Friday, September 23, 2016

Canyons of the Ancients National Monument: Sleeping Ute Mountain from Lowry Pueblo

Sleeping Ute Mountain from Lowry Pueblo
Canyons of the Ancients National Monument.  Colorado.  May 8, 2016
http://www.aflitt.com/canyonsoftheancientsnm/e3467b62d
Copyright © 2016 A. F. Litt, All Rights Reserved



Photo of the Day by A. F. Litt: September 23, 2016


"There are stories that are true, in which each individual's tale is unique and tragic, and the worst of the tragedy is that we have heard it before, and we cannot allow ourselves to feel it too deeply. We build a shell around it like an oyster dealing with a painful particle of grit, coating it with smooth pearl layers in order to cope. This is how we walk and talk and function, day in, day out, immune to others' pain and loss.  If it were to touch us it would cripple us or make saints of us; but, for the most part, it does not touch us.  We cannot allow it to."  - Neil Gaiman, American Gods

No words tonight.  Only this.

Links


BLM: 

Wikipedia: 

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Vermillion Cliffs

Vermillion Cliffs
Paria Canyon-Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness / Vermillion Cliffs National Monument.  Arizona.  March 25, 2016
http://www.aflitt.com/vermillioncliffsnm
Copyright © 2016 A. F. Litt, All Rights Reserved


Photo of the Day by A. F. Litt: September 14, 2016 


I stuck a number one on yesterday's post, but wrote too much and did not have time to post any additional photos.  Today, I know I only have time for one.  

This is shot from just off Highway 89A between Marble Canyon and township of Vermillion Cliffs, so it is not necessarily in the national monument itself, and may actually show only the Paria Canyon-Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness that rings the monument, but does show the cliffs.  From where this is shot, the cliffs rise some 3,000 feet to the Paria Plateau above.  

Up there on the plateau, there are some spectacular sights, from what I understand.  A few years back National Geographic published an article on this monument, and the photos were amazing.  It is worth tracking down.

It's hard to get a sense of scale in these photos.  This is one of the more dramatic steps of the Grand Staircase.

Vermillion Cliffs and U. S. 89A
Paria Canyon-Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness / Vermillion Cliffs National Monument.  Arizona.  March 25, 2016  
http://www.aflitt.com/vermillioncliffsnm
Copyright © 2016 A. F. Litt, All Rights Reserved

Interpretive Sign - Paria Station
Paria Contact Station.  Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.  Utah.  March 24, 2016.
CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE

Paria Canyon Interpretive Sign
Paria Contact Station.  Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.  Utah.  March 24, 2016. 
CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE
Map at Paria Station
Paria Contact Station.  Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.  Utah.  March 24, 2016. 
CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE


 http://www.nps.gov/brca/geology_grand.html
CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE

Links


BLM: 

Wikipedia: 

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument: A Grand Stair Step

A Grand Stair Step
Paria Contact Station.  Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.  Utah.  March 24, 2016.
http://www.aflitt.com/GrandStaircaseEscalanteNM/e1623f7e2 
Copyright © 2016 A. F. Litt, All Rights Reserved

Photo of the Day (#1) by A. F. Litt: September 13, 2016 

I've been interested in these national "parks" that are not administered by the National Park Service (NPS) since I was a kid.  When Mt. St. Helens erupted in 1980 and was designated a national monument in 1982, I was very excited that Washington state was gaining a new national "park." However, when I realised that it was going to be managed by the U. S. Forest Service (USFS), I was disappointed.  

At the time, I'd been to Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon and, of course, some of the local NPS run places and thought, rather naively, that the NPS was just far superior at managing recreational areas than the USFS.  I was swayed by such things as evening campfire programs and flush toilets, which were rare in the USFS campgrounds I'd experienced to this point.  To be fair to my young self, modern vault toilets were not around back then, so no running water meant a very stinky old school outhouse.

Mt. St. Helens was the first modern monument managed by the Forest Service, and later on, even as an adult, I felt disappointed when I first went to the recently established Newberry National Volcanic Monument (est. 1990) to discover it, too, was managed by the Forest Service. What? No new NPS parks? Is the Park Service at capacity?

