NATIONAL PARKS: Las Glaciares National Park

Story and photography by Jerry Ginsberg

Since we’ve already explored a bit of the Chilean side of Patagonia with Torres del Paine in the November 2016 issue of NANPA e-News, let’s now take a look at the Argentine side. This vast, fabulous and still wild region occupies virtually a third of South America.

The Patagonian steppe is largely pristine wilderness filled with serrated peaks, glistening lakes and vast blue-white rivers of ice. Here, the winds blow incessantly and both the climate and life itself can be harsh.

Perito Moreno Glacier 

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NATIONAL PARKS: Torres del Paine National Park

Story and photography by Jerry Ginsberg

This is the time of year when I struggle to recommend good photo destinations for winter travel. Even though we are a really big country, there are relatively few national parks to be found in our southerly latitudes.

So let’s try something a little different. Once we cross the Equator, the seasons are reversed. For example, Christmas in the Southern Hemisphere arrives near summertime there owing to the tilt of the Earth’s axis.

Let’s take a look at Chilean Patagonia and famed Parque Nacional Torres del Paine (Towers of Blue National Park). Don’t worry; you can get by just fine with English.

Torres del Paine, © Jerry Ginsberg

Torres del Paine, © Jerry Ginsberg

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NATIONAL PARKS: Dry Tortugas National Park

Story and photography by Jerry Ginsberg

Sunrise over Bush Key seen from Garden Key in Dry Tortugas National Park, FL.

Bush Key from Garden Key. Both—as well as Loggerhead Key—are part of Dry Tortugas National Park. © Jerry Ginsberg

Like many people, for a long time I thought that the tail end of the Florida Keys was the popular resort and tourist town of Key West. Continue reading

NATIONAL PARKS: Joshua Tree National Park

Story and photography by Jerry Ginsberg

Sunset silhouettes a joshua tree - moonrise above - in Joshua Tree National Park, CA.

Mojave Moonrise © Jerry Ginsberg

California has nine national parks—more than any other state in the nation—and the southernmost of them, Joshua Tree National Park, is located near the northern end of the Mohave Desert. This great desert park is easy to reach, easy to hike and lots of fun.

The calm beauty of the desert is near its peak here. Being out and immersed in the delicious solitude present before dawn is one of the great joys of nature photography. In such special moments, it is easy to feel the rhythms of the Earth and reconnect with Nature.

Despite its name, the Joshua tree isn’t a tree at all. This somewhat strange looking plant is actually a yucca. More to the point—in the bright light of day—it is immediately plain to see that it is not all that photogenic. The best images of these unique yuccas show them in silhouette, emphasizing their interesting and graceful forms, which are often backlit against a brilliantly colored sky. Continue reading

Shenandoah National Park

Story and photography by Jerry Ginsberg

In addition to my usual narrative on a particular park, this month I would like to make a special mention of the centennial celebration of the National Park Service. (See https://www.nps.gov/subjects/centennial/index.htm.) There is no time like the present to get out and spend some time in one of America’s most special places. So pack your gear and visit a national park! Or, two.

Hawksbill Summit

Hawksbill Summit © Jerry Ginsberg

Now let’s jump into Shenandoah National Park.

Among the premier drives located east of the Mississippi, the 105-mile-long Skyline Drive is certainly one of them. This great road runs across the top of the Blue Ridge above the Shenandoah Valley. The views along its route are so majestic that many folks would be drawn here just for the ride, even if this were not Shenandoah National Park.

The northern end of the drive begins at Front Royal, Virginia, near the junction of Interstates 66 and 81. Its southern terminus connects with the north end of the famed 469-mile Blue Ridge Parkway. In between are several entrances to the park and many scenic stops and trailheads. Continue reading

Capitol Reef National Park

Story and photography by Jerry Ginsberg

Waterpocket Fold is Capitol Reef's hallmark geological feature.

Waterpocket Fold is Capitol Reef’s hallmark geological feature.

Wonderfully scenic and filled with dramatic and seemingly endless red rock, Utah boasts five national parks within its borders. Least well-known among these is long-and-narrow Capitol Reef National Park found just about smack in the middle of the state.

As is the case with many places in Utah, nineteenth-century Mormon pioneers settled here for a while and then moved on. In their wake, they left behind many remnants. As you drive the short piece of Route 24 that traverses this desert park you will see evidence of the Mormons in the wonderfully preserved one-room schoolhouse and apple and peach orchards that once marked the small Fruita settlement.

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NATIONAL PARKS: Isle Royale National Park

Sunrise over Lake Superior along the Stoll Trail in Isle Royale National Park, MI.

Stoll Trail

Story and photography by Jerry Ginsberg

As I have mentioned in past columns, it takes a fair amount of effort to travel to many of our more remote national parks. Isle Royale is certainly one of these. This beautiful island is located in the upper reaches of mighty Lake Superior. The park is so far north that it is actually much closer to Canada than to the Michigan mainland. From vantage points on the island’s north shore, you can easily see the Canadian coast.

Charter seaplane service directly to Isle Royale may be available from Duluth, Minnesota, but such a convenience comes with a hefty price tag. The most convenient gateway airports are Milwaukee, Chicago and Minneapolis. Continue reading

NATIONAL PARKS: Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve

Story and photography by Jerry Ginsberg

Frigid Crags - Gates of the Arctic. © Jerry Ginsberg

Frigid Crags – Gates of the Arctic. © Jerry Ginsberg

In the far northern reaches of our nation, there rest vast tracts of pristine wilderness; remote, accessible only with great effort and devoid of all but a few people. This is truly the last frontier, just as primeval as were the Rocky Mountain states two centuries ago. Here, far above the Arctic Circle, people are few and roads are nonexistent. Continue reading

NATIONAL PARKS: Badlands and Wind Cave

Story and photography by Jerry Ginsberg

I usually write about just one of our terrific national parks at a time. This month, however, it seems logical to combine two parks that easily fit together into one photo trip. These are Badlands National Park and Wind Cave National Park. Both are near Rapid City, South Dakota.

Burris basin is part of the rugged badlands of the North unit of Badlands National Park, SD.

Burris basin

BADLANDS NATIONAL PARK

Badlands National Park is divided into two separate units: North and South. The more developed North Unit boasts a fairly new visitor center and facilities. The South Unit was acquired in 1976. The Oglala Sioux Nation owns the second-largest American Indian reservation in the United States, which is now preserved within the park. Continue reading

NATIONAL PARKS: Saguaro National Park

Story and photography by Jerry Ginsberg

Giant saguaro flower in mid-late spring in Saguaro National Park near Tucson, AZ

Giant saguaro flower in mid-late spring in Saguaro National Park near Tucson, AZ

A national monument can be called into existence by a U.S. president alone. However, only an Act of Congress can create a national park. A good number of our national monuments have been elevated to national park status, including Saguaro National Monument, which Congress made a national park in 1994.

Saguaro National Park is one of only a handful of the 59 national parks that is split into non-contiguous sections. Located in south-central Arizona, the park brackets the sprawling city of Tucson with the Rincon Mountain District in the east and Tucson Mountain District in the west.

Saguaro was established to protect the thousands of giant saguaro cacti that grow there as well as the nugget of pristine desert landscape that still remains.

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