Although a bit west of what is considered the tradition Midwest, Petrified Forest National Park is an American national park in Navajo and Apache counties in northeastern Arizona. Named for its large deposits of petrified wood, park covers about 230 square miles, encompassing semi-desert shrub steppe as well as highly eroded and colorful badlands.
The Petrified Forest is known for its fossils, especially fallen trees that lived in the Late Triassic Epoch. The sediments containing the fossil logs are part of the widespread and colorful Chinle Formation, from which the Painted Desert gets its name.
The park’s seven maintained hiking trails, some paved, vary in length from less than 0.5 miles (0.8 km) to nearly 3 miles. These named trails are Painted Desert Rim, Puerco Pueblo, Blue Mesa, Crystal Forest, Giant Logs, Long Logs, and Agate House. Hikers and backpackers may also visit the park’s wilderness areas.
Panorama of shortgrass prairie near Dry Wash in the southern section of the park.
Some of the larger animals roaming the grasslands include pronghorns, black-tailed jackrabbits (hares), Gunnison’s prairie dogs, coyotes, bobcats and foxes. Bobcats and bullsnakes hunt smaller animals, such as deer mice and white-tailed antelope squirrels in the park’s riparian zones. More than 16 kinds of lizards and snakes live in various habitats in the park.
The Garden of the Gods, a registered National Natural Landmark, is located in Colorado Springs CO and is completely free to visit. Set at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, the main draw of the park is to marvel at the red sandstone rock formations scattered throughout. There are 17 different formations altogether and many different hiking trails totalling 21 miles. The Visitor Centre is a good place to start, you can pick up a free map which is helpful as there isn’t a huge amount of signage out on the trails.
Garden of the Gods Hiking
The Visitor Centre also has one of my favourite views in the park. You can see North Gateway Rock, South Gateway Rock and Gray Rock in front of the Rocky Mountains. I like the contrast of colours, from the orange/brown in the front to the green of the lower mountains and then the white of the snow capped Pikes Peak.
Wild Light is a gorgeous hardcover coffee table book celebrating Rocky Mountain National Park. It represents a decade of effort exploring and photographing this unique wilderness. The result is a work of stunning beauty that will capture your heart and make you feel at one with the mountains.
Join photographer Erik Stensland on a journey into the heart of Rocky Mountain National Park and experience its wild beauty.
It’s hard to say which I enjoyed more – the beautiful photography or the wonderful text. This book is much more than just a collection of pretty pictures. It’s informational and yet highly personal at the same time. Stensland’s love for the park is clear on every page. Not only does he present an insider’s view on the park but also how the park has changed him. The book is organized around the park’s regions, ecosystems, seasons, wildlife and human history of the park (and the changing role of the NPS). Stensland touches on more than just the beauty of the park, but also on deeper themes such as why we should care about – and why we need – places of beauty and wilderness and how they speak to our humanity. His goal is not so much to provide a documentary of the park but to allow us share in the wonder and magic of his experiences. Whether you’re a regular visitor to RMNP or reading about the park from a distance, this book draws you into the heart and essence of this special place. (amazon)
There are lots of beautiful places on this planet–so many, in fact, that no one will ever be able to see them all. Wild Light brings the best of Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park into your home and makes you wish it could do the opposite instead and transport you into the wilderness. Mr. Stensland, who resides near the park, spends hundreds of days and thousands of hours every year hiking to remote destinations in RMNP in an effort to be present when all the ideal conditions come together to create moments of magic. Sometimes that means hiking ten miles to the same spot over and over again until everything is just right. Those moments, which he solemnly captures, are presented in this magnificent book. The quality of the photography, from lighting to composition to imagination, is outstanding. The book itself is divided into sections based upon park geography. For those who have visited, this approach makes sense because different regions of the park do actually vary considerably. Each section contains dozens of magnificent scenes. Mountains, streams, waterfalls, wildflowers, forests, trees, and wildlife all make appearances and combine to offer something for every reader — (amazon)
Just outside the busteling city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin you will find the Oak Leaf Trail (formerly 76 Bike Trail). It is a paved 108-mile multi-use recreational trail. Clearly marked trail segments connect all of the major parks in the Milwaukee County Park System with a “ribbon of green.”
Early bicycling advocate Harold “Zip” Morgan first conceived and laid out a 64-mile trail in 1939. The route made its way around the edge of the county and through natural resource corridors found along the rivers and lakefront. Three decades later the trail was officially established by the Milwaukee County Park Commission, and in 1966 construction of the parkland trails began. It became known as the 76 Bike Trail for the 76 miles it spanned.
