Saturday, January 3, 2015

High Desert Scenes - Joshua Tree National Park

First light paints the scene and sets the mood at Joshua Tree National Park

I visited Joshua Tree National Park for a couple days after Christmas 2014.  What a place!  First off, the park's namesake provide great subject matter for photography and the high desert has a mood and feeling all it's own.  I found the best times to shoot were early in the morning or around sunset.  The park is a popular place with LA only being a couple hours to the west.  By Saturday afternoon it was quite busy in the central area.  I found a nice unpaved road on the western side called La Contenta Road which led me lower and upper Covington Flat as well as only a few people and taller Joshua Trees.  I was able to hike to the edge of the high desert and look out to the Coachella Valley and Palm Springs to the southeast as well as the San Andreas Fault.  Pretty fun stuff for a country boy from South Dakota.  Here are my favorite photos from the time at the park.  Click on an image for a larger file to view and thanks for checking in!

Sunrise in the center of the park.

I saw my first ever Scrub Jay on a hike around Barker Dam.

The Joshua Trees were huge in the Covington Flat area.

Sunset on the edge of lower Covington Flat.

The southeast part of the park is a different desert ecologically and feature such plants as the Cholla Cactus but no Joshua Trees.

A multiple image panorama of pre-dawn colors above the Cholla Cactus "garden" area of Joshua Tree.

Scenes from Death Valley

The Mesquite Flats Sand Dunes in the afternoon light.
In late December of 2014, I was fortunate enough to be able to spend a day and a half discovering Death Valley National Park.  Turns out, I could have used a week and a a half and not seen it all as the park is huge (around 3.4 million acres of wilderness). Not knowing what to expect weather wise, I was happy with a high of 77 degrees on the valley floor in the afternoon and upper 30s in the higher elevations at daybreak.  Here are a selection of my favorite photos from the trip.  Click on an image for a larger file to view and thanks for stopping by!

Near Furnace Creek Inn, two road runners were hunting butterflies.

One road runner (who must be used to human activity) allowed me to get rather close for this portrait.

A lone Joshua Tree on the eastern edge of the park. I found it interesting to see the evidence of the last rain still scarring the ground.

Another shot of the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes.

Hikers on the sand dunes just before sunset.

Pre-dawn colors on the road up to Dante's View in the south central part of the park.

Soft morning light in the high desert.

A multiple image panoramic of Dante's View at first light.  The white in Death Valley is not snow but salt flats.  It is the lowest place in North America and hottest place in the world. What little water makes it to the valley floor has nowhere to go but into the air as evaporation... leaving behind salt.

Telescope Peak is over 11,000 feet in elevation and was sporting snow.

Shadowplay on the flanks of Telescope Peak as morning drew on.