August 25th marks the 100 year anniversary of the creation of the National Park Service (NPS). National Parks have been called "America's Best Idea" and we established the practice that the world has followed. Setting aside truly remarkable lands for current and future generations to enjoy was a very far-sighted idea 100 years ago.
I have been obsessed with the outdoors since I was very young - long before I became interested in photography. To this day I measure the "success" of a summer day by how long I have been outside, doing anything, or doing nothing - as long as it is outside. So it's no surprise that when I became interested in photography, I would use the camera to show others what I enjoy most - the landscape.
I have used photography as a reason or a license to explore many national parks. But it's not just the photographs, it's the experience of being there. I have hiked in the dark by headlamp into the middle of a dune field to watch the sun rise and turn the sand shades of gold and yellow. I have seen a tiny creek in the mountains knowing that at the other end as a mighty river it carved the Grand Canyon. I have stood on the lowest ground in the United States. I have stood on the Continental Divide where rain falling flows either to the Atlantic or the Pacific. I have walked among strange sandstone formations called hoodoos and watched the light reflect in many directions. I've watched in silence as the full moon dipped below snow capped mountains at five in the morning. I have stood on a 9000 foot mountain staring at the remains of a dormant volcano. I have climbed above the clouds many times watching amazing light change minute by minute. I have felt the cool autumn air mix with the warm sun in November as it only can in the desert. I have "heard" the sound of complete silence in one of our most remote parks. I've watched in awe during forty sunrises and forty sunsets - all unique, all different - all amazing.
Of course, I have also almost backed the car off a six foot embankment because I saw a great photo. I have run toward better photo angles leaving Marilyn or Rich to pick up the stuff I have left behind. I've hiked to the top of a mountain trail in great excitement only to find we didn't bring enough food or water. I've had leg cramps in more parks than I can remember. I've set up for a beautiful sunset composition only to find the scene behind me illuminated by the setting sun. And I've returned several rental cars with a few more scratches than they started with. But it was worth it!
The 25 photos above are some of my favorites from just ten of the Parks I have visited. I can't wait to experience the next one and the one after that. If you enjoy the outdoors, make your next vacation at one of our National Parks. And if you need photos, I can be hired for a low hourly rate! ;)
(For extra credit, tell me the 10 National Parks pictured above!)