A visit to Montana's Glacier National Park is a must for anyone who loves the Rocky Mountains. Located on the US - Canadian border, it was named for the many glaciers that carved the mountains into their present shapes. Unfortunately, the glaciers are being adversely affected by global warming and there are some who believe that all 37 of the remaining glaciers will be gone over the next 10-15 years. The park is also home to many large and beautiful lakes. This image is of Swiftcurrent Lake located in the Many Glacier region of the park. This view is from the east shore of the lake taken from the back of The Many Glacier Hotel looking across to the magnificent Mount Grinnell. Boats can be rented from the hotel and, if you are lucky as I was, you have a lone boater rowing toward shore anchoring the composition of the image.
The cliffside Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse in Acadia National Park marks the entrance to Bass Harbor on the southwestern side of Mount Desert Island. This composition is the only decent view of the lighthouse as all other perspectives are really unappealing. The challenge, particularly ay sunset, is getting to this vantage point. There is a slippery climb down from the parking lot and trying to find any spot among 40+ other photographers that can fit there. I was fortunate to get one of the last physical spots on the rocks and, even then, it was hard to get a shot without someone's head, arm or other appendage in it. The light is a wonderful place to shoot and my advice is to get there very early before the parking lot and the rocks are overflowing.
Delicate Arch is one of Utah's most famous icons and can be seen on magazine covers, tourist guides and on Utah's license plates. The classic view of the arch requires a 1.5 mile (one way) moderately strenuous hike leading up a steep slit rock trail from the parking area at Wolfe Ranch. It is an exhilarating hike and well worth the effort. There are times that the hike is not feasible whether it be rainy weather or traveling with people that cannot traverse the steep climb. In these instances, there is a viewpoint that gives a good view of the arch, albeit from a very different perspective. The viewpoint is about a mile from the arch and it was from this vantage point that I took this shot. There are normally lots of people around and under the arch, but for some unexplained reason, there were very few people there (the ones that were there were at the mercy of the content-aware brush).
Today we are headed back to the Canadian Rockies to visit the smallest and least famous national park in Alberta, namely Waterton National Park. Given it's location in southern Alberta, it is often the forgotten park when compared to Canada's national parks to north (Banff & Jasper) and the famous U.S. Glacier National Park that abuts Waterton. There is a real relaxed atmosphere to the park that serves as the perfect place to view spectacular scenery, wildlife and enjoy recreational activities. This image is of Cameron Lake which is located at the end of the Akamina Parkway. Cameron is a hidden gem and has some great trails for hiking or you can rent canoes, kayaks and paddle boats. Even though we visited in August, you can see that the mountain face still had snow with numerous small waterfalls tumbling into the lake. The lake was deserted and I had the pick of perspectives.
Back from an unplanned week away from the blog. Been a busy week and I am glad to be back. Today's image is of the Chateau Lake Louise located on the lake of the same name in Banff National Park. The original Chateau was gradually built from the end of the 19th to the beginning of the 20th century by the Canadian Pacific Railway. The hotel is not an inexpensive one but if you are going to splurge on any hotel in Alberta, this is the one to do it. The hotel sits on one end of the emerald waters of the spectacular lake and is perhaps the most picturesque hotel in the Canadian Rockies. The view from the hotel is the beautiful Victoria glacier that hangs suspended above the frigid waters.
This photo of the hotel was taken a little after dawn from the dock across the lake. The morning was still and the lake was glass-like.
After viewing fellow photographer and blogger Rick Louie's gorgeous image of Herbert Lake last week, it reminded me that I had a number of images of the lake that I haven't looked at in a while. I tried to find one from a different vantage point and this is it. The image was taken about one half hour after dawn (also known as the golden hour). Herbert Lake is located on the Icefields Parkway just north of Lake Louise in Banff National Park. The lake is only a few feet off of the road and the only obstacle is a guard rail. While I enjoyed the beautiful light and scenery, I thought of my poor wife who was dragged out of the hotel before dawn and was sleeping in the car. What photographer spouses have to go through for a photo.
One of the national parks that I have always wanted to visit is Everglades National Park. It is the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States and encompasses about 1.5 million acres. I was hoping to visit the main part of the park before a cruise leaving from Fort Lauderdale but the main part of the park was too far away to visit in the time that I had. As I was researching the park, I noticed a small entrance on the northern edge of the park named Shark Valley. Shark Valley is located along Tamiami Trail near the Miami Dade-Collier County line. While it is a small section of the park, wildlife abounds such as alligators, raccoons, deer, lizards, snakes and and all sorts of birds. Visitors can either hike a 15-mile trail or take a tram. There is an observation tower, seven miles down the trail that gives a great view of the surrounding area.
What amazed me the most when I entered the park was how close the birds and alligators were to the entrance. You could literally walk up and touch an alligator if you wanted to (but why would you?). This bird was having a nice leisurely walk in the park right next to the entrance to Shark Valley and I thought it's colors would make a great image.
