Photo of the Week

Week 9

The Narrows in Zion Park

The Narrows is the narrowest section of Zion Canyon. This gorge, with walls a thousand feet (300 m) tall and the river sometimes just twenty to thirty feet (6-9 m) wide, is one of the most popular areas in Zion National Park.

You can see The Narrows by hiking along the paved, wheelchair accessible Riverside Walk for one mile (1.5 km) from the Temple of Sinawava. If you wish to see more, you will be walking in the Virgin River. This can involve wading upstream for just a few minutes or it can be an all day hike. Many hikers try to reach Orderville Canyon, a tributary creek approximately two hours upstream from the end of the paved trail (2.5 miles (4 km) from the shuttle stop).

Travel upstream into Orderville Canyon or beyond Big Spring is prohibited. It is 2.5 (4 km) miles upstream from Orderville to Big Spring, making the roundtrip hike up to Big Spring and back to the shuttle stop 10 miles (16 km). No permit is required for this day hike.

Walking the entire length of The Narrows (from top to bottom) can be a grueling experience. Under favorable conditions, the 16-mile (25.7 km) route takes an average of 12 hours. Even for well-conditioned hikers, this makes for a long and strenuous day. Permits are not issued when the flow is 120 cubic feet per second (3.4 m3/s) or greater. Because the trailhead at Chamberlain’s Ranch is a 1.5-hour drive from the Temple of Sinawava, either two vehicles or a shuttle is necessary. A wilderness permit is required.

Location:

  • Trailhead at Temple of Sinawava: 37.285155, -112.947605
  • Start of The Narrows: 37.296630, -112.948254
  • Orderville Canyon: 37.307850, -112.946707
  • Imlay Canyon: 37.309737, -112.949195
  • Trail end at Big Springs: 37.331136, -112.956943

Fees:

  • $30 per private vehicle
  • $25 per motorcycle
  • $15 per person (15 and under free)
  • Good for 7 days (subject to change)

Read more about Zion National Park…

The Narrows by Dani Bogdanovic

Week 8

Swabacher Landing sunset; Grand Teton National Park
Swabacher Landing sunset

Grand Teton National Park

Rising above a scene rich with extraordinary wildlife, pristine lakes, and alpine terrain, the Teton Range stands monument to the people who fought to protect it. These are mountains of the imagination. Mountains that led to the creation of Grand Teton National Park where you can explore over two hundred miles (320 km) of trails, float the Snake River or enjoy the serenity of this remarkable place.

Location:

  • Craig Thomas Discovery & Visitor Center: 43.653352, -110.717765
  • Colter Bay Visitor Center: 43.903347, -110.643342
  • Jenny Lake Visitor Center: 43.751485, -110.722312
  • Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve Center: 43.627211, -110.773262

Fees:

  • $35 per vehicle.
  • $30 per motorcycle.
  • $20 per person.
  • These fees provide the visitor with a 7-day entrance permit for Grand Teton National Park and the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway.

Read more about Grand Teton National Park…

Week 7

Bumpass Hell in Lassen Volcanic National Park

Bumpass Hell is the largest hydrothermal area in the park and can be accessed via a 3-mile (4.8 km) round-trip hike. A boardwalk takes visitors through a 16-acre (6.5 ha) bowl of plopping mudpots, bubbling pools, and roaring steam vents – including the superhot Big Boiler.

The trail is quite easy, though the altitude can make the trail seem moderately difficult. Hiking boots are recommended as the trail crosses generally rocky land with some tree cover, and without much change in elevation until the 100 foot (30 m) drop into the thermally active basin. The active area can be seen (and smelt!) from far away – a wide basin filled with various steaming pools and unusual multi-colored soils, stained orange, brown, yellow and green by sulphur and other minerals. Together with the occasional white snow patches, the (usually) deep blue sky and the aquamarine waters, the spectacle is extremely beautiful and colourful.

Location:

  • Bumpass Hell Trailhead: 40.465656, -121.514667

Fees:

  • $25 per vehicle
  • $20 per motorcycle
  • $12 per person
  • $10 per vehicle during winter season
  • Valid for 7 days (subject to change)

Read more about Lassen Volcanic National Park…

Sunset at Bumpass Hell; Lassen Volcanic National Park
Sunset at Bumpass Hell

Week 6

Grand Canyon and Lower Falls of the Yellowstone from Artist Point; Yellowstone National Park Canyon Village Area
Grand Canyon and Lower Falls of the Yellowstone from Artist Point

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River

The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River expresses the Yellowstone National Park’s complex geologic history in dramatic colors and shapes. Puffs of steam mark hydrothermal features in the canyon’s walls. The Upper and Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River add to the grandeur of this unique natural treasure.

Artist Point features one of the most photographed views in Yellowstone. Framed by the canyon walls with forests for a backdrop, the Yellowstone River thunders more than 308 feet (93 m) over Lower Falls. From the upper overlook, you can view the canyon in both directions. Look for osprey, ravens, and swallows. The lower overlook is accessible to wheelchairs.

