You’ll see unique sights if you visit Hot Springs State Park in central Wyoming. Unlike other state parks in Wyoming, entrance to this park, located in the city of Thermopolis, is free. I’ve included a map of this day-use park at the end of this post.
History of the park
In 1897, Big Horn Hot Springs State Reserve became Wyoming’s first state park. The park, now called Hot Springs State Park, has always been famous for its therapeutic mineral hot springs.
On the iconic Monument Hill, you’ll see the words “World’s Largest Mineral Hot Springs” in large white letters.
Visitors can enjoy unique attractions at Dinosaur National Monument in Utah and Colorado. While visiting here, I found myself constantly shifting my field of view to things above and below me. Colorful tilting rocks in vast landscapes showed geology in action. Petroglyphs and pictographs told stories of Indigenous people from long ago. An amazing collection of dinosaur fossils took me even further back in time.
The Monument also includes places to hike, fish, river raft, picnic, and camp. There’s a visitor center in Utah, and another in Colorado.
The small Visitor Center in Utah features informational exhibits and a store.
Last week, I showed symmetrical displays of history at the Museum of the American West in Lander, Wyoming. However, history is not always balanced. A good museum shows our similarities and differences. Here are more items on display at the Museum.
At times, our differences stand out.
Though what we wear differs, from practical and utilitarian…
To ornamental and symbolic, our clothing reflects who we are.
Here are some treasures of the Old West at the Museum of the American West, in Lander, Wyoming, shown in both color and black and white. Click on the arrows to see monochrome versions highlighting their symmetry.
Wheels may carry you forward, towards new horizons
After recently covering indoor signs on my post about the National Neon Sign Museum, I thought I’d feature some unique roadside signs today.
A giant jackalope?
The first picture is of a unique animal of the Wild West. It’s a jackalope, part jackrabbit, part antelope. Maybe you’ve heard of them. Are they real or another legend of the West? Chainsaw carver Jarrett Dahl paid tribute to these animals in an impressive 40-foot sculpture near the iconic Wall Drug Store in Wall, South Dakota.
Completed in 2022, the jackalope is holding a sign that says, “Believe.” Though it looks like it’s just a big carving, it’s hollow inside with a stairway leading to a balcony. Inside, you’ll find carved jackalopes, murals, and 71 wood spirits, hidden within its cracks and crevices.
Devil’s Tower stories
The next sign is at the cafe and gift store by Devil’s Tower in Wyoming. You can see a bear next to the tower on the sign and the real tower in the background. In the oral stories of Native Americans, the tower formed in different ways. In several versions, a bear tries to claw its way to the peak, thereby creating its distinctive appearance.
If you’re travelling to Wyoming and like dinosaurs, consider stopping at the Wyoming Dinosaur Center (WDC) in Thermopolis. In 1993, dinosaur fossils were discovered near here at the Warm Springs Ranch. Fossils discovered here and elsewhere are on display at WDC. Visitors will see fifty-eight articulated dinosaur skeletons and a wide variety of fossils.
You’ll see dinosaur skeletons large and small in the display hall. Some are real, others are recreated from casts of fossils.
Remember the Velociraptors in “Jurassic Park?” Here’s one, blending into the background.
I especially liked this one because it shows a Tyrannosaurus dinosaur attacking a Stegosaurus.
When I looked through my Oregon photos, it was hard to narrow it down to only ten pictures for this week’s Lens-Artists Photo Challenge of Tell us why. These are the photos I chose, shown by category.
Oregon photos of history
Sometimes you take a picture and when you look at it later on a larger screen, you say, “Wow!”
I took this picture of an old homestead without fussing with the settings first. It almost looks like one of those old-time stereoscope images. I like this photo because it captured a glimpse of history.
I took a lot of pictures of the Spruce Goose aircraft in McMinnville and described it in a recent post. When I saw the lines in this photo, I knew it would look great in black and white.
I noticed I had many portraits of majestic mountains when I browsed through my Oregon photos.
