Friday, March 18, 2011

Summer Road Trip 2010 - Part I

Sunnyvale, CA - Ok, so keeping up on these posts have become next to impossible. It seems that with the baby, a winter road/ski trip, moving, taxes and a few other odds and ends...Papa Karl has had to re-shift his priorities and put a few hobbies on the back burner. That said, I'm still going to try to get pics out now and again. So, stay tuned. And yes, there will be more photos of Keira...soon-ish.

This set of photos comes from a road trip Suwei and I took in August, 2010. We busted our butts to get the Lafayette house all packed up, clean up, and rented out. We handed over the keys at the end of July and had two weeks before Suwei started her new job in Mountain View, CA. Of course, for us, that means "road trip". We loaded up the VW Passat with all the stuff we figured we'd need for the next few months in California (ie. my burning man crap, some camping gear, and a change of clothes).

We decided on a Northern Route with a goal of hitting as many National Parks & Monuments as we could fit in. Here is where we went:

Dinosaur National Monument

Description:  This monument preserves the sandstone and conglomerate bed, known as the Morrison Formation, which was formed in the Jurassic Period and contains fossils of dinosaurs including Allosaurus and various long-neck and long-tail sauropods.

Location:                Moffat County, Colorado / Uintah County, Utah, USA
Nearest city: Vernal, UT
Area: 210,844 acres (85,326 ha)
Visitation: 360,584 (2005)
Governing Body: U.S. National Park Service
Designated: October 4, 1915

Geographic Facts:
  • Total Acreage: 210,844.02 acres or 329.44 square miles
  • Highest elevation: 9,006 feet at Zenobia Peak
  • Lowest elevation: 4,740 feet along Green River in the southwest corner of the monument
  • Elevation at Dinosaur Quarry: 5,000 feet
  • Elevation at Monument Headquarters: 5, 900 feet
  • Highest point on Harpers Corner Road: 7,560 feet at Stuntz Ridge
  • Deepest canyon: Canyon of Lodore, over 3,000 feet deep from rim to the river in several places
  • Highest cliff: Warm Springs cliff, 1,500 feet
  • Yampa River in monument is 46 miles long from Deerlodge Park to its confluence with the Green River
Canyon View from Harper's Corner
Suwei and I took a late afternoon hike out to Harper's Corner to enjoy the canyon views. The next day we checked out the temporary visitor's center and took a shuttle out to see the dinosaur quarry. The old visitor's center and the quarry exhibit were still closed for renovations and major repairs. That means there wasn't much to see. Instead there is small outcrop where you can see some actual dinosaur bones embedded in the rock and on the day we visited they had a very knowledgeable ranger answering questions. The quarry exhibit isn't expected to open again until October, 2011.

Twisted Trees on the way out to Harper's Corner / Dinosaur Bones near the Dinosaur Quarry / Suwei at Harper's Corner
and in Nearby Vernal, Utah...

More Dino Info at the Utah Field House State Park Museum / Vernal Utah, Most Dinosaurs per Square Mile.

Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area
Description:  The centerpiece of the recreation area is the 91 mile (145.6 kilometer) long Flaming Gorge Reservoir, a reservoir created by the Flaming Gorge Dam along the Green River in 1964. The area was given the name "Flaming Gorge" by John Wesley Powell during his 1869 expedition down the Green River due to the spectacular red rock cliffs that surround the river in this area

The Flaming Gorge
Location Sweetwater County, Wyoming / Daggett County, Utah, USA
Nearest city
Green River, Wyoming
Area 207,363 acres (839.17 km²)
Established October 1, 1968
Governing body
United States Forest Service

Suwei and I first visited the Flaming Gorge Dam and the Dam Visitor Center. We later traveled up the west side of the Flaming Gorge Reservoir stopping at a few view points and another visitor's center. We stopped for the evening at a primitive lakeside campsite near the Wyoming border. Although there were a lot of OHV owners also camped there and it was anything but serene, a late afternoon dip in the lake and a spectacular sunset more than made up for it.

Fossil Butte National Monument

Description:  Fossil Butte preserves the 50-million-year-old Green River lake beds, the best paleontological record of tertiary aquatic communities in North America. Fossils including fish, alligators, bats, turtles, dog-sized horses, insects, and many other species of plants and animals suggest that the region was a low, subtropical, freshwater basin when the sediments accumulated, over about a 2-million-year period.
Ranger in Fossil Butte National Monument
Location Lincoln County, Wyoming, USA
Nearest city Kemmerer, WY
Area 8,198 acres (33.17 km²)
Established October 23, 1972
Visitors 25,000   (in 2004)
Governing body National Park Service

There isn't a whole lot to see at Fossil Butte National Monument. Mainly just the visitors center and a few interpretive trails. That said, the visitor center is pretty interesting. They have over 80 fossils in there (some of them quite large) and during the summer months they have rangers working on exposing new fossils. We ended up buying a new National Park Pass here as our old one expired.

Grand Teton National Park

Description:  Grand Teton National Park is named for Grand Teton which is the tallest mountain in the Teton Range (at 13,775 feet / 4,199 m) and includes the major peaks of the 40 miles (64 km) long Teton Range as well as most of the northern sections of the valley known as Jackson Hole.

Grand Teton National Park
Location Teton County, Wyoming, USA
Nearest city Jackson, WY
Area Approximately 310,000 acres (1,300 km2)
Established February 26, 1929
Visitors 2,669,374 (in 2010)
Governing body National Park Service

Someday I am going to hike the Tetons. They just look too good to pass up. All too often we find ourselves driving through the park on the way to Yellowstone, but alas this trip we did just that again. Blame a lack of time and the fact that Suwei was well into the 5th month of her pregnancy.

Also, I think I've mentioned it in this blog before but the Grand Teton's Visitor's Center was designed by the same architectural firm that designed the house in Woodside House that I worked on.

Yellowstone National Park

Description:  Situated on the Yellowstone Caldera, the first national park in the world has vast geothermal areas such as hot springs and geysers, the best-known being Old Faithful and Grand Prismatic Spring. The yellow-hued Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River has numerous waterfalls, and four mountain ranges run through the park. There are almost 60 mammal species, including the gray wolf, grizzly bear, lynx, bison, and elk.

Location: Park County, Wyoming / Teton County, Wyoming / Gallatin County, Montana / Park County, Montana / Fremont County, Idaho
Area: 3,472 sq mi (8,987 km2)
Visitation: 3,295,187  (in 2009)
Governing body:     National Park Service
Designated: National Park - March 1, 1872
UNESCO World Heritage Site - 1978

We spent two days in Yellowstone and camped at the Bridge Bay campground. Our stops included, The Geysers at West Thumb, Mud Caldren, Roadside Bison, The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, Yellowstone Falls, the Petrified Tree, Mammoth Hot Springs, Norris Geyser Basin, and some Roadside Moose. It was summer and very, very crowded but still gorgeous. I think the secret is to get up bright and early.

West Thumb Geysers

Yellowstone Falls

Mammoth Hot Springs / Petrified Tree / Norris Geyser Basin

Morning Spider Web on the Yellowstone River / Roadside Moose

Norris Geyser Basin

So that's it for Part I. Stay Tuned for Part II coming any day now (or month). The photos are done. I just need to find time to post.

Here is the slide show. There are quite a few photos from the bits between the parks. Check them out by clicking on the link below.

Northern Route Road Trip - Part 1


Tim said...

Wow your on the PCT board too!!! I posted a comment on your Zion Traverse trip report. Small hiking world...TIM

Tim said...

Mistake on the first sentence on that last post Karl...sorry. Great pictures as usual. Hope all is well.