Friday May 26 I was up bright and early to drive from Mammoth Hot Springs campground down to Canyon Village campground. That was the day it opened for the season and I had no idea if there would be a long line of folks waiting or not. I had to take the road on the west side of the park down to Norris then across to Canyon. It snowed a bit and I encountered a group of Bison with some calves making their way along the road. Eventually I got to the campground and was surprised to find I was one of the first to arrive and check in. Good thing they weren’t facing a rush of folks because their computers were not working right. The campground had obviously been plowed out and there were great piles of snow everywhere. When I first pulled in it was like backing the trailer into an icebox. As the days warmed up a bit the snow started to melt. I was assigned a nice site with good exposure for the solar panels which I set up promptly. This year I was pleased to see a few other trailers also had solar panels of one sort or another. It was extremely cold and snowed off and on the first couple of days I was there and I was amazed at the number of tenters. So glad I had the trailer even though the furnace was not working consistently.
There were some Bison in Hayden Valley, along with lots of Elk. I stayed at Canyon for 9 nights and didn’t see any Elk calves until late in my stay. The Bison were often close to the road but the Elk tended to stay on the other side of the Yellowstone River, a long ways away, even with the telephoto lens I have.
One afternoon while hanging around at a pullout I saw a black Wolf. It it was by itself, sort of chasing some Elk. I lost sight of it quickly and moved to another pullout later on. Lo & behold I saw movement and realized it was the Wolf, directly across the river from me. Managed to get a few shots of it, what you see here are greatly cropped.
Late one day as I was headed back to the trailer I came up to what was a growing “bear jam”. There was a pullout with no cars in it so I swung in and grabbed my camera. Just had time to catch it as it ran across the road and across a small open area into the woods.
Bison do swim, not going to win any awards but they can get from one side of the river to the other, with some drifting in the current.
One afternoon I was surprised and dismayed to see some obviously foreign visitors using a drone. Drones are not allowed in the park and it is stated plainly in various info sheets handed out. These people, along with the make and registration of their vehicle,were reported to the Rangers. I really hope they were caught and that the drone was confiscated.
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The last few days of my visit to the great Southwest were spent at Gilbert Ray cg in Tucson Mountain County Park. That is just down the road from the Saguaro NP
and AZ Sonoran Desert Museum. I did a couple of the drives in Saguaro NP and visited the ASDM with a friend another day. Must say that Museum is so much more than the typical “museum” it is really made up of several areas featuring desert plants, a couple of aviaries and several settings in which native wildlife live. The Otter, Cougar and Bobcat were visible, some of
Bobcat in the shade
the other critters were not but I’d say all the abodes were about as nice as any I’ve seen in any zoo or wildlife place. One of the highlights of the museum is the raptor shows they do twice daily. While we were there they flew 4 Harris Hawks, the only raptors know to work as a “pack”. Getting good photos was hard because I was facing into the sun.
One evening after a day of intermittent rain there was a glorious sunset. I’d found a place earlier in the day that I thought would provide a good foreground and it did. As the sun was setting it
AZ sunset with rain pouring down west of where I was
was lighting up yet more rain headed towards the campground, so it added something unique to the images. The next morning I got up early with hopes of capturing a good sunrise but the high mountain to the east and lack of clouds made that a non issue. As I stood there in the desert with my camera settings for the sunrise I spotted a coyote trotting by. Naturally I swung the camera to follow it, all the time thinking do I dare try to change the settings? Will it keep moving or stop? It stopped and I did get a photo ( but I didn’t realize it until later in the day).
Coyote in early morning light
Not the best ever but certainly the best/only one I can claim of a coyote at sunrise.
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Bryce Canyon is a remarkable place, with views unlike anywhere else. This visit the temps were very cold with some snow flurries. Some of the high points had enough to make for very unique images.
We were held up by road construction leaving Escalante to go to Bryce and I couldn’t resist getting an image of our caravan.
We drove out to Rainbow Point and did the hike to see the Brisltecone Pines on the edge of the rim.
Mossy Cave Trail provides very good views of hoodoos, and avast flowing river that runs through a manmade channel to provide water to the town of Tropic.
Finally had a very clear night and I went out to see if I could see the Milky Way. Yes! This was taken from Bryce point, with the town of Tropic at the bottom right.
Milky Way viewed from Bryce Point, Bryce Canyon NP. Light at lower right is from the town of Tropic.
We camped at Red Canyon, a NFS campground just outside Bryce, very nice campground with paved sites, plenty of room.
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About 25 miles from the campground at Gros Ventre are some large ranches, one of which has a herd of around 50 head that are often found right near the road. early one morning I drove up there and was able to capture the Tetons as background to the horses actions.
One of the iconic places to photograph is the very old barn on “Mormon Row”. This is just before the sun was high enough to light it up. When the sun got high enough to light the barn the color was gone from the Tetons.
The foliage continued to change as days went on and by the time I left a lot of the aspens were golden yellow.
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The adventure has begun. I decided to stop at Badlands NP on the way to Alaska. Back in 2012 I visited here for a few days and since I’ve started doing night photography I thought this area would provide some impressive foregrounds for the Milky Way. Unfortunately Mother Nature isn’t up on the game plan. The last 2 nights were cloudy, so I made the best of it and got some nice images of lightning over the area.
At Pinnacles Overlook
Storm clouds and lightning over the Badlands.
There has been some sunshine and the Big Horn sheep have been in their usual location so I tried using my new-to-me telephoto and am pleased with the results. The young ones are fun to watch as they romp around. They romp with abandon for a while then crash and sleep.They’re also very curious and at one point got so close I couldn’t focus the lens, right about then one of the ewes came along and shooed them away.
A visit to the area isn’t complete unless you stop by Wall Drug in Wall, SD. It may have started out as one store but it has expanded over the years, now occupying many square feet, and carrying a large variety of items. As much fun as shopping is looking at the many displays.
Very intricate stained glass window above one of the entrances to Wall Drug.
Patience paid off and Sunday night I was able to photograph the Milky Way over some of the peaks in the park.
Milky Way over the Badlands, after moon set
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Red Canyon hoodoos
Monday mid day we arrived at Red Canyon NF Campground, this is located just outside Bryce Canyon NP. Sites are large and well spaced, this is dry camping so the solar panel is getting some use again. Bryce Canyon NP is quite a place, lots of overlooks into various canyons. Fortunately some of the local roads have pullouts at convenient places, too, so photographs can be taken. There are lots of people here but it really doesn’t seem crowded, maybe because there is a shuttle system to take the pressure off the limited parking
I’m still doing some night photography but it is changing as the moon waxes. More light and less stars, but still interesting to do! Monday night was a real challenge because it was windy with temps in the low 30s. I moved quickly and was glad to get back to my warm Casita.
Red Canyon Hoodoos at night
There are so many wonderful hoodoos here and the colors are spectacular.
Fairyland Canyon by day
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Another wonderful national park!! Arrived here Tuesday May 14 and will be leaving on the 18th. Weather until Friday has been great, sunny, not too hot. Today, Friday, is overcast with a cold wind. A good day for catching up on stuff.
Chimney Rock by day
Chimney rock by night
THis park has some petroglyphs and a section that includes the town of Fruita which was settled by a group of Mormons in the 1800s. The name comes from the fact that they specialized in growing fruit trees such as apples, pears, peaches, etc. There are some original buildings and/or replicas. Many of the trees remain and are in fact tended, the fruit is free to park visitors.
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