Sunday, May 19, 2024

Where the Saguaros Live

Image of Saguaro Cacti in Evening
Saguaro cacti in evening, Saguaro National Park.
 As a kid, I remember watching cartoons such as Bugs Bunny and Road Runner and seeing the "coat hanger" type cactus depicted throughout their scenes.  Were there any other types?  Not in Toonville!

And it is no surprise - such a majestic cactus is an attention drawer and the epitome of the southwest landscape (maybe because of those cartoons).  The reality is that they are NOT very common at all.  In fact, their only existence is within the Sonoran Desert, mostly in Mexico and only a small part of southern Arizona.  California lays official claim to approximately 30 of this species.

So, where to go to see and photograph these beautiful tree-like icons?  Saguaro National Park near Tucson offers the perfect landing spot!  This national park was designed in 1933 to help protect the species and its habitat.  It's a unique national park in that it is so close to the city of Tucson and divided into sections, with the city itself being the divider!

Image of Saguaro Cacti
Saguaro cacti in evening, Saguaro National Park.
Both sections of the park and have something to offer and both should be visited as they are only about 30 minutes apart driving.

Saguaro National Park East, Rincon Mountain District is closest to Tucson.  It sports the paved 8-mile Cactus Forest Loop drive with many pullouts for further exploration on foot.  This road provides many different viewing opportunities along the way, with each section seeming to offer something new.  Whether it is up-close views of cacti, diverse fauna scenes or panorama views of the Rincon Mountains and distant Tucson, the scenes are ever changing.

I have found this district of the park excellent for capturing more intimate shots of the fauna and sporting much diversity of the many species of cacti together.  Prickly Pears and Chollas abound amongst the Saguaros!

I've also found it to be the much the less crowded of the two districts.

Image of Saguaro National Park
Saguaros in evening, Saguaro National
If you are hoping to catch sight of a snake or two from a safe distance, drive the Cactus Forest Loop in late afternoon.  In my experience, this is the best time to discover snakes basking on the warm black top or simply slowly crossing the road in their unhurried manner.  If you see a line in the road ahead, slow down - it's likely a snake!

Saguaro National Park West, Tucson Mountain District is much different, yet with many similarities.  While I consider Saguaro East to offer more accessible up-close compositions of fauna, Saguaro West offers forests of Saguaros against the impressive landscape of the Tucson Mountains.  The views from the Visitor Center itself are impressive.  Add to it the Bajada Loop Drive, a popular 6-mile graded dirt road thru fantastic groves of Saguaro cacti, and you will understand its popularity.  It also offers some fantastic hiking opportunities, with arguably the best hike being King Canyon Trail to Wasson Peak (made into a loop by descending the Hugh Norris Trail back to the Esperanza Trail cut-off back to King Canyon).

Gates Pass Scenic Overlook is a nearby attraction in Tucson Mountain Park that offers amazing sunset views.  No need to drive out of your way.  If coming from Tucson, you will drive over this pass on your way to Saguaro West!  Watch for a turnout sign to your right along Gates Pass Road.  Also, get there early for a parking spot!

Image of Teddy Bear Cacti
Cholla Teddy Bear cacti in Saguaro
National Park.
Other nearby attractions are Old Tucson Studios, where MANY movies have been filmed over the years - some that might surprise you.  And the excellent Arizona - Sonora Desert Museum.

Sabino Canyon Recreation Area

While very popular (read crowded!) for its access to water as well as scenery, Sabino Canyon offers excellent hiking options and a tram that runs year-round up the 3.8 mile paved road.  This road attracts all audiences, from hikers to runners to cyclists.

For excellent hiking options, look at the Telephone Line Trail, which runs high above the canyon for excellent views, or the trail up Bear Canyon to Seven Falls.  Both are accessible from the Sabino Canyon parking lot (or overflow lot if arriving mid-morning or later on a popular day).

If visiting Sabino Canyon, I recommend purchasing your parking pass online beforehand as internet access is sketchy at the parking lot.  My first visit I tried three different times to purchase the pass from my phone, each time failing to receive a confirmation.  The screen just hung.  Later that day I returned to my hotel to see I had received (3) payment confirmation emails!

Photography Advise

I like to visit Saguaro East in the mornings for scenes like the backlit Teddy Bear Cholla on this page and similar scenes of other cacti just off the loop road.  It's easy to find several different species grouped together for interesting compositions.  I've found evening visits to be more challenging due to the stronger lighting and its angle.

