Tag Archives: united states

07-16-20 – Mojave NEOWISE

C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) or Comet NEOWISE is a long period comet with a near-parabolic orbit discovered on March 27, 2020, by astronomers during the NEOWISE mission of the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) space telescope. At that time, it was an 18th-magnitude object, located 2 AU (300 million km; 190 million mi) away from the Sun and 1.7 AU (250 million km; 160 million mi) away from Earth.

NEOWISE is known for being the brightest comet in the northern hemisphere since Comet Hale–Bopp in 1997. It was widely photographed by professional and amateur observers and was even spotted by people living near city centers and areas with light pollution. While it was too close to the Sun to be observed at perihelion, it emerged from perihelion around magnitude 0.5 to 1, making it bright enough to be visible to the naked eye. Under dark skies, it could be seen with the naked eye and remained visible to the naked eye throughout July 2020. By July 30, the comet was about magnitude 5, but binoculars were required near urban areas to locate the comet.

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

06-07-20 – Alabama Hills National Scenic Area

The Alabama Hills are a range of hills and rock formations near the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada in the Owens Valley, west of Lone Pine in Inyo County, California.

Though geographically separate from the Sierra Nevada, they are part of the same geological formation. The rounded contours of the Alabamas contrast with the sharp ridges of the Sierra Nevada to the west. Though this might suggest that they formed from a different orogeny, the Alabamas are the same age as the Sierra Nevada. The difference in wear can be accounted for by different patterns of erosion.

Dozens of natural arches are among the main attractions at the Alabama Hills. They can be accessed by short hikes from the Whitney Portal Road, the Movie Flat Road and the Horseshoe Meadows Road. Among the notable features of the area are: Mobius Arch, Lathe Arch, the Eye of Alabama and Whitney Portal Arch.

The Alabama Hills were named for the CSS Alabama, a Confederate warship deployed during the American Civil War. When news of the ship’s exploits reached prospectors in California sympathetic to the Confederates, they named many mining claims after the ship, and the name came to be applied to the entire range. When the Alabama was finally sunk off the coast of Normandy by the USS Kearsarge in 1864, prospectors sympathetic to the North named a mining district, a mountain pass, a mountain peak, and a town after the Kearsarge.

The Alabama Hills are a popular filming location for television and movie productions, especially Westerns set in an archetypical “rugged” environment. Since the early 1920s, 150 movies and about a dozen television shows have been filmed here, including Tom Mix films, Hopalong Cassidy films, The Gene Autry Show, The Lone Ranger and Bonanza. Meanwhile, Classics such as Gunga Din, The Walking Hills, Yellow Sky, Springfield Rifle, The Violent Men, Bad Day at Black Rock (1955), the Budd Boetticher/Randolph Scott “Ranown” westerns, part of How the West Was Won, and Joe Kidd. In the late 1940s and early 50s the area was also a popular location for the films of B-western actor Tim Holt.

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

04-26-20 – Chimney Peak Wilderness

The Chimney Peak Wilderness is a 13,134-acre (53.15 km2) wilderness area located 20 miles (32 km) northwest of Ridgecrest, in southeastern Tulare County, California.

The 1994 California Desert Protection Act (Public Law 103-433) created the wilderness and it is managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Department of the Interior.

The Chimney Peak Wilderness is a rugged and mountainous Mojave Desert environment on the eastern side of the Southern Sierra Nevada Range. The wilderness is named for Chimney Peak, elevation 7,871 feet (2,399 m), located in the northeast corner of the wilderness.

The area has Mojave Desert plants such as Joshua tree (Yucca brevifolia) and creosote bush (Larrea tridentata) on the valley floors and alluvial fans and in the Sierra foothills. Higher Sierra elevations have single-leaf pinyon pine (Pinus monophylla).

The Pacific Crest Trail passes through the wilderness area.

A portion of the Sacatar Trail, an old wagon road into the Owens Valley once used by soldiers and cattlemen, cross the Chimney Peak Wilderness, .

Chimney Peak Backcountry Byway
The BLM began a “byway” program in 1989 which is a tour by automobile through or near scenic public lands. This program designates “backcountry byways” along secondary roads. The Chimney Peak Backcountry Byway can be accessed from State Route 178, is over 38 miles (61 km) in length and travels through Lamont Meadow, circles around Chimney Peak, and returns to Canebrake Road at Lamont Meadow.

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

03-09-20 – Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument

Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument, a United States National Monument near Las Vegas, Clark County, Nevada, was established in 2014 to protect Ice Age paleontological discoveries. The 22,650-acre (9,170 ha) monument is administered by the National Park Service.

