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David Barthel

Photo Journal & News

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A Road Trip Pictorial

If you're sick and tired of winter and longing for greener places and times, you'll enjoy this photographic excursion from my usual North Shore subject matter. These 15 images were shot during my various travels in the Western U.S. during the past two years.

Glacier National Park

The following seven photographs were captured in Glacier National Park in Montana in 2009. My first view of the Rocky Mountains was in this park, where snow-covered slopes majestically rise above pristine alpine lakes and streams. During my mid-June visit, a spring storm rolled through the park, dropping rain and, in the higher elevations, snow. It is surprising to many that the main park road - Going-to-the-Sun Road - is often partly closed well into June because of snow removal operations still taking place.

Late Spring Storm - St. Mary Lake

St Mary Lake greets visitors on the east end of the park. Even though snow was flying in the high elevations, the shores of St. Mary Lake embodied spring with plenty of wildflowers in bloom.

St. Mary Lake

When driving in a national park, if a number of vehicles are suddenly pulled to the side of the road, it is often an indication of a wildlife sighting. I came across this situation and, not knowing what to expect, I also stopped. I soon laid eyes on the first moose I had ever seen in the wild. This moose had entered the marsh to take a drink. After satisfying its thirst, it slowly climbed the hill behind the marsh and disappeared into the woods.

Evidence of Refreshment

Moose Drink

On the western side of the park, Avalanche Creek cuts through a gorge of the same name. The water flowing in the streams in this park is surely the whitest (and probably clearest) that I have seen anywhere.

Avalanche Gorge

Going-to-the-Sun Road cuts through the heart of Glacier National Park, crossing the continental divide at Logan Pass.

Going-to-the-Sun Road

On the western side of the park lies its other large lake, Lake McDonald. It too is surrounded by several prominent peaks.

Lake McDonald


Situated between Puget Sound and the Cascade Range, the Seattle Metropolitan Area is the urban center of one of the most beautiful regions in the U.S.

Downtown Seattle Skyline

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park is the first, and probably best known, national park in the U.S. The Old Faithful geyser is the park's star attraction, but the park's variety of geographic features truly makes it a gem. Geysers, hot springs, boiling mud pots, a large alpine lake, mountains, a grand canyon, high waterfalls, and diverse wildlife are just some of the park's treasures.

Crescent Moon Over Yellowstone Lake

Lower Yellowstone Falls

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

Badlands National Park

Seemingly in the middle of nowhere, the Badlands of South Dakota is filled with sharply eroded buttes, pinnacles, and spires. A mixed-grass prairie fills the spaces around and between the eroded formations. A surprising aspect of the badlands formations is that they are not rock, but dry soil essentially. One can literally kick the edges of the formations and expedite the erosion process by knocking loose small amounts of the soil. The Badlands is an amazing place to experience.

Badlands Trail

Grand Canyon National Park

It's hard to describe the Grand Canyon with words; it's not much easier with pictures. Its most interesting dimension is depth, but its length and width are also of grand proportions. Over millions of years, the Colorado River has carved through the Colorado Plateau to form the canyon as it is seen today. The erosion process continues and will do so indefinitely.

The image below is from the South Rim at the eastern end of the canyon at Desert View.

Fading Light at Desert View - Grand Canyon

I rarely create black-and-white photographs, but I like this image sans color. The Junipers seem to be growing directly out of the rock.

Widowed Juniper at Moran Point

Yosemite National Park

After a visit to Yosemite National Park in California, nothing else quite measures up. It is truly the crown jewel of the National Park System with huge granite monoliths surrounding a beautifully lush valley. The park contains North America's highest waterfall, Yosemite Falls (pictured below), with a total height of nearly a half-mile. The height of the longest drop (Upper Yosemite Falls) is 1430 feet.

Here, I used the light of the full moon to illuminate Upper Yosemite falls during this nighttime exposure.

Moonlight on Yosemite Falls