Late afternoons and evenings are great for visiting Saguaro West.  Drive the Bajada Loop mid-afternoon to look for compositions to return to later.  Don't forget to check out the Valley View Trail.

The King Canyon Trail offers excellent opportunities as well.  The well-signed trailhead is just across from the museum, which offers lots of overflow parking if the trailhead parking if full (and almost as convenient).

Don't forget to snoop around the visitor center as well for some nice late afternoon compositions.  It offers a nature trail as well as two separate balcony platforms for your viewing pleasure.

Image of Saguaro Cacti at Sunset
Saguaro Cacti at sunset from Gates Pass.
Gates Pass Scenic Overlook is excellent for sunset if you have an interesting sky, or for views nonetheless!  Get there a little before and you can pull in compositions of Saguaros in excellent light on the surrounding hills with a zoom lens, such as the image to the left.  There is also an interesting pullout just below the pass on the other side, though not offering sunset view that Gates Pass offers.

One of the beautiful things about this area is that it is available year-round, though I would avoid the hot months!  I've done many hikes and photography in February.  April brings the wildflowers, which last into May.  May offers cactus blooms, with the Saguaro typically reaching peak in mid to late May.


My go-to lenses were my 24-70mm and 70-200mm.  Both were used extensively.  I'm not saying you couldn't find use for a wide-angle lens, but mine never left my bag.  Now if attempting night sky photography, that would be a different story (understand Saguaro East is only open from sunrise to sunset - don't get trapped on the wrong side of the gate!).


Obviously, there is a lot available on the internet.  Besides that, publications I found very useful were:

  • Photographing the Southwest, Volume 2, by Laurent Martres.
  • Tucson - 38 Spectacular Hikes Around Old Pueblo, by Rob Rachowiecki.
  • 100 Classic Hikes - Arizona, by Scott Warren.
I hope to have these images and more included on my website soon.  You can also visit my Facebook page for current news and events.

I hope some of this information helps you in planning your visit!  As always, thanks for looking.  Hope to see you on the trail!

Sunday, February 11, 2024

Spray Park, Mount Rainier

Image of Mount Rainier above Spray Park
Mount Rainier above Spray Park at sunset.
Spray Park is probably my favorite park at Mount Rainier.  There is so much to do and see.  For many people, the meadows and tarns down low are the main attraction. Others like to follow the trail to its high point for massive views far and wide, while looking down on the beautiful meadows of Seattle Park below.  Some wish to explore even higher and scramble up Echo Peak or Observation Rock (hey, why not both!).

Even the hike to the park can done in multiple ways.  While for most the Spray Park Trail is the most obvious choice (and shortest).  Others find the route over Knapsack Pass more challenging and extremely scenic.  This route takes off from an unsigned trail near the ranger cabin, climbs up to the pass below Mother Mountain (a fun side trip), descends into Seattle Park, ascends into the upper reaches of Spray Park, then descends through the park, past Spray Falls and back to the parking lot for a one-way loop.

Want a more challenging option?  Entertain a much longer loop by hiking to Ipsut Pass, descending down to the Wonderland Trail along the Carbon River, follow it upriver to Carbon River Camp and a junction, turning right up Cataract Creek and follow it up below Echo Cliffs to Seattle Park, up to Spray Park and descend back to the parking lot.  This trip is a long day with much elevation change and is typically done for the physical challenge it presents.  It can also be done in reverse.

This image was taken during one of the many sunsets I have shot from Spray Park.  There is no camping in the park, so one must either get a permit to camp at Eagle's Roost or do what I do - hike out with headlamp.  I strongly recommend trekking poles and extra batteries if considering this option.  There are many opportunities to turn an ankle on the way out if not careful.  Spoken from experience!

I'm happy to share that this image recently appeared in a well-known U.S. magazine.  So I guess the efforts to go get it are all made worthwhile!

To view this and more images from Mount Rainier National Park, please feel free to visit my Mount Rainier Gallery.

As always, thanks for looking.  I hope to see you on the trail!

Sunday, June 18, 2023

Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area

Image of Bighorn Canyon
Bighorn Canyon NRA
Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area is comprised of two districts and straddles the border of Wyoming and Montana.  The north district is located in Montana and used mostly for boating recreation while the south district is accessed in Wyoming and offers primarily land-based recreation, including the incredible Devil Canyon Overlook.

