Category Archives: Waterfalls

April 6, 2017 Mariposa Fairground, California

Yosemite Falls

Yosemite Falls

A Final Visit to Yosemite National Park

El Capitan

El Capitan

A spectacular valley without a doubt! I had been wanting to revisit Yosemite for many years but was usually going through that part of California either too early or too late in the year. So this year I waited out the weather and finally yesterday made it into the park.

Yosemite

Yosemite

Mariposa Fairgrounds Campground

Since every campsite in Yosemite was reserved ( and this is early April, not exactly peak season ), I chose to stay at the Mariposa County Fairgrounds, just south of the town of Mariposa. This is just a grass ( turned to mud during the 3 days of rain I experienced here ) field with only a couple level spots, but they do have electric and water hookups AND a very useable wifi   system. Right next to the highway and spaces are pretty tight, but at $30/night, a bargain in                   $$$ California.

Yosemite Falls

Yosemite Falls

When I arrived the only open road into the National Park was Route 41 into the south entrance of the park. This meant backtracking on Route 49 and picking up Route 41 in Oakhurst, a long way around to access the park, took about 2 hours, what with a tree clearing road closure for 40 minutes on Route 41 and then a 25 minute wait at the ticket booth for the park. Fortunately, while I was in the park, Route 140, the western entrance to the park, that had been closed due to a road washout, was reopened and it only took me about 45 minutes to return to my campsite in the afternoon.

Yosemite Falls

Yosemite Falls

With this winter’s above normal snowfall in the Sierras, all of Yosemite’s waterfalls are pretty impressive right now.

Yosemite Falls

Yosemite Falls

Horsetail Falls

Horsetail Falls

Due to the prolonged drought and the bark beetle, a lot of the trees within, and outside, the park have died and the valley looks a little more worn and desolate because of this. The huge crowds, even now, at the beginning of April, also contribute to the worn appearance of the park, loved to death, I suppose.

Spring Runoff Yosemite

Spring Runoff Yosemite

The large parking lot at the Visitor’s Center and Lower Yosemite Falls was completely full, and despite circling around the lots twice, I was unable to find a spot to park here. And, again, remember, this is in early April, not peak summer time. I know I would never want to experience this place that time of the year.

Spring Runoff Yosemite

Spring Runoff Yosemite

Without a doubt, this place is still a miracle of Mother Nature, but it is just too small an area to handle the millions of people that visit each year. Unlike other popular Parks like Yellowstone or Glacier, all the visitors are concentrated in a relatively compact area on the valley floor as oppose to being spread over several hundred square miles as in Yellowstone.

Blown Away

Blown Away

This waterfall appeared to be completely blown away by the winds howling along at the top of the canyon walls.

Blown Away

Blown Away

The road to Glacier Point and also Route 120 that comes over the mountains from the east side of the Sierras, are both still closed as usual until much later in the spring. I guess that means I will never get to see the view from the upper reaches of the park, since I can’t imagine coming back again. Still an awe inspiring valley, if only we could get rid of all the tourists!

So now it’s on to the coast, Bodega Bay, for a few days of yet more rain, then slowly continue my trek north, along the Oregon coast.

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April 1, 2017 Lake Kaweah, California

Potholes

Potholes

Still Waiting Out Weather Conditions for Yosemite

While waiting for the snow to stop falling and messing up opportunities to explore Yosemite National Park, I have been poking around the back roads around Three Rivers, California, and, once again, when weather permits, taking drives up into Sequoia National Park. The shot above shows a potholed stream at the end of Mineral King Road, just outside Three Rivers.

The Climb up to the Sequoia Groves on Route 198

The Climb up to the Sequoia Groves on Route 198

Last post I showed a Google Maps image of the serpentine road leading up into the sequoia groves …

Serpentine Road to the Sequoia Groves

Serpentine Road to the Sequoia Groves

… but I thought this image taken from the road itself would give a better idea of just how severe a mountain drive this is.

Mountain Stream

Mountain Stream

But one of the advantages gained by climbing this road up into the 7000′ elevation range is discovering snow melt filled streams like this one running through the tall pines.

Mountain Stream

Mountain Stream

Snowpack measured in the Sierras this spring show levels up to 190% of normal accumulations, a very good sign of California finally getting a little break from the severe drought conditions of the past several years.

Potholes

Potholes

Being up here this early does present many obstacles to getting to explore the upper elevations ( roads closed due to snow accumulation ) around Sequoia National Park, but it also does give one access to many steams that later in the year have most likely all but dried up and disappeared.

Spring Runoff

Spring Runoff

Spring Runoff

Spring Runoff

Potholes

Potholes

Redbud and Mountain Stream

Redbud and Mountain Stream

Still finding redbud blooms while exploring the upper elevations!

Hope to proceed up to Yosemite in the next day or two as there appears to be a brief window of favorable weather approaching.

