September 22, 2016

ARIZONA : Grand Canyon National Park - Yaki Point

Desert View Drive


Grand Canyon background at Sunset, seen from Yaki point, South rim, Arizona



Desert View Drive is a scenic route to the east of Grand Canyon Village on the South Rim which follows the rim for 25 miles (40 km) out to the Desert View Watchtower and East Entrance. Along the way:

* Six developed canyon viewpoints
* Four picnic areas
* Five unmarked pullouts
* Are all accessible with private vehicles
* in addition to the Tusayan Museum and ruin site

The Desert View services area includes the historic Watchtower, which is now the Desert View Visitor Center and bookstore, the trading post and snack bar, marketplace/general store, service station, seasonal campground, and restrooms.

Yaki Point
(Elevation: 7262 feet / 2213 meters)

Yaki Point is the only viewpoint on Desert View Drive that is not accessible with a private vehicle. It can be reached using the free Kaibab Rim Route (Orange) Shuttle Bus departing from the Grand Canyon Visitor Center.

Yaki Point is a quiet place from which to enjoy sunset or sunrise.

Restrooms are located here.

National Park Service


峡谷  峡谷  峡谷  峡谷  峡谷

Grand Canyon National Park


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September 19, 2016

NAVAJO NATION : Writing a letter - Oljato-Monument Valley

Navajo Nation


Writing a letter at the picnic bench in Monument Valley, Oljato-Monument Valley, Navajo Nation


MONUMENT VALLEY NAVAJO TRIBAL PARK

Welcome to the Navajo Nation's Monument Valley Park.  You are experiencing one of the most majestic - and most photographed - points on earth.

This great valley boasts sandstone masterpieces that tower at heights of 400 to 1,000 feet. framed by scenic clouds casting shadows that graciously roam the desert floor. The angle of the sun accents these graceful formations, providing scenery that is simply spellbinding.

The landscape overwhelms, not just by its beauty but also by its size.  The fragile pinnacles of rock are surrounded by miles of mesas and buttes, shrubs, trees and windblown sand, all comprising the magnificent colors of the valley.  All of this harmoniously combines to make Monument Valley a truly wondrous experience.  Enjoy this beautiful land.

Before human existence, the Park was once a vast lowland basin.  For hundreds of millions of years, materials that eroded from the early Rock Mountains deposited layer upon layer of sediments which cemented a slow and gentle uplift generated by ceaseless pressure from below the surface, elevating these horizontal strata quite uniformly one to three miles above sea level.  What was once a basin became a plateau.

Natural forces of wind and water that eroded the land spent the last 50 million years cutting in to and peeling away at the surface of the  plateau.

The simple wearing down of altering layers of soft and hard rock slowly revealed the natural wonders of Monument Valley today.

Visitor Center

From the visitor center, you see the world-famous panorama of the Mitten buttes and Merrick Butte.  You can also purchase guided tours from Navajo tour operators, who will take you down into the valley in jeeps for a narrated cruise through these mythical formations.  Places such as Ear of the Wind and other landmarks can only be accessed via guided tours.  During the summer months, the visitor center also features Haskenneini Restaurant, which specializes in both native Navajo and American cuisines, and film/snack/souvenir shop.  There are year-round restroom facilities.  One mile before the center, numerous Navajo vendors sell arts, crafts, native food and souvenirs at roadside stands.

Navajo Parks and Recreation

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September 13, 2016

MONTANA: Avalanche Gorge - Glacier National Park

Avalanche Basin Podcast Series


Avalanche Creek, Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park, MONTANA



Avalanche Gorge


Situated near the head of Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park, the Avalanche Basin is part of the larger glacially-carved McDonald valley. The highlight of the basin is Avalanche Lake and its outlet stream Avalanche Creek. Water draining from the basin's steep slopes cumulates in the rushing icy blue waters of Avalanche Creek and scours through layers of rock to create the sculpted red walls of Avalanche Gorge.

For many, the hike along the creek and up to Avalanche Lake is a favorite for the area's beauty and tranquility. What some may not realize is the unique biological richness that exists in the basin. The interplay of climate and geology over time has resulted in a living environment where terrestrial and aquatic species flourish.

To truly tell the rich story of life in this basin and to understand its complexities, the Crown of the Continent Research Learning Center worked with graduate students from the Environmental Studies Program at the University of Montana to create short essays on various aspects of the Avalanche Basin. These essays were then turned in to audio podcasts for all to enjoy. Each piece has a different focus, such as geology or wildlife, but all give insight to the feelings this special place evokes for those who are fortunate enough to experience it.
National Park Service




Avalanche Gorge
M O N T A N A
Treasure State

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September 7, 2016

NAVAJO NATION : Desert Southwest Rainbow Bridge - AZ/UT

Rainbow Bridge National Monument
Location : San Juan County, Utah, USA
Nearest city : Page, Arizona
Arizona-Utah, Navajo Nation


Desert Southwest Rainbow Bridge, Arizona-Utah - Navajo Nation


The Geology of Rainbow Bridge
The U.S. National Park Service

Rainbow Bridge is but one of the endlessly fascinating landforms found on the Colorado Plateau and the story of its formation is an intriguing one. Natural bridges are rare, and differ from arches in that they form when a watercourse breaks through rock. Arches are far more common across the Colorado Plateau, although both are SHAPED by the same erosional processes.

