Go See Do Photography

A Lot of Travel, A Little Bit of History, and a Whole Bunch of Photos

Tag: hiking (Page 1 of 4)

Yellowstone: Mammoth and Canyon in One Day

Mammoth Hot Springs

Steam coming off Mammoth Hot Springs

This post contains a lot of information about driving around Yellowstone. Here is a link to a map of the park, that will probably be a helpful reference while you read about our first day in Yellowstone.

Our first day in Yellowstone, we came into the park from Cody. I really believe this played a hand in our ability to see so much of the park in just one day. Unlike the west entrance, there was no line coming in from the east side of the park. The first point of interest coming in this way is Yellowstone Lake and the Fishing Bridge area. This is one of the lesser-visited parts of the park and it felt like we were the only people around for miles.

Clouds over Yellowstone Lake

Yellowstone Lake (above) is a sight to behold. Situated at 7700 feet above sea level and taking up 132 square miles, Yellowstone Lake is the largest high elevation lake in North America. Because of the large surface area, sudden gusts of wind can create large waves making open water crossings of the lake very challenging. Because of that and the cold water temperatures, boating on Yellowstone Lake is not incredibly common.

Grand Canyon of the YellowstoneFrom Fishing Bridge, we headed north to Canyon Village and one of my must-sees, Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. There is a very large parking area in the canyon area and we had no trouble finding a spot to park.  One of the best views of the falls can be found at the Artist Point trailhead (left). I love how even unedited photos of the waterfall look like a watercolor painting. This is one of the most popular areas to hike in the park with plenty of hiking trails for all abilities. For more information about hiking in Yellowstone, visit NPS.gov.

The color of the rock makes The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone one of the most unique waterfalls I have ever seen. At one time a geyser basin was located at what is now the base of the waterfall. The heat and chemical activity of those geysers created rhyolite, a soft and brittle rock. The rhyolite reacts to oxygen in the air and in effect, the canyon walls are rusting, which gives it that unique yellow color.

From Canyon, we headed toward Mammoth. The drive through that part of the park felt longer than going from Lake to Canyon, but maybe it was just that there isn’t anything to stop and see from Norris to Mammoth. I’m not sure if this is normally the route you would take to get from one area to another, but the road from Tower/Roosevelt to Canyon was closed for construction in 2021.

Mammoth Hot Springs

Mammoth Hot Springs (top and right) was another feature on my Yellowstone Must-See list. I had seen photos of the unique, stair-like geothermal feature and wanted to see it for myself. The water in the springs container calcium carbonate that over time cools and creates these unique rock formations. It was interesting walking around and seeing how the pools have shifted over time, as evidenced by forests of dead trees with white, calcified bases.

Bear and Two Cubs

From Mammoth, we headed to Tower/Roosevelt and this is where we encountered our biggest “jam” of our time in the park. This time, instead of elk, it was a mother bear with two cubs (viewed from a safe distance, of course, and with a ranger standing by with bear spray). It was super cool to see these wild animals through a zoom lens. It was definitely better than seeing them at the zoo!

After our bear encounter, we headed out the Northwest Entrance of the park to Gardiner for dinner. Be sure to stop back next week as I share about our day of exploring geysers and hot springs!

Thanks for stopping by! To read more about this trip, check out the Epic National Park Road Trip. To read about some of our previous trips, visit my Trips Page. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page and follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my updated Gear Page.

Devils Tower National Monument

Devils Tower

Devils Tower National Monument is located in the northeastern corner of Wyoming, only about an hour and a half away from Rapid City, South Dakota. Signed into law by Theodore Roosevelt on September 25, 1906, Devils Tower was the first National Monument in the world. The monument is a popular place for rock climbers as well as hikers and others who just want to see this unique geological feature for themselves.

When planning this trip, I originally wanted to visit Devils Tower on the way from Custer to Yellowstone, which would’ve had us arrive mid-morning on a Saturday. Then, I learned that the parking lot fills up early, especially on weekends, and it is not uncommon to have to wait a while for a spot. Since we had quite a bit of ground to cover that day, I decided it would make more sense to make it a day trip from the Black Hills, and that way we could also see Spearfish Canyon on the way back.

We left Custer after Chris got off work and arrived at Devils Tower around 5 pm. There were only a handful of people around and we had no trouble parking. The visitor center closes at 6 but I was happy to see that the passport stamp is outside so that if you arrived when the visitor center was closed, you would still be able to get a stamp. Because we wanted to see Spearfish Canyon before sunset, we didn’t have much time to explore the monument, but we did get to walk a little bit of the Tower Trail.

