This was one of those parks I had never heard of until the day I went, but with an annual pass, why not? I was enjoying seeing the big saguaro cacti, which I had never seen in person before, and then the solar halo made the visit that much better!
Sometimes, there’s just not a whole lot to say about a photo that the photo cannot say for itself. I shot this on the Desert Queen Mine Road in Joshua Tree National Park, and I am quite happy with the results. You can see my shots from another trip to the park here.
There are a few truths about Yosemite National Park that are inescapable. First, there’s an enormous number of photos of Yosemite on the internet. Second, I’ve looked at a huge number of them. Also, as you may not realize if you’ve never been to Yosemite, many of the most amazing views in Yosemite are right off the road. Drive up, park, and be in awe. It’s great in many ways, but it also means that getting an original photo in Yosemite can be difficult. And, I have no desire in bringing you a photo that you can easily find elsewhere. That’s no fun for me. I want people to see things they haven’t seen or may not know about. So from Yosemite Valley, to the heights of Glacier Point, I did my best to either scout out views that you don’t normally see, to get creative with my composition, or to do it in the middle of the night! All the while, I wanted to still include some of the iconic landmarks, particularly El Capitan and Half Dome. I am happy with the results, and happy I braved the cold for the night shot.
In December, when I booked a couple of nights of lodging in Yosemite National Park for the middle of January, I was excited to get some use out of the snowshoes that I brought to Southern California with me. I was also excited to see Yosemite Valley with a beautiful cover of snow, and to take photos of waterfalls that were dry during my last visit to Yosemite. As time got closer to the trip, I started reading reports of how it was the driest winter in decades so far, and there had been all but no snow, and there would be no more snow by the time I went. At first I was bummed out and almost canceled the trip, but then I started hearing about how Tioga Pass, through the “High Country” was open later into the winter than it ever had been. I started to become more positive about it. This meant that places usually inaccessible without LONG treks in the snow were easily accessible, so I got excited, and headed up there. I skated on Tenaya Lake (8000 foot elevation), checked out Tuolumne Meadows (about the same elevation), and had a great day.
I spent the day of New Year’s Eve with some friends kayaking around Santa Cruz Island, which is part of The Channel Islands, off the coast of Southern California. After warming up and setting up camp for the night, 3 of us went to seek a good view of the sunset. We heard it was great at Potato Harbor, and after a bit of debate, we picked a trail towards it and headed that way. The last few days had seen a lot of fog in the area, and we were never sure what sort of visibility we’d get, but we went for it anyway. As you’ll be able to see in these pictures, we were quite glad that we made the effort.
You can see more photos from this trip at my Facebook page
After visiting The Grand Canyon and Southern Utah I was tired and ready to go home to Hermosa Beach, but I had told myself for weeks that I was going to stop by Death Valley on the way back. I decided to skip Death Valley, and was on the highway back to go home, when I changed my mind again. I punched Death Valley National Park into my GPS and figured nothing too bad could happen. I was right. The worst part was setting up a tent in the dark, so life was pretty good. I knew very little about Death Valley before visiting. The most amazing thing I learned was that it is the largest National Park in the contiguous United States, measuring over twice the size of Delaware. Plus if you add the stretches of desolation, run down towns, and abandonment surrounding the park, it’s amazing how massive the area is. All just about 200 miles from Los Angeles! Oh, and on average, it’s the hottest place in the world.
You can see more photos and outtakes from this road trip on my Facebook page by clicking here
When I first invited my friend Matt to meet me in Las Vegas and go to the Grand Canyon, I thought we’d be leaving Las Vegas around 3 or 4 PM, get a campground or cheap motel around 10 PM, and stroll to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon for sunrise at our leisure. (The North Rim is the less popular, more out of the way place. But from what I’ve heard, more beautiful) Turns out Matt had to come in around 9:30, and we only had a few days, so I made the executive decision that we would drive towards the Grand Canyon immediately, and figure it all out later. Our plans to see the sunrise were almost foiled by the need for gas, but we did find a place in the middle of nowhere that left the gas pumps on overnight while the store was closed. As we got within a few hours of the park, there were more deer than you could ever imagine hanging out by the road, and it became unsafe, so we pulled over for a while. Matt caught some shuteye on the ground (definitely legal in a National Forest, which we were in). I couldn’t sleep so I took some night photos. Matt eventually got up, we got in my car, and headed the last hour or so to the Canyon and checked out the first hour or two of sun. Then we embarked on an offroading adventure in my Jeep to Point Sublime, which took 2 hours to go 16 miles. It was all worth it when we got a 300 degree view of the canyon. Pictures can’t do Point Sublime justice, so put it on your list and see for yourself someday.