At the bottom of the canyon lies the Bighorn River, which snakes through its rugged, steep walls in its journey northeast.

Image of Bighorn Canyon
Bighorn Canyon NRA
The remoteness of this area lends itself to a modest number of visitors - just over 200,000 per year.  The main attractions are sightseeing, boating and hiking.

The centerpiece of the south district is Devil Canyon Overlook, pictured here.  It is comprised of a parking lot on a bluff overlooking the canyon, with walkways along the fence near the edge.  The views are incredible.

My favorite time to visit this overlook is in the morning hours, staying until mid-morning to get full light in the canyon.

Image of Bighorn Canyon
Bighorn Canyon NRA
But afternoon and evening are also very nice times to visit, especially with incoming storms approaching.  I was fortunate enough to experience such as the black ominous clouds filled the sky from the south and east while filtered light from the west highlighted the canyon walls.  The sound of rolling thunder added to the splendor.

The storms were short-lived during my visit, soon passing and relinquishing the sky back to sunshine and evening sunsets.

While I photographed during sunrise, mid-afternoon storms and sunset, I only shared this spectacular view with a handful of people.  I did not see another photographer during my entire visit.  It could be a lonely place.

Image of Bighorn Canyon
Bighorn Canyon NRA
Mornings in particular were void of visitors.  I camped nearby at Trail Creek Campground (shared with only one other party) and arrived approximately half an hour before sunrise, only to find the parking lot bare.  Visitors didn't typically begin arriving until well after sunrise.

Evenings tended to receive more interest, though still in limited numbers.

In between canyon photography times there are other things to do, such as hiking, boat tours at Horseshoe Bend (not yet running during my visit due to low water level) and wildlife viewing.

Wild mustang in Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range
Wildlife include bighorn sheep, deer, elk, black bear and wild horses.  Yes, you read that correctly - wild horses!

The Pryor Mountain Horse Range is the only federally protected wild horse range in the U.S., and shares land within Bighorn Canyon NRA.  Approximately 90-120 wild mustangs roam the area and can be viewed from the road within the park.

Technically, these mustangs are considered feral, having escaped captivity and thrived in the wild.  They have unique physical traits which include a triangular face and short pointed ears.  They are also very muscular.  DNA tests have linked them to horses brought to the area by the Spaniards.  In fact, they most closely resemble the Spanish Colonial horse, a very rare breed today.

Image of Bighorn Canyon
Bighorn Canyon NRA
Photography Gear and Advise:  My most used lens by far for landscapes was my wide-angle, 17-40mm.  I found this lens to best include as much of the canyon as possible and convey its depth and size.  This lens was also excellent for including afternoon storm clouds above the canyon.

My 24-70mm also saw some action of course.  Primarily isolating the canyon and its reaches downstream.

Of course, my 200mm lens coupled with my 2.0 teleconverter saw plenty of wildlife action.  The main subjects were bighorn sheep and the wild mustangs.

Image of Bighorn Canyon
Bighorn Canyon NRA
The best opportunities for photographing the canyon are right from the overlook proper, especially if trying to capture the river bend.  There are views to be had on all three sides, though the best is looking to the southwest.

For a different view, one can backtrack to the parking lot entrance and find some game trails heading to the west to some excellent perches.  Be careful as footing can be loose.  This offers some unique views and compositions, though the bend of the river will be cut off.  Still, they are interesting.

Finally, I can't encourage you enough to drive the Bighorn Scenic Byway (Highway 14) over the Bighorn Mountains to Sheridan and I-90.  The scenery is spectacular and wildlife plentiful.  Several miles of this drive are between 8-9,000' with views as far as the eye can see.  Spectacular in all directions!

You can see these and more images from this area in my Bighorn Canyon Gallery.

I hope this information helps in the planning of future trip!  As always, thanks for looking!

Saturday, June 10, 2023

Quilcene River, Buckhorn Wilderness, Olympics

Image of Quilcene River
Quilcene River and moss.
The Quilcene River has always been one of my favorites in the Olympics, located on the eastern side near the town of Quilcene.  Despite being on the leeward side of the Olympic Mountains, the green moss lining the stream is more reminiscent of the Hoh River drainage on the western side!

The Quilcene is most commonly hiked by those ascending to the high country of Marmot Pass or even Buckhorn Mountain at 6,983' - two outstanding destinations!  As such, it is easy to put the blinders on in the lower forest as one focuses on the task at hand.