The Beginning
The rock formations which comprise Rainbow Bridge are hundreds of millions of years old, deposited in a time when the climate and terrain were very different from what they are today. The base of Rainbow Bridge is composed of Kayenta Sandstone, reddish-brown sands and muds laid down by inland seas and shifting winds over 200 million years ago. The bridge itself is composed of Navajo Sandstone. This slightly younger formation (about 200 million years old) was created as wave after wave of sand dunes were deposited over an extremely dry period which lasted millions of years. These dunes were deposited to depths of up to 1000 feet (305 meters). Over the next 100 million years, both of these formations were buried by an additional 5000 feet (1,524 meters) of other strata. The pressures exerted by the weight of all these materials consolidated and hardened the rock of these and other formations.

The Colorado Plateau
The landscape that we know as the Colorado Plateau is, geologically speaking, a relative newcomer to the Southwest. The Colorado Plateau is an area of uplifted land, located generally around the Four Corners (the intersection of Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico), with the largest sections of the plateau being found in Utah and Arizona. 60-80 million years ago, this area looked very different. It was a relatively stable, flat area. Then, geologic forces began to push the land upward. The greatest and most rapid uplift, however, did not take place until about 5.5 million years ago--a mere breath in geologic time. During this last uplift, the plateau rose some 3000 feet (915 meters) above the surrounding landscape. The uplift buckled the surface of the land. Mountains began pushing up and the earth warped and undulated like an ocean of rock. It began to resemble the fascinating assemblage that is so familiar to us today. But one key ingredient was still to come into play.

Water--the Absent Artist
When we look at Rainbow Bridge and other spectacular landforms on the Colorado Plateau, we are witnessing a landscape whose principle sculptor was water. Water was not always the infrequent visitor it is today. When the Colorado Plateau uplifted a few million years ago, river gradients were dramatically steepened, especially the Colorado's. These rivers combined their forces with that of the uplift to quickly cut many deep canyons into the plateau. During this time, periods of heavy rains dramatically increased the amount of water flowing across the plateau. In addition to canyon cutting, water also played a role in other ways, including the formation of Rainbow Bridge. Much of the exposed rock on the plateau, including Rainbow Bridge, is sandstone. Sandstone is really nothing more than grains of sand, some fine, some coarse, bound together by water soluble materials, like calcium carbonate. Whether it's a raindrop or a river, water dissolves this bond and washes away the grains of sand, creating a myriad of fascinating shapes and forms.

A Rainbow Made of Stone
Initially, water flowing off nearby Navajo Mountain meandered across the sandstone, following a path of least resistance. A drainage known today as Bridge Canyon was carved deep into the rock. At the site of Rainbow Bridge, the Bridge Canyon stream flowed in a tight curve around a thin fin of soft sandstone that jutted into the canyon.

This illustration shows the process of the formation of Rainbow Bridge.

As you can see from the illustration, the force of the stream eventually cut a hole through the fin. Rainbow Bridge was created when the stream altered course and flowed directly through the opening, enlarging it. This process continues to this day, imperceptibly altering the shape of the Bridge. The same erosional forces which created the bridge will, eventually, cause its demise. Rainbow Bridge, along with the rest of the spectacular landscapes of the Colorado Plateau, will exist for only the blink of an eye in geologic time. We should consider ourselves fortunate, indeed, to be witness to these awe-inspiring formations. Let us treasure them while we can.


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September 3, 2016

ARIZONA : Close up of cacti spikes - Saguaro National Park

Arizona Spines


Close up of cacti spikes in the Saguaro National Park, Tucson, Arizona


Saguaro
The saguaro (/səˈwɑːroʊ/, Spanish pronunciation: [saˈɣwaɾo]) (Carnegiea gigantea) is an arborescent (tree-like) cactus species in the monotypic genus Carnegiea, which can grow to be over 70 feet (21 m) tall. It is native to the Sonoran Desert in Arizona, the Mexican State of Sonora, and the Whipple Mountains and Imperial County areas of California. The saguaro blossom is the state wildflower of Arizona. Its scientific name is given in honor of Andrew Carnegie.

The common name saguaro came into the English language through the Spanish language, originating in the Mayo language.

Spines
The spines on a saguaro that is shorter than 2 m grow rapidly, up to a millimeter per day. When held up to the light or bisected, alternating light and dark bands transverse to the long axis of spines can be seen. These transverse bands have been correlated to daily growth. In columnar cacti, spines almost always grow in areoles which originate at the apex of the plant. A spine stops growing in its first season. Areoles are moved to the side and the apex continues to grow upwards. Thus, older spines are towards the base of a columnar cactus and newer spines are near the apex. Studies are underway to examine the relationship of carbon and oxygen isotope ratios in the tissues of spines of an individual to its climate and photosynthetic history (acanthochronology).

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