Story and photography by Jerry Ginsberg
Deep in the southwest corner of Texas sits the lightly visited, yet fascinating Big Bend National Park.
Situated near the northern end of the vast Chihuahuan Desert, Big Bend features more scenic variety than we usually find in a desert park. If you have an appreciation for the innate beauty of the somewhat harsh desert, a photo trip to Big Bend could be for you. Major landforms include the Chisos Mountains and the rugged Sierra del Carmen, but that’s only scratching the surface. Read the rest of this entry »
Sun sets over Cinnamon Bay
Story and photographs by Jerry Ginsberg
I constantly marvel at the many wonderful features of our far-flung national parks, especially their diversity. Scenic, geographic, topographic and climactic, this never-ending variety means that every one of our parks has its own personality and offers a unique experience.
This is certainly the case with green, hilly and tropical Virgin Islands National Park located entirely on tiny St. John, one of the three main U.S. Virgin Islands. This small archipelago was purchased by President Woodrow Wilson from Denmark in 1917 as a means of preventing Imperial Germany from threatening the Panama Canal or extending its military influence into the Western Hemisphere at the height of World War I. Read the rest of this entry »
Biscayne Bay on Elliott Key
The bustling, eclectic, urban city of Miami, Florida, with the pulsing rhythms of its day and night life, is not your typical location for a national park. Yet, the southern portion of Miami’s Biscayne Bay is indeed a wonderful tropical wilderness. Read the rest of this entry »
Yellowstone, the world’s very first national park and one of the most popular, was established in 1872. Most of us think of it as a place to visit in spring, summer and fall, but certainly not in winter.
Wyoming winters can be brutally cold with great snow accumulations. The Yellowstone Plateau where the park sits averages 8,000 feet of elevation. This high elevation makes the sun more intense and the alpine weather patterns more dynamic and unpredictable.
Sound forbidding? Well, it can be. Indeed, the park was pretty much devoid of wintertime visitors until the advent of specialized cold-weather tourism several years ago. Since the cold is often intense and the snows deep, what’s the point, you might ask? Read the rest of this entry »
The island state of Hawaii boasts two national parks. Hawaii Volcanoes is on the Big Island and popular Haleakala National Park, the subject of this column, is found on Maui.
While Haleakala volcano, along with its vast flanks, dominates Maui, Haleakala National Park has just two access areas. The more popular and heavily visited is the slow, winding 38-mile drive up to the summit of the volcano. There, you stand on the very edge of the crater. Haleakala’s 10,000-foot summit is your prime destination for sunrise. The place will likely be crowded with couples wrapped in blankets hastily snatched from their hotel rooms. Read the rest of this entry »
The first rays of sunrise strike enormous West Temple in Zion Canyon
In the southwest corner of Utah lies one of our most scenic, accessible and popular national parks, Zion. In my view, Zion is a superlative gem of scenery and fun.
The red rock landforms towering over the canyon of the Virgin River will fill your images with great drama and brilliant color. This deeply eroded high desert plateau is studded with cliffs and buttes, many bearing the Biblical names bestowed upon them by nineteenth-century Mormon settlers.
Zion National Park has three entrances, all leading to different topography and unique compositions. Read the rest of this entry »
Painted Desert. © Jerry Ginsberg
After searching for new and fresh images on federal lands for more than two decades, I can say that there seems to be two types of national parks: those that are heavily visited and those that are too often overlooked in favor of the big names, such as Yosemite and Yellowstone.
One of the less well-known precious gems is Petrified Forest National Park on the eastern edge of Arizona. Weighing in at about 300 square miles, one can easily drive the single road in this compact national treasure from end-to-end in less than half a day. Ah, but then you would be missing all the fun! Read the rest of this entry »
Bear Lake with its reflection.
Before the chilly fingers of winter tighten their icy grip and close in on some of the northern national parks, consider a trip to the Rockies. Rocky Mountain National Park is just under two hours from Denver International Airport. The resort town of Estes Park, Colorado, is the perfect gateway to the park, which is known affectionately by many as “Rocky.” With a good choice of lodgings, Estes makes the perfect base for your trip. Wherever you stay, try to save an hour to stroll through the historic Stanley Hotel.
Protecting a good chunk of the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains, this beautiful park features shimmering lakes, rushing waterfalls, quaking aspen, bugling elk and sharply carved peaks thrusting toward the sky. While I revel in capturing any and all of these subjects photographically, expressing the reflections in the various lakes may be my favorite. Read the rest of this entry »
Photographs of Mt. Rainier and its reflection can be made at Tipsoo Lake or Reflection Lakes.
The Ring of Fire—a string of volcanoes, earthquakes and sites of seismic activity that encircles the Pacific Ocean—is the result of plate tectonics. Tectonic plates are slabs of the Earth’s crust, which fit together like pieces of a puzzle. The plates constantly move atop a layer of solid and molten rock called the mantle. Some volcanoes are actually vents with direct pipelines to the molten core of our little planet.
One of these presently dormant volcanoes is massive glacier-covered Mt. Rainier. Long called “Tahoma” by Native Americans, Rainier is about 80 miles south and east of Seattle, Washington, and is plainly visible from that city’s airport despite the distance. At 14,410 feet, this imposing peak is the tallest in the Cascade Range and one of the highest mountains in the 48 contiguous states.
Looking at the map of Mt. Rainier National Park, the mountain occupies nearly the entire area. The excellent main road pretty much goes around most of Mt. Rainier. That does not mean that there are a limited number of compositions here; just the opposite. Spending some time in Mt. Rainier National Park will give you the opportunity to photograph not only this magnificent mountain from many viewpoints, but also some great waterfalls, forests and a spectacular wildflower display that usually peaks around early August.
One way to show Mt. Rainier is with a reflection of itself. Some of the best places to capture these kinds of images are at Reflection Lakes along the road just south of Paradise and at Tipsoo Lake in the Chinook Pass. Both are best at sunrise and can offer foregrounds of colorful wildflowers if you are able to time your visit just right.
For other great views of Mt. Rainier, drive to Sunrise in the northern portion of the park. Counter to its name, a visit to Sunrise can be productive at dawn or late afternoon. Read the rest of this entry »
Hidden Lake and Bearhat Mountain
A wonderful mix of sharply chiseled mountains, glistening lakes and sparkling waterfalls can be found in Glacier National Park in northern Montana. The spectacular scenery of this sprawling million-acre park is a landscape photographer’s paradise. Add in the black bears, grizzlies, mountain bighorn sheep and snow-white mountain goats that make Glacier their home, and you have all the ingredients for a great photo trip. Read the rest of this entry »