The first photo, is of Steens Mountain, in southeast Oregon. The lupine was in bloom so I focused on its purple flowers. This 50-mile long mountain is one of my favorite places in Oregon. I like taking pictures that show its powerful presence.
In June, I visited Legend Rock State Petroglyph Site near Thermopolis, Wyoming. The quarter-mile-long sandstone cliff at an isolated site is adorned with hundreds of Legend Rock petroglyphs. When you walk the trail beside these images, it is truly a step back in time.
Seeing Legend Rock petroglyphs up close
More than 300 petroglyphs have been identified on 92 rock panels. The oldest are at least 10,000 years old. The petroglyphs were carved by “ancestors of today’s Numic-speaking Eastern Shoshone tribe.”
Due to the fantastical nature of the images carved here, this site is thought to have been used by individuals on vision quests. The images were carved so long ago, their exact meanings are unknown.
In 1973, the state acquired the site and later that year, it was placed on the National Register of Historic Sites. The site included sections owned by the state and federal government, and private landowners. In 2015, local landowner Richard Wagner donated the last part needing protection.
While taking pictures of the Pioneer Village in Lander, Wyoming, I immediately thought of how they would look in sepia tones. I wanted to focus on their structure and emphasize their age.
The Pioneer Village buildings are part of the Museum of the American West. The main museum showcases a wide variety of artifacts from people who lived in this area in the mid-1800s to early-1900s.
The Guinard Cabin, circa 1902, has a rough plank and mortar construction. The overall brown color in the picture below hides the presence of a garden hose. A windmill and teepee blend into the background.
This storage shed and Saloon would fit right into an old time neighborhood.
I like to walk the trails in Norris Geyser Basin when visiting Yellowstone National Park. One day, while I walked along a forested trail, I nodded at two people passing me going the opposite direction. Another person walked some distance ahead of me. All of them overlooked something alongside the trail. In fact, they missed it by a hare.
Can you spot what I saw near the trail?
Maybe everyone passing by was looking at this geyser on the other side of the trail and missed it.
I spotted a movement from a distance and stepped towards it for a closer look.
What is that? A new kind of rabbit? Maybe a pinto bunny?
Earlier this month, we went to the local Summer Festival here in Bend, Oregon.
If it’s a summer festival, you might see fairies walking down the street, right? Are those blurry spots behind them spots on my windshield? Nope, I’m pretty sure that’s a cloud of fairy dust. 😉
As the sign says, this festival features music, food, and art. It takes place downtown on three city blocks, plus a couple side streets. It’s estimated that 70,000 people attend this two and a half day festival.
The art booths have everything from jewelry and landscape art, to pillows featuring an image of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Various businesses feature their products and services in the Bend Business Showcase section.
On July 9th, I returned to Silverton, Oregon, to go on a tour of the Frank Lloyd Wright house. When I think of simplicity in architecture, I think of Frank Lloyd Wright. I recently featured a view from the road of the Gordon House. Limited tours of the inside are available by reservation only.
Tour of Frank Lloyd Wright House
Our 45-minute tour began in the great room. Walls of floor-to-ceiling glass doors flanked towering ceilings. They opened to allow a welcome cross breeze on this warm summer day. As in all Wright houses, a fireplace served as a focal point. Red concrete slabs with radiant heat covered the floors, and they made the walls from concrete blocks. Built-in cabinets, desks, and tables are in nearly every room.
The design featured the fretwork seen here on the interior and exterior of the house. One of the workers joked how he’d gone through all the router bits in the state cutting the house’s fretwork. That was long before laser cutters!
This week, as part of the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge, host Ritva Sillanmäki asked us to show a photo of our favorite cup. My favorite mug features a wraparound image of Grand Prismatic Hot Spring at Yellowstone National Park. It’s beautiful, like its inspiration, and comfortable to hold. I also like how there is printing inside the mug near the rim.
Grand Prismatic Hot Spring is especially photogenic. Though I can’t get a drone shot like the one on my mug, I have taken many pictures of this hot spring. Here are a few that show its gorgeous colors.
