On the Trail of the Pacific Northwest’s Ice Age Floods

One of the biggest surprises about Northwest natural history is that there were many catastrophic floods during recent geological times that dramatically altered the landscape of Washington state. Almost half the state was inundated. This hypothesis was first put forward by geologist J Harlan Bretz in the 1920s. These floods are thought to have swept through the state... Continue Reading →

City of Rocks State Park (Faywood, NM)

Our final night of camping on this road trip was spent at City of Rocks State Park, north of Deming in the middle of the Chihuahuan desert, a unique, surreally beautiful area where every campsite is nestled among huge boulders. City of Rocks features a wide field of boulders created 35 million years ago when... Continue Reading →

Camping at Leasburg Dam State Park (Las Cruces, NM)

The wind and rain clouds were rolling in over Las Cruces as we arrived in the late afternoon. Though we'd already canceled camp sites on this trip because of weather, we decided to pitch camp anyway and hope for the best. After dinner, we headed straight to our next camping site at Leasburg Dam State Park,... Continue Reading →

Smith Rock State Park (Terrebonne, OR)

North of Redmond, rock climbers flock to Smith Rock State Park to scale the spectacular vertical walls of hardened volcanic tuff. We made a brief stop here on the way home, even though I was under the weather with chills and body aches. Probably against better judgment, I decided we should take the brief hike... Continue Reading →

Fern Canyon (Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, CA)

Steven Spielberg saw its primeval potential for Jurassic Park 2, the backdrop for the T. Rex chase scene. Fern Canyon is an impossibly verdant gorge, carved out millions of years ago by a retreating sea, its vertical walls literally covered with walls of ferns, five species of them, and mosses. Water seems to seep out... Continue Reading →

Patrick’s Point State Park

There is no better evidence of the powerful forces of plate subduction than the shoreline of Patrick's Point State Park. The Farallon Plate is diving under the North American plate slowly, leaving behind good examples of broken and folded coastline, including some impressive examples of basalt outcroppings out at sea. There is a fault that... Continue Reading →

Nu’uanu Pali State Wayside Park

A spectacular way to get from Honolulu to windward Oahu is State Hwy 61 (Pali Highway) through a pass over the Ko'olau mountain range. There is an overlook near the ridge where you can get a sweeping view of the northeastern side of Oahu. The winds are strong up here, sometimes so strong that you... Continue Reading →

Goblin Valley State Park (UT)

Of all the strange shapes found throughout the Southwest, some of the most whimsical are found in Goblin Valley State Park. Think toadstools and you'll get an idea what to expect. These hoodoos are a result of the erosion of the reddish Entrada sandstone deposits that collected in tidal flats. There are no established trails... Continue Reading →

Escalante Petrified Forest State Park (Escalante, UT)

You don't have to go to Petrified Forest National Park to see petrified wood. Along Highway 12, north out of Bryce Canyon National Park, we stopped at Petrified Forest State Park that has some splendid examples of petrified wood. As soon as you take the trail into the hills, you begin to notice some pastel-shaded... Continue Reading →

Kodachrome Basin State Park (Cannonville, UT)

Kodachrome Basin State Park is a curious name. What does a popular slide film from Kodak have to do with a state park? It turns out that in 1949, the National Geographic Society did a story and took photographs of the area and named it after the new film that Kodak introduced. Never mind that... Continue Reading →

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