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Category Archives: Landscape Photography

After leaving the Petrified Forest National Park we drove north to Canyon de Chelly National Monument. We arrived mid afternoon and checked into our motel before heading out on a late afternoon drive along the South Rim Drive. The South Rim Drive is best photographed in the evening. Our first stop was Tunnel Overlook.

More photos from Canyon de Chelly can be found on my website.

We took the overlooks as they came so our next stop was Tsegi Overlook. The wind was really blowing so it was difficult to stand up to take photos. I considered getting the tripod out but figured it would tip over in the wind.

We then headed to Junction Overlook.

Our final stoop of the evening was White House Overlook. This was our last stop of the day. We headed back to our hotel planning for an early start in the morning.

We were up early for breakfast before heading out on a morning tour of the North Rim Drive. The North Rim Drive is best photographed in the morning. Fortunately it was not as windy as it was yesterday. We drove out to Massacre Cave Overlook and started working our way back to town.

Mummy Cave Overlook was our next stop on the North Rim.

Our final stop was Antelope House Overlook.

We then headed back to the South Rim. There is only one hike that can be made in Canyon de Chelly without a native guide and that is the White House Trail. Our goal was to take this hike. It looked a lot worse than it was. Although it was a warm day the hiking was relatively easy. We made it down and back in a few hours with plenty of opportunities for photos.

My wife is in her usual position as close to the inside of the trail as she can get.

Our destination was the White House Ruins.

After hiking back out of the Canyon we decided to finish the South Rim Drive that we had started the day before. Our first stop was Spider Rock Overlook.

We then stopped at  Face Rock Overlook on our way back to town.

We grabbed a bite to eat at the hotel restaurant before heading out on our late afternoon Canyon tour with a native guide. Ironically I had photographed him, from the South Rim, on the tour he led before ours. We had met him earlier in the day and he had an open jeep. I thought at the time that it would be a cold ride early in the morning. When he picked us up he had switched to an enclosed jeep because his morning customers froze to death. It had been very dry this spring. Normally we would have been driving through streams this time of year or maybe not being able to get into the Canyon at all because of high water. As the sand dries out it is more difficult to drive through. People were already getting stuck in the sand.

This is another tour group using an old army surplus vehicle.

Driving through the Canyon there were many examples of petroglyphs which could be photographed up close.

In addition to the petroglyphs there were plenty of ruins that could be seen.

 

 

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After leaving El Morro National Monument we drove to Gallup, New Mexico for the evening. We were up early the next morning heading for the Petrified Forest National Park.

More photos from our visit to Petrified National Forest can be found on my website.

We arrived a little before 8am when the park was supposed to open. However when we arrived we noticed the gate was closed and there were others waiting to get into the park. We had forgotten that the four corners area is a mess when it comes to knowing what time it is. When the park finally opened we noticed this display in the visitors center and it says it all. Arizona really creates problems for the locals and lots of missed tours and connections for the tourists.

After stopping at the Painted Desert Visitors Center we drove to the Painted Desert Inn and took some photos of the Painted Desert. The colors were spectacular.

We made a quick stop at old Route 66 which ran through the park. There is an old 1932 Studebaker and a line of telephone poles marking the spot. You can see the current freeway in the background.

We also made a quick stop at Puerco Pueblo. Not much remained only a few foundations. A short distance down the road we turned off to look at Newspaper Rock. Unfortunately it is quite a distance from the viewing stand. It was not nearly as impressive as Inscription Rock at El Morro National Monument.

We pulled over to photograph Tepee Rocks. While were photographing the rock formations this Raven walked up to the car.

I think our favorite spot in the park was Blue Mesa. There was a short walk into the formations. The blue colors made the formations unique.

After our hike at Blue Mesa we drove to Agate Bridge. This is a petrified log spanning a gully. As I recall the CCC put a cement support under the log to keep it from breaking up.

We continued on to our destination which was the Rainbow Forest Visitors Center at the southern entrance to the park. We hiked into the rainbow forest on what looked like an old park road. Apparently at one time cars could drive and park in the forest but now it is hiking only. There were large numbers of petrified logs along the trail and a small reconstructed pueblo built out of agate.

Unfortunately we were headed north so we had to backtrack through the park to the Painted Desert Visitors Center. We had a long way to go to our next destination so we didn’t make many stops on our trip back through the park. We did stop at the Painted Desert to take some photos because there was some great light on the rocks.