My Grand Prismatic mug reminds me of this special place in Yellowstone everytime I use it.
Today, I’m featuring photos from the Kam Wah Chung State Heritage Site kitchen. I’ve posted about this historical site in John Day, Oregon, before. It was boarded up for many years when the doors were finally opened, it was like a time capsule inside.
Whenever I visit there, I think about how good the various shapes and textures would look in monotone pictures. However, the vibrant colors are also interesting. Since I was unable to decide which way to process the photos I took, I’m showing both color and monotone sepia versions. Move the slider to compare them. I used a dark vignette effect on all of the photos.
The first one shows a wood cooking stove with a small shrine behind it. I like how the orange color glows in the color version.
The second photo shows various products in this kitchen of the past. In this one, I like how the labels stand out in color.
The High Desert Museum, in Bend, Oregon, is currently hosting the Creations of Spirit exhibition. The pieces on display include historical artifacts and works by contemporary Native artists.
The beautiful pieces are enhanced by quotes throughout the gallery. I will let their words tell the stories.
Throughout the process, you continually impart yourself in the creation of that object. And when you’ve completed it, it takes on a life of its own.
Philip Cash Cash, Ph. D., Weyíiletpuu (Cayuse) and Niimpíipuu (Nez Perce) tribes
I wanted to have my own story in the baskets. I wanted to keep the traditional form and the shape, but I wanted to add iconography that talked to the present.
Joe Feddersen, Member of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation
Root bag with multiple figures by Plateau artist (early 1900s); Basket with animal figures by Umatilla artist (mid-1900s); Round Dance pitcher & cup by Joe Feddersen, 2002; Berry-picking container by Vivian Harrison, (StuYat), Yakama/Palouse/Wishram, 2002
Most of my designs are from the petroglyphs along the Nch’i wana [Columbia River]. I love and appreciate where our people came from, and our people left animals as stories in our pictographs and petroglyphs. That’s why I want to instill them in my baskets and keep them alive. I want people to know that we’ve been seeing these animals for tens of thousands of years.
The sculpture of Crazy Horse in South Dakota stands out along the horizon as you drive north from Custer. We visited the site earlier this month, near the date of its 75th anniversary, to view the progress on the immense sculpture.
Crazy Horse Memorial
The Crazy Horse Memorial includes a Welcome Center, a gift store and restaurant, the family home of the sculptor, rotating exhibits, indoor and outdoor sculptures, the Native American Educational and Cultural Center, and the Indian Museum of North America. I’ll feature photos of the Museum in a later post. The nonprofit also manages the Indian University of North America.
One of my favorite things was a 1/34 scale model of the Crazy Horse sculpture. The size of the finished sculpture carved into the mountainside will be 641 feet long and 563 feet tall.
If you stand in just the right spot, you can capture an image that includes the scale model and the current sculpture.
Earlier this month, we took a long journey to go fishing for fossils in Wyoming. We had reservations for June 2, but thunderstorms dumped rain on the site and the owners shut it down. The last seven miles of the dirt road to the quarry turn into a slippery mess during rainstorms. We drove to our next destination in Vernal, Utah and returned to dig fossils the next day.
The FishDig Quarry is north of Kemmerer in southwest Wyoming. Visitors can make reservations ahead of time or just show up. FishDig opened for the season a week before we arrived. Be sure to check their website for hours and fees.
When you arrive at the site, you’re given advice on what to look for and how to split the rock. The helpful staff will try to identify things if you ask. Unlike other fossil-digging sites nearby, you get to keep everything you dig–-except for pieces worth $100,000 or more. In those cases, the owners keep 50% of the value.
A rock hammer and chisel are provided for free. They will cut your rocks down to more manageable sizes for no charge. As I’ve mentioned before, rocks are heavy so having less bulk to transport is helpful. Note, they do not provide anything for you to carry your fossils home in. Bring boxes and something to wrap them in, like bubble wrap or newspaper.
I did a lot of looking up in Burns, Oregon on my trip in April 2023. The main purpose of my trip was to look for birds on Harney County Migratory Bird Festival tours. However, I arrived a day early to participate in the Downtown Walking History Tour.
