Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone


The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is another one of Yellowstone National Park’s iconic features. The steep, rugged canyon is cut through volcanic rocks that are colored by deposits of iron. It is being cut by the Yellowstone river which, in other parts of the park, seem calm and serene. But, in the canyon, it is a raging torrent. It tumbles down over Upper Yellowstone Falls (109’) then, after a short distance, tumbles over Lower Yellowstone Falls (308’). After the falls, the river flows its way alongside fumaroles and over cascades as it winds its way through the canyon.

Most of these images are from a recent trip. But I decided to include 3 from previous trips to give you some other perspectives of the canyon. They are Bottom of Lower Yellowstone Falls with rainbow like color, The Beam, a unique winter phenomenon and Lower Yellowstone Falls in Winter by the Light of the Full Moon.





Note: Click on caption to see image at higher resolution

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Almannagjá Ravine

Politically, Iceland is considered part of Europe. Geologically, though, it is a very different situation. Iceland sits atop the mid-Atlantic ridge. The ridge is a chain of volcanic mountains, mostly under the Atlantic Ocean that stretches most of the way between the North and South Poles. It is the dividing line between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates. As the volcanos erupt, the lava causes the Atlantic Ocean to become wider, pushing North and South America westward and Europe and Africa eastward.
The Almannagjá Ravine is a crack or rift between the North American and Eurasian plates that is located in Þingvellir National Park It is a small part of the section of the mid-Atlantic ridge that runs northeast to southwest through Iceland. It geologically, marks the boundary between Europe and North America.
These images were taken in the Almannagjá Ravine. As you look at them, the walls to the left are in Europe and those on the right are in North America. For geology geeks like my wife and I, it is truly amazing to be able to stand on the mid-Atlantic ridge and to be able to walk between Europe and North America.
In 930, Iceland established its parliament in Þingvellir, near this location. Sessions were held there until 1800.

I hope you enjoy these images.



Note: Click on caption to see images in higher resolution and larger size.

These and other images are available to purchase at my website or by contacting


Five Days Rafting on the Grand Canyon

Ancient Walls - Perspective 1
I had an amazing experience; five days rafting through the Grand Canyon on the Colorado River. Many thanks to Gary Hart (, who organized the trip, and to Western River Outfitters (, who conducted it.  Their professionalism, efficiency, and energy made the trip great fun, great adventure, and an unforgettable experience. 

The trip began with a flight over the Colorado Plateau to Marble Canyon, AZ where we packed up and entered the river at a spot called Lee’s Ferry.  We traveled 180 miles through Marble Canyon and the Grand Canyon.  At Whitmore Wash we were helicoptered out to Bar 10 ranch then back to Las Vegas by small plane.  After spending time on the river, the return flight gave me an opportunity to connect some dots: I could see the relief of the canyon and view the beds of the feeder rivers as they travelled to the slot canyons and into the Colorado.   We travelled on motorized rafts that were 5 heavy duty vinyl pontoons lashed together with ropes.  Each of the pontoons was about 25 feet long and 3 feet in diameter.  Our food, camping gear, and personal items were piled on, covered, and tied down on 2 platforms lashed to the pontoons.   We camped on sandbars along the river; some under the stars, others in tents.   

My first impression took me back to adventure stories where a team of intrepid explorers entered an unknown and unexplored area looking for the fabled lost city and its people.  The narrow gorge through weathered, high walled canyons, felt imposing.  The patterns on the rock reminded me of ancient statuary that weathered away.  It left me wondering where the door to the ancient city, the one that is only revealed at sunset on the summer solstice, is located. 

The geology was fascinating.  Over the course of our trip, our elevation changed by 1,700 feet.  When we entered Marble Canyon, we were between walls of the red-orange limestone layer that forms the roof top of the canyons.  As we travelled through the canyon, progressively deeper layers were exposed until we came to the basement layer of granite which underlies the canyon.  At places, nearly 2 billion years of earth’s history lay exposed for us to see.   

To top off all of this beauty we even got to have fun running the rapids.  There were many rapids.  Most of them were small ripples.  Two of them were really wild rides.  Several more were big enough to be exciting.  As we approached the rapids, you could see choppy white water ahead.  The swells that had already broken smoothed out to a jello-like surface and reflected gold on top of the green river.  As the driver turned the raft into the swells the swells would lift the raft and drop it down or the raft would nose dive and dig into the swell.  Sometimes a wave would hit from the side.  Regardless, water sprayed up, soaking us.  As we held on, braving the bucking and twisting, we laughed like little kids.  I was anxious about this part of the trip, not really knowing what to expect.  Having done it, I wouldn’t trade the experience. 

Visiting the rim or flying over the canyon will give you an appreciation of its magnificence.   But running the river brings it up close and personal.  Look up and see cliff walls rising thousands of feet or see the layers set back, one upon the other, rising into the sky.  Look at the walls and see swirls of fossilized sand dunes or rock walls that look like layers of stacked stone; some horizontal, some tilted at an angle.  Vegetation invaded the weathered red-orange limestone giving the appearance of terraced gardens.  In other places cacti and brush dotted hillsides of black and brown in no particular pattern.  Still other areas were painted in earth tones of tan, brown, pink and green.  We hiked back slot canyons to see running streams and waterfalls that have carved the sidewalls and brought debris to the canyon floor.  We were even lucky enough to see some of the wildlife that inhabits the canyon: condors flying high above, big horn sheep climbing canyon walls, swallows swooping over the rapids to catch bugs and even a heron.  I have difficulty finding words to describe how it felt to be among those ancient walls.  Walls that were created by the deposition of silt and the remains of creatures at the bottom of a great sea, uplifted when plates of the earth’s crust crashed into each other and finally sculpted by the forces of wind and rain into the natural wonder that was presented to me each day of the trip.  Wonder and awe aren’t expressive enough.   