One of the most photogenic places on Earth is located in the Canadian Rockies. Banff National Park is a destination for any landscape photographer and no visit to the park would be complete without a stay in the Town of Banff. The town is located about 75 miles west of Calgary, Alberta and about 35 miles east of Lake Louise. The town was the first municipality to incorporate within a Canadian national park and is known for its surrounding mountains and hot springs. It is a destination for almost all outdoor sports, especially skiing. While not as high when compared to the US Rockies, it's elevation of 4,800 feet is still the second highest in Canada.
This view of the Town of Banff from Mount Norquay shows it nestled in the valley to the right of Mount Rundle with the Bow River running past.
Cathedral Rocks and Spires are a prominent group of cliffs and pinnacles located on the south side of the Yosemite Valley near the entrance to the valley. There are three main sections of Cathedral Rocks aptly named Higher, Middle, and Lower Cathedral Rocks. Adjacent to Higher Cathedral Rock are the Higher and Lower Cathedral Spires, the most impressive spires in Yosemite. Bridalveil Falls flows between Cathedral Rocks. Like almost every formation in the park, Cathedral Rocks beckons to photographers to capture them. While trying to get a different perspective of the formations, it is most likely impossible as Yosemite is probably the most photographed national park. Regardless, I and many others, continue to try to capture their beauty.
Many of the visitors to Yosemite National Park enter the park from its western entrances as it is the closest to the major California cities. The western part of the park is also home to the famed Yosemite Valley where many of the major attractions are located. Many visitors stay in the valley and never travel to the eastern side of the park. That is a shame as there is a lot to see and has a unique beauty of its own. To drive from the valley to the town of Lee Vining (home to the famed Mono Lake), the only choice of roads is Tioga Road. The trip is about 75 miles one way and the road peaks at nearly 10,000 feet at the Tioga Pass. This is one of the most scenic drives in America and is only open in season which is generally late May to October, depending on snow. We left around noon to explore Tioga Raod, making stops along the way and ultimately having dinner in Lee Vining. When we left town, is was approaching sunset and the light was phenomenal. Along the way, we stopped along the road to take this image. I highly recommend taking this road the next time you are in Yosemite.
This image is from my recently found archives. One of the most visited national parks in the southwest is Arches National Park. Located in eastern Utah, the park is home to over 2,000 sandstone arches, many of which are not easily accessible. This was the first stop on a 2-week trip that Greg and I took in May, 2005. May is perhaps the best time to visit as the weather is not too hot and the park is not crowded at all. We had gotten into Moab the previous afternoon after a five hour drive from Salt Lake City. The bad news was that my luggage, including my tripod, was not on our flight. It finally showed up at 5:30 am (of course after dawn). Once we unpacked and hit the road, we headed for Arches. Our first stop in the park was Double Arch where I captured this image. Even though I had missed the sunrise, the light was amazing as the blue sky really enhanced the contrast with the orange sandstone.
Back from my vacation to the warm climate, or so I thought. Our first few days in Florida, the temperature was in the low to high 30's, almost as cold as it was in Connecticut. Fortunately, the weather warmed up significantly into the high 70s and low 80's for the balance of the week. I have lots of photos to look at so stay tuned for them. Today's post takes us to Waterton Lakes National Park in southern Alberta. The park borders Glacier National Park in Montana and the combined two parks are known as the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park. Waterton was Canada's fourth national park, formed in 1895 and named after Waterton Lake, in turn after the naturalist and conservationist Charles Waterton. The lake is composed of two bodies of water, connected by a shallow channel known locally as the Bosphorus. The lower part of the lake is known as Lower Waterton Lake and is located in Alberta and the upper part of the lake is known as Upper Waterton Lake and is located in Montana. It is pretty confusing as the lower part of the lake is north of the upper part.
Regardless of it's name, the lake is simply a beautiful part of the Rockies especially on a perfect morning like this one where the water is smooth as glass and perfectly reflect the rugged mountains.
This the second image that I have reprocessed on my recently found archives or as Jimi Jones named them, “Lost Treasure of Len” (my wife is still chuckling about that). This image is from a trip I took with my son where we hiked for two weeks in Utah. This particular trail is the Park Avenue Trail in Arches National Park. It is a one-mile relatively flat trail that traverses the bottom of a canyon where some of the park’s well-known monoliths can be seen such as the Three Gossips, Courthouse Towers, the Organ and the Tower of Babel. This particular structure is the Courthouse Towers. Most visitors to the park stop at the Park Avenue Viewpoint, take a few snapshots, and return to their cars without really exploring this trail. They really miss a spectacular walk that is quite memorable. Once on the trail, it opens up to a wide dry wash, filled with a number of shallow sandstone basins and potholes carved out by erosion.
The Icefields Parkway is one of the longest and most beautiful scenic drives that I have ever been on. The parkway traverses the Continental Divide in the Canadian Rockies and connects Banff National Park and Jasper National Park. The Icefields Parkway is 140 miles long and named for ice field and glaciers that are visible from the parkway. One of the glaciers that can be seen from the parkway is the Crowfoot Glacier pictured in this image. The Crowfoot Glacier's runoff is the main source of water for Bow Lake that can be seen between the parkway and the glacier. The glacier has retreated and has lost an entire "foot" so it no longer resembles the shape for which it was originally named. Even with its missing part, it is still magnificent and provides a breathtaking view especially when seen in the glow of sunrise.