Over the years, though, I've very much come to appreciate how these monuments are managed. There are some things that the Park Service does very well, but there are other things that the Forest Service and, now, the BLM are doing well, too. What I am finding as I travel to more and more of these non-NPS managed monuments, etc. is that these other agencies may actually balance recreational needs with conservational land use better. This is not truly an evidence based statement, merely a feeling I have when visiting these places. They still feel wild, not managed into some sort of eco-tourism Disneyland.

Please do not think that I am saying that I dislike the National Park Service, not at all.  The love of what they do is why so much of my website is devoted to these places, and the challenges they face with the systems most popular parks are, quite frankly, purely insane.  I just also appreciate these other agencies and the way they manage their lands.  And they do a great job when dealing with, a pretty significant, if usually different, set of challenges, as well.

I include these monuments and sites with the NPS managed parks in the National Parks section of my website because they are national monuments, historic sites, and recreation areas regardless of which agency manages them. Their titles tell the truth, not the managing agency. These places have earned their titles and are worthy of the same protections as the NPS managed locations. In fact, one of my favorite parks and monuments in Utah turned out to be the one pictured above, Grand Staircase-Escalante, which, after its establishment in 1996, became the first monument managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).  

Grand Staircase-Escalante is also the largest U. S. national monument.  It contains three main regions, the Grand Staircase, the Kaiparowits Plateau, and the Canyons of the Escalante.  This photo was taken in the Grand Staircase area at the southern edge of the monument in March, but later, during the longer trip in May, I spent a couple days in the Canyons of the Escalante area which blew me away.  Earlier in my first day in the Escalante area, I'd spent some time in the main area of Capitol Reef National Park, and as I wrote yesterday, I may have been suffering from a bit of burnout on all of the slickrock formations I'd been blissfully inundated with for pretty much the entire trip.   

However, my first evening in this monument, later in the same day that I'd felt burnout at Capitol Reef, a sunset run out of Boulder on the Burr Trail pretty much cured my malaise.  Wow.  And the relative solitude of the region after dealing with the showcase parks (especially Arches) was incredibly appreciated.  Escalante, however, was a different trip and those photos will be coming out soon...

On this day in March, we were originally planning on spending the night near the Grand Canyon and most of the next day suffering the hordes of misplaced city folk swarming the south rim.  However, we discovered Zion the day before, and couldn't just bounce through that quickly and spent most of this day in that park.  Because of that delay, we were on a late afternoon hell-run to camp at Lee's Ferry while charging down U. S. 89 through the southern reaches of the monument.

No hiking or exploring happened this day, after departing Zion, at least.  Just a quick drive.  Even the two little visitor centers were closed by the time we passed through.  A problem with spring travel, when everything closes early because it is "off-season" but the days are growing long enough to keep you on the road for hours after all the interesting doors are locked for the day. 

Unfortunately, from the highway there is not much to see.  Yes, there are some nice cliffs, like the one above, but even this is nothing compared to the massive Vermillion Cliffs to the south, and since the visitor centers were all closed, we knew little about what was hiding off the highway to our north and, especially in the Vermillion Cliffs National Monument, to our south.

If we did, we might have skipped our 3/4 day side trip to count coup at the Grand Canyon the next day and spent some more time in this area, enjoying the relative solitude of spectacular sights not shared with literally thousands of other travelers, but we just did not know what the area had to offer at the time.

This may be the biggest blessing and curse of these non-NPS managed monuments.  An exchange of solitude for a lack of publicity...   Everyone in the world pretty much knows about the Grand Canyon, few even in the U. S. about these spectacular monuments.  But when you learn, and when you go, the lack of disruptive, distracting crowds is definitely an added part of the attraction these places hold for me.

On a side note, I just noticed that this year is the 20th Anniversary of the monument. Free events will be taking place on September 18 at the GSENM visitor centers in Big Water, Kanab, Cannonville, and Escalante, Utah.


