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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: victoria beyer

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.

Inyo National Forest

Victoria Beyer

Seven Weeks Across America

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As we left Nevada, we decided to skip Death Valley National Park.  It was hot - very hot - and that park does not offer electricity at its campground.  We figured we'd just be miserable, so we changed the plan.  The fastest way to our next stop, Sequoia National Park, was to drive Tioga Road through Yosemite.  However, that put us looking for a campground near Yosemite in the evening, which is a near-impossible score.  Luckily, our route took us through the Inyo National  Forest.  It was beautiful in the late evening light.  As we neared Mono Lake we found a spot to boondock (that's camping legally somewhere other than a campground - our national forests are great for this).  We found welcome relief from the heat.  And it was the cheapest night of the trip (free!) and put us in a great spot to hit Tioga Pass early the next morning.  Though I have to say, there is no good time to try to get through Tioga Pass, the eastern entrance to Yosemite, on a weekend.  We sat in traffic for at least an hour to get through the gate, but at least the view was lovely.  If you like meadows, then Tioga Road is one of the prettiest drives you can take.

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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Goblin Valley

Victoria Beyer

Seven Weeks Across America

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Goblin Valley State Park in Utah was one of the most unexpected delights of our trip so far.  It was a scheduled stop, but no photos I had seen of it prepared me for how delightful it would be.  From a parking lot and picnic area, you can look down on the rock formations, or 'goblins.'  I had no idea you could walk among them.  You descend to the valley by a short walk, and suddenly you are immersed in a labyrinth of rocks, many as tall as you.  I dallied behind my husband, daughter, and father-in-law, to shoot these photos from above.  I imagined I would catch up to them after a little hustle, but once I descended, they were nowhere to be seen.  I wandered for an hour looking for them among the rocks, but never did find them.  You might think you'd get lost, but really, the parking lot on the hill above is an excellent landmark and easy to see so you can orient yourself simply by looking up.  In that way, it was a very safe but totally immersive sort of wander, through what felt like an alien landscape.  It was more fun than I can describe. 

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Newspaper Rock

Victoria Beyer

Seven Weeks Across America

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In this part of the country there are a lot of petroglyph sites, but we accidently happened upon the best one we had yet to see.  Newspaper Rock is just off the side of the road, on the way to the Needles portion of Canyonlands National Park.  At all the other sites we had seen, there were just one or a couple of images, but here you can see what an abundance of petroglyphs there are in one place.  It was quite an unexpected highlight from our trip.

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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