100 Days of National Parks: Day 63 – Storm Shadow – Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado

Rising up above the valley floor outside of Cortez Colorado onto the towering bluff of Mesa Verde, it’s easy to get distracted by the view of the southern Rockies to the northeast. The towering snow-covered peaks beckon, trying to pull wanderers like myself deeper into their midst. Climbing up the winding road into Mesa Verde at sunrise, I found my gaze continuously drawn to the amazing sunrise, and the looming shadow of a late spring storm descending on the mountains. It was one of the most spectacular vistas I’ve ever come across, and as a result, I arrived at my intended destination far later than I’d planned.

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Storm Shadow

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Rising up above the valley floor outside of Cortez Colorado onto the towering bluff of Mesa Verde, it’s easy to get distracted by the view of the southern Rockies to the northeast.  The towering snow-covered peaks beckon, trying to pull wanderers like myself deeper into their midst.  Climbing up the winding road into Mesa Verde at sunrise, I found my gaze continuously drawn to the amazing sunrise, and the looming shadow of a late spring storm descending on the mountains.  It was one of the most spectacular vistas I’ve ever come across, and as a result, I arrived at my intended destination far later than I’d planned.

Continue reading “100 Days of National Parks: Day 63 – Storm Shadow – Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado”

100 Days of National Parks: Day 61 – Morning Beneath the Patriarchs, Zion National Park

Morning beneath the Patriarchs

One of the benefits in becoming as familiar with Zion National Park as I have become over the past half decade is the fact that I can go to the park and not feel the need to constantly chase new sights or places I haven’t seen. On my last real trip to the park in November of 2014, I spent two weeks hiking familiar and unfamiliar trails and generally wandering the park freely, as the winter chill had emptied the park of most of its crowds, allowing me the peace of exploring at my own pace in my own manner.

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Morning Beneath the Patriarchs

 

Morning beneath the Patriarchs
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One of the benefits in becoming as familiar with Zion National Park as I have become over the past half decade is the fact that I can go to the park and not feel the need to constantly chase new sights or places I haven’t seen.  On my last real trip to the park in November of 2014, I spent two weeks hiking familiar and unfamiliar trails and generally wandering the park freely, as the winter chill had emptied the park of most of its crowds, allowing me the peace of exploring at my own pace in my own manner.

Continue reading “100 Days of National Parks: Day 61 – Morning Beneath the Patriarchs, Zion National Park”

100 Days of National Parks: Day 59 – Wandering Stones, Death Valley National Park

Wandering Stones

Racetrack Playa in Death Valley is one of those places that make you realize how strange and mysterious the world can actually be. Walking along the cracked and dry lake bed, miles and miles from the nearest civilization, you come across strange, serpentine tracks left in the dry mud. Following these tracks bring you to the infamous “Wandering Stones” of the Racetrack, and the reason the playa received its name. These stones, some too heavy to lift, slide along the valley floor for reasons that, until recently, were a complete mystery to scientists and casual visitors to the area. While it’s now known that these strange tracks are created by periods of freezing and thawing of winter water cover, which buoys the stones along, dragging long furrows in the muddy ground, walking through this desolate and remote section of Death Valley is still one of the stranger experiences you can find in any National Park.

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Wandering Stones

Wandering Stones
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Racetrack Playa in Death Valley is one of those places that make you realize how strange and mysterious the world can actually be.  Walking along the cracked and dry lake bed, miles and miles from the nearest civilization, you come across strange, serpentine tracks left in the dry mud.  Following these tracks bring you to the infamous “Wandering Stones” of the Racetrack, and the reason the playa received its name.  These stones, some too heavy to lift, slide along the valley floor for reasons that, until recently, were a complete mystery to scientists and casual visitors to the area.  While it’s now known that these strange tracks are created by periods of freezing and thawing of winter water cover, which buoys the stones along, dragging long furrows in the muddy ground, walking through this desolate and remote section of Death Valley is still one of the stranger experiences you can find in any National Park.

Continue reading “100 Days of National Parks: Day 59 – Wandering Stones, Death Valley National Park”

100 Days of National Parks: Day 57 – Delicate Arch, Arches National Park

There are many reasons in my time as a photographer that I’ve had to sit and wait for a shot to materialize. It could be waiting for the right lighting, or for an animal to turn its head, or snapping away at a particularly large panorama, aligning each shot over the course of an hour to make sure it all lines up in the edit. Then there are those times when you simply know that you’re in a special place, one that is so popular that the people flock to it en masse, and all you can do is sit and wait patiently for the shot to clear so you can get that one clean exposure.