 

 

 

 

It’s been a while since I posted anything about our spring trip to the southwest. In the intervening weeks something happened to both of my hard drives on my computer. So I was without a computer for over two weeks. The doctor was able to resurrect the data from drive C which contained all of my programs and some of my data. Drive D was too far gone to restore the any data. Unfortunately this drive contained all of my photos from the last 15 years. Fortunately I have a couple of backups of this data and was able to restore drive D. So with everything working again I started going through my photographs. In my last post from the trip we had just stopped at El Malpais National Monument and were heading to El Morro National Monument. We discovered that the trail in El Morro closed at 4pm so we had to move quickly so we could take a couple of hikes.

More photos from El Morro can be found on my website.

We started out on the Inscription Rock trail. This trail follows along the base of a rock where visitors to the area placed their version of graffiti. This is a relatively short trail although it takes quite a while to hike it given all of the inscriptions to read. the Park provides a nice guide so you can follow inscriptions and also get a bit of the history behind them.

The Inscriptions Rock Trail soon turns into the Headland Trail. This trail goes around to back side of the rock formation and then weaves its way to the top. The cacti were still red and just starting to green up. At the top of the rock the trail was marked with cairns. There were some spectacular views from the Headlands Trail.

 

As we crossed the top of the rock formation we encountered Atsinna.  Atsinna, or “place of writings on rock”. Between approximately 1275 to 1350 AD, up to 1500 people lived in this 875 room pueblo. The location was strategic—it was near the only water source for many miles and located atop a nearly impenetrable bluff. Atsinna was partially excavated in the 1950s and masons and archeologists continue to work towards its stabilization.

It was a beautiful day and we quickly lost track of time as we wandered along the top of the rock. We almost forgot that we had to be off the trail by 4pm. We made it down with about 10 minutes to spare.

 

Our second stop for the day was Tettegouche State Park where we hiked the Shovel Point Trail which runs along the lake. This tree is a popular photographic subject because the roots have grown around a large rock.

While we were checking the tree out this fellow came along the trail. He seemed to be licking the sap off of the branch.

There were a couple of rock climbers working the face.

Looking closely you can see the ice on the cliffs along the shore. This is what remains from a large northeaster from a week earlier. It created some spectacular ice formations along the cliffs.

 

Normally we don’t drive up the North Shore of Lake Superior on a weekend because there are just too many people around. However, it was a beautiful day and we had been kicked out of our condo garage because it was being cleaned. We decided to get up early and beat the crowd. When we arrived at Gooseberry there were about 20 cars in the parking lot. We walked up to Upper Falls and took a few photos. I was a little surprised there wasn’t more water flowing in the river.

Tough taking waterfall photos in the bright sunlight. This is a shot of Middle Falls.

There was a spray coming off of Middle Falls and it was cold enough to produce an ice covering on some of the vegetation below the falls.

There were also quite a few fishermen below the lower falls. I didn’t see anyone catch anything.

When we returned to the car the parking lot was starting to fill up.

After leaving Acoma Pueblo we drove on to El Malpais National Monument. We stopped at the visitors center which was some distance from the park. In talking with the ranger we mentioned that our next stop on the trip was going to be El Morro National Monument. The ranger mentioned that the trails at El Morro closed at 4pm. Given that we wanted to do some hiking at El Morro we decided to make just a brief stop at El Malpais. We decided to drive out to La Ventana Natural Arch and look around before heading back out of the park for El Morro. In retrospect it was a waste of time to drove out to La Ventana Natural Arch. While it was nice we spent several days hiking to arches on our last trip to the southwest so the 40 mile drive really wasn’t worth it.

This is a panorama shot on the ridge opposite the arch.

 

On the way out we passed this watering hole and a panorama shot of the vast lava fields.

We were on the road fairly early in the morning because we had a long day. It happened to be Easter Sunday so we hoped that all of the places we wanted to visit were open. Our first stop was Acoma Pueblo. As we approached the city we could see the butte that was a previous home of the tribe.

More photos from Acoma Pueblo can be found on my website.

When we reached the visitors center it was closed. There were no hours posted so we hoped that it would open at 9 am. In the mean time we took a short drive around the surrounding countryside. There were cattle grazing among the beautiful rock formations.

