EnviroQuest

Photography by Larry A Lyons

Posts tagged ‘national parks’

Grand Teton National Park – The Landscape

The Grand Teton National Park, 310,000 acres in size, is located just 10 miles south of Yellowstone within the State of Wyoming. It encompasses the Teton mountain range, glacial lakes, the 15-mile long Jackson Lake, the upper stem of the Snake River and part of the Jackson Hole Valley.

'Grand Teton National Park Map'

‘Grand Teton National Park Map’

This is the second part of the National Park series following a post on “Yellowstone- The Landscape”. It really is astonishing to travel only 10 miles (16 km) south from the geothermal landscapes of Yellowstone to the majestic, and more serene, landscapes of the Tetons.

'The Tetons' © Larry A Lyons

‘The Tetons’ © Larry A Lyons

The Teton mountain range is a sub-range of the Rocky Mountains that extends for 3,000 miles (4,800 km) from British Columbia to New Mexico. It is the youngest mountain range within the Rocky Mountains that began forming between 6 and 9 million years ago.

Mount Grand Teton is the tallest mountain within the Teton mountain range with an elevation of 13,775 ft. (4,200 m). Here Mt. Grand Teton stands 7,000 ft. (2,100 m) above a Moulton homestead within Jackson Hole Valley.

'Mt. Grand Teton Overlooking Jackson Hole Valley' © Larry A Lyons

‘Mt. Grand Teton Overlooking Jackson Hole Valley’ © Larry A Lyons

The beauty of the Tetons is never far from your view while visiting this national park. You just have to face west. In addition to Mount Grand Teton, there are another nine mountain peaks at elevations over 12,000 ft. (3,700 m).

'Teton Mountain Range' © Larry A Lyons

‘Teton Mountain Range’ © Larry A Lyons

Mount Moran, named after Thomas Moran, a frontier landscape artist, stands at 12,605 ft. (3,840 m). Mount Moran rises 6,000 ft. (1,800 m) above the Snake River at an area called Oxbow Bend.

'Mt. Moran At Oxbow Bend' © Larry A Lyons

‘Mt. Moran At Oxbow Bend’ © Larry A Lyons

Here Mount Moran is reflecting in Jackson Lake.

'Mt. Morans' Reflection' © Larry A Lyons

‘Mt. Morans’ Reflection’ © Larry A Lyons

The major peaks of the Teton mountain range were carved out into their current shapes by glaciers that have vanished long ago. Small glaciers that continue to recede still exist at the highest peaks.

'Mt. Moran's Peak' © Larry A Lyons

‘Mt. Moran’s Peak’ © Larry A Lyons

The peaks with their light blue glaciers and bare granite are often viewed through the clouds.

'In The Clouds' © Larry A Lyons

‘In The Clouds’ © Larry A Lyons

'Bare Granite Peaks and Glaciers' © Larry A Lyons

‘Bare Granite Peaks and Glaciers’ © Larry A Lyons

Jackson Hole Valley within the national park is 55 miles (89 km) long and 6 to 13 miles (10 to 21 km) wide. It is a fairly flat terrain at an average elevation of 6,800 ft. (2,100 m). The Snake River starts out as a small river flowing west and south into Jackson Lake. The first 50 miles (80 km) of Snake River runs through Jackson Hole Valley.

In the early 1800’s mountain men came to Jackson Hole Valley to trap for beaver and hunt for other fur bearing animals. Fur trading businesses thrived until about 1840 when businesses folded as a result of the decline of beaver populations from over-trapping. Today, beavers are back in business and building rather extensive dams.

Weather conditions can really change how your images will be portrayed. The overcast days and extensive cloud cover when photographing within the park this past autumn really provided for some dramatic images. Here only the foothills of the Tetons were visible because of the extensive cloud cover when photographing the large beaver dam.

'Beaver Dam On Snake River' © Larry A Lyons

‘Beaver Dam On Snake River’ © Larry A Lyons

Jackson Hole Valley is also the home of the National Elk Refuge with the largest elk herd on earth.

'Elk Grazing' © Larry A Lyons

‘Elk Grazing’ © Larry A Lyons

And Bison also roam free in the valley. Here the bison were moving in one direction, whispery faint clouds passing in the opposite direction in front of the Tetons, and the sun was beginning to set that lit-up the peaks and clouds.

