Category Archives: California

03-28-21 – Red Rock Canyon State Park


Red Rock Canyon State Park features scenic desert cliffs, buttes and spectacular rock formations. The park is located where the southernmost tip of the Sierra Nevada converge with the El Paso Range. Each tributary canyon is unique, with dramatic shapes and vivid colors.

Historically, the area was once home to the Kawaiisu Indians, who left petroglyphs in the El Paso mountains and other evidence of their inhabitation. The spectacular gash situated at the western edge of the El Paso mountain range was on the Native American trade route for thousands of years. During the early 1870s, the colorful rock formations in the park served as landmarks for 20-mule team freight wagons that stopped for water. About 1850, it was used by the footsore survivors of the famous Death Valley trek including members of the Arcane and Bennett families along with some of the Illinois Jayhawkers. The park now protects significant paleontology sites and the remains of 1890s-era mining operations, and has been the site for a number of movies.

After wet winters, the park’s floral displays are stunning. The beauty of the desert, combined with the geologic features make this park a camper’s favorite destination. Wildlife you may encounter includes roadrunners, hawks, lizards, mice and squirrels.

02-28-21 – Anza-Borrego Desert State Park – Arroyo Tapiado


Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is a California State Park located within the Colorado Desert of southern California, United States. The park takes its name from 18th century Spanish explorer Juan Bautista de Anza and borrego, a Spanish word for sheep. With 585,930 acres (237,120 ha) that includes one-fifth of San Diego County, it is the largest state park in California.

The park occupies eastern San Diego County and reaches into Imperial and Riverside counties, enveloping two communities: Borrego Springs, which is home to the park’s headquarters, and Shelter Valley.

The park is an anchor in the Mojave and Colorado Deserts Biosphere Reserve, and adjacent to the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument.

The great bowl of the surrounding desert is surrounded by mountains, with the Vallecito Mountains to the south and the highest Santa Rosa Mountains to the north which are in the wilderness area, without paved roads and with the only year-round creeks.

The park has 500 mi (800 km) of dirt roads, 12 designated wilderness areas, and 110 mi (180 km) of hiking trails. Park information and maps are available in the visitor center. The park has Wi-Fi access.

The park is around a two-hour drive northeast from San Diego, southeast from Riverside or Irvine, and south from Palm Springs. Access on the east-Coachella Valley side is via County Route S22 and State Route 78. Access on the west-Pacific Ocean side is via California County Routes S79. S67 provides access through the high and forested Laguna Mountains, such as in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park. These highways climb from the coast to 2,400 ft (730 m) above sea level, then descend 2,000 ft (610 m) down into the Borrego Valley in the center of the park.

A popular site to hike to near the visitor center is Hellhole Palms, a grove of California fan palms in Hellhole Canyon near Maidenhair Falls.

Source: Wikipedia
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anza-Borrego_Desert_State_Park

02-23-21 – Yosemite National Park


Horsetail Fall flows over the eastern edge of El Capitan in Yosemite Valley. This small waterfall usually flows only during winter and is easy to miss. On rare occasions during mid- to late February, it can glow orange when it’s backlit by sunset. This unique lighting effect happens only on evenings with a clear sky when the waterfall is flowing. Even some haze or minor cloudiness can greatly diminish or eliminate the effect. Although entirely natural, the phenomenon is reminiscent of the human-caused Firefall that historically occurred from Glacier Point.

Yosemite National Park is an American national park in the western Sierra Nevada of Central California, bounded on the southeast by Sierra National Forest and on the northwest by Stanislaus National Forest. The park is managed by the National Park Service and covers an area of 748,436 acres (1,169 sq mi; 3,029 km2) and sits in four counties: centered in Tuolumne and Mariposa, extending north and east to Mono and south to Madera County. Designated a World Heritage Site in 1984, Yosemite is internationally recognized for its granite cliffs, waterfalls, clear streams, giant sequoia groves, lakes, mountains, meadows, glaciers, and biological diversity. Almost 95% of the park is designated wilderness.

On average, about four million people visit Yosemite each year, and most spend the majority of their time in the seven square miles (18 km2) of Yosemite Valley. The park set a visitation record in 2016, surpassing five million visitors for the first time in its history. Yosemite was central to the development of the national park idea. Galen Clark and others lobbied to protect Yosemite Valley from development, ultimately leading to President Abraham Lincoln’s signing the Yosemite Grant in 1864. John Muir led a successful movement to have Congress establish a larger national park by 1890, one which encompassed the valley and its surrounding mountains and forests, paving the way for the National Park System.

Sources:
https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/horsetailfall.htm
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yosemite_National_Park

02-06-21 – Anza Borrego State Park


Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is a California State Park located within the Colorado Desert of southern California, United States. The park takes its name from 18th century Spanish explorer Juan Bautista de Anza and borrego, a Spanish word for sheep. With 585,930 acres (237,120 ha) that includes one-fifth of San Diego County, it is the largest state park in California.

The park occupies eastern San Diego County and reaches into Imperial and Riverside counties, enveloping two communities: Borrego Springs, which is home to the park’s headquarters, and Shelter Valley.

