Tag Archives: deserts

Seeking Solitude at Great Basin National Park

Great Basin National Park is located in east-central Nevada and is one of our country’s least-known and least-visited parks. Back in 2013 my wife, her friend and I drove a few hours north of Las Vegas to get a taste of what this remote … Continue reading

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The Grand Canyon From 34,000 Feet

The other day I was on a flight from Phoenix Sky Harbor to Spokane International Airport, traveling at an altitude of about 34,000 feet (10363 m). Knowing the plane would pass over Grand Canyon National Park I had my camera … Continue reading

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Greater Roadrunner

Found from California to Louisiana and down throughout much of Mexico, Greater Roadrunners (Cuculiformes: Cuculidae: Geococcyx californianus) are a relatively common sight in the desert southwest. These birds can grow up to two feet (61 cm) in length and while their … Continue reading

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Evolving Thoughts on Exploring the World

When I was a kid growing up in Michigan I loved spending hours staring at maps and globes and memorizing geography facts. In the sixth grade I came in third place in a geography bee against seventh- and eighth-graders. But … Continue reading

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2015 Countdown: 20 Favorite Landscape Photos

In the long and proud tradition of year-end countdowns, I thought I’d mark the end of 2015 with one of my own. This series is “20 Favorite Landscape Photos.” Out of all the scenery I managed to photograph this year, I like these shots the … Continue reading

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Avoiding Crowds at America’s National Parks

Of the 59 national parks in the United States many are well-known and heavily-traveled. About 20 of them see over one million visitors annually, and at times that can make traffic and crowds annoying to deal with. If you’re like me and have … Continue reading

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2014 Countdown: 20 Favorite Landscape Photos

In the long and proud tradition of year-end countdowns, I thought I’d mark the end of 2014 with a few of my own. This second series is “20 Favorite Landscape Photos.” Out of all the scenery I managed to photograph this year, I like these the … Continue reading

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Ranking and Reflecting on our National Parks at the Halfway Point

Last month I finally passed the halfway point of seeing all 59 national parks in the United States (31 down, 28 to go). This seems like an appropriate time to pause and reflect on past visits. I thought I would provide … Continue reading

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Guadalupe Mountains National Park

The arid plains of west Texas may be the last place that would evoke images of a marine environment, yet two hours east of El Paso you can find just that. Guadalupe Mountains National Park preserves one of the best … Continue reading

Posted in Botany, Culture, Ecology, Geology, Invertebrate Zoology, National Parks, Paleoecology, Paleontology, Vertebrate Zoology | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Random Plant: Ocotillo

Native to the Sonoran and Chihuahuan deserts, ocotillo (Fouquieria splendens, Fouquieriaceae) can be found from California to Texas and in adjacent areas of Mexico. These rather unique organisms make up one of only eleven species in their entire family. Throughout most of the year … Continue reading

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Big Bend National Park: Day 3, Epilogue

After the first two days at Big Bend National Park had us baking under abundant sunshine and highs around 86 degrees F (30 C), day three found my wife and I under very different conditions. We set out north from … Continue reading

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Big Bend National Park: Day 2, Part 3

After completing the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive and hiking Santa Elena Canyon, my wife and I had one more drive left on day two at Big Bend National Park. We headed up the primitive gravel Old Maverick Road along the … Continue reading

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Big Bend National Park: Day 2, Part 2

After poking around the Chisos Basin in the morning, my wife and I headed out to trek across the western reaches of Big Bend National Park. We started down the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive and our first stop was Sotol … Continue reading

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Big Bend National Park: Day 2, Part 1

After our first day exploring the eastern reaches of Big Bend National Park, my wife and I awoke on day two within the Chisos Basin near the center of the park. Here the morning sun illuminated the distant Chihuahuan Desert … Continue reading

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Big Bend National Park: Day 1

Situated along the Rio Grande in west Texas, Big Bend National Park is one of America’s largest yet least-visited national parks. Covering over 1200 square miles (3100 square kilometers) of the remote Chihuahuan Desert, this isolated corner of the country … Continue reading

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Random Plant: Texas madrone

Clinging to life in the arid Chihuahuan Desert, Texas madrone (Arbutus texana or A. xalapensis var. texana, Ericaceae) is a native of Texas, New Mexico, and Mexico. These trees survive in pockets of relative shade and moisture along canyons and … Continue reading

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Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve

Nestled against the western slopes of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of south-central Colorado are the tallest sand dunes in North America. Covering 30 square miles and rising to 750 feet in height, the dunes are the centerpiece in a … Continue reading

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Random Plant: Desert marigold

Desert marigold (Baileya multiradiata, Asteraceae) can be found throughout much of the southwest US at elevations up to 5000 feet. Fond of full sun and well-drained soil, it’s most often associated with creosote scrub and Joshua tree woodlands. Although it … Continue reading

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Random Plant: Desert globemallow

Found throughout the Mojave, Sonoran, and Great Basin deserts, desert globemallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua, Malvaceae) thrives in the rocky, sandy soil of the southwest. At home on well-drained slopes anywhere between sea level and 8000 feet, these plants can be found … Continue reading

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Cathedral Gorge State Park, Nevada

Located in southeast Nevada, Cathedral Gorge State Park preserves nearly 2000 acres of beautiful rock formations amid the Great Basin Desert. Made up of lakebed and volcanic ash deposits that accumulated over millions of years, these sediments are now being … Continue reading

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