A very short history of Burns, Oregon
Burns was officially established in 1884 and incorporated in 1889. The Northern Paiute, or their ancestors, lived here for thousands of years prior to the arrival of European settlers. Harney County, where Burns is located, is the largest county in Oregon and ninth largest in the nation. This sparsely populated county is 10,226 square miles in size. The population of Burns, its largest city, was 2,757 in 2021.
Our tour guide told us about the history of buildings along the main road. Sometimes she pointed out areas where no building currently exists. Unfortunately, fires destroyed many buildings in years past. It is ironic that the town of Burns had so many fires.
Looking up in Burns
While I listened to facts about many of the buildings we passed, I kept looking up in Burns. My attention wandered, and I focused on the architecture overhead.
Some of the buildings had fallen into disrepair.
Others retained parts of the original structure with updates, like modern windows.
The Federal Building housed the Post Office at one time. I think it was once the tallest building in Burns.
The clouds of Harney County form dramatic backdrops to the High Desert landscapes of eastern Oregon. I just returned from the four-day Harney County Migratory Bird Festival. Though I was there to see birds, the cloud formations draw your eyes to the skies.
Layers of fluffy clouds hung over the Battleground Buttes. Higher elevations in the county received 200% of their normal snowfall. Days before I arrived, these fields were covered with snow.
Farther south, on the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, wispy clouds drifted in the wind. You can see part of Steens Mountain in the background. This 50-mile long mountain dominates the landscape.
Today I have the honor of serving as guest host for the Lens-Artist Photo Challenge. The prompt this week is glowing moments.
One of my earliest memories is of me sitting cross-legged in a darkened closet, awestruck by the glow cast from a jarful of lightning bugs. Though I don’t have pictures of that magical moment, I have captured many glowing moments since then.
A High Desert sunset glows with fiery colors.
While the rising moon shines in subdued tones.
Purple lupine flowers shine on a cool spring morning.
This past weekend, I went on the Barrel House Tour at Deschutes Brewery in Bend, Oregon. The brewery offers several tours including public tours, private tours, and this one, where you learn specifically about barrel brews.
You begin and end the tour in the Bend Tasting Room & Beer Garden. As you can see, it’s full of visitors there to taste the brewery’s iconic beers.
On the tour, you walk to a nearby warehouse where you’ll see some of the ingredients used to make their beers. Deschutes Brewery currently sells their products in 32 states and a few countries. Black Butte Porter is their most well-known beer, but there are three dozen different beers, and a couple ciders, available at the tasting room location.
Last October, we took a scenic drive along the Ochoco Highway in eastern Oregon. The landscapes in this area are punctuated by scenic rugged buttes, painted hills, rimrock mountains, and snow covered peaks.
Rustic buildings persevere, despite the harshness of the environment near Strawberry Mountain. Puffy overcast clouds filled the sky.
Black Butte stands out when you round a corner near Mitchell. The clouds in this picture were breathtakingly beautiful.
High Desert oases offer peaceful retreats for wildlife and human visitors.
Lake County Oases
Summer Lake lies at the base of Winter Ridge in Lake County, Oregon. When water levels are high, this alkaline lake measures 15 miles long and 5 miles wide. Explorer, Captain John C. Fremont, named the lake and ridge. Here is how he described them:
At our feet…more than a thousand feet below…we looked into a green prairie country, in which a beautiful lake, some twenty miles in length, was spread along the foot of the mountain…Shivering on snow three feet deep, and stiffening in a cold north wind, we exclaimed at once that the names of summer lake and winter ridge should be applied to these proximate places of such sudden and violent contrast.
John C. Fremont, 16 December 1843, Report, Second Expedition
Lake Abert, in Lake County, is Oregon’s only saline lake. The lake can host over 50,000 birds a day. Wilson’s Phalaropes and Snowy Plover feed on the brine shrimp and alkali flies that only live in saline lakes. Like the Great Salt Lake, water levels have dropped dramatically in recent years.