Picture of the Day: Hoover Dam

The Hoover Dam is awesome! It is an American icon of ingenuity in the west and the history behind it is enthralling! The scale of it is enormous and the canyon it sits in is beautiful making me wish I could go back in time to explore it pre-Dam. I love taking pictures here and was happy to visit recently and get some pics. Here are a few I took while the water was a vibrant blue-green popping in contrast to the canyon’s tan and brown walls.

Thanks! – Josh

Picture of the Day: Jackson Square

Jackson Square is my favorite part of. New Orleans. It is surrounded by beautiful architecture and backs up to the mighty Mississippi River. Not to mention the beignets! I was able to take these pictures recently as the sun set on another travel day. rk

Picture of the Day: General Sherman Tree

This is a picture of the worlds largest living thing (not including fungus) and a few of his friends! Look at the people in the bottom left corner for a scale on how huge these trees really are!

Thanks! – Josh

Picture of the Day: Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach

Cannon Beach in Oregon is a delightful area. I was there on a warm day in June, but the water was still freezing. I was surprised to see people in the water.

Haystack Rock is a popular picture spot at this beach. It was larger than I thought it would be. Cool place. rk

Picture of the Day: Santa Catalina Mountains

This is a picture of the Santa Catalina Mountains northeast of Tucson, Arizona. I took this picture from Saguaro National Park in the spring. The Sonoran desert get very green and full of life in springtime as you can tell from the lush landscape of saguaro cactus and other desert plants leading up to the mountains.

Thanks! – Josh

Picture of the Day: Starry Night in the Gila National Forest

I took this picture in early April from my campsite in the Gila National Forest of southwest New Mexico. The stars were beautiful that night and I’m really glad I got a good picture of them to remember! I hope this encourages you to get out and go see some stars for your own! The new moon will be tomorrow night (the 12th) so go find a dark area near you and stargaze a little!

Thanks! – Josh

Sunday Hikes: Gila Cliff Dwellings

Decoy for a Dognapper is an episode of Scooby Doo: Where Are You set in the american west with one of the main locations being a Native American cliff dwelling based on the Gila Cliff Dwellings and the Mesa Verde Cliff Dwellings. As a kid I loved Scooby Doo and probably watched that episode a million times so you could imagine how excited I was to visit the South Western New Mexican cliff dwellings I had burned in my brain as a kid.

The hike begins from a gravel parking lot where a park ranger warned us of the park’s large pack rat population and to be sure to practice Leave No Trace principles. After hearing his small speech we crossed the bridge over the creek that starts the trail off. On the other side of the bridge some old lady told us she had to turn around because the cliffs were too steep (I never felt like it was that dangerous but there is a steep ladder to climb down).

From here the trail turns to a clockwise loop so we took the left fork and headed through the canyon. There are many more bridges that cross the small stream flowing through the canyon.

The canyon opens up and the trail starts gaining elevation and here is where our first view of the cliff dwellings was! There is also a little spot for taking pictures with a good view of the cliff dwellings. There was a big lizard here that we looked at for a minute before continuing.

The trail climbs steeply and make a right turn making you level with and facing the dwellings. The narrow trails took us to the base of the cliff dwellings where another park ranger was answering question and telling everyone to be careful.

Unlike Mesa Verde you can still go into the dwellings in the Gila and I take every chance I take to pretend I’m Scooby Doo infiltrating a dognapper ring so I climbed up the stairs into the cool and dark cave.

The inside was empty and all that was left inside were rocks and dust. It would be fascinating to go back in time and see what the Gila Cliff Dwellings were like during their 20 year inhabitation.

After exploring the dwellings we climbed down a large wooden ladder and down to the cliff side again.

From here the trail took us downwards and around the side of the dwellings where there were many charred trees from a past forest fire. The trail goes down and back to the bridge where it all began.

At just one mile this loop trail is an easy and fun way to explore humanities past in the Gila National Forest. I look forward to my next trip here and would encourage anyone to check out Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument!

Thanks! – Josh

Picture of the Day: White Sands Morning

These pictures were all taken just after waking up from sleeping in the backcountry of White Sands National Monument. The morning light on the sand dunes is beautiful and something I could stare at every morning! From even the small ripples created by the wind to the large mountains in the distance, every bit of this area is stunning!

Thanks! – Josh

Picture of the Day: Crater Lake National Park

Even in early June, this National Park still had a lot of snow and ice on the ground. In fact, all of the hiking trails were closed during our visit along with much of the Rim Road.

Crater Lake was formed when a volcanic basin filled with snowmelt and rain to create the USA’s deepest lake at 1949 feet. The exceptional clarity of the water creates a stunningly deep blue lake that must be seen to be believed.

Check out that reflection.

Wizard Island, a volcanic cinder cone, pokes dramatically out of the lake.

I hope you get to make the visit to this beautiful and remote National Park in Oregon. rk