'Bison On The Move' © Larry A Lyons

‘Bison On The Move’ © Larry A Lyons

Like Yellowstone, the Grand Teton National Park supports a wide diversity of wildlife. An upcoming post will provide a glimpse into the wildlife that utilize and reside in the ‘Greater Yellowstone’ ecosystem encompassing both the Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks.

'Western Ho' © Larry A Lyons

‘Western Ho’ © Larry A Lyons

All of the images in this post were captured in the autumn when the aspen trees brighten up the landscape with their quivering, yellow foliage. Autumn is a particularly good time to visit this national park.

'Aspens Accenting The Landscape' © Larry A Lyons

‘Aspens Accenting The Landscape’ © Larry A Lyons

'Autumn Colors of a Meadow' © Larry A Lyons

‘Autumn Colors of a Meadow’ © Larry A Lyons

The green tint of the bark of aspen trees is created by chlorophyll that allows photosynthesis, providing energy from the sun for their growth. This allows aspen trees to flourish during their short growing season.

'Stand of Aspens' © Larry A Lyons

‘Stand of Aspens’ © Larry A Lyons

Homesteads settled by few frontiersmen in Jackson Hole Valley during the 1890’s and early 1900’s have been historically preserved.

One particular homestead, known as the “Shane Cabins”, was actually used as props for a 1953 movie starring Alan Ladd in the movie entitled “Shane”. It is an American West movie about homesteaders. A clip of this movie with the Grand Tetons as the setting can be found at Shane.

'Shane Cabins and Homestead' © Larry A Lyons

‘Shane Cabins and Homestead’ © Larry A Lyons

Historically this homestead was the “Luther Taylor Homestead” that was built in 1916; however, for the most part it is referred to as the “Shane” cabins.

'Teton Sunset' © Larry A Lyons

‘Teton Sunset’ © Larry A Lyons

'Shane' © Larry A Lyons

‘Shane’ © Larry A Lyons

While photographing these nighttime images, the howling of coyotes in the distance added to the lore of the Shane cabins.

'Big Dipper Over Shane Cabin' © Larry A Lyons

‘Big Dipper Over Shane Cabin’ © Larry A Lyons

There is also a complex of homesteads within Jackson Hole Valley referred to as ‘Mormon Row’. Mormon homesteaders began to arrive in the 1890’s. These homesteaders clustered their farms to share labor and community. Despite the arid and long winter conditions of the Jackson Hole Valley, these settlers grew crops by using irrigation. They dug out levees, dikes and ditches to funnel water to their fields. Today the barns of two settlers – John and Thomas Moulton- remain as historic testament to these hardy homesteaders.

'Thomas Moulton Homestead' © Larry A Lyons

‘Thomas Moulton Homestead’ © Larry A Lyons

'John Moulton Barn' © Larry A Lyons

‘John Moulton Barn’ © Larry A Lyons

'Glacier Framed by Corral Fence' © Larry A Lyons

‘Glacier Framed by Corral Fence’ © Larry A Lyons

Bid adieu to the Tetons for now. As majestic and grand as the Tetons stand here on planet Earth, you can only ponder when glazing into the Milky Way and its millions of stars the infinite wonders of this universe.

'Infinite Wonders' © Larry A Lyons

‘Infinite Wonders’ © Larry A Lyons

Stay tuned for upcoming posts. One upcoming post will provide a glimpse of the wildlife utilizing both the Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. Another post provide a glimpse of Mammoth Springs, which consists of extensive limestone formations generated by the hot springs in Yellowstone. In addition, a ‘glimpse’ into other National Parks, including the Badlands, the Redwood Forests, Yosemite, Death Valley, and the Grand Canyon, will be forthcoming.

Yellowstone – The Landscape

An upcoming series of posts will be providing a “glimpse” of the National Parks in the United States including Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, Badlands, Redwood Forests, Yosemite, Death Valley, Grand Canyon and others. This series is intended to provide a glimpse into the uniqueness of each national park encompassing the beauty of its topography, its geological make-up, and the distinct ecosystems supporting a diversity of wildlife and plant species.

This National Park series will begin with Yellowstone National Park, which is the first U.S. National Park established in 1872.

