Friday, May 12, 2017

Mesa Verde from Park Point

Looking south from Park Point, Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado.
Early May, and the spring season is well along. Not far from the Memorial Day weekend start to the real crush of visitors. A great time to explore the park before it gets hot and crowded.

I had been working at the Museum and was driving home. The past few days had been wet and cold. The warm weather residents that were visiting were miserable and complaining a bit. Hey, springtime in the Rockies....

But the cold front passed, and cumulus clouds were accenting the blue sky once again. As I drove north from the Museum on Chapin Mesa, I stopped at Park Point, highest knob of landscape within the park. It has 360 degree views all around.

 Photo location: Mesa Verde National Park, southwest Colorado.

© Copyright 2017 Stephen J. Krieg

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

The Great Sage Plain Greens Up

Winter wheat fields and Abajo Mountains, Dove Creek, Colorado
Going home, early May. Dove Creek, southwest Colorado.

Actually I had come up from the lower Dolores River at Slick Rock, enjoying the swollen river and the boaters floating down to their take-out landing.

Then I drove up over the landscape, over high mesas, and came back out to Highway 491. What a view. The fields of winter wheat so green in the cold wet springtime soil. The Abajo Mountains in the distance, in Utah 20 miles west. The wet skies dancing about, teasing a bit more rain.

Photo location: Dove Creek, Colorado.

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© Copyright 2017 Stephen J. Krieg

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

La Sal Mountains Springtime Sunset

La Sal Mountains at sunset from near the Bears Ears National Monument boundary, San Juan County.
Late April in southeast Utah and the Four Corners country, and the weather was moody. I like the variety that it provides.

Driving west out of Monticello toward the Abajo Mountains, the road veers northward toward Utah 211, the highway into the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park. But before you get anywhere near that portion of the park, you cross the invisible boundary (since it's so new) of part of the eastern boundary of Bears Ears National Monument.

That evening, my eye was not on going into the Needles, but on staying high to watch how the sunset light would play out onto the La Sal Mountains to the northeast, near Moab.

As the sun slid below the western horizon, the low angle of its light lit up the still snowy peaks of the La Sals. Warmer, then a bit pink, too.

La Sal Mountains peaks at sunset color.
Zooming in with a longer lens, I made a series of overlapping shots from which to make a super high resolution panoramic image in Adobe Lightroom.

Soon the colors had faded, and it was time to drive home in the twilight. 

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© Copyright 2017 Stephen J. Krieg

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Moonset Over the Abajos

Moonset at sunrise, near Monticello, Utah.
I had been intending to take off in the other direction, until I exited my front door and saw the just past full moon setting over the Abajo Mountains. Hmm. Did I have time to do something about it? I did.

So I drove out to Loyds Lake on the edge of town. A favored vantage point. I quickly parked, grabbed my camera bag and tripod, and all but trotted down the gravel path. Because I could see there was no time to waste.

Loyds Lake at sunrise, with the moon setting over the Abajos.
 Whenever the moon is rising above the horizon, or setting in the other direction, it's amazing to see how quickly our Earth rotates compared to how we think of it (if at all) while we are caught up in the day. The frame of reference that the horizon brings is telling.

The moon was creeping down toward the still snowy Abajo Mountains west of town. The sun was rising as well, giving the landscape a warming glow while the moon was cool and blue. After all, it was still way out there in space.

Photo location: Monticello, southeast Utah.

© Copyright 2017 Stephen J. Krieg

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Mesa Verde: North Rim April Evening

Mesa Verde's North Rim escarpment from the Geologic Overlook.
"Light forms the image" wrote legendary photographer Edward Weston (1886-1958). Meaning the quality of the light at the time. The type of light, and how it played off of the surfaces in the scene.

Our world is lit by our Sun. But it is our atmosphere that filters that sunlight in many ways. Clouds have much to do with it, by their absence or presence, and by what type of cloud it is.

View north across the Montezuma Valley, with the Knife Edge lit up.
On a recent April evening as I drove along the North Rim of Mesa Verde, I had the pleasure of watching the afternoon sunlight and clouds play across the scenery.

Hazy evening silhouettes from the North Rim of Mesa Verde, with Sleeping Ute Mountain in the distance.
It was hazy down in the Montezuma Valley, making the light separate ridges and peaks from near to far.
Dead tree like a statue at the Montezuma Valley Overlook, Mesa Verde.
Photo location: Mesa Verde National Park, southwest Colorado.

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© Copyright 2017 Stephen J. Krieg

Monday, April 3, 2017

Mesa Verde: North Rim Morning

Point Lookout, from the northern end of Mesa Verde National Park.
Early April, and time to drive back up into Mesa Verde to go to work. The warm-season crowds have not yet arrived, just the Spring Break families that have livened up the place after the winter doldrums. The days continue to lengthen and some shrubs and grasses are sprouting a little bit of greenery.

From just inside the deserted (it's too early for a ranger to be on duty) entrance station I pull over into the parking lot that is designated for visitors towing trailers to drop them off before driving up the steep tight switchbacks. The parking lot is empty this early in the season. It's a good place to stop and photograph Point Lookout, the iconic northern tip of the Mesa Verde itself. There is a trail to the top of it, from Morefield Campground on the south side of it. The gentle side.

Mancos Valley Overlook, April 2. The La Plata Mountains in the distance.

After the first set of switchbacks you come to the Mancos Valley Overlook. Take it. Especially on a springtime morning like this, with the clouds clearing as the early sunlight lights them up.

Looking south onto the steep slopes of Mesa Verde, from the Mancos Valley Overlook.
Driving on a ways, I go through the tunnel and up some more switchbacks, pulling over at the Montezuma Valley Overlook, which allows one to gaze down the other side, down toward the town of Cortez.

Morning at the Montezuma Valley Overlook, with Sleeping Ute in the far distance.
There I make several photos, captivated by the sunlit lumps of the distant Sleeping Ute Mountain, still largely covered in snow.

Panorama from Montezuma Valley Overlook.
Then the road climbs toward Park Point, which is -- no surprise there -- the highest point in the park. On this cold April morning it also means rising into and out of fog. A veil dance.

Sunrise fog near Park Point, Mesa Verde.
After Far View, where the lodge has yet to open for the season, the highway descends back to 7,000 feet and the Park Headquarters and Museum. Time to park the vehicle and get ready for work. Time to greet more visitors and share what I've learned so far about this World Heritage Site in southwest Colorado.

Foggy turnout, Mesa Verde.

Into and out of the morning fog, Mesa Verde.

Photo location: Mesa Verde National Park, southwest Colorado.

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© Copyright 2017 Stephen J. Krieg

Friday, March 31, 2017

March: Out Like a Lion

Downtown Monticello, Utah, March 30. 
It's a rather early spring in southeast Utah. But plenty of unsettled weather has been rolling through. Last evening the latest one was arriving, with rain and snow showers.

Loyd's Lake, March 31.
In the morning it was snowing hard, then much harder. I drove out to the lake to get cell reception, and the snow was flying by.

Snowy Gambel Oak trees.
Surrounding the lake are stands of large (for them) Gambel Oak trees. Besides being fantastic cover for wildlife, they look great when they're coated with fresh snow. 

Photo location: Monticello, Utah.

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© Copyright 2017 Stephen J. Krieg