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March 23, 2017 Lake Kaweah, California

Redbud Bloom

Redbud Bloom

Patiently Waiting on the Weather

Horse Creek Campground on Lake Kaweah, California

Horse Creek Campground on Lake Kaweah, California

Two days ago, I made the short move from Lake Success to Kaweah Lake and the Army Corps of Engineers Horsecreek Campground. I settled in on a fairly level campsite all but on the campground loop road. Fortunately, there are very few other campers here right now so I really haven’t been bothered by any traffic. I took this particular site because there are no other sites anywhere near it and it is fairly level … and level sites are pretty scarce in this campground. All the sites are primitive but there is a dump station on site, though I have yet to find any drinking water source here. Camping fee is $20/ night with a 50% senior discount making it $10. This place is probably very popular in the summer months, but with the roads up in the National Parks still intermittently closed by snow, most sites are empty right now.

Despite the very steep surrounding foothills I was able to get my rooftop satellite to lock on and surprisingly, there is a very strong Verizon signal here for some decent internet connectivity, something I have been lacking for the last several weeks.

Collapsing Arch

Collapsing Arch

Directly across the loop road from my site is a collapsing stone arch with a rubble pile of boulders below it, tumbling right down to the road’s edge.

Rock Rabbits

Rock Rabbits

And the rubble pile is home to several cottontail rabbits that are constantly hopping all over the rocks and ducking down under them every time they see the shadow of a black vulture or raven flying overhead.

Rock Rabbits

Rock Rabbits

Rock Rabbits

Rock Rabbits

Their antics are kind of fun to watch when I am stuck in the RV during the rainy days.

And speaking of rain … there has been plenty of it lately and more is forecast. I have made a couple of forays up into Sequoia National Park but can only venture in a dozen miles or so before encountering rain … or sleet … or snow … and always running into clouds ( literally ) once I get up to 3000′ elevation, and that makes any kind of photography impossible.

Spring in the Foothills of the Sierras

Spring in the Foothills of the Sierras

The entrance into the park is at about 800′ elevation and the sequoias grow at an elevation of 6000′-7000′. The morning I took the beautiful spring shots  ( above and below ) I ran into snow and ice just 12 miles into the park, probably no more than 15 miles from where these two shots were taken.

Spring in the Foothills of the Sierras

Spring in the Foothills of the Sierras

In the distance of just 15 miles of serpentine road climbing up into the park, probably no more than 8 or 10 miles as the crow flies, you go from beautiful sunny weather in the low 60’s to snow and ice and freezing temperatures … pretty amazing contrasts in weather here right now.

Kaweah River Rapids

Kaweah River Rapids

The Kaweah River runs next to the park road and there are some wonderful overlooks along the road. This is all snow melt runoff from the first good snow year in the Sierras in quite a few years.

Kaweah River

Kaweah River

Redbud Bloom

Redbud Bloom

Redbuds are in bloom from 2000′ to 4000′ elevation along the park road and when the clouds allow, they are something to see.

Redbud Bloom

Redbud Bloom

Redbud Bloom

Redbud Bloom

Redbud Bloom

Redbud Bloom

Redbud Bloom

Redbud Bloom

I have only made it up to the elevation where the sequoias grow one time so far and everything was enveloped in a very thick fog, actually a cloud I suppose, so I didn’t bother taking any shoots. But there are supposed to be a couple decent days coming this week and I am sure I will eventually make it all the way up the mountains and into the sequoia groves, so stay tuned.

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July 7, 2016 Ridgeway State Park, Colorado

Heading North on Route 145

Heading North on Route 145

On to Ridgway and the Million Dollar Highway

The image above was taken along Route 145 as I headed north and upward towards Telluride, Colorado on July 6th. After doing some extensive research on whether or not to drive Route 550, the Million Dollar Highway, from Durango to Ridgway, I chose to take the slightly longer, safer ( read chickened out ), route staying on Route 160 west through Durango, then picking up Route 145 near Cortez, then north on Route 62 at Placerville, joining Route 550 at Ridgway, and then a few miles north on Route 550 to the Ridgway State Park where I have reservations for a two week stay.

Route 145 north through the mountains is a pretty decent road that makes a very long, gradual climb before a short steep ascent to Lizard Head Pass, elevation 10, 222′, and a steep decent to Telluride. It was touted as an easier route through the mountains than Route 550 and I would have to agree. I had no trouble at any point along this road and would do it again in a heartbeat.

I arrived at the State Park in the early afternoon with temps in the mid to high 80’s and found my  reserved site unusable, just way too severely sloped. What would have been a disaster was averted by some very nice, accommodating volunteer hosts and a park ranger who turned a potentially awful situation into a pleasantly resolved one. More on that in the next post along with some images of the campground in the next post.

Looking Down on Ouray

Looking Down on Ouray

The Million Dollar Highway

View From the Million Dollar Road

View From the Million Dollar Road

At the crack of dawn Thursday, I loaded my photo gear, and Sam, into the Prius and headed back south down Route 550 to see if there were any million dollar views along the Million Dollar Highway.

