100 Days of National Parks: Day 62 – On Moro Rock, Sequoia National Park

On Moro Rock

Sitting on top of Moro Rock, in Sequoia National Park, it’s impossible not to let your mind drift as you enjoy one of the best views in the park, and one of the best overlooks of the Sierra Nevada Mountains that I’ve ever come across. Unimpeded by trees or ground cover, the view from Moro Rock offers an expansive clear view of the peaks of the High Sierra to the east, crowned by Mt. Whitney, the highest mountain in the continental U.S., all the way to to the rolling foothills and expansive farmlands of the central valley. It’s rare that you can find such a pristine overlook, such a clear view of some of the most amazing landscapes the country has to offer. It’s even rarer to have the experience to yourself.

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On Moro Rock

On Moro Rock
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Sitting on top of Moro Rock, in Sequoia National Park, it’s impossible not to let your mind drift as you enjoy one of the best views in the park, and one of the best overlooks of the Sierra Nevada Mountains that I’ve ever come across.  Unimpeded by trees or ground cover, the view from Moro Rock offers an expansive clear view of the peaks of the High Sierra to the east, crowned by Mt. Whitney, the highest mountain in the continental U.S., all the way to to the rolling foothills and expansive farmlands of the central valley.  It’s rare that you can find such a pristine overlook, such a clear view of some of the most amazing landscapes the country has to offer.  It’s even rarer to have the experience to yourself.

Continue reading “100 Days of National Parks: Day 62 – On Moro Rock, Sequoia National Park”

100 Days of National Parks: Day 37 – Cable Mountain, Zion National Park

Atop Cable Mountain

There’s something about climbing to the top of a mountain or ridgeline and looking out across the landscape laid out below that always appeals to me. I think it’s the sense of perspective, literal and figurative, that I get on the world and the places I travel. There’s no place I like to do this more than along the rims of Zion National Park.

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Cable Mountain

Atop Cable Mountain
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There’s something about climbing to the top of a mountain or ridgeline and looking out across the landscape laid out below that always appeals to me.  I think it’s the sense of perspective, literal and figurative, that I get on the world and the places I travel.  There’s no place I like to do this more than along the rims of Zion National Park.

Continue reading “100 Days of National Parks: Day 37 – Cable Mountain, Zion National Park”

100 Days of National Parks: Day 32 – Glacier Point, Yosemite National Park

Glacier Point

There are few sights more emblematic of the National Parks and the American wilderness in general than the view from the Glacier Point Overlook in Yosemite National Park. From the edge of the cliff, you can see almost 180 degrees of the Yosemite Valley, from Yosemite Falls to the west, over to Half Dome and Nevada Falls to the East, the expanse of the upper end of the Main Valley stretches out in front of you, and it’s hard not to be in awe of the view.

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Glacier Point

Glacier Point
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There are few sights more emblematic of the National Parks and the American wilderness in general than the view from the Glacier Point Overlook in Yosemite National Park.  From the edge of the cliff, you can see almost 180 degrees of the Yosemite Valley, from Yosemite Falls to the west, over to Half Dome and Nevada Falls to the East, the expanse of the upper end of the Main Valley stretches out in front of you, and it’s hard not to be in awe of the view.

Continue reading “100 Days of National Parks: Day 32 – Glacier Point, Yosemite National Park”

100 Days of National Parks: Day 13 – Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park has taken a while to grow on me. In contrast to parks that I feel offer more options in terms of avenues for exploration, like Zion or Yosemite, Bryce’s alien landscape at first seems immediately accessible and knowable in passing, a been-there-done-that quality that I felt the first few times I went. Where other National Parks offer variety, in landscape and activities, Bryce feels almost one-note at first, impressive, but not a very deep experience.

I think that it’s symptomatic of what I refer to as the Rim Effect, a problem I’ve similarly noted at the Grand Canyon and at Canyonlands’ Island in the Sky district. From the rim of a canyon (or an amphitheater like Bryce), you feel like you can see everything, and in seeing everything, you assume you understand it. I’ve literally seen people walk up to the edge of the Grand Canyon and say “It’s not so grand. It’s an ok canyon.” I’m guilty of this myself.

