So here we are on Mount Evans, 14,000 feet up. It literally is the highest road you can drive in the continental U.S., and that's a quote from the literature. I was there for most of a day, and before I ran out of breath I took these pictures. Enjoy the view!
Here's a shot I didn't fully see when I took it. I was just grabbing views, and focusing too much on the camera, so it was only after I returned to the prairie when I saw what I should have experienced more fully then. Oh well, have to go back.
People go to southern Utah to visit Zion or Bryce Canyon or Arches, but they usually bypass Capitol Reef National Park. My advice: don't. Capitol Reef is at the heart of the so-called Waterfold Pocket, a ridge of mountains that extends some 120 miles from north to south. An unusual (for Utah) confluence of groundwater and the mountainous ridge creates an oasis-like microclimate, quite friendly to humans, orchards, and gorgeous vistas. And with everyone heading to Zion etc., Capitol Reef is not very crowded. You can zip right through it on Route 24 and not even notice.
But, a left turn at the Visitors Center reveals a fantastic camp ground (with good amenities like bathrooms), an incredible 12-mile scenic drive, and enough trails up into things to keep you busy for a few days, if you want to stop that long. Bryce Canyon and Zion are just down the road, but why not?
Note: If you look at the Photo metadata for this collection, you might notice some of the times when the pictures were taken seem unlikely. For example, the sunset shots were not really taken at 9 in the morning. What happened is, I didn't notice that the time setting in my Canon G9 was so badly off, so the shots taken with the G9 have incorrect time values. The dates, at least, ar accurate.
I took this as a very good omen for the trip: a persistent double-rainbow on my very first major hike.
The road from Capitol Reef to Zion is known as the most scenic drive on the planet. I can think of other contenders, but it's tough to argue. Once you hit Route 12, it's hard to keep your eyes on the road so you better stop every once in a while to take in some of the views. I drove this to and from Zion, and would gladly do it again about 100 times. Maybe take a few more pictures next time.
Zion is of course one of the main attractions in southern Utah, for good reason. I booked four nights in one of the cabins adjacent to the lodge. I would be hiking non-stop and wanted a comfortable base-camp for resting up at night, clean showers, etc. Good move. Zion has several great camp gounds as well, but I'll try that next time. It's a huge park, with some of the best hiking trails I've ever treked. Angel's Landing was the best hike ever. Too many great things to say about Zion, but I'll let the photos tell the story here.
What is there to say about Bryce Canyon National Park that cannon be said better by these rocks? I spent four nights at the Bryce Canyon Lodge, but mostly I spent the time outdoors. We're at about 8000 feet and the nights got quite cool but temps during the day reached into the high 80s. In other words, perfect.
The lodge sits on a high bluff overlooking Bryce Canyon, which stretches for miles toward the south and east. A 12-mile rim trail allows you to see the whole thing from the top, but the best hikes are down below, in and around the most amazing rock formations I've ever seen. We are seeing millions of years of erosion at work. Either that or they're people frozen in time like the Native Americans said.
Bryce Canyon is the kind of place where if someone shows you pictures of it, you say that can't possibly be real. Then you go there and realize, those were lousy pictures. In comparison with being there, mine are too but they provide a glimpse.
My final stop on this trip was Arches National Park. I had made a reservation at the Devil's Garden Campground, which was a good thing since by the time I got there all the sites were booked. If you go online you can explore a map of the campground, and get pictures of each site before you book.
I had less than 48 hours to explore Arches, and failed to capture some of its most famous features in the best light. Fragile Arche in particular should be visited at sunrise, but I could only catch it late in the day. But a few of these photos stand out as among the best from the expedition. Regardless, it's clear to me that I need to return and explore Arches more fully.
July 2012: Drought and record high temperatures are scorching the Midwest. Our home turf has become a sea of crunchy brown grass. We need rain but it's not coming soon enough.
So we head to Montana and Glacier National Park. There we discover some of the most soaring and dramatic landscapes on earth; bears, mountain goats, and marmots; rainbows, waterfalls, and lakes smooth as mirrors; the most delicious bakery ever; and most of all, a place to go back to when we have more time.
Presented here are 270 images from this 8-day trip. I found it more difficult than ever to pare down from the 1200 or so shots I took, and of course 270 is probably too many for easy perusal. Regardless I hope you enjoy them, and please feel free to copy and share the photos, of course keeping in mind the Creative Commons license assigned to my photo collections.
These photos were shot with two cameras: a Canon 60D using a 15-85MM IS USM lens, and a Canon S100. The S100 proved to be an amazing little pocket camera, and I could carry it places where the 60D would be in danger from the elements, falling off cliffs, etc. You can see from the displayed metadata what I used for each shot, which I find useful for understanding what settings work in which circumstances.
Enough jabber, check out the photos!
Getting to Glacier was an adventure. Actually it was mostly driving. We landed in Billings, Montana and rented a car. Stopped mid-way to Glacier for the night in Great Falls. The falls are no longer so great since they are now dwarfed by hydroelectric dams, but we were startled to find the largest natural spring in the U.S. along the Missouri River. Great Springs outputs up to 338 million gallons of water every day. Plus it makes a nice cover image for our Glacier trip.