I hope the images I’ve included give you sense of what I felt as I traveled through the natural wonder that is the Grand Canyon. 



(Note: Click on images to see enlarged)


Ancient Walls - Perspective 2

CaveThrough the CanyonGrand Canyon National Park, MAY 2016Grand Canyon - Perspective 3

Grand Canyon - Perspective 1

Grand Canyon - Perspective 2

Deer Creek Falls - Perspective 1

Deer Creek Falls – Perspective 1

Deer Creek Falls - Perspective 2

Barrel Cactus Dotting the Hillside

A Special Treat

Kanab Creek

Havasu Canyon



An Early Spring Day in Yosemite

We are fortunate this year that El Niño gave us a respite from the drought; a good snow pack in the Sierra!  I moved to northern California 4 ½ years ago.  My wife told me many times that the ephemeral waterfalls, those that dry up and go away quickly, make Yosemite especially beautiful in early spring. But years of drought gave us little snow, leaving those falls dormant or very short lived. I never had a chance to experience them.

Last weekend, we took an overnight visit to Yosemite.  My wife was right, everywhere I looked there was a waterfall that I had never seen before.  Even Horsetail falls, the one that lights up like fire at sunset in February, was still running.  The Merced River was running strongly.  We hiked along the Merced River on the trail to the bridge at Vernal Falls.

Roiling & Thundering

At the juncture of Illouette Creek and the Merced River, the waters roiled over the cascades making whitewater that looked like a giant head of cauliflower and sounded like thunder.  It was amazing.




For me, the real treat was Yosemite Falls.

Base of Lower Yosemite Falls

Base of Lower Yosemite Falls, Yosemite National Park, APR 2016

It, too, thundered from the water crashing over the cliff.  Yosemite Creek was rushing harder and was fuller than I have ever seen it.

Rivulet on Yosemite Creek

This little cascade is normally dry. But the snow melt left Yellowstone Creek running high, fast and loud creating a channel bringing this cascade alive. Yosemite National Park, APR 2016











But the real treat was a brilliant rainbow in the mist at the base of the lower falls.


The sun cast a brilliant rainbow in the mist at the base of the Lower Yellowstone Falls. Though other colors could be seen, the sun highlighted the red-orange spectrum casting a golden glow over the rugged landscape. Yosemite National Park, APR 2016

Though other colors could be seen, the sun highlighted the red-orange spectrum casting a golden glow over parts of the landscape.

Yet, as I traveled through Yosemite, another thought struck me.  As humans, ephemeral describes things that come and go quickly; in the span of short periods within our lifetime.  But, solid rock in places like Yosemite last for time frames impossible for humans to comprehend but do eventually wash away.  To the earth is really ephemeral?

A Deceiving Role
A contrast, the juxtaposition of the ephemeral with the lasting. But, which is really ephemeral? That which appears lasting is eroded, one grain at a time, by that which appears ephemeral, until it is eventually washed away. Meanwhile, that which appears epemeral rushes to sea, evaporates and returns to erode again. Yosemite National Park, APR 2016




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A Spring Morning on the Cosumnes River

My wife, my mother and I decided to visit Daffodil Hill, a beautiful spring attraction in Amador County, CA.  After the visit, we decided to wander some of the lesser traveled roads in rural El Dorado and Placer counties; an area where my wife spent a lot of time during her childhood.  As we wandered, we crossed a small bridge spanning the North Fork of the Cosumnes River.  The Cosumnes is a 52 mile long river starting as 3 forks in the Sierra Nevada, eventually merging with other rivers and flowing into the San Francisco Bay by way of the Sacramento/San Juaquin delta.  We were somewhere along the North Fork near Somerset, CA.  The recent rain and snow, brought on by the El Nino, has given us a brief respite from the years of drought.   The river was flowing rapidly through this shallow gorge.  The morning sun filtered through the forest, highlighting the bright spring green of life reawakening.

I hope you enjoy these 2 perspectives of this beautiful canyon.

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Wild Irises

Peaceful Morning on the American RIver

Peaceful Morning on the American River. Wm Pond Park, American River Parkway, Sacramento, CA, APR 2015 (Click on image to enlarge)

Wm Pond Park, American River Parkway, Sacramento, CA, APR 2015

Irises on the Bank. Wm Pond Park, American River Parkway, Sacramento, CA, APR 2015 (Click on image to enlarge)

As often as I have walked along the banks of the American River, at William Pond Park, I never realized that much of the vegetation I saw was wild irises.  But, imagine if you will, clumps of the brilliant yellow blossoms outlining both sides of the shore for perhaps a half mile or so, complimenting the lupine and other wildflowers.    Though there are some wild irises that are native to northern California, I haven’t been able to find if this particular species is or is not and even if it is, whether they are native to the banks of the American River.  Regardless, they provide a real treat.



These and other images are available at my website or by contacting me at

A Playful Moment in the Life of Water

A Playful Moment in the Life of Water -Perspective 1

A Playful Moment in the Life of Water – Perspective 1

A Playful Moment in the Life of Water – Perspective 2

A river; water molecules traveling in unison; herded by rock and dirt; their progress blocked but not deterred.  They flow until captured and stored; until they drift apart, their individual courses changed to serve the purposes of nature, or of human civilization.  But here, in unrestricted freedom, they frolic, they crash, they splash and foam.  Basking in early morning light, they appear to enjoy the moment unperturbed; as if they know they can play now, before they must get to work.  They will do their part then some day will be reunited in the vast ocean, carried into the sky, and begin the journey anew.  Such is the life of water.Regards,


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