Acadia National Park in Maine is the only national park located in the northeastern US. It is a beautiful park where mountains, islands and ocean all come together to form a unique experience. Located on Mount Desert Island, Acadia's origins were actually started by a group of summer residents that formed a public land trust to protect the island from development. The trust slowly acquired parts of the island and John D Rockefeller donated over 10,000 acres of land to the trust. Rockefeller also built 45 miles of stone carriage roads that traverse the park. Acadia now covers 47,000 acres of property. This image was taken on one of Acadia's famous beaches namely, Otter Beach. The beach can be somewhat treacherous as I found out by stepping on a rock and taking a fall. Lesson learned - even though there are other people on a rock, make sure that you step on a dry part of the rock like they did.
There were about 50 photographers lined up to catch the sunrise. The sunrise turned out to be a very short one as the clouds were quickly moving east. I was able to catch the little light there was giving a warm glow to the cliffs as a wave began to crest toward the beach.
I would like to wish a Happy Thanksgiving to all of you as you visit family and give thanks for all that we have been blessed with. I have been writing this blog for about 6 months and would like to thank each of you for your visits and kind words. In the process of starting my blog, I have discovered a wonderful group of photographers that are truly a community that gives and shares. Thank you all. Sequoia National Park is located in the southern Sierra Nevada mountains in California. It is about a 4 hour drive from Yosemite National Park. The park is famous for its giant sequoia trees, including the General Sherman tree, the largest tree on Earth.
Sequoia is not nearly as visited as it's more famous cousin to the north, but it is a beautiful place to visit and an unspoiled treasure. The lack of crowds, even during the summer months, allows you to roam freely amid these majestic trees. I headed to visit a grove near our hotel and spent a good two hours walking the grove taking in my surroundings and the serenity. I didn't once see another person despite the beauty of the sunrise streaming through the trees allowing me to be one with nature.
This image is from my trip to Jasper National Park a few years ago. I had looked forward to visiting Jasper and the iconic Spirit Island on Maligne Lake. As all best laid plans, it rained pretty much all of the three days we were there. I was determined to take the boat ride to the island. We got to Maligne Lake during one of the brief moments the rain had stopped. This was the scene as we started walking to get the tickets for the boat ride. I thought that the gray of the mountains and the stormy skies contrasted well with the red roof and boats. It was one of the better shots of the day as we did encounter a significant rain on our ride to Spirit Isalnd.
Southwestern Colorado near Durango is home to the wonderful Mesa Verde National Park. Like most national parks, Mesa Verde contains some beautiful scenery but it's ancient cave dwellings are what make it world famous. In fact, it's Cliff Palace, shown in this image, is thought to be the largest cliff in North America. The Cliff Palace was inhabited by ancient Pueblo people between 550 AD to 1300 AD and often referred to as the Anasazi (Navajo for "Ancient Ones" or "Ancient Enemy"). The Anasazi kept no written records and it is hard to learn about their life other that the men were hunters and farmers while the woman were skilled in basket weaving. They mysteriously disappeared from the Cliff Palace and it is speculated that they left the are after a 24 year drought.
Walking among the adobe structures is like walking on hallowed ground. The Cliff Palace is a remarkable structure that is even more amazing that it was built about 1,500 years ago and still is in great shape. I highly recommend a visit to Mesa Verde if you are ever in southwest Colorado.
Just back from Maine. While it wasn't a photography rich trip as the weather did not cooperate for most of the week, it is always good to travel with good friends. I was able to get a few decent shots that I hope to post shortly. For now, we revisit one of my favorite places: Johnson Lake in Banff National Park. The weather had been a bit overcast and was starting to clear. By the time I got to the lake, all that was left of the overcast skies were a few low clouds covering the mountain tops. The lake is a destination for families to have a nice, easy hike with a nice view of Cascade Mountain. Picnickers, hikers, sunbathers, fishermen, and swimmers congregate here during the summer months. The lake is also part of Banff's Minnewanka Loop.
After sailing through the Icy Straits, as described in a previous post, we entered into Glacier Bay en-route to the Margerie Glacier. Along the way, we passed wonderful scenery and wildlife, including hump-back whales, seals and eagles. Glacier Bay is a pretty amazing place and even more amazing is that it was a wall of ice in 1791 when explored by George Vancouver. The ice has retreated 65 miles since then leaving 16 major tidewater glaciers (a glacier which generates sufficient snow to flow out from the mountains to the sea). As we approached Margerie Glacier, it was hard to believe the it has a total height of 350 feet, of which 250 feet rises above the water level. It is one of the most active glaciers in the park with respect to calving where chunks of the glacier break off of the forward ice wall into the water with a resounding roar. This is probably the main reason why most cruise ships visit this particular glacier. As can be seen in the photo, the glacier is surrounded by rugged mountains where pieces of the mountains collect on the glacier making it look "dirty". Margerie Glacier has tones of blue color as the ice crystals in the glacier absorb light of longer wavelengths (i.e. red) leaving the blue color.