Utah National Parks: Trees & Rocks

The Weekly Photo Challenge this week is Structure. I immediately thought of our recent trip to the five national parks in Utah. The structure of the rocks and geological features is complimented by the trees in these parks. Whether dead and twisting, or green and contrasting, the trees are a main character in an interesting landscape.

Arches National Park, Utah 3May2017

Arches National Park, Utah

The arches are amazing at Arches National Park and standing dead trees add to the scene. You can see Double Arch in the background.

A fence along the trail in Canyonlands National Park, Utah 4May2017

A fence along the trail in Canyonlands National Park, Utah

I loved these fences made from old juniper wood in Canyonlands National Park. They helped keep people on the trail and were nice to look at too.

Capitol Reef National Park, Utah 5May2017

Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

The rainbow of colors in the cliffs of this canyon in Capitol Reef National Park were complimented by the bright green of the trees. A storm was moving in in this picture.

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah 6May2017

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

A windswept pine tree clings to the edge of a cliff in Bryce Canyon National Park. Puffy white clouds (like in “The Simpsons” cartoons) float gracefully in the background.

Zion National Park 6May2017

Zion National Park

Colorful and tilting structures in the rock, line a tree-filled canyon in Zion National Park. A few wispy clouds hang over the valley.

The national parks in Utah are full of interesting structures both large and small. The geology of the region tells a dramatic story. The trees and other plants living here have adapted to harsh conditions. The wildlife living here takes advantage of the local environment.

Take the time to look up but also to look down when you visit these parks. Each park is a little different from the others and each one has amazing sights worth seeing. The forces of Nature are strong here.

Art in The High Desert show 2017

Artwork shines at the Art in the High Desert show

If you’re looking for things to do in Bend this weekend, go see the Art in the High Desert show. This juried arts and crafts show features works in a wide variety of media. Please help support the 115 North American artisans selected for this show by purchasing some of the things they have created. To see a gallery of the work featured this year, click here.

Woodwork by Jack West at Art in the High Desert 2017 Bend, Oregon

Woodwork by Jack West at  Art in the High Desert 2017 in Bend, Oregon

Here is the woodwork of Jack West of Fort Jones, California. These works of art display fine craftsmanship and an eye for bringing out the best in the woods he works with. The carved curving lines on some of his works are unique and they enhance the wood’s natural beauty. You can see more of his work here .

Ceramics by Gerard Arrington at Art in the High Desert Bend, Oregon

Ceramics by Gerard Arrington at Art in the High Desert 2017 in Bend, Oregon

Here is the ceramic work of Gerald Arrington of Sebastopol, California. You may know that I have a thing about rocks and this artist creates realistic-looking rocks out of clay. His pieces are sculptural, stunning, and earthy. You can see more of his work here.

Sunny views of the show

Crossing the bridge over the Deschutes River to see the Art in the High Desert show Bend, Oregon 26Aug2017

Crossing the bridge over the Deschutes River to see the Art in the High Desert show in Bend, Oregon

This show is good every year but this year it’s great! If you go to the show, you will understand why it’s in the top ten shows in the nation.  The show runs August 25-27 and it’s free to get in. It’s located on the banks of the Deschutes River in Bend at 730 SW Columbia Street.

 

Solar Eclipse Success!

We traveled half an hour from our house to see the eclipse in the Path of Totality. Success!

Eclipse 2017 Prineville, Oregon 21August2017

Here’s some pictures I took right before the moon covers the sun.

Eclipse 2017 Prineville, Oregon 21August2017Eclipse5 21Aug2017Eclipse6 21Aug2017Eclipse7 21Aug2017

My partial pictures are not quite as good because I was trying to figure out the best place for the filter.

We viewed the eclipse from Ochoco Wayside State Park, just west of Prineville, Oregon. The road up to the park was closed when we arrived there at 6:30 am so we hiked about 1/2 mile up the hill to meet more of our group who had arrived there earlier. Smoke from wildfires gave us an interesting sunrise from the 3,048 foot peak.

Sunrise Eclipse 2017 Prineville, Oregon 21August2017

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Otter Bench hike near Crooked River Ranch, Oregon

The Otter Bench Trail gives you some breathtaking views of the Crooked River. The trail head is near the town of Crooked River Ranch and the trail goes along the base of the cliffs bordering the river. We walked a couple miles in, stopped for lunch, and then headed back. There is little elevation change on the section we hiked but if you decide to head down to the river, it gets steep.

Otter Bench hike, Crooked River, Oregon 17April2017

The trail goes through juniper and sagebrush habitat and along rocky talus slopes. If you go off the trail a little ways, you can walk to the edge of cliffs that enclose the river far below. If you have a fear of heights, don’t get too close to that edge. A turkey vulture flew by at eye height when we were close to the edge. Hope it wasn’t waiting for a meal!

You get a good view of some of the geological forces at work here. The basalt columns in the lower cliffs are part of the Deschutes formation. Above them you can see light tan colored tuff. Far above the tuff area you will see more columnar basalt and it is part of the most recent Newberry formation.

There is a small dam on the river a few miles from the trail head.

There are golden eagles nesting on the cliffs and you can see how easy it was for them to find a nest site here. The Horny Hollow Trail forks off from the main trail but it’s closed seasonally when the birds are nesting. It was closed when we were there but I saw eagles flying above the highest cliffs in the distance.

I heard and saw quite a few songbirds on this hike in April. The list of species seen includes Townsend’s solitaire, black billed magpie, mountain chickadee, Brewer’s sparrow, and western meadowlark. It was nice to hear some of these songsters again.

As temperatures begin to warm up, the high desert starts its wildflower show. We saw big showy arrowhead balsamroot, purple phlox and rock cress, delicate pink prairie stars, yellow fiddleneck, larkspur, and white miner’s lettuce. After a particularly hard winter we were grateful to see these bursts of color.

This trail passes through Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Crooked River National Grassland, and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife land. There is no fee to use the trail and there’s a good parking area at the trail head.

Here is a map that shows the Otter Bench trail:

Otter_Bench_Crooked_River_Ranch_Trails

Here are driving directions from BLM:

Directions to Otter Bench Trailhead from Highway 97 From Highway 97, just north of Terrebonne, turn left on to Lower Bridge Road (Sign with left arrow says “Crooked River Ranch”). After 2 miles turn right on 43rd St. After 1.7 miles turn left on Chinook Dr. After 5 miles (including a steep descent), go straight on to Horny Hollow Rd (do not take Chinook back up the switchback) Go 1.7 miles to the end of the pavement and park there.

Kingbird surveying his realm

This western kingbird distracted us while we were on a field trip looking for Swainson’s hawks and ground squirrels. Their bright color and bold personality forces you to take notice of them.

Western Kingbird at Fort Rock, Oregon 21April2017

Western kingbird at Fort Rock, Oregon 21April2017

You can see part of Fort Rock in the background on the left. To learn more about the cave with ancient artifacts near there, see my post here. For information on the great museum at Fort Rock, see my post here.

Weekly Photo Challenge – Ooh, Shiny!