The national monument is located in the Upper Las Vegas Wash and protects part of the Tule Springs. The wash area also includes several patches of the rare Las Vegas bear poppy. The land was designated after a local campaign to permanently protect the landscape as a national monument.

Fossils found at the site include Columbian mammoths, camelops and American lions, and range from 7,000 to 250,000 years old.

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

03-08-20 – Gold Butte National Monument


Gold Butte National Monument is a United States national monument located in Clark County, Nevada, northeast of Las Vegas and south of Mesquite and Bunkerville. The monument protects nearly 300,000 acres of desert landscapes featuring a wide array of natural and cultural resources, including rock art, sandstone towers, and important wildlife habitat for species including the Mojave Desert tortoise (a threatened species), bighorn sheep, and mountain lion. The area also protects historic ranching and mining sites such as the ghost town of Gold Butte, although little but mine openings, cement foundations, and a few pieces of rusting equipment remains. The monument is managed by the Bureau of Land Management.

The monument consists of 296,937 acres (120,166 ha). The Gold Butte National Monument fills a gap between Lake Mead National Recreation Area and Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument, creating a continuous swath of conserved land and establishing a wildlife corridor. Significant wildlife within the borders of the park include Mojave Desert tortoise (a threatened species), bighorn sheep, and mountain lion, as well as Gambel’s quail and chukar partridge. Important cultural and natural resources within the monument include rock art and sandstone formations. Within the park, “weather-chiseled red sandstone is incised with ancient rock art, and the remains of rock shelters and hearths, agave roasting pits and projectile points” may be found.

Source: Wikipedia
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gold_Butte_National_Monument

Little Finland (also known as Hobgoblin’s Playground and Devil’s Fire) is a scenic red rock area, located in a remote section of Clark County, Nevada south of Mesquite, known for its red rock scenery and strangely-shaped, delicate rock formations. The landscape is similar to Valley of Fire State Park, which is about 20 miles (32 km) to the west, across Lake Mead. The rock formations are composed of red Aztec Sandstone, fossil sand dunes. Many of the features are small erosional fins, hence the name.

Little Finland is accessible via the BLM Gold Butte Backcountry Byway, which also goes through the historic mining town of Gold Butte, Nevada, established in 1908. Other nearby attractions include Whitney Pockets, another scenic red rock area with petroglyphs, and the Devils Throat, a sinkhole. The Gold Butte region is public land managed by the Bureau of Land Management that contains seven BLM-designated Areas of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC). Since December 2016, Little Finland and the surrounding area have additional federal protection within Gold Butte National Monument.

Two BLM wilderness areas are nearby. The Lime Canyon Wilderness borders Little Finland and the west side of the Gold Butte Byway loop. The Jumbo Springs Wilderness is south of the Gold Butte townsite.

Source: Wikipedia
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Finland

03-07-20 – Castle Mountains National Monument


Castle Mountains National Monument is a U.S. National Monument located in the eastern Mojave Desert and northeastern San Bernardino County, in the state of California. The park protects 20,920 acres, located between the interstates I−15 and I−40, and northwest of the Colorado River.

The national monument protects a section of the Castle Mountains, a range located in San Bernardino County and Clark County, Nevada. The range lies south and east of the New York Mountains, southwest of Searchlight and west of Cal-Nev-Ari, Nevada. The range lies at the northeastern end of Lanfair Valley and reaches 5,543 feet (1,690 m) in elevation at the summit of Hart Peak and 5580 ft at Linder Peak. The mountains lie in a southwest-northeasterly direction. The Piute Range lies to the southeast. Castle Mountains National Monument is surrounded on three sides by the NPS Mojave National Preserve.

It surrounds the Castle Mountain Mine Area, an open pit gold mine in the southern Castle Mountains owned by Canadian NewCastle Gold Ltd., who can excavate nearly 10 million tons of ore through 2025, though due to low gold prices mining has been suspended since 2001. The national monument proclamation states that after any such mining and reclamation are completed, or after 10 years if no mining occurs, the Federal land in the 8,340 acre Castle Mountain Mine Area is to be transferred to the National Park Service.

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

02-23-20 – Death Valley National Park


Death Valley National Park is an American national park that straddles the California–Nevada border, east of the Sierra Nevada. The park boundaries include Death Valley, the northern section of Panamint Valley, the southern section of Eureka Valley, and most of Saline Valley. The park occupies an interface zone between the arid Great Basin and Mojave deserts, protecting the northwest corner of the Mojave Desert and its diverse environment of salt-flats, sand dunes, badlands, valleys, canyons, and mountains. Death Valley is the largest national park in the contiguous United States, and the hottest, driest and lowest of all the national parks in the United States. The second-lowest point in the Western Hemisphere is in Badwater Basin, which is 282 feet (86 m) below sea level. Approximately 91% of the park is a designated wilderness area. The park is home to many species of plants and animals that have adapted to this harsh desert environment. Some examples include creosote bush, bighorn sheep, coyote, and the Death Valley pupfish, a survivor from much wetter times. UNESCO included Death Valley as the principal feature of its Mojave and Colorado Deserts Biosphere Reserve in 1984.

