were new to me.
As you wander along the trails, marveling at these very tall coastal redwood trees in Redwood National and State Parks, you’ll notice all sorts of interesting knots and bumps and “molten wood sculptures” around the bases of these trees. Those are burls and are another way for the redwoods to sprout new growth, in addition to growing from seeds the size of a tomato seed. The ranger told me burl sprouts occur usually during some sort of traumatic event like a fire.
So, if you find yourself roaming the trails in this series of parks, take a look at the bases of these trees, photograph those burls, and notice whether or not you see any sort of growth from those “bumps.”
If you only have a short time to spend in Redwood National and State Parks, in northern California, then you should read my latest article published in the National Parks Traveler, about what you can do and see in just three days in this collaboration of national and state parks.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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