Sunday, November 5, 2017

Mesa Verde: Sunset Glow At Square Tower House

Square Tower House Ancestral Puebloan ruin, Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado.
Square Tower House alcove just before sunset, Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado.
November has arrived. Up in Mesa Verde National Park at the park's south end, (7,000 feet elevation), I spent an evening seeing how the much lower angle of the autumn sun was working the sunset light on the cliff dwellings.

On the beginning of the Mesa Top Loop road, I soon was able to see how Navajo Canyon was lit up by the low angle of the late autumn sun. Square Tower House, I thought, was going to look really good.

And it did. But it was still a half hour or so until sunset. So I drove on to see how the light was playing on some of the other Ancestral Puebloan cliff dwelling remains along the drive.

Oak Tree House alcove, early November afternoon sunlight.
Cliff Palace, as the pre-sunset shadows come up the alcove wall well before sunset.
Nice, but I was really interested in seeing how Square Tower House would look at sunset.

I swung back around the loop and parked and returned to the overlook. I was the only one there. I kept glancing at the sun, so low above the mesa top to the south. The lower the angle of the sun, the warmer the light would be. Each few minutes mattered, the difference noticeable.

As the shadows came up the alcove wall, the warm sunlight glow intensified. It seems to do this better at Square Tower House than at Cliff Palace because the adjacent canyon (Navajo Canyon) is wider, allowing the sun to be even lower before it finally disappears below the far canyon rim.

Square Tower House in sunset glow.
Photo location: Mesa Verde National Park, southwest Colorado.

See more of my photography at www.NaturalMoment.com

© Copyright Stephen J. Krieg

Thursday, October 12, 2017

High Peaks Sunrise and Valley Fall Colors

Moon setting at dawn, Rico, Colorado, October 7.
October 7, and I was driving up the Dolores River valley in southwest Colorado for another day of experiencing the fall colors. It was still dark as I left Cortez, and cruised through the town of Dolores.

Approaching Rico, dawn was occurring. When it got light enough to take decent landscape photos, I made some compositions with the just past Full moon getting ready to set behind the San Juan Mountains with their aspen forests fall colors.

Dawn at the beaver ponds on the edge of Rico.
At the edge of town I turned off on a gravel road that I knew bordered some old beaver ponds. A nice wide open view of the mountains, and a glassy reflection provided by the water's surface.

Sunrise on the high peak, above and below.
I was about to continue on my way when the sunrise lit up a high peak above timberline with an orange glow. And reflected on the pond's surface.

See more of my photography on my website: NaturalMoment.com.

Photo location: Rico, southwest Colorado.

© Copyright 2017 Stephen J. Krieg

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Rico, Colorado Fall Colors

Fall colors from Rico Community Church on an overcast morning, September 30, 2017.
As I track the progression of the fall colors in the San Juan Mountains of southwest Colorado, I return again and again to the tiny community of Rico. Once the county seat when it was a mining boom town, it's now part tourist destination, part bedroom community for people working in Telluride.

At about 8,800 feet in elevation it's a good bellweather of what's going on in the high country, ringed by high mountain peaks. 

Fall colors on a sunny afternoon, October 7, 2017.
I returned a week later, on a perfect early October day. Warm, no haze to speak of, and no wind.

Photo location: Rico, Colorado.

See more of my photography on my website: NaturalMoment.com.

© Copyright 2017 Stephen J. Krieg

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Aspen Colors in First Snow


Orange, yellow and green aspen tree foliage in the first snow of the high country.

Photo location: San Juan National Forest, Colorado.

© Copyright Stephen J. Krieg

Saturday, September 16, 2017

First Fall Weather at Mesa Verde


Rain curtain from the Navajo Canyon overlook, Mesa Verde.

Mid September, and I'm enjoying the first fall weather of the season, which looks like it's going to continue. Goodbye summertime heat at last?

I drove the Mesa Top Loop road first, just after the first hard rain in weeks had moved on.

Oak Tree House cliff dwelling ruin, Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado.
Oak Tree House cliff dwelling, after the rain.
The overall lighting was poor, so I concentrated on eliminating the sky in most of my shots. I was interested in how the wet Cliff Dwelling Sandstone layer was showing off its dark streaks of desert varnish even more prominently.