Yellowstone is situated in the northwest corner of Wyoming and includes small areas of Montana and Idaho. It encompasses 2.2 million acres (or 3,400 square miles). It is an area larger than the states of Delaware and Rhode Island combined.

'May of Yellowstone'

‘Map of Yellowstone’

Yellowstone is one giant volcano resting on top of one of the largest magna chambers in the world. The last major eruption was 600,000 years ago. From 1,000 to 3,000 earthquakes occur each year at Yellowstone, but most are too small to be felt.

Geysers and Steam Vents Galore' © Larry A Lyons

Geysers and Steam Vents Galore’ © Larry A Lyons

Yellowstone is home to more than 10,000 geothermal features encompassing geysers, hot springs, steam vents and baths, and percolating mud baths. All of these geothermal features are fueled by heat just a few miles underground.

Sixty percent of the world’s geysers are situated in Yellowstone with over 200 active geysers. Geysers are hot springs that are constricted at the surface that periodically erupt into a fountain of boiling water and steam.

The ‘Old Faithful’ geyser is probably the most famous geyser in the world, not because it is the tallest geyser, but rather it is one of the more predictable geysers. ‘Old Faithful’ erupts several times each day and its eruption is predictable within 30 minutes prior to erupting. Eruptions may occur as frequently as every 60 to 90 minutes. Each eruption blasts 3,400 to 8,400 gallons (14,000 liters to 32,000 liters) of boiling water to a height of 120 feet (36 meters).

'Old Faithful' © Larry A Lyons

‘Old Faithful’ © Larry A Lyons

The reason “Old Faithful” is quite the predictable geyser is because it does not share its underground plumbing system with other geysers. Most of the water from geysers first arrives from rain or snow melt. The water seeps deep into the earth and begins a long recycling journey back up again. The journey can take 500 years or more before it is recycled and blasts into an eruption. In other words, the hot water erupting that this image captured was last seen during the time of Columbus.

'Grand Geyser Erupting' © Larry A Lyons

‘Grand Geyser Erupting’ © Larry A Lyons

Grand geyser is consistently the tallest and perhaps the most spectacular of the predictable geysers. Grand geyser will erupt around every 8 to 12 hours and will blast to a height of 150 to 180 feet (46 to 55 meters).

'Petrified Trees' © Larry A Lyons

‘Petrified Trees’ © Larry A Lyons

Petrified trees border the Grand geyser pool area. There are two types of geysers, that is, either cone-shaped like the Old Faithful geyser or fountain-type geyser. The “Grand” geyser erupts from a pool of water to produce a fountain-type geyser. After the eruption has ended, the water will be out of sight or sometimes a pool of water will be visible.

'Castle Rock Venting Steam' © Larry A Lyons

‘Castle Rock Venting Steam’ © Larry A Lyons

Castle geyser is considered a very old geyser that is 5,000 to 15,000 years that has a 12-foot (4-meter) cone. Castle geyser erupts at an interval between 9 to 11 hours. Bison are often seen grazing near the geysers.

'Hot Spring' © Larry A Lyons

‘Hot Spring’ © Larry A Lyons

Hot springs are the most common geothermal feature in which rising hot water is released as a runoff or as steam. Water temperatures can exceed 190 degrees F (90 degrees C). Unlike geysers with a pressurized plumbing system that erupts through a small constriction, hot springs have wide openings where super heated water is continuously circulating to the surface.

'Colorful Microbial Mats' © Larry A Lyons

‘Colorful Microbial Mats’ © Larry A Lyons

Colorful microbial mats, composed of trillions of pigmented bacteria, live in and around the hot springs. The colors can range across a wide spectrum of colors.

'Thermophiles' © Larry A Lyons

‘Thermophiles’ © Larry A Lyons

The bright colors found in Yellowstone’s hydrothermal basins originate from thermophiles – microorganisms that thrive in hot temperatures and the mineral-rich water.

'Close-up of Pigmented Microbial Mats' © Larry A Lyons

‘Close-up of Pigmented Microbial Mats’ © Larry A Lyons

'Small Geysers Sprouting' © Larry A Lyons

‘Small Geysers Sprouting’ © Larry A Lyons

Large Hydrothermal basins, like the ‘Grand Prismatic Spring’, also reveals extensive microbial mats with the vivid colors that flourish throughout the basin.