The park is an anchor in the Mojave and Colorado Deserts Biosphere Reserve, and adjacent to the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument.

The great bowl of the surrounding desert is surrounded by mountains, with the Vallecito Mountains to the south and the highest Santa Rosa Mountains to the north which are in the wilderness area, without paved roads and with the only year-round creeks.

The park has 500 mi (800 km) of dirt roads, 12 designated wilderness areas, and 110 mi (180 km) of hiking trails. Park information and maps are available in the visitor center. The park has Wi-Fi access.

The park is around a two-hour drive northeast from San Diego, southeast from Riverside or Irvine, and south from Palm Springs. Access on the east-Coachella Valley side is via County Route S22 and State Route 78. Access on the west-Pacific Ocean side is via California County Routes S79. S67 provides access through the high and forested Laguna Mountains, such as in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park. These highways climb from the coast to 2,400 ft (730 m) above sea level, then descend 2,000 ft (610 m) down into the Borrego Valley in the center of the park.

A popular site to hike to near the visitor center is Hellhole Palms, a grove of California fan palms in Hellhole Canyon near Maidenhair Falls.

Source: Wikipedia
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anza-Borrego_Desert_State_Park

01-18-21 – Anza Borrego State Park


Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is a California State Park located within the Colorado Desert of southern California, United States. The park takes its name from 18th century Spanish explorer Juan Bautista de Anza and borrego, a Spanish word for sheep. With 585,930 acres (237,120 ha) that includes one-fifth of San Diego County, it is the largest state park in California.

The park occupies eastern San Diego County and reaches into Imperial and Riverside counties, enveloping two communities: Borrego Springs, which is home to the park’s headquarters, and Shelter Valley.

The park is an anchor in the Mojave and Colorado Deserts Biosphere Reserve, and adjacent to the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument.

The great bowl of the surrounding desert is surrounded by mountains, with the Vallecito Mountains to the south and the highest Santa Rosa Mountains to the north which are in the wilderness area, without paved roads and with the only year-round creeks.

The park has 500 mi (800 km) of dirt roads, 12 designated wilderness areas, and 110 mi (180 km) of hiking trails. Park information and maps are available in the visitor center. The park has Wi-Fi access.

The park is around a two-hour drive northeast from San Diego, southeast from Riverside or Irvine, and south from Palm Springs. Access on the east-Coachella Valley side is via County Route S22 and State Route 78. Access on the west-Pacific Ocean side is via California County Routes S79. S67 provides access through the high and forested Laguna Mountains, such as in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park. These highways climb from the coast to 2,400 ft (730 m) above sea level, then descend 2,000 ft (610 m) down into the Borrego Valley in the center of the park.

A popular site to hike to near the visitor center is Hellhole Palms, a grove of California fan palms in Hellhole Canyon near Maidenhair Falls.

Source: Wikipedia
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anza-Borrego_Desert_State_Park

11-17-20 – Red Rock Canyon


Red Rock Canyon State Park features scenic desert cliffs, buttes and spectacular rock formations. The park is located where the southernmost tip of the Sierra Nevada converge with the El Paso Range. Each tributary canyon is unique, with dramatic shapes and vivid colors.

Historically, the area was once home to the Kawaiisu Indians, who left petroglyphs in the El Paso mountains and other evidence of their inhabitation. The spectacular gash situated at the western edge of the El Paso mountain range was on the Native American trade route for thousands of years. During the early 1870s, the colorful rock formations in the park served as landmarks for 20-mule team freight wagons that stopped for water. About 1850, it was used by the footsore survivors of the famous Death Valley trek including members of the Arcane and Bennett families along with some of the Illinois Jayhawkers. The park now protects significant paleontology sites and the remains of 1890s-era mining operations, and has been the site for a number of movies.

After wet winters, the park’s floral displays are stunning. The beauty of the desert, combined with the geologic features make this park a camper’s favorite destination. Wildlife you may encounter includes roadrunners, hawks, lizards, mice and squirrels.

11-05-20 – Yosemite National Park


Yosemite National Park is an American national park in the western Sierra Nevada of Central California, bounded on the southeast by Sierra National Forest and on the northwest by Stanislaus National Forest. The park is managed by the National Park Service and covers an area of 748,436 acres (1,169 sq mi; 3,029 km2) and sits in four counties: centered in Tuolumne and Mariposa, extending north and east to Mono and south to Madera County. Designated a World Heritage Site in 1984, Yosemite is internationally recognized for its granite cliffs, waterfalls, clear streams, giant sequoia groves, lakes, mountains, meadows, glaciers, and biological diversity. Almost 95% of the park is designated wilderness.

On average, about four million people visit Yosemite each year, and most spend the majority of their time in the seven square miles (18 km2) of Yosemite Valley. The park set a visitation record in 2016, surpassing five million visitors for the first time in its history. Yosemite was central to the development of the national park idea. Galen Clark and others lobbied to protect Yosemite Valley from development, ultimately leading to President Abraham Lincoln’s signing the Yosemite Grant in 1864. John Muir led a successful movement to have Congress establish a larger national park by 1890, one which encompassed the valley and its surrounding mountains and forests, paving the way for the National Park System.