Fire House cliff dwelling ruin, Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado
Fire House cliff dwelling.
At Sun Temple's "Camera Point" I got a nicely saturated panorama of Cliff Palace.

Cliff Palace cliff dwelling ruin, Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado.
Cliff Palace from across the canyon at Camera Point.
Inside the Cliff Palace alcove, the Ranger-led tour's visitors were enjoying being nice and dry.

Cliff Palace cliff dwelling ruin, Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado.
Tour group at Cliff Palace.
The Mesa Top Loop completed, it was time to continue outbound from the southwest end of the Park.

Wild turkeys, Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado.
Young wild turkey drinking from the rumble strip gouges in the road.

On the way to Far View, where the park's lodge is located, I came across the same hen (female) and youngster wild turkey pair that I'd seen on the way in that morning.

Being in a National Park where no hunting is allowed, they were quite casual. I watched them drink from the "rumble strip" depressions in the road's centerline, as I had seen other birds do. A convenient way for a quick drink of cool, clear water after the storm.

Mother and youngster wild turkeys.
Since there was only one poult (hatchling) with the mother hen on both sightings, I assumed that the rest of the young ones had been killed, probably picked off one by one by predators. Which is why each hen hatches a clutch of eggs, not just one.

Clearing rain storm, Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado.
Storm to the south, from Park Point.
At Park Point I made a panorama of the slowly clearing skies and the rain storm still underway down toward Shiprock, New Mexico. Then I shifted my view to the north for a nice wet view toward the Knife Edge cliff formation, with the La Plata Mountains in the distance.

Mesa Verde's North Rim and clearing storm, Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado.
Looking north toward the Knife Edge, from Park Point.
While at Park Point I made some shots of early fall colors in some Gambel Oak leaves. With the chilly nights in the forecast things should be changing quickly.

Gambel Oak - Quercus gambellii - early fall colors, Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado.
A few Gambel Oak (Quercus gambellii) early fall colors.
Serviceberry (Amelanchier alnifolia) early fall colors at Mesa Verde National Park
Serviceberry (Amelanchier alnifolia) early fall colors.
As a closing touch, I photographed a lovely thunderhead cloud before continuing down from the North Rim and out of the park.

Thunderhead cloud, Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado
Thunderhead cloud from Park Point.

Photo location: Mesa Verde National Park, southwest Colorado.

© Copyright 2017 Stephen J. Krieg

Friday, August 18, 2017

Days So Much Shorter

Pinon Pine snag at Montezuma Valley Overlook.
It's August now. Late summer. It's been a spectacular one, too. Rain showers in the afternoon, keeping the land green. Minimizing the wildfire danger.

At this time of the year, the days (length of daylight) are getting shorter by about two minutes a day. Meaning an hour a month. As we slide out of the heat of summer into the glorious coolness of autumn, starting in September. It won't be long.
 
Photo location: Mesa Verde National Park, southwest Colorado.

See more of my photography at NaturalMoment.com

© Copyright 2017 Stephen J. Krieg

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Mesa Verde Summertime View

Navajo Canyon, Mesa Verde.
It's mid summer. Here comes late summer right around the corner. I try to enjoy all the seasons.

People are saying: "It's almost August! Where is the summer going?" It's going day by day, of course.

Soon it will be fall, my favorite time of year. But not yet. Here on the Colorado Plateau, it's monsoon thunderstorm season, the beautiful time when southern moisture collides with hot high country temperatures and boils over in the skies. When all manner of blues and whites and grays make for a mesmerizing palette above.

Navajo Canyon cliffs.
Up on Mesa Verde, I continue to watch things progress through the summer. The vegetation growing until it's once again time to settle in for the coming cold season.

Once again I look down upon Cliff Palace, the largest cliff dwelling in North America.

Cliff Place at Mesa Verde.
Meanwhile, in the parking lot, the Rabbitbrush are beginning to bloom. A butterfly is sufficiently distracted as to allow me to take some photos of it from a few feet away.

Butterfly on Rabbitbrush blooms, Cliff Palace parking lot.
Photo location: Mesa Verde National Park, southwest Colorado.

© Copyright 2017 Stephen J. Krieg