Location:

  • Artist Point: 44.720136, -110.479868

Fees:

  • $35 per vehicle.
  • $30 per motorcycle.
  • $20 per person.
  • Valid for seven days (subject to change)

Read more about Yellowstone National Park…

Week 5

Ladder and Painted Canyons in Mecca Hills

The Mecca Hills are a low mountain range located in Southern California. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) manages the range as the Mecca Hills Wilderness. The designated Wilderness Area includes narrow steep-walled canyons that create a natural maze within the badlands and also includes one of the best trails in Southern California – The Ladder Canyon Trail. This jaw-dropping hike takes you on a loop into the heart of Messa Hills through Ladder Canyon and Big Painted Canyon. On this moderately difficult loop, you come across a bit of everything: slot canyons, wide canyons, badlands, ladders, incredible views and general desert landscape.

The trail can be taken in any direction but doing it clockwise, as most hikers do, has you climbing up the ladders, rather than down. From the parking area head towards the canyon, following a wide sandy path before turning left into the Ladder Canyon. The trail into the slot canyon is difficult to see because of rockslides. If you are lucky, rock arrow (arrows on the ground, put together with rocks by hikers, however, nature does tend to destroy these markings on a fairly regular basis.) will point you in the right direction. To get to the top of this slot canyon, you have to, you guessed it, climb up several ladders. The ladders are maintained by local hikers so you never know in what condition they are. If the ladders are broken or if you feel unsafe, turn around and explore the Painted Canyon from the bottom up. After you reach the top and exit the slot canyon, you find random paths going in several different directions. Rock arrows should point you in the right direction. Take the trail to the right up the slope to the edge of Big Painted Canyon. Follow the trail along the edge until it drops into the canyon to the right. Walk down into Big Painted Canyon, and follow it back to the trailhead, staying right at junctions and descending on several more ladders.

Trailhead: 33.619077, -115.999379

Fees: None

Pets: No

Week 4

Sunset in Lost Horse Valley; Joshua Tree National Park
Sunset in Lost Horse Valley at Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park

Two distinct desert ecosystems, the Mojave and the Colorado, come together in Joshua Tree National Park. A fascinating variety of plants and animals make their homes in a land sculpted by strong winds and occasional torrents of rain. Dark night skies, a rich cultural history, and surreal geologic features add to the wonder of this vast wilderness in southern California. Come explore for yourself.

Location:

  • West Entrance Station: 34.093517, -116.264967
  • North Entrance Station: 34.077127, -116.036579
  • South Entrance Point: 33.675598, -115.801608

Fees:

  • $30 per vehicle
  • $25 per motorcycle
  • $15 per person
  • Valid for 7 days (subject to change).

Read more about Joshua Tree National Park…

Week 3

Grand Canyon National Park

Located entirely in northern Arizona, the park encompasses 277 miles (446 km) of the Colorado River and adjacent uplands. One of the most spectacular examples of erosion anywhere in the world, Grand Canyon, which is up to 18 miles (29km) wide, and a mile (1.6km) deep, is unmatched in the incomparable vistas it offers to visitors on the rim. Grand Canyon National Park is a World Heritage Site and it overwhelms our senses through its immense size.

Location:

  • North Rim Visitor Center: 36.198383, -112.052465
  • South Rim Visitor Center: 36.059125, -112.109306

Fees:

  • $35 per private vehicle
  • $30 per motorcycle
  • $20 per person (15 and under free)
  • Good for 7 days (subject to change).

Read more about Grand Canyon National Park…

Grand Canyon as seen from the Desert View
Grand Canyon as seen from the Desert View
by troma0 (also check out their YouTube channel)

Week 2

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
by southern_nevada

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area

The unique geologic features, plants and animals of Red Rock represent some of the best examples of the Mojave Desert. Red Rock Canyon was designated as Nevada’s first National Conservation Area.  Red Rock Canyon is located 17 miles (27 km) west of the Las Vegas Strip on Charleston Boulevard/State Route 159.  The area is visited by more than two million people each year.  In marked contrast to a town geared to entertainment and gaming, Red Rock offers enticements of a different nature including a 13-mile (20.9 km) scenic drive, miles of hiking trails, rock climbing, horseback riding, mountain biking, road biking, picnic areas, nature observing and visitor center with indoor and outdoor exhibits as well as a book store.

Location:

  • Entrance Station: 36.132469, -115.423667

Fees:

  • $7 per private vehicle
  • $3 per motorcycle
  • $3 per person (15 and under free)
  • Good for 7 days (subject to change).

Read more about Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area…

Week 1

Kanarra Creek Canyon

Awe-inspiring, red rock slot canyon (also known as “Kanarra Slot Canyon”, “Kanarra Falls”, and “Kanarraville Falls”), featuring one of the most photographed waterfall scenes in Southern Utah.

It is located just outside the Kolob Canyons section of Zion National Park and can be explored by a 3.5 mile (5.6 km) round-trip trail. This fairly easy hike becomes a little more adventurous and difficult when you reach the canyon’s two waterfalls, which block the path. Improvised ladders are placed against the waterfalls, enabling you to climb over them.

It is important you wear good hiking shoes and are not afraid to get wet, as you will continuously be crossing the creek on this incredibly fun hike. As with every slot canyon, check the forecast and do not (!) enter the canyon if there is any chance of rain.

Trailhead: 37.537159, -113.175359

Fees: $9 hiking permit per person (includes parking) – available here. No refunds.

Pets: No!

Kanarraville Canyon Falls
First waterfall in Kanarra Canyon
by ammamilia