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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: national park

Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Victoria Beyer

SEVEN WEEKS ACROSS AMERICA

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We first visited Theodore Roosevelt National Park last summer when we briefly stopped at the highway visitor center on our way home from seeing the eclipse in Wyoming. Right away we were sorry we did not have more time to stay, but we were excited by the idea of returning. So when we began planning our epic summer road trip this year, we knew we wanted to make this park a priority.

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It was the last stop on our seven-week road trip, but far from the least. It is comprised of three areas, linked by the Little Missouri River and Theodore Roosevelt’s love of this land. We began our trip in the South Unit, and later made our way to the North Unit where we spent most of our time. The road to the Elkhorn Ranch Unit is not RV-friendly, so we left that for another trip.

We were, however, surprised by the number of other visitors. When planning, we were told by park rangers that the North Unit campground was never full. However, it was when we arrived! Luckily there are several other campgrounds near the North Unit, so we were fine. Even so, the park was hardly what I’d call crowded, particularly when compared to all the other parks we had visited. It was refreshing to find a parking spot at every pull off, and to hike and see only two other groups.

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Some park Visitor’s Centers are so crowded that you just can’t wait to grab a map and get out of there. At the South Unit, which has the larger Visitor’s Center, we enjoyed talking to the rangers. One told us her favorite hike in the whole park was Caprock Coulee in the North Unit. The following day we headed out on this 4.2 mile hike - the longest my six-year-old ever did without getting carried at some point! It was such a varied trail, beginning in a grassland area that led to stone formations, including cannonball concretions, spherical stone structure that withstand erosion more than the surrounding rock. Then we hiked uphill through dense forests. We were surprised to see bison tracks here, having never imagined a bison pushing through thick brush along a narrow trail. Then we climbed up to where we could see the tops of the hills (as seen in the first image in this post). The view was beautiful, and we walked past a solo bison who was out on the bluff, seeming to admiring the scenery as well.

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The trail then crossed the road, and we continued through scenery that was unlike anything we had previously hiked through. It was much drier here, and in places we were walking on rocks, only able to follow the path by the markers. The views over here were equally as stunning, especially when we were looking down at the Little Missouri River.

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We finished our hike and took the rest of the scenic drive through the North Unit. We saw an abundance of wildlife - more bison, deer, pronghorn, prairie dogs and wild horses. As we reached the far end, it was clear a storm was rolling in, and we drove back to our campsite in the rain - the only rain we encountered in seven weeks on the road.

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Redwood National Park

Victoria Beyer

Seven Weeks Across America

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Redwood National Park is so diverse.  We began our day there at the Kuchel Visitor's Center, which overlooks the coast.  From there we drove to Elk Meadow, where, believe it or not, we saw some elk (from afar).  We kept driving up through the park, looking for some RV-friendly parking but there was little to be found.  We pulled over on the side of the road at a trailhead to make lunch, and decided to make it easy on ourselves and just walk the trail that was right there.

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At the beginning of the trail was a huge redwood that had been hollowed out by fire.  It was massive (and clearly it was ok to step inside).  

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It was high noon, perhaps not the best for photos but sometimes I don't get to pick the time for our hikes when we are on a family trip.  It was, however, the prettiest hike of our entire 7-week trip, in my opinion.  The towering redwoods were easily visible because there is not a lot of tall underbrush.  The forest feels pretty open, really, though there are masses of ferns, sorrel and the like crowding the path.  There are huge fallen nurse logs, with lots of life sprouting from the rotting wood. I just thought it was gorgeous.

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I wish we had more time at Redwood National Park.  There is so much we did not get to see, though if we went back I'd like to take the truck instead of the RV because I think we were limited by our vehicle size.  There were just so few places to park, in contrast to so many of the parks we had just been to where there are lots of designated RV areas.  

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But all in all I am so glad we got to visit, even for a short time, because now I know a little more for planning our next trip there.  And grandpa really enjoyed our walk through the redwoods, if you can't tell.

Bryce Canyon National Park

Victoria Beyer

Seven Weeks Across America

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Bryce Canyon National Park is famous for its spire-like hoodoo rocks.  When I wondering just how there can be another unique type of rock formation, there was Bryce, with hoodoos as far as the eye can see.  We hiked the Navajo Loop Trail, where we descended among the hoodoos, walked among them, and threaded this slot canyon, and hiked back up switchbacks.  It was a truly beautiful hike.  

Capitol Reef National Park

Victoria Beyer

Seven Weeks Across America

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Capitol Reef State Park was such a refreshing experience after being so hot and dry for the last few weeks.  The Fruita enclave, an historic Mormon settlement along the Freemont River, serves as the central area of the park, featuring a Vistor's Center, campground, nature center, and several orchards.  

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In fact, the orchards are adjacent to the campground, meaning we spent the evening and following morning picking apricots and eating them right off the tree.

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Wyle makes some new friends.

Wyle makes some new friends.

The deer were everywhere, obviously enjoying the fruit as much as we were.

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Another highlight (THE highlight, depending on who you ask), was the little store that sold freshly baked fruit pies.  In the morning we hightailed it the store and everybody bought a pie.  Then we sat at the nearby picnic table and had pie for breakfast!

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And just in case you think Capitol Reef is all about pie, here are some photos of the beautiful landscape.  We very much enjoyed the scenic drive, particularly the off-road portion that winds through the gorge, the walls of which tower above you.

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Arches National Park

Victoria Beyer

Seven Weeks Across America

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It was hot, hot, hot during our time at Arches National Park.  Those temps were breaking 100 degrees, so we kept our hiking to the mornings.  We did two hikes - the one to Delicate Arch being the most well-known.  I was very proud of our peanut for making it.  It was not an easy hike, and even in the morning it was still hot.  But it was so worth it.  It was magnificent to see in person, particularly because it was surrounded by a huge natural amphitheater.  Despite the dozens of people who were sharing the space, there was plenty of room to take a seat and soak it all in.  

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Our other hike took us to Landscape, Navajo, and Double O arches.  I would highly recommend this hike - it was truly fun to scramble over boulders, walk on top of fin rock formations and clamber up and through some arches.

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There are so many arches to see, you sort of have to pick and choose what you spend your time visiting.  I particularly enjoyed Double Arch.  You really have to walk down the path to appreciate how very cool it is.