East side of the Oak Leaf Trail
The present system of inter-connecting trails consists of 48 miles of asphalt paths and 31 miles of parkway, along with 27 miles of municipal streets that have designated bicycle lanes and sidewalks. An outer loop of 64.5 miles (103.8 km) joins together the 5.4-mile (8.7 km) Lake Loop, 1.6-mile (2.6 km) Lincoln Creek Spur, 2.6-mile Whitnall Loop and 13.7-mile East-West Connector. The 2.1-mile (3.4 km) Root River Trail Extension was added in 2006. Another 31 miles (50 km) are currently in the planning stages, including trail linkages with the newer Hank Aaron State Trail in the Menomonee Valley and Lakeshore State Park. A new trail segment under Bluemound Road along Underwood Creek was completed in 2011 in the City of Wauwatosa.
Scenery along the Oak Leaf Trail varies from woodland parks, nature reserves, and a wildlife corridor along the lakefront, to urban industrial settings in Milwaukee’s downtown area.
Think there is not much wilderness left in the United States…think again. And while much of it is in such states as California, Arizona, Washington and Alaska, we have a gem right here in the Midwest – Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Minnesota!
Bordering the Arrowhead Region of the Canadian Board, the combined region of the BWCAW, Superior National Forest, Voyageurs National Park, and Ontario’s Quetico and La Verendrye Provincial Parks make up a large area of contiguous wilderness lakes and forests called the “Quetico-Superior country”, or simply the Boundary Waters. Lake Superior lies to the south and east of the Boundary Waters.
190,000 acres, nearly 20% of the BWCAW’s total area is water. Within the borders of the area are over 1,100 lakes and hundreds of miles of rivers and streams. Much of the other 80% of the area is forest. The BWCAW contains the largest remaining area of uncut forest in the eastern portion of the United States.
The Boundary Waters area is within the Laurentian Mixed Forest Province (commonly called the “North Woods”), a transitional zone between the boreal forest to the north and the temperate hardwood forest to the south that contains characteristics of each. Trees found within the wilderness area include conifers such as red pine, eastern white pine, birch, ash and even raspberries can be found in cleared areas.
The BWCAW contains a variety of hiking trails. Shorter hikes include the trail to Eagle Mountain (7 miles) Loop trails include the Pow Wow Trail, the Snowbank Trail, and the Sioux-Hustler Trail. The Border Route Trail and Kekekabic Trail are the two longest trails running through the BWCAW. The Border Route Trail runs east-west for over 65 miles through the eastern BWCAW, beginning at the northern end of the Superior Hiking Trail and following ridges and cliffs west until it connects with the Kekekabic Trail. The Kekekabic Trail continues for another 41 miles (66 km), beginning near the Gunflint Trail and passing through the center of the BWCAW before exiting it near Snowbank Lake. Both the Border Route and the Kekekabic Trail are part of the longer North Country National Scenic Trail.
Junction of the Eagle Mountain and Brule Lake Trails
Hi everyone! It’s Cindy here. Last week I showed you our Bluebirds so this week I want to show you some of the other birds around our yard. Let’s start with the largest.
There is no difference between male and female Blue Jays but the next pair has subtle difference between genders.
The only gender difference between the Downy Woodpeckers is that the male has a red spot on the back of his head. The next two birds are about the same size and are some of the smallest birds we have around our yard.
I mainly used a macro lens, as there were a lot of interesting looking flowers out, an Irix Dragonfly 150mm f/2.8 manual focus macro lens to be specific. Below is a photo of a sign for one of the trails that I like, though it would look much better in the morning sunlight.
Welcome to the second Wellness Weekend link-up in 2020! I hope everyone had a nice Valentine’s weekend and your wellness plans for 2020 have been going well. The optional prompt for February is Hiking so I’m sharing a moderate hike to the Devil’s Cauldron waterfall. My sister and I completed this hike when we were in Baños, Ecuador.
Where is Devil’s Cauldron Waterfall?
Baños (full name Baños de Agua Santa) is located about 180 km (112 miles) south of Quito. This town is known for its waterfalls, hiking trails, and hot springs. The Devil’s Cauldron waterfall (El Pailon del Diablo) is 18 km from the town centre. It’s one of Ecuador’s most powerful waterfalls and one of the top rated attractions in Baños.
How challenging is this hike?
I classify this hike as Moderate because although the path is clearly marked, it has uneven surfaces. It also involves stairs and a suspension bridge. As long as you watch your step and are not afraid of heights or suspension bridges, the hike is rewarding.
Let’s hike together!
We started following the Green River (Rio Verde) to the Isla del Pailon entrance. While there are other entry points, this entrance lets us see the full height of the waterfall. Entry fee was $2 per adult and $1 per child.
The water flow was strong, rushing by the black volcanic rocks seen along the river