Another shot of Yosemite National Park that’s not Half Dome! This is Tenaya Lake, near the summit of the high country in Yosemite just a few miles from the east entrance to the park at Tioga Pass. Even late in the year there’s snow visible at this altitude.
The lake is right beside the road, so no trouble finding it – but do turn off and walk in the woods too. Pack breakfast on your day excursion to Mono Lake, Bodie or Bishop and picnic here after you’ve spend the hour or so it takes to drive up from the valley floor. The Tioga Pass Resort just outside the entry station also does a great breakfast if you prefer not to picnic, and you’ll be surprised how good the deli inside the Chevron station at the foot of the hill just outside Lee Vining is – make sure you eat there at least once!
If you’re heading to Yosemite National Park this summer, don’t forget to visit the high country. There’s year-round tundra in Tuolomne Meadows, wonderful walks along the Tuolomne River, fewer visitors, more granite domes and the opportunity to skip across Tioga Pass to visit Mono Lake and maybe even Bodie ghost town.
One of the most extraordinary places I have visited in the US is Mesa Verde. It is a town abandoned intact by its residents about 700 years ago, located in the canyon-riven plateau foothills of the Rocky Mountains in the south-west of Colorado. The town stretches along canyon walls and reflects the 700 years that the Anasazi lived there. It’s thought that climate change forced them eventually to leave and move south.
It’s an amazing place, as any 700-year-old town would be even if it hadn’t then been abandoned for another 700 years. The living spaces, ceremonial spaces (kivas) and towers seem much more recently built and left. They are hidden in the overhangs of the canyon, hard to approach from the plateau but with easy access to the valley floor.
Mesa Verde National Park is a must-visit if you’ve ever the time to get there – a day or so of driving from Denver.
Yosemite National Park is probably my favourite place on earth. Even though it operates at maximum visitor capacity all year, it’s still easy to get away from the crowds and find the most beautiful landscapes imaginable.
This view from Olmstead Point shows the granite landscape of the area beautifully. If you’re in Yosemite, I very much recommend driving the Tioga Pass road and taking some long walks from the various trailheads. Don’t be put off by the crowds in the car parks; no-one much walks more than 5 minutes from them.
This is an unusual view of Yosemite Valley in California, taken during the spring floods. Yosemite Valley always has places that are beautiful and tranquil despite the enormous crowds around the visitor centre and the car parks. Just walk away for 5 minutes and you’re in wilderness country with bears and deer.
If you love waterfalls like I do, spring is the ideal time to visit – I always used to go in late May or early June after a certain trade show had brought me to San Francisco. You can see here the distant thundering of Yosemite Falls as the water descends the 740m in two stages. The lake in the foreground is formed by the flooding of the meadows on the valley floor by the Merced river. You can see the same view without the added lake.
This photo is closer to home, just a drive through the New Forest for us. Stunning azaleas and rhododendrons fill the grounds of Exbury House with a profusion of colour that dazzle the senses. The garden is lovely all year round, but when this collection of exotic blooms are in flower then the walks become spectacular. So many colours and shades, in vast quantities – yet each individual flower perfect, fill visitors with awe and wonder.
Each time we visit, we try to capture some of the splendour of our surroundings on film (digital) but photos can never do this experience justice. Despite hundreds of images of the place, stored on our computers, inevitably our efforts fall far short of portraying the joy of being there. I thoroughly recommend you visit when these shrubs are at their breathtaking best, in the late spring, and take the opportunity to enjoy nature at its most arresting. I am always amazed, and my soul sings, to see such beauty; I am reminded, yet again, of how glorious our world is.
If you are ever able to spend a night at Crater Lake in southern Oregon, do it. It’s a large, deep lake formed in the caldera of an exploded volcano. Waking up in the comfortable Crater Lake Lodge back in late June 2002 to go out in the snow and enjoy the sunrise is one of the most sublime memories I can remember. No wonder earlier inhabitants considered it sacred.
Yes, there is still deep snow there in late June; it’s a mountain-top in the Cascades chain, after all, you’re at 2,100 metres above sea level. It gets more snow than just about anywhere in the USA and it persists into July. You can’t see in this photo, but the water of Crater Lake is quite remarkable as a result. There are no inlets or outlets to the lake, so it takes 250 years for the water lost to evaporation to be replaced by snow-fall (and rainfall) alone.
The resulting purity of the water and the exceptional depth (its half a kilometre deep, ninth-deepest in the world) means you can see 20-30 metres down into it, and as a result on sunny days it looks the most incredible cobalt blue colour I have ever seen. It’s a small national park to go and be tranquil, rather than a high-activity destination, but it’s among my most memorable visits and I recommend it.
The Florida Everglades are a huge area of wetlands, so it’s really no surprise to find it rains quite a lot quite often. Or it shouldn’t be, anyway,
This was taken on an “official” boat trip through the Everglades which also featured a supporting cast of millions of mosquitos and one or two reptiles (Florida is home to both crocodiles and alligators). There were also plenty of birds – this is an osprey, startled from his perch on a tree stump by our boat.
We’d had a generally bright and warm day, but crossing a large lake the sky darkened, rain pored and it was only possible to photograph in black and white, even with a colour camera!
- Crocodiles make comeback in south Florida (foxnews.com)
Point Reyes is a beautiful, windswept peninsula on the northern California coast, just north of San Francisco. It’s actually a national park, probably because of its association with the elizabethan explorer Sir Francis Drake.
This photograph looks back to the mainland across Tomales Bay, a sharp point of water cutting off most of the peninsula. It’s actually the water-filled top of the San Andreas Fault, so each time I see this beached boat I imagine it as the life-raft for the Big One.