A series of Native American groups inhabited the area from as early as 7000 BC, most recently the Timbisha around 1000 AD who migrated between winter camps in the valleys and summer grounds in the mountains. A group of European Americans, trapped in the valley in 1849 while looking for a shortcut to the gold fields of California, gave the valley its name, even though only one of their group died there. Several short-lived boom towns sprang up during the late 19th and early 20th centuries to mine gold and silver. The only long-term profitable ore to be mined was borax, which was transported out of the valley with twenty-mule teams. The valley later became the subject of books, radio programs, television series, and movies. Tourism expanded in the 1920s when resorts were built around Stovepipe Wells and Furnace Creek. Death Valley National Monument was declared in 1933 and the park was substantially expanded and became a national park in 1994.

The natural environment of the area has been shaped largely by its geology. The valley is actually a graben with the oldest rocks being extensively metamorphosed and at least 1.7 billion years old. Ancient, warm, shallow seas deposited marine sediments until rifting opened the Pacific Ocean. Additional sedimentation occurred until a subduction zone formed off the coast. The subduction uplifted the region out of the sea and created a line of volcanoes. Later the crust started to pull apart, creating the current Basin and Range landform. Valleys filled with sediment and, during the wet times of glacial periods, with lakes, such as Lake Manly.

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

02-23-20 – Trona Pinnacles


The Trona Pinnacles are an unusual geological feature in the California Desert National Conservation Area. The landscape consists of more than 500 tufa spires (porous rock formed as a deposit when springs interact with other bodies of water), some as high as 140 feet (43 m), rising from the bed of the Searles Lake (dry) basin. The pinnacles vary in size and shape from short and squat to tall and thin, and are composed primarily of calcium carbonate (tufa). They now sit isolated and slowly crumbling away near the south end of the valley, surrounded by many square miles of flat, dried mud and with stark mountain ranges at either side.

During the Pleistocene, massive runoff spilled from the Sierra Nevada into a chain of inland seas. The system of interconnected lakes stretched from Mono Lake to Death Valley and included Searles Lake. Deep beneath Searles Lake, calcium-rich groundwater and alkaline lake water combined to grow tufa formations. Similar (modern) formations can be found today at Mono Lake to the north. Known as tufa pinnacles, these strange shapes formed underwater 10,000 to 100,000 years ago. The pinnacles did not all form at the same time. They are divided by age and elevation into three groups. The groups are dubbed the northern, middle, and southern groups because they formed during three ice ages.

The northern group is the youngest at 11,000 to 25,000 years old. These are the best examples of what are known as tufa towers. The northern group also include shapes called tombstones, ridges and cones. The small middle group claims only 100 spires, but boasts the tallest “tower”, rising 140 feet (43 m). The southern group, includes 200 tufa formations aged 32,000 to 100,000 years old.

The Pinnacles are recognizable in more than a dozen hit movies. Over thirty film projects a year are shot among the tufa pinnacles, including backdrops for car commercials and sci-fi movies and television series such as Battlestar Galactica, Buck Rogers, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, Disney’s Dinosaur, The Gate II: Trespassers, Lost in Space, and Planet of the Apes. The music video for Lady Gaga’s 2020 single “Stupid Love” was also filmed here.

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

02-17-20 – Wander Sierra


A trip to nowhere in particular, just enjoying being outside and seeing the sights. This trip skirted around Lake Isabella and up into the Sequoia National Forest

01-04-20 – George Washington Carver National Monument


George Washington Carver National Monument is a unit of the National Park Service in Newton County, Missouri. The national monument was founded on July 14, 1943, by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who dedicated $30,000 to the monument. It was the first national monument dedicated to a black American and first to a non-president.

The site preserves of the boyhood home of George Washington Carver, as well as the 1881 Moses Carver house and the Carver cemetery. His boyhood home consists of rolling hills, woodlands, and prairies. The 240-acre (97 ha) park has a ​3⁄4-mile (1.2 km) nature trail, film, museum, and an interactive exhibit area for students.

The park is two miles west of Diamond along Missouri Route V and approximately ten miles southeast of Joplin.

It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1966.

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