Last February I passed through Joshua Tree NP (couldn’t stop because the campgrounds were full) and decided I’d have to visit it again. Last month I was able to do that and really enjoyed it. I found a great site with a huge rock on the back side of it in the small Belle campground.Turned out that rock is popular with climbers so I got to watch a few folks scaling it.
Though the days were cloudless there was enough of a breeze so it was never uncomfortably hot. The town of 29 Palms (with some shopping) and the visitor center were not too far away. Late in the day I went out and got a few images then I went out at night and got more.
The moon was waxing so between that and the ambient light from large cities west of the park the Milky Way wasn’t very visible but I made do. The moonlight on some of the rocks with the north end of the Milky Way made for some interesting images.
Click here for more images.
After Goblin Valley I headed west to a BLM site just outside Capital Reef NP. Got there early enough to have my pick of spots. By evening I counted around 20 campers, from Class As to tents. I got a few nice images from a hill next to my rig as the evening progressed. Next day I was on the road to Bryce Canyon NP, hoping to get a site in Red Canyon NFS campground. As with many roads out here there were plenty of signs warning
Loose stock on Rt. 12 in UT
of Loose Stock and they were accurate. As I went up and over Boulder Pass I also saw several Mule Deer but didn’t get any photos. The aspen were starting to turn in the high country and are beautiful.
Sunrise Point, early morning
I went into Bryce early one morning before the crowds and got a few nice images. Due to the sunlight reflected by the rocks behind them some of the rocks seemed to literally glow, sort of like the salt lamps you might have seen. Then went back at night and got some more. The moon is starting to get fuller and fewer stars were evident.
The next night I stayed closer to the campground, just taking a few images from pullouts on the road in Red Canyon.
Another favorite spot of mine is Mossy Cave Trail because you are below a lot of the rock formations, looking up instead of down. I went there again in late afternoon to get a few images. Then went back at night for some more. Even a couple days made a big difference in how many stars could be seen because of the full moon.
Mossy Cave Trail, night
Click here for more images
A spectacular thunderstorm raged around us one afternoon as we headed to the visitor center. Donna went inside and I stayed in the truck trying to capture some of the lightning. It was an experiment on my part and I only got a couple of images but it was great practice! You can see the huge crack in the windshield that started as a rock chip and spread to over 2′ wide. Now the truck has a new windshield.
The Tetons, need I say more?
We were fortunate to find this bull moose on the Gros Ventre very close to the campground. We watched him for an hour and eventually got some nice images.
We explored the old cabin and general store at Menor’s Ferry, saw some very old carriages, too.
Maude Nable’s log house
The National Museum of Wildlife Art is just outside Jackson and is well worth a visit. The Life size or larger bronzes outside are amazing. The bronzes small and large inside and the art (paintings and sculptures) inside are a pleasure to see.
Bronze outside the National Museum of Wildlife Art. This collection is well worth a visit!
Any visitor to Jackson is sure to remember the 4 large arches on the town square (one at each corner). We went into town Saturday morning and were lucky to find a crew rebuilding one of the arches with all fresh elk antlers. They were picked up in the spring (I think it is a Boy Scout project).
Arch of elk antlers in Jackson, WY. There is an arch of antlers at each corner of the square in town. Was interesting to see them rebuilding one with fresh antlers. As they age they turn white.
Click here for more images
Balanced Rock, Arches National Park, Silhouetted against the Milky Way
During my visit to Moab I was blessed with a few clear and moonless nights. The southern end of the Milky Way is in the southwest this time of year so I did a scouting trip in daylight to pick some places to return to at night. The night trip was pretty successful. Balanced Rock was a given since you can walk all the way around that and the view was clear in the SW direction.
Turret Arch was another one that opened to the SW and was relatively easy to get to.
Turret Arch, Arches National Park, Silhouette with the Milky Way
The walk to Double Arch isn’t as well marked and since I had not walked it in the daylight on my scouting trip I wound up wandering around in the sagebrush, following the footprints left by others during the day time. I finally gave up on getting anything of Double Arch that night but did see another unnamed arch so I photographed that one with the Milky Way above it. As I was focusing on that arch I noted the 2 other arches way off to the right so I included them in the image. The next morning when looking at the images I realized it was Double Arch I was seeing.
Arches NP, unnamed arch on the left, Double Arch on the right with the Milky Way above
My last full day in Moab I returned to the park specifically to do the walk to Double Arch so I could find it at night. That night was clear and my large light was charged up so I went back into the park with the idea of trying to illuminate some of the subjects I had gotten silhouettes of. I didn’t get lost, found Double Arch and was rewarded with some really nice images.
Double Arch, Arches NP, illuminated
Click here for more images
Finally got a pretty clear night, with actual darkness, in Jasper so I went out to see if I could see the Milky Way. Jasper is recognized for its dark night sky and I can understand why. First place I went was right off a major highway and busy late at night, second place was much quieter but more clouds were moving in. Oh well, that’s the way it goes sometimes. I also went to Maligne Canyon and got a nice image of one of the large waterfalls there.
I left Jasper Thursday in the rain and it was a pretty wet drive with very low clouds all day and on Friday, too. Just south of Banff I got on Rt. 40, through the Kanananskis Valley, what a good road. What I could see of the countryside was lovely despite the low clouds and I know it would be really delightful in god weather. At Longivew I took 22 south, called the Cowboy Trail, to Pincher Creek. Another great road, through rolling hills, wide open spaces with cattle ranches, hayfields, very different from the mountains and glaciers!
Got into Glacier NP mid-day on Friday, overcast, wet and cold and it hasn’t let up any. I’m hoping for a break in the weather since the scenery here is spectacular but hard to see with the low clouds. Did get out to Many Glacier and watched a grizzly 1/2 way up a mountain with my binoculars.