10-10-20 – Bishop Creek Canyon South Lake


One of the best places I know to find autumn color, and a respite from the desert any time of year. Cooler temperatures, soothing green, the sound of running water, Bishop Creek is a scenic balm for city-weary travelers.

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Bishop Creek is a 10.1-mile-long (16.3 km) stream in Inyo County, California. It is the largest tributary of the Owens River. It has five hydroelectric plants owned by Southern California Edison, Bishop Creek #2–6. Bishop Creek #1 was never completed. Parts of the creek run through pipelines, or penstocks, to increase output at the power plants.

Bishop Creek has three forks, North, Middle and South. All have their headwaters in the eastern Sierra Nevada, near the border with Fresno County. The forks all flow into lakes while still at high elevations. The North Fork flows into North Lake, the Middle Fork flows into Lake Sabrina. The North and Middle forks combine above and flow through the community of Aspendell and below it the combined creeks are dammed at Intake Two, a reservoir. The South Fork flows into South Lake and continues through the community of South Fork (aka Habegger’s) and then joins the Middle Fork below the Intake Two reservoir. Bishop Creek then begins its steep descent to the Owens Valley. The creek runs roughly North then Northeast and then continues East, flowing past the city of Bishop before its confluence with the Owens River.

The creek was named after Owens Valley settler Samuel Addison Bishop.

Source: Wikipedia
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bishop_Creek_(Inyo_County)

10-02-20 – 10-04-20 – Autumn Roadtrip in Eastern Sierra


I took a road trip through the Eastern Sierra in search of autumn colors after a long, hot summer of isolation. While I encountered a lot of smoke from the devastating wildfires that plagued California this summer, I also found beauty. This trip took in Alabama Hills, Lake Tahoe, Virginia Lake, June Lake Loop, Lake Crowley, and Bishop Creek Canyon, as well as numerous dirt trails.

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The Eastern Sierra is a region in California comprising the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada, which includes Mono and Inyo Counties. The main thoroughfare is U.S. Route 395, which passes through Bridgeport, Lee Vining, Bishop, Big Pine, Independence, Lone Pine, and Olancha, with Bishop being the largest city in the area. It is sparsely populated but well known for its scenery; major points of interest include Mono Lake, Bodie, Mammoth Lakes, Manzanar, and parts of Yosemite National Park and Death Valley National Park.

Source: Wikipedia
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eastern_Sierra

08-08/09-20, 09-12-20 – Rainbow Basin Natural Area

Rainbow Basin is a geological formation in the Calico Peaks range, located approximately 8 miles (13 km) north of Barstow in the Mojave Desert in San Bernardino County, California.

The Rainbow Basin has been designated a National Natural Landmark and is in the Bureau of Land Management managed Rainbow Basin Natural Area. Rainbow Basin is a mixture of private and public land, but it is managed by the Bureau of Land Management. It is accessible to the public via Irwin Road from Barstow to an unpaved loop road through the colorful basin.

The basin is notable for: the fantastic and beautiful shapes of its rock formations: its fossil beds, which have provided scientists with valuable information about life during the middle Miocene epoch, between 12 and 16 million years ago; and to the northeast the Calico Early Man Site.

Underneath Rainbow Basin is the massive batholith that lies below much of the western Mojave. Made from a type of rock called quartz monzonite, this batholith dates to either the Cretaceous, or possibly the late Jurassic period. Early in the Cenozoic Era this batholith was exposed in the area surrounding Rainbow Basin and bent downward as it underwent compression, to form a basin. Sediments deposited in this basin became the sedimentary rocks that are most visible in Rainbow Basin today. Further compression, uplift, and finally extension left these sedimentary formations deeply folded, the most prominent fold being the Barstow Syncline. These same stresses also produced several faults in the Rainbow Basin area.

The thick sedimentary layers can be divided into three distinct formations. The lowest is called the Jackhammer Formation, and it is composed of layers of sandstone, siltstone, limestone, and conglomerate, all probably dating to the early Miocene Epoch.

Above this is the Pickhandle Formation. The sediments making up this formation are mostly of volcanic origin – tuff, rhyolite and andesite, indicating that they were laid down during a period of active volcanism. That time was probably during the early Miocene.

The highest of the three formations is the Barstow Formation, which is made up of layers of conglomerate, limestone, sandstone, and shale. This formation dates to the middle to late Miocene and it contains one of the largest Cenozoic fossil assemblages in North America. Most of the sediment that makes up the layers in this formation was stream-laid, but there is a white layer of rhyolitic tuff (sometimes called marker tuff) near the top.

Finally, on top of everything else, is a relatively thin layer of fanglomerate (alluvial fan deposits) laid down during the late Pleistocene. Differential erosion of rocks of different hardness finished the job of sculpting the formations into the fantastic shapes that can be seen in Rainbow Basin today.

Source: Wikipedia
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rainbow_Basin