Where Bryce, the Grand Canyon, even Zion and Yosemite reward those willing to explore is those times when you step down from the heights, and get down amongst the elements that make these places truly spectacular. Amongst the hoodoos of Bryce, you feel lost in a maze of alien spires and trees fighting to grow amongst them. You wander through meandering, up and down trails that are deceptively strenuous, through the heat of the desert past skeletal remains of junipers and pines that couldn’t make it in this decidedly barren labyrinth. You walk past hidden arches and through small tunnels carved in the weathered sandstone, and look out upon seemingly endless layers of hoodoos, finding familiar shapes in unfamiliar stone, noting the one that looks like a queen, or another that looks like a hammer. You explore the way a child explores the woods behind their house, woods they thought they knew for years, yet are consistently surprised when they find some new clearing, some taller tree to climb.

This is the magic of Bryce, the thing I didn’t really appreciate until I let my preconceptions of the Park wash away and appreciated it for the amazing place that it is. I highly recommend taking a few days to get lost amongst the hoodoos yourself. Take every trail, go to every overlook. I assure you, it’s worth it.

Bryce Canyon

 

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Bryce Canyon National Park has taken a while to grow on me.  In contrast to parks that I feel offer more options in terms of avenues for exploration, like Zion or Yosemite, Bryce’s alien landscape at first seems immediately accessible and knowable in passing, a been-there-done-that quality that I felt the first few times I went.  Where other National Parks offer variety, in landscape and activities, Bryce feels almost one-note at first, impressive, but not a very deep experience.

I think that it’s symptomatic of what I refer to as the Rim Effect, a problem I’ve similarly noted at the Grand Canyon and at Canyonlands’ Island in the Sky district.  From the rim of a canyon (or an amphitheater like Bryce), you feel like you can see everything, and in seeing everything, you assume you understand it.  I’ve literally seen people walk up to the edge of the Grand Canyon and say “It’s not so grand.  It’s an ok canyon.”  I’m guilty of this myself.

Where Bryce, the Grand Canyon, even Zion and Yosemite reward those willing to explore is  those times when you step down from the heights, and get down amongst the elements that make these places truly spectacular.  Amongst the hoodoos of Bryce, you feel lost in a maze of alien spires and trees fighting to grow amongst them.  You wander through meandering, up and down trails that are deceptively strenuous, through the heat of the desert past skeletal remains of junipers and pines that couldn’t make it in this decidedly barren labyrinth.  You walk past hidden arches and through small tunnels carved in the weathered sandstone, and look out upon seemingly endless layers of hoodoos, finding familiar shapes in unfamiliar stone, noting the one that looks like a queen, or another that looks like a hammer.  You explore the way a child explores the woods behind their house, woods they thought they knew for years, yet are consistently surprised when they find some new clearing, some taller tree to climb.

This is the magic of Bryce, the thing I didn’t really appreciate until I let my preconceptions of the Park wash away and appreciated it for the amazing place that it is.  I highly recommend taking a few days to get lost amongst the hoodoos yourself.  Take every trail, go to every overlook.  I assure you, it’s worth it.

100/100/100: Day 6 – Morning Light on Half Dome, Yosemite National Park

Sometimes it’s worth getting up before sunrise on a cold October morning, with storm clouds moving in and the bite of the autumn chill penetrating even your warmest layers. In 2013, I pulled myself out of my tent at Tuolomne Meadows despite the frigid conditions and made my way down the Tioga Road to Olmsted Point, a brilliant overlook across the heights of the Sierras down into the eastern end of the Main Valley of Yosemite National Park. The billowing clouds parted as the sun rose letting a sliver of light in to kiss the top of Half Dome, creating a pastel glow to the sky and surrounding mountains, and allowed me to capture this photo which almost resembles a painting.

Morning Light on Half Dome

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Sometimes it’s worth getting up before sunrise on a cold October morning, with storm clouds moving in and the bite of the autumn chill penetrating even your warmest layers.  In 2013, I pulled myself out of my tent at Tuolomne Meadows despite the frigid conditions and made my way down the Tioga Road to Olmsted Point, a brilliant overlook across the heights of the Sierras down into the eastern end of the Main Valley of Yosemite National Park.  The billowing clouds parted as the sun rose letting a sliver of light in to kiss the top of Half Dome, creating a pastel glow to the sky and surrounding mountains, and allowed me to capture this photo which almost resembles a painting.