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Blog for Victoria Bennett Beyer Photography

The photography blog of Victoria Bennett Beyer, featuring travel photographs from road trips across America and botanical photography of plants, flowers and leaves.

Filtering by Tag: mountains

Olympic National Park - Hurricane Ridge

Victoria Beyer

Seven Weeks Across America

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Several friends encouraged us to drive up to Hurricane Ridge at the northern end of Olympic National Park, and boy are we glad we took their advice. The panoramic view of the mountaintops was amazing. I REALLY wish I had a wide-angle lens so that I could have captured it properly. But just imagine this first image X 10 on all sides as you spin around. It was the most incredible view of the trip, for sure.

The blue patch at the top left is the Straits of Juan de Fuca and you can see Victoria, Canada, on the other side.

The blue patch at the top left is the Straits of Juan de Fuca and you can see Victoria, Canada, on the other side.

After a quick loop through the Visitor’s Center (heavy on the gift store) we took a nice hike. We were so lucky it was a clear day. We could see all the way north across the Straits of Juan de Fuca to Canada. As we walked through the meadows we came across a marmot colony, with several of the little guys peeking out from their burrows and trilling loudly.

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It’s a good thing we got there in the morning, because by noon when we left, the parking lot was packed and there was a solid line of cars doing the super-slow drive looking for spaces. The drive up and down the mountain was spectacular, as you might expect, and we were happy to see some wildflowers still blooming.

Kings Canyon National Park

Victoria Beyer

Seven Weeks Across America

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Though they are administered together and are geographically close, Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks have some very different areas.  Kings Canyon is also the home to some giant sequoias (more on that later) but it is more than just that.  We drove the Kings Canyon Scenic Byway to its terminus down in the canyon.  It's a windy road that hugs cliff edges and offers superb views of the beautiful South Fork of the Kings River below.

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Near the end of the road, we hiked around Zumwalt Meadow.  It's a pretty green gem, and the trail takes you through rocks and over boardwalks, at times skirting the river.  We were vigilant looking for rattlesnakes, but we are happy to report no sightings.

Our campground was back up the road, walking distance from the Visitor's Center and Grant Grove.  Unlike Sequoia National Park, there are no busses to ferry you around in Kings Canyon.  

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We really enjoyed the paved interpretive trail around Grant's Grove, which includes not only the immense Grant Tree, but also an old cabin, signage about the history of logging in the area, and a giant fallen redwood that you can walk through upright.  I figured that would be my daughter's favorite part of the trail, and I was right.  But I was not expecting to delight in it so much myself.  It just seems so crazy to be walking through a huge tree that's laying on its side.

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You can get a little closer to the trees here on the trail than you could at Sequoia.  Several are hollowed out from fire and this one was just right for a little fox to scramble through.

Camping at Cayton

Victoria Beyer

Seven Weeks Across America

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After camping in the dry heat at Mesa Verde, we were ready for a change of scenery, so we drove up into the mountains, without much of a plan.

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We lucked out to get a spot at Cayton Campground in the San Juan Mountains.  It was refreshingly lush, with a stream running just behind our campsite, perfect for splashing around in.

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This usually busy site was very quiet since it had just recently reopened after forest fires.  

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Black Canyon of the Gunnison

Victoria Beyer

Seven Weeks Across America

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Our second national park stop was Black Canyon of the Gunnison.  It's an incredibly steep canyon, so much that the Gunnison River below only gets sun right at midday.  It's very much a driving park, with many overlook stops around the South Rim and also the separate North Rim.  We stayed to the south, where the Visitor's Center is and also a campground.  There is in fact a gorgeous hike between the two, where you can get some fantastic views of the canyon.  It was so accessible that we went back out at night to do some stargazing.

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We enjoyed a nice shady campground, with our own resident deer.  It did not seem to mind that we were sharing the space, walking right past us to graze and rest, several times during the day.