Southeastern Arizona – September 2022 – Random Scenic Views

A collection of scenic views throughout Southeastern Arizona.

San Francisco Mountains along Arizona Highway 78 near the New Mexico border.

Huachuca Mountains. It is still very green from the robust monsoon season rains.

Rainclouds near the Chiricahua Mountains

A mountainous area known as the Cochise Stronghold. This area was where the native leader Cochise made one of his last stands to protect their land from the settlers.

Guadalupe Mountains, Texas – September 2022 – The National Park Tour Continues

Guadalupe Mountains National Park is about 100 miles east of El Paso, near the New Mexico border. It is about 45 miles from Carlsbad Caverns, making it a perfect day to visit two parks in one day.

The visitor center is one of the few structures in the park. It is conveniently located near the campground, as well as the start of the primary trails.

One trail goes all the way to the top of Guadalupe Peak, the highest point in Texas. We chose a different trail, the Devil’s Hall Trail.

After a couple of miles you reach the wash that leads to Devil’s Hall. The wash is full of rocks and boulders, which for me, was too much to overcome to make it to Devil’s Hall. Still it was a scenic workout.

Picacho Peak, Arizona – August 2022 – Redundant Name for A Unique Mountain

Picacho in Spanish means peak, so this mountain is basically Peak Peak. The highest peak rises 2,000 feet above the valley floor.

Picacho Peak is about 45 miles west of downtown Tucson, and is along I-10, the major route from Tucson to Phoenix and beyond.

For a number of reasons I hiked only to the saddle, a 300′ rise in about a mile one way.

Joshua Tree National Park, California – July 2022 – Amazing Desert Landscape

In the southwest United States there is a variation of a yucca known as a Joshua Tree. It was named that by some Mormon settlers in the 1800s.

The Joshua Tree National Park covers a vast area of Southern California. The parts of the park at a lower elevation are in the Sonoran Desert, while those where the Joshua Trees are located at a higher elevation are in the Mojave Desert.

In addition to the tree there are many interesting rock formations throughout the park. A combination of volcanic activity, seismic activity and erosion has lead to some great shapes.

Some have eroded to look like faces and skulls in the rocks.

Climbing around on the rocks is a favorite activity – even in a vampire cape.

From Keys View you can see all of the Coachella Valley, from Salton Sea at -230 elevation to 10,800′ San Jacinto Peak. The view below is looking back towards Palm Springs.

The southern portion of the park is in the lower elevation Sonoran Desert. It features an area known as the Cholla Cactus Garden – an area with more chollas than I have ever seen in such a small space.

Joshua Tree National Park is a unique natural setting well worth the trip.

Across The West – Random Photos

As we travelled about I sometimes get photos that I like but there aren’t enough for a single posting. This is a collection of those random photos.

Tucson – The look back towards the city from Gates Pass Scenic Lookout

Sunset east of Vail, Arizona

Grasslands near Sonoita, Arizona. When you get above 4500′ in elevation in this part of Arizona the desert turns to grasslands.

Winslow, Arizona. Get mentioned in an Eagles song, it ends up as a tourist attraction and mini park.

About 1:10 into the song…

Mexican Hat, Utah

Gooseneck State Park. 1000′ deep!

Bluff, Utah – Twin Rocks Cafe

Southern Utah – A common sight – the dramatic look of irrigated fields in the desert.

Outside of Cortez, Colorado – The cattle drive has ended, along the road to Canyon of the Ancients National Monument.

Somewhere in Western Wyoming

Eastern Nevada – Coming down a mountain going eastbound on I-80, with the interstate continuing into the distance.

West Wendover, Nevada – Wendover Will

Navajo Nation, Arizona – The ubiquitous souvenir stand.

Nevada & Utah – June 2022 – Great Basin and Cedar Breaks

Our southbound trip continued with brief visits to two National Park Service units. The first was Great Basin National Park in Nevada.

Great Basin National Park’s claim to fame is Wheeler Peak, a 13,000′ high mountain, as well as Lehman Caves.

We were too early in the day to visit the cave, so we headed up the Wheeler Peak drive. Unfortunately as we got to the 9000′ level the road was closed as there was apparently snow further up. Still we had some nice views.

Our trip south continued into Utah, where we headed up into the mountains for a visit to Cedar Breaks National Monument. In my opinion Cedar Breaks is more worthy of National Park status than Great Basin, as the views were amazing.

Eastern Washington & Oregon – May 2022 – Walla Walla to the Snake River Canyon

Our cold, rainy Memorial Day weekend continued with a visit to one of the best named towns in the country, Walla Walla Washington.

The area around Walla Walla has always been farmed, only in the last few decades it has become known for it’s vineyards.

Further east, at the Idaho/Washington border lie the twin towns of Clarkston, Washington and Lewiston, Idaho. The Snake River south of the towns has an impressive canyon.

Washington Highway 129 leaves Clarkston south towards the Oregon border, which when reached turns into Oregon Highway 3. It is a very cool drive!

Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming – May 2022 – Good Morning!

Our road trip worked out that we spent a night in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. On a previous trip to Yellowstone we missed the Grand Prismatic Spring due to lack of parking, so this trip I wanted to rectify that oversight.

To do that we left Jackson at the crack of dawn, meaning we arrived at the Grand Teton National Park just as the sun rose – what a fortuitous break.

The wildlife were just waking up and starting their day as well….

It only takes about an hour to drive through the park with a few stops for photos, but what a beautiful hour.

Colorado National Monument – May 2022 – Exciting Trip Along Rim Rock Drive

Rising over 2000′ above the valley floor along the edge of the Uncompahgre Plateau, the Colorado National Monument provides amazing views along Rim Rock Drive.

This road clings to the edge of the cliff, often without guardrails, with precipitous drop offs all along the 24 mile drive.

It does however have numerous overlooks that provide commanding views.

Western Colorado – May 2022 – Telluride and the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Day 3 found us in the western end of Colorado, leaving the town of Cortez in the early morning light. Our primary destination was the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, but our route there took us past Telluride.

Colorado Highway 145 took us out of Cortez, and past the town of Dolores, along the Dolores River as it made it’s way up the canyon. The green hills and fields was a dramatic change from the deserts of Monument Valley, just a hundred miles or so behind us.

As we neared the summit of Lizard Head’s Pass, we went through the small town of Rico

The mountains become more dramatic the nearer we got to Telluride.

As we made the turn to go up the valley to Telluride we passed a field of deer.

Telluride is a very exclusive ski community (don’t even ask how much real estate costs in town). They have far less development than other famous ski towns in the west (Aspen, Vail, Jackson Hole), and they like it that way.

After a brief visit we continued on our way, passing more scenic valleys.

After another hour or so we reached the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, near Montrose, Colorado. It is so named because of the steep walls of the canyon prevent sunlight all but 33 minutes of the day in the steepest part.

The Painted Wall is over 2200′ of sheer cliff, the highest in Colorado. The Black Canyon of the Gunnison, while not a large park, is impressive.