( I have included all the images in this post in a gallery, located at the end of this post, where you can see larger images and view them as a slideshow, if you like.)

View From the Million Dollar Highway

View From the Million Dollar Highway

View Along the Million Dollar Highway

View Along the Million Dollar Highway

Turns out, there are ! Quite a few indeed. WOW ! I have never been here before and I will say, I am REALLY impressed with this country.

View From the Million Dollar Highway

View From the Million Dollar Highway

View From the Million Dollar Highway

View From the Million Dollar Highway

Of course, ideal conditions, a blue sky day with temps around 70 ( once I climbed to above 8000′ ) didn’t hurt.

View From the Million Dollar Highway

View From the Million Dollar Highway

View From the Million Dollar Highway

View From the Million Dollar Highway

View From the Million Dollar road

View From the Million Dollar road

View From the Million Dollar road

View From the Million Dollar road

View From the Million Dollar Highway

View From the Million Dollar Highway

View From the Million Dollar Highway

View From the Million Dollar Highway

View From the Million Dollar Highway

View From the Million Dollar Highway

Heading south and climbing to an elevation of 11,118″ at Red Mountain Pass, I was really glad I chickened out and did not decide to take this road in the motorhome towing the Prius. That said, a lot of other folks obviously feel otherwise as I passed several motorhomes with toads, along with 5th wheels and some travel trailers. There also were a few tractor trailers poking along the highway, but not all that many. What did amaze me were the number of cars , not quite traffic jam numbers but a whole lot more traffic than I anticipated on a highway with such a fearsome reputation.

Stream Along the Million Dollar Highway

Stream Along the Million Dollar Highway

Stream Along the Million Dollar Highway

Stream Along the Million Dollar Highway

There is just SO much to see along this road, it is going to take a few trips to even begin to take it all in. And since I am spending all my time rubbernecking along the way, this highway may well be the end of me since there are countless opportunities to go off the edge of the road, and straight down hundreds of feet, no guardrails along much of the way, At one spot I stopped to take a few shots, I could see the remains of three different vehicle several hundred feet below.

View From the Million Dollar Road

View From the Million Dollar Road

Along South Mineral Road

Along South Mineral Road

Along South Mineral Road

Along South Mineral Road

Along South Mineral Road

Along South Mineral Road

I took only one side trip off the highway today, out South Mineral Road to check out the campgrounds, and designated camping areas, located along the road. If I ever worked up the courage to take the motorhome up into these mountains, the camping along this road would well be the reason why.

Roadside Attraction

Roadside Attraction

Roadside Attraction

Roadside Attraction

I passed this bicyclist heading up to Red Mountain Pass and just after doing so saw these two deer on the side of the road, so I did a quick u-turn and waited off the road to see what their reaction would be to the guy on the bike as he approached them. Thought I might get something interesting, but as luck would have it,  some jackass on his roaring Harley ( one of many, way too many, on this road today ), came through in the opposite direction and just had to rev it up as he passed the deer, scaring them off just before the bicyclist got to them. I will never understand the mentality of these idiots, destroying so much in their wake, I guess just to draw attention to themselves, pretty pathetic.

Waiting Alone

Waiting Alone

And speaking of pathetic, here is lonesome Sam, waiting for the photographer to return to the Prius after shooting something along the way. I guess it’s going to take some more time before she gets over our loss … she hasn’t touched her food bowl in going on three days now, and is just seriously depressed. She is getting a lot of attention now with no competition, so I’m sure she will come out of it sooner or later. This is the first time in her ten years that she has been alone, so it is a new experience for her.

View From the Million Dollar Highway

View From the Million Dollar Highway

The area around Red Mountain is simply spectacular, I’ll just let the images show you what I mean.

View From the Million Dollar Highway

View From the Million Dollar Highway

View From the Million Dollar Highway

View From the Million Dollar Highway

View From the Million Dollar Highway

View From the Million Dollar Highway

View From the Million Dollar Road

View From the Million Dollar Road

View From the Million Dollar Road

View From the Million Dollar Road

View From the Million Dollar Highway

View From the Million Dollar Highway

View From the Million Dollar Highway

View From the Million Dollar Highway

View From the Million Dollar Highway

View From the Million Dollar Highway

View From the Million Dollar Highway

View From the Million Dollar Highway

View From the Million Dollar Highway

View From the Million Dollar Highway

View From the Million Dollar Highway

View From the Million Dollar Highway

View From the Million Dollar Highway

View From the Million Dollar Highway

View From the Million Dollar Highway

View From the Million Dollar Highway

Looking Down on Silverton

Looking Down on Silverton

South of Red Mountain Pass is the town of Silverton, seen here from an overlook a little farther south of the town itself. Note the Railroad train coming into town in the lower right.

Million Dollar Highway Image Gallery

Click on the first ( or any other ) image to see larger versions of the images in this post.

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