'Grand Prismatic Spring' © Larry A Lyons

‘Grand Prismatic Spring’ © Larry A Lyons

'Sunset Over Grand Prismatic Spring' © Larry A Lyons

‘Sunset Over Grand Prismatic Spring’ © Larry A Lyons

In addition to all of the geothermal features that Yellowstone has to offer, there are many other spectacular vistas including snow covered mountains and a golden grand canyon.

'Rocky Mountain Vista' © Larry A Lyons

‘Rocky Mountain Vista’ © Larry A Lyons

Here a couple of bison are resting in the grassy plateau while waterfowl wade in the pond. Yellowstone is home to 50 species of mammals and 300 species of birds. An upcoming post will provide a glimpse into the wildlife of Yellowstone.

The “Grand Canyon of Yellowstone’ is situated in the middle of the park with Yellowstone River flowing through it. The canyon is 24 miles (38 km) long and 1,200 feet (365 meters) deep. Yellowstone River drops an astonishing 300 feet (91 meters) at the Lower Yellowstone Falls.

'Grand Canyon of Yellowstone' © Larry A Lyons

‘Grand Canyon of Yellowstone’ © Larry A Lyons

This golden canyon was formed from volcanic rock about 600,000 years ago. The golden color of the volcanic rock evolved from the iron in the rock that had become ozidized from steam and hot water.

'Volcanic Rock Close-up' © Larry A Lyons

‘Volcanic Rock Close-up’ © Larry A Lyons

Yellowstone River is recognized as the longest free-flowing (undammed) river in the United States.

'Upper Yellowstone Falls' © Larry A Lyons

‘Upper Yellowstone Falls’ © Larry A Lyons

Forest fires are an important part of Yellowstone’s ecosystem and has become to be understood that fires are a natural regeneration process. Yellowstone, like other parks, have instituted a natural fire management plan that allows fires caused by lightning to burn out on their own. For instance in 2013 there were 15 fires. Of the 15, eleven of the fires were only 0.1 to 1.0 acres in size. The remaining four fires ranged in size from 189 acres to 7,200 acres for a total of 11, 933 acres. Five of the 2013 fires were attributed to human activity while the remaining ten fires were caused by lighting. In 2014, there were only five fires reported and each of those fires was only 0.1 acres in size.

'Forest Regeneration' © Larry A Lyons

‘Forest Regeneration’ © Larry A Lyons

Many of Yellowstone’s plant species are fire-adapted. For instance, lodgepole pines (Pinus contorta), which make up nearly 80% of the park’s extensive forests, have cones that are sealed by resin until the intense heat of fire cracks open and releases the seeds inside.

Pine and Aspen Saplings' © Larry A Lyons

Pine and Aspen Saplings’ © Larry A Lyons

One lonely Aspen sapling along with the pine saplings are in the process of regenerating into a new forest. Fires may stimulate regeneration of aspen, sagebrush, and willows, but the interactions between these plants and fire is complicated by other influences such as grazing levels and climate.

The scenery of Yellowstone at night can be as grand as the daytime hours.

'Night Eruption of Old Faithful' © Larry A Lyons

‘Night Eruption of Old Faithful’ © Larry A Lyons

'Venting To The Stars' © Larry A Lyons

‘Venting To The Stars’ © Larry A Lyons

'Big Dipper and Yellowstone' © Larry A Lyons

‘Big Dipper and Yellowstone’ © Larry A Lyons

Here a full moon is shining through Old Faithful’s eruption.

'Goodnight Yellowstone' © Larry A Lyons

‘Goodnight Yellowstone’ © Larry A Lyons

Bid adieu to Yellowstone for now. What a magnificent treasure! Stay tuned for upcoming posts. Two more posts on Yellowstone will be forthcoming. One is a glimpse of Mammoth Springs, which consists of extensive limestone formations generated by the hot springs of Yellowstone, and the wildlife of Yellowstone. In addition, a ‘glimpse’ into other National Parks, including Grand Tetons, Badlands, Redwood Forests, Yosemite, Death Valley, and Grand Canyon, will be forthcoming.