Roughlock FallsSince this was our last day in the Black Hills, I may have tried to cram too much in, especially with the three-hour round trip drive to Devils Tower. But, we did enjoy the GyPSy tour of the Northern Black Hills and the drive through Spearfish Canyon. The Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway is a beautiful drive that follows a river that has cut through these high rock walls. Spearfish Canyon is an absolutely beautiful area that just blew me away! There are several places along the way to stop and enjoy the beauty of the canyon. We got out and stretched our legs at Roughlock Falls (left). Several scenes from Dances with Wolves were filmed in this area and maybe recognizable to fans of the film. We had planned to checkout Deadwood this day, but the road was closed for a parade or something so we just kept driving. I guess we will just have to come back with more time to explore the Black Hills!

Thanks for stopping by! To read more about this trip, check out the Epic National Park Road Trip. To read about some of our previous trips, visit my Trips Page. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page and follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my updated Gear Page.

Hiking Balcones Canyonlands

The view of the Colorado River from Warbler VistaThe drive from Fredericksburg back to Austin was the longest driving day of our Hill Country Road Trip. In terms of some of the road trips we’ve taken, an hour and forty-five minutes drive are not that bad, but it doesn’t hurt to get out of the car and stretch your legs and take in some natural beauty.

To stretch our legs on this day, we decided to stop at Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge. Located near Marble Falls, Balcones is about an hour drive from Austin and would be a good place to get away from the city and get into nature. As a National Wildlife Refuge, this area is popular with birders. We stopped at the Warbler Vista section of the park which offers three fairly short trails to explore. If it’s not obvious by the name, this area is prime warbler habitat.

Trail through trees

We started our visit at the end of the road at the sunset viewing platform (above). This overlook gives a view of the Hill Country as well as Lake Travis. After taking in the view and enjoying the (once again) warm Texas sunshine, we embarked on the 1.25 mile Cactus Rocks loop trail. We began on the northern branch of the trail which was significantly flatter and easier than the southern portion which had more elevation change. Overall, the trail was a pretty easy hike in the Texas wilderness. If you are looking to escape the city and get back into nature on a trip to Austin or just a place to stop between Fredericksburg and Austin, this park is quiet and off the beaten path.

Thanks for stopping by! To read more about this trip, check out the Texas Hill Country Road Trip Report. To read about some of our previous trips, visit my Trips Page. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page and follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my updated Gear Page.

Wordless Wednesday: Grapes on the Vine

Wordless Wednesday: Empire Bluff View

Empire Bluff Trail in the Shade

D.H. Day Campground in the Off Season

Empire Bluff Overlook

Back in 2019, we managed to score a campsite at one of Michigan’s most popular campgrounds right when they were first available to be booked in advance. Of course, I’m referring to D.H. Day Campground and when we first set up camp, we understood the hype around the campground. First of all, it is located in the amazingly beautiful Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Second, the campsites are big and private and the campground is quiet. Third, it is located in a great spot to explore all the fun things on Leelanau.

Camper from the dunes

View of our mini camper from the dunes

With campgrounds being closed longer than normal due to COVID, we didn’t attempt to get a prime summer reservation in 2020. Instead, we waited until late in the season when the campground goes back to sites being available on a first come first serve basis. This was Halloween weekend and I was nervous the campground was going to be busy and we were going to have a hard time getting a spot. Well, snow was on the forecast, and being a rustic park there is no electric service to heat up your campers in the freezing temperatures. When we pulled in there were maybe only three or four other sites that were occupied.

We did what any D.H. Day loving camper would do in that situation and we took one of the coveted and near impossible to reserve in the summer waterfront sites. It was very cold and the wind was strong so it was hard to enjoy the beach, but on the other side of the dune, it was a wonderful campsite. We discovered that many sites in this section involve some dune climbing to reach so there are only a few that are accessible to RVs or trailers. Those sites would be AMAZING for tents, though.

If you have been struggling to get a site at D.H. Day, try going offseason. It will be even quieter than in the summer and you may even be able to score a waterfront site. If you go in the fall you’ll also be treated to a show of fall colors on Leelanau. You’ll just need to bring extra blankets and maybe some hand warmers to keep warm.

While in Sleeping Bear Dunes we had to hike the Empire Bluff Trail (top). The last time we had been to the park, we tried the Alligator Hill trail and it did not live up to Empire Buff. I have heard really good things about the Pyramid Point trail and we will have to try it next time but I just needed another chance to soak in that Empire Bluff view before I try another trail that may or may not be better.

To try your hand a reserving a site at this very popular campground, visit Recreation.gov. Thanks for stopping by! To read about some of our previous trips, click here. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page.

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Hiking Eagle Falls

Eagle Falls Kentucky

After booking our campsite for Cumberland Falls, I discovered an Only in Your State article describing Eagle Falls as the best waterfall in Kentucky. So, after our first night in our new camper, we put on our hiking clothes and hit the trail.

