Tag Archive | Bighorn Sheep

Circus Trip 2018: Badlands Evening

Day 12, Friday, July 27, 2018

After my visit to Ellsworth Air Force Base, I continued on my way to Wall, South Dakota and got a space at the Sleepy Hollow campground.  It was $15 plus tax for a tent site, one of the cheapest campgrounds on my trip.  I set up my tent, took a nap and then went to Badlands National Park nearby to see if I could find any wildlife.

Tenting it in Mellow Yellow

I wasn’t planning to stay that long at Badlands, as there was a thunderstorm in the distance – and I would be spending more time there the next day. It was interesting to see the storm approaching on the horizon – that light!

I drove slowly down the Sage Rim Road, where I found Bighorn Sheep!  They are so cute! And those babies!  I loved just watching them amble by.

It was too dark for good photos, so I made my back towards camp and stumbled upon one of my favorite photos of my entire road trip.  The recent rain had soaked the road, making it shine like chrome.  The road, the sky, and my car hood made for a spectacular but unexpected subject.  I still love this photo!

Back at camp, I had left-over sausage and rice, along with a Huckleberry lager.  And I did laundry.  Because not every evening on a road trip can have over-the-top excitement…  It was a great day!

My Huckleberry Lager – this was a pretty good beer!

 

Road Trip Photo Faves: Bighorn Sheep

Here is another of my favorite photos from my road trip.

I was in Zion National Park in October looking for Bighorn Sheep, and I found them!  This young one looked so at home on his slick rock perch.

 

Joshua Tree 2015: A Failed Quest for Bighorn Sheep

In December, I flew down to Los Angeles for a quick long weekend trip to Joshua Tree National Park. It was not extensively planned; tickets were booked just a couple of weeks before. But despite that, it was a fabulous trip.

Day 1: December 5, 2015

Willow Hole Trail – 7 miles RT

The first day I started at the Visitor’s Center for some trips on where to go in the park. I wanted to see Bighorn Sheep. The Ranger said that they often hung out at the Willow Hole, which can be reached by a 7 mile round trip hike through several dry washes that connect to the popular Boy Scout Trail. I went. The trail was mostly flat, taking you by a popular rock climbing area; it was fun to stop and watch the climbers try their trade on the giant boulders in the park.

Me on the Willow Hole Trail

Me on the Boy Scout Trail

 

Joshua Trees everywhere!

Joshua Trees everywhere!

 

There are climbers on that rock!

There are climbers on that rock!

After leaving the Boy Scout Trail, I was entirely alone – I did not run into anyone else on the entire hike. It was quiet, save for the birds chirping, letting me know I was getting closer to the spring. Sadly, I did not see any Bighorn Sheep on the hike, but I saw some songbirds and it was a nice pleasant hike nonetheless.

A cute bird near Willow Hole

A cute bird near Willow Hole

 

The clouds gave way to sunshine

The clouds gave way to sunshine

Barker Dam – 1 mile RT

Barker Dam is a dam that was built by homesteaders in the early 1900s, to provide a consistent water source for their cattle grazing in the area. The dam is still there – the National Park Service left it intact when they took over management of the land, and it now provides water for the wildlife living in the area. It is another spot that Bighorn Sheep are known to frequent in the park. Except when I was there; then the Bighorn Sheep are not…

Barker Dam

Barker Dam

The Barker Dam hike also leads past several ancient petroglyphs. Unfortunately, they have been damaged by vandals. They are still neat to see, but keep in mind that the paint colors and outlines were the result of the vandalism, and not what these petroglyphs would normally look like.

Petroglyphs near Barker Dam

Petroglyphs near Barker Dam

As I was finishing the short Barker Dam trail, the sun was sinking lower in the sky. The birds and the rabbits were finding their way to their shelters for the night. I was able to find a good vantage point along the main road to watch the sunset. It wasn’t a spectacular viewpoint, but it did let me get some photos of the Joshua Trees silhouetted against the setting sun.