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Delicate Arch

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There are many reasons in my time as a photographer that I’ve had to sit and wait for a shot to materialize.  It could be waiting for the right lighting, or for an animal to turn its head, or snapping away at a particularly large panorama, aligning each shot over the course of an hour to make sure it all lines up in the edit.  Then there are those times when you simply know that you’re in a special place, one that is so popular that the people flock to it en masse, and all you can do is sit and wait patiently for the shot to clear so you can get that one clean exposure.

Continue reading “100 Days of National Parks: Day 57 – Delicate Arch, Arches National Park”

100 Days of National Parks: Day 56 – Sunrise Point, Bryce Canyon National Park

The view over Bryce Canyon at sunrise is truly a special sight, as the first light of the day shines across the distant plateaus of the Grand Staircase and illuminates the high walls and towering hoodoos of the Faerieland Amphitheater. Crowds in the hundreds are known to assemble at the accurately named Sunrise point to watch the spectacle, and with good reason. Of all the places I’ve watched sunrises, Bryce Canyon is one of the best.

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Sunrise Point

The view over Bryce Canyon at sunrise is truly a special sight, as the first light of the day shines across the distant plateaus of the Grand Staircase and illuminates the high walls and towering hoodoos of the Faerieland Amphitheater.  Crowds in the hundreds are known to assemble at the accurately named Sunrise point to watch the spectacle, and with good reason.  Of all the places I’ve watched sunrises, Bryce Canyon is one of the best.

Continue reading “100 Days of National Parks: Day 56 – Sunrise Point, Bryce Canyon National Park”

100 Days of National Parks: Day 54 – Hickman Bridge, Capitol Reef National Park

As one of the easier hikes in Capitol Reef National Park, the short 2 mile trail to Hickman Bridge is definitely worth the stop, just for the chance to pass under the impressive natural span of sandstone. Other than Natural Bridges National Monument, I’ve never found a place with a more accessible, and stunning display of a natural bridge. Whether combined with a longer hike out to the Rim Overlook, which looks down upon the orchards of Fruita Valley, or as a short diversion when passing through the park, it’s definitely worth the stop.

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Hickman Bridge

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As one of the easier hikes in Capitol Reef National Park, the short 2 mile trail to Hickman Bridge is definitely worth the stop, just for the chance to pass under the impressive natural span of sandstone.  Other than Natural Bridges National Monument, I’ve never found a place with a more accessible, and stunning display of a natural bridge.  Whether combined with a longer hike out to the Rim Overlook, which looks down upon the orchards of Fruita Valley, or as a short diversion when passing through the park, it’s definitely worth the stop.

Continue reading “100 Days of National Parks: Day 54 – Hickman Bridge, Capitol Reef National Park”

100 Days of National Parks: Day 51 – Mesa Arch Sunrise, Canyonlands National Park

One of the great challenges that I find as I travel and advance my photography career, is fighting the ever-present threat of desensitization to the beauty of the places I go and photograph. It hasn’t happened yet, though I’ve felt it creeping in, in amazingly beautiful places that I’ve been to several times, or seen in countless photos from other artists I admire. There are certain places that seem almost over-shot, places that you’ve seen countless times online or as prints in galleries, and so seeing them in person loses some of its luster, and photographing them almost becomes a chore. I’ve seen it in other photographers, arriving at a spot just to shoot it and get it over with, the passion and spark that led them to chasing those shots in the first place replaced with irritation at the process of capturing it.

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Mesa Arch Sunrise

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One of the great challenges that I find as I travel and advance my photography career, is fighting the ever-present threat of desensitization to the beauty of the places I go and photograph.  It hasn’t happened yet, though I’ve felt it creeping in, in amazingly beautiful places that I’ve been to several times, or seen in countless photos from other artists I admire.  There are certain places that seem almost over-shot, places that you’ve seen countless times online or as prints in galleries, and so seeing them in person loses some of its luster, and photographing them almost becomes a chore.  I’ve seen it in other photographers, arriving at a spot just to shoot it and get it over with, the passion and spark that led them to chasing those shots in the first place replaced with irritation at the process of capturing it.

Continue reading “100 Days of National Parks: Day 51 – Mesa Arch Sunrise, Canyonlands National Park”