The trail to the falls is a mile and a half round trip moderate hike. The trail from the parking area to where you cross Eagle Creek basically has you climb up and down a substantial hill. Once you get to the highest elevation on the trail, there’s a marker for an overlook in .1 miles to the top of the hill. Don’t be tricked by this, there is nothing up there except some old playground equipment. There is no view to be seen from there. Save yourselves the steps when you get a stunning view of Cumberland Falls from the main trail.

Once you cross the river, there is some rock scrambling following paint on boulders. It can be tricky to get your footing, but by the time you get to the falls, it is totally worth it. We got there early and it was after labor day so we were able to sit on the rocks and just watch the falls for a bit with the place completely to ourselves. It was nice way to relax before climbing back to the parking area. Somehow, the trail felt easier on the way back to the car. Maybe Eagle Falls refreshed me.

This is a very popular trail so going early or during the week would allow you to beat the crowds. Going off-season doesn’t hurt either. In the heat of the summer, people flock here to cool off in the pool under the waterfall. It was not warm enough for that when we visited but I can imagine it gets busy in Kentucky heat.

Overall, if you are in the area and have the time and ability for this hike I definitely recommend it. Sitting by the base of a waterfall without another soul around is a very special experience!

Thanks for stopping by! To read about some of our previous trips, click here. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. For information about our new Guided Photography Tours, visit GuidedPhoto.com.

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Hiking Pictured Rocks: Chapel Rock

Chapel Rock

While camping at Tahquamenon Falls, we decided to take a day trip to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. The lakeshore has blown up in popularity the last few years after being featured on Good Morning America. We used to refer to Munising as a food desert because if you didn’t bring it with you, you weren’t eating it there. With increased visitation, new restaurants and shops have popped up outside of the park. This was the first time we had been back to this area since our UP Road trip in 2015 and it was really good to see some life in this area!

Chapel FallsThe downside of the increased visitation is that the trails and parking lots were jam-packed with people. We decided to hike to Chapel Falls and there were so many cars on the side of the road to the Chapel Falls parking lot, it took us an hour to drive 3 1/2 miles to the lot. Being a holiday weekend, we were expecting crowds, but we weren’t expecting this level of crowds.

The hike to Chapel Falls (left) is about three miles round trip. The trail is on an old rail bed so it is relatively flat and a pretty easy hike. Somehow, when we got to the falls, Chris convinced me to double the length of our hike and continue on to Chapel Rock and Lake Superior (top). The rest of the trail was just as easy as before and the added mileage meant the crowds dropped off significantly. Overall, I’m glad we did the whole hike, but my legs were jelly by the time we got back to the car.

 

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If you plan to visit Pictured Rocks, definitely take some time to check out the revitalized downtown Munising. There are now many highly rated places to eat on TripAdvisor. If you plan to do this hike, arrive early, or pack your patience. We arrived after lunch and were able to get a spot in the lot, but as I mentioned above, it took a long time to get all the way there.

Thanks for stopping by! To read about some of our previous trips, click here. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. For information about our new Guided Photography Tours, visit GuidedPhoto.com.

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Chapel Rock Pinterest Graphic

 

Hiking Porcupine Mountains: Summit Peak

View from Summit Peak

The view from the Summit Peak observation tower

The observation tower atop Summit Peak is the highest point in Michigan at close to 2,000 feet above sea level. The hike is less than a mile round trip but with a 223 ft elevation gain, the half a mile hike to the tower is nothing to sneeze at. The hike to the tower is uphill the whole way, and let me tell you, my legs felt it. Luckily, there is a bench at the top to rest before climbing the stairs to the observation tower.

From the top of the tower, you can see the many hills of the Porkies as well as the crystal clear Lake Superior waters. On a clear day, you can see Isle Royale and the Apostle Islands from up there. It really is a beautiful place to stop and take in the magestic beauty that is the Upper Peninsula.

Once you make it to the top of the tower, the hard part is over. You can breathe easy as you hike almost a half-mile back to the parking lot, waving to the out of breath hikers you pass. While one of the shortest hikes in the park, Summit Peak is not for the faint of heart. We passed a few people contemplating whether or not they would be able to make it to the top.

As I mentioned in a previous Porcupine Mountains post, if you are not an avid hiker, you are going to want to train for your trip to The Porkies. The Lake of the Clouds Overlook and the Preque Isle trails are fairly easy, but some pretty intense hiking is required to see the rest of the park. Almost all of the trails in Porcupine Mountains are rated either moderate or difficult, according to All Trails. A backcountry hiking trip is really the best way to fully see the park, but of course, backpacking is not for the faint of heart.

Thanks for stopping by! To read more about our summer road trip, check out my Great Lakes – Great Summer Road Trip Report. To read about some of our previous trips, click here. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. For information about our new Guided Photography Tours, visit GuidedPhoto.com.

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Summit Peak Pinterest Graphic

Flashback Friday: Lake Michigan Path

Empire Bluffs – Empire, Michigan

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