The golden light before sunset

The golden light before sunset

 

The sun sets over Joshua Trees...

The sun sets over Joshua Trees…

Dinner that night was pho at Pho 85 restaurant in Yucca Valley. It really hit the spot after 8+ miles of hiking that day! I finished off the day with some wine and TV in the room before heading to bed.  Peace…

Colorado 2015: RMNP – The Trail Ridge Road

Day 2: August 2, 2015

Rocky Mountain National Park is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year! And we had the opportunity to visit! We got on our way in the morning, and made our way to the park, which is just a couple of miles outside of Estes Park. The Visitor’s Centers here are outside of the entrance stations, which threw me off a bit, and sadly I didn’t see it when we passed by! By the time I realized our mistake, we were already in the park, and partway up the mountain, so we opted not to turn around and go back. I knew there were more Visitor’s Centers later on…

Rocky Mountain National Park's 100th Anniversary!

Rocky Mountain National Park’s 100th Anniversary!

We drove the Trail Ridge Road, and stopped at several viewpoints and saw the beautiful coniferous forests, the gorgeous meadows and the distant mountains. We were also able to see the destruction caused by the Mountain Pine Beetle. Although this beetle has always been part of the ecosystem, drought conditions over the last several years have allowed the beetle to gain a much larger foothold, and the current infestation is 10 times worse that what has been seen previously.

Forest and meadow at Rocky Mountain National Park

Forest and meadow at Rocky Mountain National Park

This Clark's Nutcracker spent awhile posing for me.

This Clark’s Nutcracker spent awhile posing for me.

Jon taking in the view at Rocky Mountain National Park

Jon taking in the view at Rocky Mountain National Park

We gradually increased in elevation, stopping at various viewpoints to see the changes in the landscape, until we reached the tundra habitat at the park. It was interesting to see the rocks and vegetation that exist above the tree line.  Jon and I did a short hike on a path through the tundra, and were able to check out some neat rock formations.

Trail Ridge Road heading up through the tundra

Trail Ridge Road heading up through the tundra

The beautiful tundra view at 11,000 feet

The beautiful tundra view at 11,000 feet

We saw elk from the car, but we weren’t able to get pictures because they were perched high up on a hill where there wasn’t really a pull-out. I was a little disappointed about that, but I have other photos of elk… I felt much better when we got back from our hike to find two Yellow-bellied Marmots right near our car! They were right off the road; one was licking the dirt beneath the gravel at the side of the road – I assume to get salt.  I got a ton of photos, because one of them posed perfectly for me!

This little guy just posed for us!

This little guy just posed for us!

I loved this little guy - he was so photogenic

I loved this little guy – he was so photogenic

We also stopped at a high-altitude viewpoint to find several people with binoculars looking out across the field. I asked one of them what they were looking at – Bighorn Sheep! We had our binoculars, so we looked and were able to see two sheep lying down really far away next to a snow patch. No pictures possible at that distance, but it was a great experience!

See that big snow patch on the right? Well, to the right of it, about halfway down, were two bighorn sheep. You are just going to have to take my word for it.

See that big snow patch on the right? Well, to the right of it, about halfway down, were two bighorn sheep. You are just going to have to take my word for it.

We stopped at the Alpine Visitor’s Center, located above 11,000 feet in elevation. I was able to get my stamp! And some postcards of course. We ate our lunch in the blustery wind outside to the Visitor’s Center – and checked out the views all around. There is a short nature trail up to the top of a nearby peak, so Jon and I challenged ourselves to do it; especially because one of the rangers had said there were elk up there! Hiking is hard at such a high altitude! After huffing and puffing my way to the top, it was a big letdown to discover there were no elk in sight. BOO!

Jon and me at Rocky Mountain National Park!

Jon and me at Rocky Mountain National Park!

I didn’t have long to be disappointed about the elk though, because it was threatening to rain!  We made our way back to the car and continued on our way.

Have you driven the Trail Ridge Road at Rocky Mountain National Park?