However, in early season the lower forest along this beautiful stream IS my focus!  Super-green moss and waterfalls a plenty are enough to captivate my interests.  Early season can also make it a vey lonely trail as deep snow blankets the high country.

This image has stood the test of time and has recently been licensed for Worldwide usage in a magazine, as well as supporting digital use.

You can see this image and more from the area in my Olympic Gallery.

As always, thanks for looking!  Hope to see you on the trail!

Sunday, February 5, 2023

High Divid, Olympic National Park


Image of Mount Olympus Above Flowers
Mount Olympus from High Divide, Olympic National Park
High Divide is one of the most popular hikes/backpacks in Olympic National Park.  Whether day hiking the loop trip (easily done in a day for experienced hikers) or backpacking with camps at Seven Lakes Basin or Heart Lake.

A trip into this area offers so much beauty for the adventurer willing to put the distance in.  Summer offers meadows of flowers, while fall offers vibrant fall foliage of reds, oranges and yellows.  You really can't go wrong on when you visit. Oh, and the wildlife!  Your chances of seeing bears, deer, marmots and more are quite high.

Both camping areas mentioned above a beautiful and prime destinations.  If planning your trip for photography on the ridge, I would recommend giving the nod to Heart Lake or a campsite on the ridge (dry).  Seven Lakes Basin still works, it's just that your hike back to camp in the dark (assuming you are staying for sunset) will be a bit longer.  Still, Seven Lakes Basin is beautiful...

For the image above, Seven Lakes Basin was my place of stay as a last-minute permit became available.  The opportunity to visit this high ridge to both view and photograph Mount Olympus was exciting! And I was not disappointed.

I'm happy to share that this image was recently licensed for worldwide use for print cards.

To see more images from this fantastic area, feel free to visit my Olympic Gallery.

Hope to see you on the trail in 2023!

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

King Tides at Cape Disappointment in Washington

Image of King Tides, Cape Disappointment
King Tides at Cape Disappointment.

"King Tides" is a non-scientific term used to describe higher than average high tides.  In Washington, these typically happen during the winter months of November, December and January for a three-day period.  They are the result of the gravitational forces of the sun and moon basically playing "Tug-of-war".  They typically occur during a full moon and can be further escalated by storms.

In my state of Washington, these typically occur in the winter months of November, December and January, and for a period of three days each.

Image of King Tides, Cape Disappointment
King Tides at Cape Disappointment.
The year I visited Waikiki Beach at Cape Disappointment for the first time and was not disappointed!

This might be the most iconic place to photograph the tides in Washington despite it's remoteness, near the small town of Ilwaco.  The park offers camping, hiking and access to wild beaches not typical of Washington's southern coast.  It's about a 3 hour drive from the Seattle area, and is actually much closer Portland, OR!

Watching and photographing the tides is an incredible experience.  Get there early for the full experience.  Seeing the surf a few hours before high tide and witnessing it build to a crescendo is the exhilarating experience that one brings home with them and tells stories about!

Image of King Tides, Cape Disappointment
King Tides at Cape Disappointment.
Photographer Tips:  While the tides are always exhilarating, the best images are captured when the water is backlit to bring out the greens.  This doesn't happen under heavy clouds.  Plan your trip when you suspect you will see some partial sun or at least diffused light.

Telephoto lenses work the best here.  I enjoyed my 70-200mm lens the most.  A stronger lens could capture the details of the waves up close.

Don't forget to give your camera a break and just enjoy the beauty and raw energy of the surf.  Especially near the high tide when the water is churning every which way.  It was during this incredible time that I heard an interesting "chirp" and noticed it wasn't a bird, but rather a sea otter swimming back and forth on its back "people watching"!  How was he staying afloat?!!

For more images of the Washington coast, feel free to visit my Washington Coast Gallery.

As always, thanks for looking.  Hope to see you at the coast?

Sunday, January 15, 2023

Bryce Canyon National Park in Winter


Image of Bryce Canyon National Park in Winter
Bryce Canyon National Park in winter.

Having visited this park in spring and summer, I had always wanted to witness it under a blanket of snow in winter.  One early February I got my chance.  Closely watching the weather forecast, I saw and incoming storm expected for the area.

My plan was to sleep in my vehicle.  However, at the last minute I discovered I would be bringing guests – my kids, early and middle elementary school ages!  Our only choice was to tent it – their first winter snow camping experience!  We shared the entire Bryce campground with a single motor home.

Temperatures during the day with in the 20’s and low 30’s.  Nighttime dipped into the low teens.

Night came early of course, so we found ourselves bundled in our sleeping bags playing cards with the illumination from our headlamps.  The kids had a blast!  I will always cherish the special memories from this trip.

The next morning, I awoke to a wall of spin drift (blown snow) completely block the outside of our tent door.  It was 13 degrees outside as I hiked to the rim of the canyon for sunrise.  It was beautiful!

This image appears for the month of January in my 2023Western Landscapes wall calendar.

You may view more images from this area in my SouthwestGallery.

I hope you enjoy!

Monday, December 12, 2022

2023 Western Landscapes Wall Calendar

Image of 2023 Western Landscapes Calendar
I'm excited to announce that my 2023 Western Landscapes wall calendar is now available!  It includes images from all over the Westerm U.S. and Canada, including Mount Rainier NP, Olympic NP, Grand Canyon NP, Bryce NP, Canyonlands NP, Glacier NP, Teton NP, Robson PP, North Cascades and more!

You can purchase the calendar for $15.99 ea. at Western Landscapes 2023 Wall Calendar (  What's better is that you can even preview before ordering by clicking on the preview button!

Happy Holidays and hope to see you on the trail!

Image of Canyonlands in 2023 Western Landscapes Wall Calendar

Image of Mount Olympus in 2023 Western Landscapes Wall Calendar

Monday, November 7, 2022

Fall Colors Along the North Cascades Highway

Image of Maple Pass, North Cascades
Lake Ann from below Maple Pass,
North Cascades.
Each year many people enjoy driving the North Cascades Scenic Highway in late fall to view the beautiful colors. This drive is beautiful any time of year but fall offers something a little more special.

The pinnacle of the fall colors may arguably be in the region of Rainy and Washington Pass in early October.  Here the larches turn golden and the berry plants at their feet a beautiful crimson red.  It's a sight to behold and one that keeps tourists coming back for more year after year.

For motorists out for a Sunday drive, the Washington Pass Overlook cannot be missed.  Just a short walk from the parking lot is the jaw-dropping, in your face view of Liberty Bell and its vertical north face with groves of golden larches just below its base.  If you are lucky, you can catch this monolith with a dusting of snow up top!

Silver Star Mountain and Kangaroo Ridge can also be viewed to the east, as well as Highway 20 steeply descending a swith-back below Early Winters Spires on its way down to the Methow Valley.

Image of Blue Lake and Liberty Bell
Blue Lake below Liberty Bell and 
Early Winters Spires.
For those willing to stretch their legs a bit, there are several hikes in the area that offer great rewards!  The easiest of which is Blue Lake near Washington Pass, with views of Liberty Bell and Early Winters Spires towering above the lake and colorful larches.  Don't be intimidated by the climbers hauling ropes and technical gear up the trail!  This is also the approach route for climbers wishing to tackle the various routes up these peaks.  But at a well-signed junction they take a hard left and begin their earnest climb to the base of these peaks, leaving you alone with your thoughts the rest of the way to the lake.  Don't forget to check out the tarn above!

More popular are trails west of Blue Lake at Washington Pass, as witnessed by the number of cars parked along the side of the road, sometimes for a mile or more on weekends.  These trails are right across from each other - Maple Pass to the south and Cutthroat Pass to the north along the PCT.

Maple Pass is by far the most popular of the two, though both are beautiful and offer incredible rewards.  It's a 6.5-mile loop trip with 1,800' elevation gain.  Or you can do a one-way in and out hike if you choose.  The culmination is the view in the first image above, as well as views deep into the North Cascades to the south.  One can also take a side trip to Wing Lake below Black Peak at a junction a saddle before the final climb to the pass.  Wing Lake is the only area that camping is legal - no camping at Maple Pass.

Image of Cutthroat Pass in Fall
Fall larches below Cutthroat Pass, with
Cutthroat Peak in the distance.
To the north is the final leg of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) for thru-hikers, starting from the Mexico border and hoping to finish before the snows start.  If you encounter grizzly looking backpackers, say hi - they might have many stories to share!

This trail climbs ever so gently to the open slopes of Cutthroat Pass - 10 miles, 1,960' elevation gain.  The views begin ~ 2 miles before the pass and may slow your pace substantially!  Gold and red dominate the landscape in season.  Camp sites are located above the pass, both north and south (they are dry - bring water).  The views are fantastic, especially of Silver Star Mountain and Kangaroo Ridge.  For even better views, walk an additional mile to Granite Pass with stunning views of Tower Mountain and Golden Horn, and yes, more larches!

If it can be arranged with two vehicles, one can make this a one-way trip by descending to the east down to Cutthroat Lake and eventually the trailhead at Cutthroat Creek - 10.5 miles.

Further west is the trailhead for Easy Pass which, though beautiful, is not that easy - gaining 2,800' in just 3.5 miles (7 miles round trip). But the views are spectacular at the narrow larch-covered saddle.  For better views, wander the meadows above the ridge and views out to Mount Logan in the heart of the North Cascades.

Image of Silver Star Mountain at Sunset
Sunset on Silver Star Mountain from Cutthroat Pass.
For other options a short distance away, consider checking out Twisp Pass and Stiletto Vista.  This requires driving down to the town of Twisp and turning onto the Twisp River Road and following it to the end.  The hike to the pass is 9
miles round trip, 2,400' elevation gain.  But you will want to continue on to Stilleto Vista a short distance above for the views down to Bridge Creek and across to Logan and Goode.  Larches abound and you can visit the former lookout site.

Nearby, approached by the same road is Copper Pass.  This is another fantastic larch destination in the fall but must be earned.  The trail gains 3,100' in just 5 miles.

Image of Liberty Bell and Early Winters Spires
Early light on Liberty Bell and Early Winters Spires from
the Washington Pass Overlook.
For other ideas, consider driving up the Chewuch River Road out of Winthrop for many more hikes into larch country.  Don't miss checking out the Thirtymile Fire Memorial!

To view these images and many more of the North Cascades, please feel free to visit my North Cascades Gallery.

As always, thanks for looking and I hope to see you on the trail!

Monday, August 29, 2022

Saguaro National Park and Tucson Mountains

Image of Saguaro Cactus at Sunset
My first visit to Saguaro National Park and surrounding areas was a much different experience for this Pacific Northwesterner, whose only previous experiences were that of Utah and northern Arizona.  Needless to say, the cactuses are much smaller and different species in those regions.

Saguaro National Park is actually divided into two sections - east and west, divided by the city of Tucson.  I had never seen such a thing.

Our first outing was a trek up Sabino Canyon on what started as a rather cool and breezy day.  It was pleasant but crowded.  There is a parking fee that can be paid in cash, check or over your phone to their website. Cell phone service is hit and miss though, and I paid for parking three times for my single visit because after hitting the submit button my browser just kept spinning and never sent me to the payment received page.  I returned to the hotel to find three email acknowledgements in my inbox!

I would recommend arriving early to beat the crowds and the heat.  Definitely bring lots of water.  While our hike started out cool and breezy, it quickly warmed up as we climbed up the canyon.

Image of Saguaro cactuses near Gates Pass
The next day I set out on a loop hike up to Wasson Peak, ascending King Canyon Wash Trail to the King Canyon Trail and finishing on the Norris Trail to the summit.  It was a very windy day, especially at or near the passes and ridgetops, and the strong breeze was cold when the sun went behind the clouds.  The views were amazing though and the few people I encountered were very friendly.  

I spent as much time as I could stand on the windy summit before descending down the Norris trail back to the junction, then continued thru the notch and down an incredibly scenic stretch to catch the Sendero Esperanza Trail, which cuts back over to the King Canyon Trail Wash Trail.  However, instead of following it all the way back, I finished my descent by taking the Gould Mine Trail back down to the road and parking lot.  Glad I did!  What a fun hike!  I definitely recommend it and will do it again myself, hopefully on a warmer day.

While I did take my camera gear with me on this hike, it never came out due to the flatness of light in often overcast skies.  Lots of phone pics though!

Image of Sunset from Gates Pass Overlook
The next evening, I returned to this area to photograph sunset from an overlook I scouted the previous day - Gates Pass Overlook.  This overlook, besides providing nice compositions of Saguaro cactuses in the evening light, also offers an incredible vista to the west to watch the setting sun.  As it turns out, it also attracts a crazy amount of people at sunset, some of whom began double-parking and blocking people in rather than parking in the overload parking lot across the highway (a minute walk).

We didn't get to witness much cloud action on this night.  Those that were present in the evening disappeared before sunset.  Still, I was surprised to catch some red in the sky as the last of the sun vanished behind the distant ridge.

The next day began my photography trips to Saguaro National Park proper after having scouted them the day before.  I started my morning in Saguaro East, closest to the hotel and the better morning location, in my opinion.

The Cactus Forest Loop Drive in Saguaro East in a must drive!  It's a paved road that is mostly one-way thru ever-changing scenery as the elevation changes.  The Rincon Mountains serve as a wonderful backdrop thru most of the drive.  There are also many trails to explore.

That evening I returned to Saguaro West for sunset, driving the gravel/dirt Hohokam Road to The Valley View Overlook trail.  A quick hike up to the ridge scored me the silhouetted cactus image at the top of the page, and a pleasant walk out in the dark.

The next day was departure day to catch our flight home.  But I awoke to witness the most dramatic light I had experienced the entire trip!  I quickly set my camera and tripod up on the hotel balcony and began shooting away!  A storm had rolled in overnight, offering rain throughout.  But as the morning sun rose, some of its rays would sneak thru the dark clouds for a couple of moments before fading away.  My experience has been that such an occurrence is usually short-lived.  However, this went on for a couple of hours, making packing difficult!  Slowly, the sun began to win battle and it was off to the airport.

Image of a Lifting Storm Over the Tucson Mountains
You can view these and more of my images from this area in my Southwest Gallery.  You can also see other images from my collection at

As always, thanks for looking! 

Sunday, August 21, 2022

The Southern Picket Range

Image of Southern Picket Range
The southern Picket Range from Mount Fury.
The wild and magnificent Picket Range is a classic sub-section of the north Cascades and considered one of the most isolated areas in the continental United States. The range is typically grouped into the southern and northern range.  Both are spectacular.

Approaches to any of the mountains in the Picket Range are extremely difficult, requiring extreme off-trail travel and often technical mountaineering skills (especially the northern group) and considerable elevation gain due to their relief.  But the rewards they offer are...did I say spectacular?

The southern Picket Range's most beautiful and dramatic side is its northern slopes and faces above a wild and trail-less McMillan Cirque.  This cirque must be seen from above to be truly appreciated.  Sheer ruggedness is what usually comes to mind.  To see this side requires a long lakeside hike or boat ride and then a backpack up the Big Beaver trail.  From there one needs to know where to leave the trail (unsigned) and travel cross-country to find the creek (often river) crossing, which can be raging in typical climbing season and log crossings can be difficult to find.  Once across, jungle-like bushwacking climbing awaits the climber in order to attain higher sub-alpine slopes where travel finally eases, but the difficulties are not over.  Patches of thick slide alder must be crossed to approach Access Cirque - a common camp area.  Above this cirque are steep gullies that are often ice-filled until late in the season and require extreme care and technical gear.

The best views are on the ridges below Luna Peak, Luna Peak, or in this case the summit of Mount Fury.  It's a tough 2-3 day approach, but rewards those determined to accept the challenge.  And the photography opportunities are endless!

This image was recently licensed for worldwide us in a recreational publication, I am proud to say.

You can see this image and more from this area in my North Cascades Gallery.

Hope to see you on the trail!


Saturday, August 13, 2022

Cannon Beach Reflection

Image of Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach
Haystack Rock at sunset from Cannon Beach, Oregon.
Cannon Beach along the Oregon coast is a popular place to visit and an icon for Oregon tourism publications.  And for good reason!  Excellent lodging and restaurants abound in this tourist town, adding to the attraction of their world-famous beaches and parks.

Summer months can be pretty crazy at times as one might suspect.  But for photography and weather, summer actually isn't the best time to visit.

Summer brings warm temperatures for sure, but with it comes the heavy fog bank that often engulfs the coast during this time.  The fog is typically very localized, often dense on the beaches but nonexistent just a short way inland.

Spring and summer provide more favorable conditions.  Winter can also be quite favorable, as is the case here.  This image was taken in winter right around Christmas!

Speaking of tourism publications, that's exactly where this image was recently licensed to!

To see more images of this fabulous area, feel free to visit my Oregon Coast Gallery.

You may also view my complete website at Mountain Scenes Photography, Don Geyer, Mount Rainier, Images, (

 As always, thanks for looking!