The Majesties of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

The park ranger held it up between her thumb and forefinger. It was a mere two inches long. “This is a sequoia cone.” Behind us was a colossus, the General Grant sequoia, the second largest in the world and located in Kings Canyon National Park, standing at a prodigious 268 feet in height. That a seed... Continue Reading →

Hiking the Easy Trails of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Gatlinburg, TN

Hurricane Joaquin was whipping up chaos along the lower Atlantic coast. As of last week, forecasts predicted heavy rainstorms, including inundation of the Great Smokies where we were headed. Plans we had for hiking around the Gatlinburg area of Tennessee hung in the balance as we contemplated our next move from the relative calm of Nashville. Suddenly, the... Continue Reading →

Karstic Treasure: Mammoth Cave National Park (Mammoth Cave, KY)

Although our travel plans were going to be largely confined to Tennessee, how could my wife and I not pass up Mammoth Cave National Park in South Central Kentucky? The first I ever heard of it was during a nature program on PBS, described as the largest cave system in the world. Its size is... Continue Reading →

Douglas Fir Burl (Mount Rainier National Park)

Along the Grove of the Patriarchs in Mount Rainier National Park, there is a fallen old growth Douglas Fir that is easily hundreds of years old. To me, its most remarkable characteristic is a fantastic burl that looks very much like a bubbling mud pool.

Chain of Craters Road, Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park (Big Island, HI)

Its history convulsed by vulcanism, the Big Island is basically a giant lava rock. It reveals its ancient past and continuing growth everywhere you look. At one-third of a million acres, Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park is home to two volcanoes which can both claim Guinness Book statistics. Mauna Loa is Earth's most massive; Kilauea is the youngest... Continue Reading →

Grand Teton Reverie

I've already posted remarkable collision photographs taken by Jim Brandt, who happens to be the husband of my wife's cousin. Last month, he and his wife visited Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks. Any camera hound knows that these places offer infinite photographic possibilities. Among Jim's photographs, I selected one that for me captures the... Continue Reading →

Quick Trip through Lassen National Park

If it hadn't been for a comment made by my son-in-law, I might never have considered going to this national park in Northern California. He said that it was underrated and that it deserved to be visited by more people. I can understand his opinion because as a geologist, the park is a showcase for... Continue Reading →

South Kaibab Trail, Grand Canyon (AZ)

It's been over 30 years since we'd been to the Grand Canyon, much too long to stay away from perhaps Earth's greatest geologic wonder. We made a last-minute decision to come here, only three days before, after we altered our itinerary to go back home in order to avoid dust storms in central Arizona. Granted,... Continue Reading →

Carlsbad Caverns National Park (NM)

Neither of us has ever been to Carlsbad Caverns. We set aside three whole days to explore it since its remoteness in the southeast corner of New Mexico makes it unlikely we'd ever have an opportunity to return. This remoteness is the reason that, although its wonders are many, far fewer visitors show up than... Continue Reading →

Chaco Culture National Historic Park (NM)

In 2009, we avoided it because of its remoteness and the difficulty of getting there on unpaved roads. This time, we reversed course and decided to visit Chaco Culture National Historic Park (a mouthful, but it used to be called Chaco Canyon National Monument). This is the mother lode of all ancient Puebloan ruins, having... Continue Reading →

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