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!