Interpretive Sign - Paria Station
Paria Contact Station.  Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.  Utah.  March 24, 2016.
CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE

Paria Canyon Interpretive Sign
Paria Contact Station.  Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.  Utah.  March 24, 2016. 
CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE

Map at Paria Station (Detail)
Paria Contact Station.  Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.  Utah.  March 24, 2016. 
CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE

Map at Paria Station
Paria Contact Station.  Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.  Utah.  March 24, 2016. 
CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE


 http://www.nps.gov/brca/geology_grand.html
CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE

Links


BLM: 

Wikipedia: 


Newberry National Volcanic Monument:


Monday, September 12, 2016

Capitol Reef National Park: Hickman Bridge

Under Hickman Bridge
Capitol Reef National Park. Utah. May 14, 2016.
http://www.aflitt.com/capitolreefnp
Copyright © 2016 A. F. Litt, All Rights Reserved

Photo of the Day (#7) by A. F. Litt: September 12, 2016


I think I was in a bit of a crummy mood when I went through the main section of the park.  I shot some video in Capitol Gorge, hiked out to Hickman Arch, but really wanted to be on the road the whole time.  This was getting towards the end of the trip and I was running out of time, so I was feeling a bit pinched for time...  However, this is an area I would like to explore more in the future.

This is a pretty decent arch.  Of course, after Arches National Park and Natural Bridges National Monument, I was probably getting a bit spoiled on arches, but it's a good one and it is a nice walk out to it from the highway.

Approaching Hickman Bridge
Capitol Reef National Park.  Utah.  May 14, 2016.  
http://www.aflitt.com/capitolreefnp
Copyright © 2016 A. F. Litt, All Rights Reserved

Hickman Bridge
Capitol Reef National Park.  Utah.  May 14, 2016.  
http://www.aflitt.com/capitolreefnp
Copyright © 2016 A. F. Litt, All Rights Reserved



"Vintage" Names at Hickman Bridge
Capitol Reef National Park.  Utah.  May 14, 2016.  
Copyright © 2016 A. F. Litt, All Rights Reserved



Links




Lake Mead National Recreation Area: Desert Bighorns Above Hoover Dam

Desert Bighorns Above Hoover Dam
Lake Mead National Recreation Area.  Arizona.  March 30, 2016.
http://www.aflitt.com/lakemeadnra/e98049c2
Copyright © 2016 A. F. Litt, All Rights Reserved



Photo of the Day (#6) by A. F. Litt: September 12, 2016


Up on the hill, way above the dam, not too far from the only parking left at the site, there was a large group of Desert Bighorns.  

Links



Lake Mead National Recreation Area: Spying on the Tourists

Spying on the Tourists
Lake Mead National Recreation Area.  Arizona.  March 30, 2016.
http://www.aflitt.com/LakeMeadNRA/e36f098d2 
Copyright © 2016 A. F. Litt, All Rights Reserved



Photo of the Day (#5) by A. F. Litt: September 12, 2016


I have no idea what this little guy is (a Common Chuckwalla  perhaps?), but he sure was checking everyone out at the Black Canyon viewpoint off U. S. 93.

Links






Minuteman Missile National Historic Site: Delta-09

Delta-09, Minuteman Missile NHS
Minuteman Missile National Historic Site.  South Dakota.  August 9, 2014.
http://www.aflitt.com/MinutemanMissileNHS/e354575d3
Copyright © 2014 A. F. Litt, All Rights Reserved


Photo of the Day (#4) by A. F. Litt: September 12, 2016


This is a very cool spot, and a bit terrifying for those of us who grew up in the Cold War, especially considering how many of these things were scattered about these fields (and still are)...  The Launch Control Center tour is definitely worth it, too, though maybe a little less photogenic.

Links



Desert Bighorns

Desert Bighorns
Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.  Tucson, Arizona.  March 29, 2016
http://www.aflitt.com/arizona/eec4b22
Copyright © 2016 A. F. Litt, All Rights Reserved


Photo of the Day (#3) by A. F. Litt: September 12, 2016


A cool moment while exploring the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum (more of a zoo than a museum) with Jack last spring....  Not a National Park, but I have use for this photo elsewhere!


Links



Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum: https://www.desertmuseum.org

Canyonlands National Park: The Needles from Chesler Park Viewpoint

The Needles from Chesler Park Viewpoint
The Needles District, Canyonlands National Park.  Utah,  April 24, 2016.
http://www.aflitt.com/canyonlandsnp/e3fd71473
Copyright © 2016 A. F. Litt, All Rights Reserved


Photo of the Day (#2) by A. F. Litt: September 12, 2016


I'd been wanting to explore this area since I was a kid.  The closest we got to the Needles back then was the Needles Overlook, which is spectacular but a long ways away from these formations.  I finally got to explore them this spring.  Not as much as I would have liked, but I did get to make the hike through the Needles and canyons to the Chesler Park Viewpoint, which was pretty amazing.  

Links


NPS: 

Other: