Tag Archive | National Park

Road Trip Photo Faves: Bryce Canyon Natural Bridge

With the countdown to Christmas and all its associated chaos/busy-making, I haven’t had much time to write…

So I’ll entertain you over the next few weeks with some of my favorite photos from my road trip.

This is Natural Bridge viewpoint at Bryce Canyon National Park.  Even though it is named Natural Bridge viewpoint, it is actually an arch, not a bridge, geologically speaking.  Bridges are formed by water; arches are formed by wind and other forces.

Natural Bridge (although it is actually an arch) at Bryce Canyon National Park

 

Colorado 2015: RMNP – Holzwarth Historic Site

In my last point – I shared our experience driving the Trail Ridge Road up to the Alpine Visitor’s Center. Now, we hustled back down the hill from our hike above the Visitor’s Center to some big, fat raindrops, but fortunately the skies didn’t really open up. Back in the car, we made our way down from the higher elevations, passing by the Continental Divide (we didn’t stop because we couldn’t find a parking space at the viewpoint).

We did stop at the Holzwarth Historic Site. It marks the site of a homestead and later tourist holiday and dude ranch located in the Kawuneechee Valley along the Colorado River.

Holzwarth Historic Site

Holzwarth Historic Site

It was operated by John and Sophie Holzwarth, who came to the area in 1917 after prohibition was a major setback for John – he was a saloonkeeper. The family decided to try their hand at subsistence ranching. The ranch never really took off, but in the 1920s, the ranch opened to tourists, who could stay there for $2 per day or $11 per week. For that price, you received 2 meals per day – Sophie Holzwarth was said to be an amazing cook – and lodging in a rustic cabin.

We walked about ½ mile through an open field to the site, crossing a Colorado River that is still more of a mountain stream so close to its headwaters. The clouds above were continuing to look ominous, and we felt more of those big, fat raindrops. We arrived at the site just in time to beat the rain and catch a tour of the main cabin, called Mama House.

The Living Room of Mama House, at the Holzwarth Historic Site

The Living Room of Mama House, at the Holzwarth Historic Site

Inside Mama House, the walls were covered in deer heads! And deer hoof decorations. John Holzwarth dabbled in taxidermy (he was actually really good at it) because people who stayed at the ranch often went hunting and wanted their trophies mounted. Mr. Holzwarth was kind enough, or foolish enough, to not require clients to prepay for their taxidermy, which of course led to a lot of people not coming back to pick up their dead things! So, he displayed them in his own home!  Yuck…

Deer Heads at Mama House

Deer Heads at Mama House

John and Sophie also distilled their own liquor in a homemade still – a big draw for their guests.  Apparently they were busted once during Prohibition, but the feds really had bigger fish to fry, so they were mostly left alone.  At the end of the tour, the kids had an opportunity to try on a bearskin coat (like in Legends of the Fall!). I couldn’t resist – after the kids cleared out I tried on the bearskin coat myself – it was really heavy and really warm!

Me, wearing a Bear Coat

Me, wearing a Bear Coat

We also checked out several of the other buildings onsite, there were several small cabins for the people staying at the ranch, the icehouse, and the taxidermy shop. They were all pretty cool.

One of the small cabins at the Holzwarth Historic Site

One of the small cabins at the Holzwarth Historic Site

The rain was really coming down at that point, and I was standing outside a cabin, under the eave, wondering if the rain would stop and chatting with the Ranger. He explained that if lightning and thunder began, we could get a ride back to the parking lot. Three people have been killed by lightning this year in Rocky Mountain National Park, so they aren’t messing around. If there is lightning in the area, they don’t want you walking through a field being the tallest thing out there, because then you are a target!

A few minutes later, we got to ride in an official National Park Service vehicle, and I didn’t even have to get myself arrested!

Our next stop was impromptu – we saw cars parked along the highway and knew something was up. What we didn’t know was that the something was two moose! I saw moose! They were just off the side of the road, so we got a great view of them – it was awesome! I know this is a lot of exclamation points, but it was so cool to see moose in the wild! The moose were just relaxing quietly near the river, one was lying down and the other was standing. I think the one lying down was a yearling, still hanging out with its mother.

One Moose

One Moose

Two Moose!

Two Moose!

After a short time watching the moose, we got back in the car to get on our way, just as the rain was catching up with us again… This time we were in for a long evening drive to our destination for the night – Grand Junction, Colorado. We arrived after dark, after a long drive through road construction, alongside beautiful rivers, and past turnoffs for resort towns like Vail, and I saw another marmot in the middle of the median of the freeway – very much alive!

What a day!

Total driving distance on Day 2: 258 miles – Estes Park – Rocky Mountain National Park – Grand Junction
Hotel for the night: Econo-Lodge, Grand Junction – clean and bright with large rooms!

Sacramento Wildlife Refuge Preview

Jon and I got home last night from a trip to California.  I’ll be posting about it soon, and posting the rest of my trip to Olympic National Park, but in the meantime, I thought I would share this photo from the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge.  Enjoy!

Sunset at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge

Sunset at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge

Our First Peek at Olympic National Park

The first day of our Olympic National Park weekend began in Bremerton, Washington, with me wrapping up my conference in the morning.  I came back to the hotel just before noon to finish packing up my things while Jon took a shower after his run.  We checked out and then got on the road, heading north to our home for the next few days, Sequim.  We stopped for a panini, soup and salad lunch at Panera Bread (don’t you just love their food!), and then we were on our way!

I have always thought of the Olympic Peninsula being a good distance away from our home just south of Canada.  To get there from home, we have to drive south, then west, then take a ferry from Coupeville to Port Townsend, then drive to whatever our final destination is.  For some reason I just have a mental block about it, even though it really isn’t that far away – so I had never been there, and neither had Jon.  But driving up to Sequim from Bremerton was just over an hour, on mostly country highways with light traffic.  The sun was shining and the workweek was done, so it was really a pleasant excursion.

The View on the Way to Sequim

The View on the Way to Sequim

We got to Sequim and checked into our hotel, changed into hiking clothes, and then headed out to the Olympic National Park Visitor’s Center to try to beat the rain.  We knew the weekend would bring some, but in Washington, even if rain is promised, you never really know if it will start, when it will start, how much you will get, or how long it will last.

Olympic National Park is a huge park, spanning 922,650 acres, with several entrances, and several Visitor’s Centers.  President Theodore Roosevelt designated the area as a National Monument in 1909, and it was changed to National Park status in 1938 by Franklin D. Roosevelt.  The park has four distinct ecosystems: coastal, alpine, temperate rainforest, and drier coniferous forest on the east side of the park.  The park contains 60 miles of coastline on the West Coast of Washington, rainforests that receive over 150 inches of precipitation annually, and a mountain range with a summit of 7,788 feet, Mount Deception, and a glacier of over 5 kilometers.

The main Visitor’s Center at Olympic National Park is just outside of Port Angeles, which is about 15 miles east of where we were staying in Sequim.  The rangers there are very helpful, giving you advice on which trails you might want to hike, or equipping you with a bear box if you are going to be camping in the park.  The Visitor’s Center also contains the Beaumont Cabin, a log cabin built by Elliott Beaumont in 1887, on his 160 acre homestead claim.

The Front of the Beaumont Cabin - What a Tiny House!

The Front of the Beaumont Cabin – What a Tiny House!

Beaumont lived in the cabin with his wife for almost 40 years.  It was donated to the Clallam County Historical Society in the 1960s, and has been restored and furnished with period furnishings.  You can peek in and see the decor, and immediately realize how small a pioneer cabin is.  It is about 10 feet by 10 feet!  You really get a good idea of the phrase cabin fever!

The Side of the Beaumont Cabin

The Side of the Beaumont Cabin

After checking out the cabin, it wasn’t raining, so we were ready to head up to Hurricane Ridge to see some awesome views!

Planning a Visit to Olympic National Park

Back in late September, I was off for a conference in “lovely” Bremerton.  The fall conference that is put on by one of the professional associations I belong to alternates between beautiful Chelan (located on a lake in wine country), and not quite so beautiful Bremerton, home to the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and the Bremerton Annex of the Naval Base Kitsap.  In short, it’s a Navy town.  Bremerton is located right on the Puget Sound, which makes for some beautiful views, but it has been largely an industrial center and it has struggled in recent years.

The downtown area right near the Convention Center has gentrified in recent years, but get out of the immediate vicinity (and by immediate, I mean 2 or 3 blocks) you see the evidence of a community that has had its share of difficulty.  There are a ton of empty buildings and ramshackle homes in and right outside of downtown.

I call these the Volcano Fountains because they erupt with water at periodic intervals - they are loud and scare me!  They are right near the ferry dock in downtown Bremerton.

I call these the Volcano Fountains because they erupt with water at periodic intervals – they are loud and always startle me! They are right near the ferry dock in downtown Bremerton – an example of the revitalization in the downtown core.

Jon and I took a long weekend around my conference last year and spent a few days exploring Chelan, and I asked him if he would like to do the same this year.  I got a firm and resounding “NO!”, until I explained that we didn’t have to STAY in Bremerton…  Then you could see the wheels start to turn in Jon’s brain.  We thought about places on the Olympic Peninsula where we could have a nice weekend, and thought no further than Olympic National Park.  The plan was hatched…

The Plan:

  • Leave Bremerton right after the conference wrapped up at noon on Friday (well, right after getting some lunch…)
  • Head up to the upper end of the Olympic Peninsula, to our lodging in Sequim
  • Tour Olympic National Park – 3 spots in particular: Hurricane Ridge (outside of Port Angeles), the Hoh Rain Forest (30 minutes south of Forks, Washington), and Rialto Beach
  • Other potential itinerary items (depending on time and weather): Dungeness Spit and the New Dungeness Lighthouse, the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge, wineries, and some of the waterfalls in Olympic National Park

However, as we got closer to the weekend, the forecast called for rain.  How much would we be able to see and do?  Stay tuned!