We drove back to the parking lot and noticed several cars drive into the employee parking lot so we were encouraged that the Visitors center would soon open. It did and we purchased tickets for the tour. A bus takes visitors to  the top of the butte. On the ride up I noticed quite a few interesting photo opportunities.

This is the church at Acoma Pueblo.

We spent several hours wandering around the Pueblo listening to the guide and taking photos.

 

This is one of the ladders used to reach the top of the Pueblo. It was used in religious ceremonies.

This is an oven. It is filled with wood which is burned to heat the oven then the ashes are removed. Bread is then placed in the oven for baking and the opening sealed to keep in the heat.

In the past this was one of the rain catch basins on the butte which was a source of water for the inhabitants.

As you can see from the following shots the Pueblo is far above the valley floor.

 

As we walked through town I took photos of various architectural features on the buildings.

When we were ready to leave we had a choice of taking the bus back down or walking down the original access path. We planned on taking the bus down because my wife doesn’t like heights but on the way up I notice some interesting photo opportunities so I suggested we should walk down. It was quite the experience using handhold from ancient times.

 

At the bottom the fruit trees were in bloom.

There were a number of old corrals next to the rock faces. The Sky City Cultural Center was very impressive.

 

This was not a scheduled stop on our trip but we noticed a sign for the area as we were driving from  Alamogordo to Belen. It was a weekend and there were a fair number of campers in the park. It proved to be a nice break stop along the road. The park showcases an overgrown lava flow. The short nature hike was very informative.

More photos from the Valley of Fire can be found on my website.

 

 

On the morning of the fourth day of our trip we arrived at White Sands National Monument. We started with a few short hikes but found the short hikes were not that great for photography because folks had walked all over the sand dunes. Finished the The Dune Life Nature Trail before deciding to drive around the park looking for a longer hike.

More photos from White Sands can be found on my website.

We decided we might have better luck taking a longer hike so we decided to hike on the Alkali Flat Trail. This proved to be more interesting and we encountered fewer people and tracks.

We didn’t have time to do the whole trail because we wanted to take in the New Mexico Museum of Space History and we were hiking at high noon. We cut our hike short and headed back to town to visit the museum and check into our hotel. We enjoyed the Museum and my wife is a big Star Trek fan so I couldn’t resist taking her photo in the transporter.

We had an early bite to eat and then headed back out to White Sands. It was starting to cool off a bit. We picked the Backcountry Camping Trail hoping we would not find as many people. We were surprised at the number of backpackers we encountered heading out into the backcountry. This was a nice hike and we were able to find more sand dunes that were undisturbed.

There were a lot of folks out in the park flying kites and sliding down the sand dunes. Fortunately most of them stayed fairly close to the roads.

Surprisingly we did not encounter much wildlife. We managed to find some Roadrunner tracks but no Roadrunner. We also fund a few Darkling Beetles as evening approached.

On the afternoon of the third day we made it to Carlsbad Caverns National Park which was our first scheduled stop on our spring road trip. The previous day I noticed an alert on the sites web page indicating that the elevators were not working. I assumed that it was a temporary thing but when we arrived they were still out of order. As a result we had a 750 foot altitude loss hiking into the Cavern and a 3.75 mile round trip.

More photos from Carlsbad Caverns National Park can be found on my website.

We had problems hiking the first section of the trail because our eyes had trouble adjusting to the dark. When we started down there were quite a few people hiking up. Although the trail is fairly wide and paved it was difficult to avoid running into people when we couldn’t see them or the railings. As we discovered when we exited the trail the people coming up could see us.

We didn’t realize we could walk into the Cavern. The entrance was truly impressive. At night visitors can watch the bats emerge. However, the bats in Carlsbad migrate and they were just starting to return when we were there. On the previous night the ranger had see one bat. My wife was happy that there were no bats in the Cave.

For the most part the hike into the Cavern is not all that spectacular although the Whales Mouth is impressive.

When we reached the bottom of the Cavern it was truly spectacular. At one point we stopped to talk with a ranger. Turns out the elevators are old and they frequently fail. At one point the were out of order for six months. When they fail it is quite a problem because people are stuck in the elevator and there will likely be people who have taken the elevator to the bottom who are really not in condition to hike out. He related one case of a man who was 400 pounds, had two knee replacements and several stints. He did hike to the bottom but then decided he couldn’t get back up. Normally you have to be out of the Cavern by 4 pm. They finally got this person out by 7:30pm.

We spent several hours wandering the trails in the Cavern.