Autumn in Yellowstone

Story and photography by D. Robert Franz

© D. Robert Franz

© D. Robert Franz

Autumn,  (The Quiet Season). Yellowstone, the world’s first national park, holds an endless fascination for travelers from all over the world and for good reason. With its unrivaled natural geologic wonders and abundant wildlife the park is a magnet for people seeking adventure. The crowds pose a bit of a problem for nature photographers, who generally prefer to pursue their passion with a bit more solitude. 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.

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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NATIONAL PARKS: Big Bend National Park

Story and photography by Jerry Ginsberg

North America, United States, Southwest, West, Big Bend, Big Bend National Park. .Tornillo Flats in rugged Big Bend National Park in Southwest Texas.

Tornillo Flats

 

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. Continue reading

NATIONAL PARKS: Virgin Islands National Park

Sun sets over Cinnamon Bay

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. Continue reading

NATIONAL PARKS: Yellowstone in Winter

Story by Jerry Ginsberg. Photography by Kevin Horsefield

Winter Wonderland

Winter Wonderland © Kevin Horsefield

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? Continue reading

NATIONAL PARKS: Haleakala National Park

Story and photography by Jerry Ginsberg

Stunning Oheo Gulch in Haleakala National Park on Maui, Hawaii. © Jerry Ginsberg

Stunning Oheo Gulch in Haleakala National Park on Maui, Hawaii. © Jerry Ginsberg

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. Continue reading

NATIONAL PARKS: Zion National Park Story and photographs by Jerry Ginsberg

The first rays of sunrise strike enormous West Temple in Zion Canyon

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. Continue reading