You can see more photos and outtakes from this road trip on my Facebook page by clicking here
Glacier National Park and the surrounding area aren’t exactly packed with people to begin with, at least compared to some of the more famous parks like Yosemite and Yellowstone. But Glacier still gets its fair share of visitors. Not too many of those visitors choose to go up Inside North Fork Road (or Outside North Fork Road for that matter) to the tiny town of Polebridge, which is completely off the electric grid. Even fewer people seem to venture further north up the narrow, winding dirt road to Kintla Lake. That of course, is why I wanted to see these places! Heck, I had nothing better to do. So my brother Phil and I made our way to Polebridge, grabbed a teepee for the night, then took the drive up to Kintla Lake. At first I didn’t think the weather was good for photos, but I ended up being treated to a beautiful double rainbow, and some more beautiful sites on the drive back to the more populated parts of the area the next day.
On my big road trip in 2010, when I got back to San Francisco after my time in Yosemite I sat in the hotel room and finally made a decision about my route back east. Although I had heard great things about Sedona and the surrounding area, and had countless people tell me “You have to see the Grand Canyon” I decided to skip Arizona (except a few miles to cut through) and to focus on visiting Southern Utah, which of course I had heard a lot about also. Some people couldn’t believe my decision, but the Grand Canyon isn’t going anywhere, and I don’t intend on that being my only big road trip I ever take. So I didn’t decide not to visit the Grand Canyon…just not yet.
Now I can’t speak for Sedona and the Grand Canyon without having visited, but I will say that I don’t regret my decision at all. Southern Utah is pretty much a non-stop chain of national parks, national monuments, and state parks….Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Grand Staircase Escalante, Capitol Reef National Park (I bet you never heard of that one), Arches National Park, and Canyonlands National Park, just to name a few. Due to off season repairs and bad weather I wasn’t able to do some of the things I’d hope to, but I more than made up for it by seeing some great sights, and even taking some time to offroad in my Jeep. (Video of the offroading will hopefully be posted eventually)
Some of my photos from that area are already posted in my page titled Colorado Plateau and I have posted a few more here, that I was finally able to sit down and sort through.
Honestly, I don’t think I’d ever heard of Glacier National Park until I became actively involved in the great community of photographers on Flickr. The combination of vibrant plant and animal life, plus snow capped mountains, is something I became infatuated with. My infatuation started at least a few months before I decided to take time away from the work world to travel, and that infatuation probably influenced the decision to travel for a long period of time. How else would I have time to spend a few days in the far northern reaches of the continental U.S.?
By the time I had made it out of Yellowstone in mid-August, I hadn’t seen anyone I knew for weeks, I had been camping a lot, and I was tired. My motivation to take photos was waning, as was my motivation to hike, and things like that. Luckily, my brother Phil flew into Bozeman, MT, and having him with me added to my motivation. We packed all of our stuff into my Jeep, and with little room to spare, headed north. We spent a night camping outside the park, then woke up in the morning to drive the famous Going to the Sun Road. After a few days of hiking and hanging out, a little scare while wading through some water, plus a few more nights camping, in a tent, and another structure you can see below, we headed out of the park. It was a great couple days, and well worth the time and effort.
I asked Phil for some words to add, and here’s what he had to say:
“These were the clearest lake waters I have ever seen! While very cold despite the August timeframe, they were great to both swim and to paddle, with surroundings you can see for yourself.”
Enjoy the photos.