The Trip 2011



Long Beach, California


Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific (Blacktip Reef Shark, Carcharhinus melanopterus)

Here I have posted some photos from the 8 states I visited during my 14 days long road trip in Western USA in 2011. From chilly Long Beach and Los Angeles (yes, it was pretty cold in California!), through Mojave desert, Death Valley National Park, via Nevada and Las Vegas and into southern parts of Utah. The beehive or mormon state has all kinds of nature, from the deserts in the southern range, the prairie-like panhandle in the central parts, to the rugged high snow-covered mountain areas all over the state, in addition to the colorful canyons and cliffs of the numerous national parks in the southern region.

Since I only had a limited time to spend in the national parks, the stopovers in Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Capitol Reef National Park and Arches National Park became brief. Zion NP was very crowded when I visited, so to get away from the masses, it would have been necessary to hike. But the colored cliffs and the rest of the nature in the park was very nice. Bryce Canyon NP was less crowded and quite chilly, and dominated by the impresssive amphitheather with hundreds of hoodoos. Bryce Canyon NP also had a richer wildlife, with mule deers, pronghorns and many different bird species. Capitol Reef NP is named for a particularly colorful section of the Waterpocket fold, creating a slickrock wilderness of domes, cliffs, and a maze of twisting canyons. In Arches NP I only spent half a day. Since it turned out to be impossible to find an available motel or hotel room in the city of Moab, I had to drive north to Green River for acommodation after spending the sunset hours in the colorful park.

Instead of driving to Salt Lake City, I choosed a more easternly route, mainly to visit one of the best birding spots in Utah according to many web sites, namely the Ouray National Wildlife Refuge in the north-eastern region. Unfortunately, most of the roads in the refuge were temporarily closed due to flooding. Still, this region along to the Green River was obvious a good birding spot. From there I drove north to the desolate Wyoming, with sparsely populated, endless open plains before entering the impressive Shoshone National Forest, the first national forest established in the USA, and then, after a night in Jackson Hole, into the Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks.

For me, the highlight of the trip was of course Yellowstone, with its rich wildlife. After three amazing and freezingly cold days in Yellowstone, I continued north to Montana and Interstate 90. The last days saw a lot of driving, with only brief stops in Montana, Idaho and Washington states before delivering the car in Seattle.

[ Mojave Desert, Great Basin Desert, Sonoran Desert (2001) ]


Black-bellied Plover (Pluvialis squatarola), San Diego

Black-winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus), San Diego



Beavertail Cactus (Opuntia basilaris), Mojave desert


Joshua Tree (Yucca brevifolia), Mojave desert, California


Flowering Engelmann's Hedgehog Cactus (Echinocereus engelmannii), Mojave desert

Desert landscape with Joshua Tree and Mojave Yucca (Yucca schidigera)


Death Valley National Park

Salt pan


Desert landscape

Badwater Basin, 85.5 meters below sea level


Death Valley

California roadside


Next service far away

Driving through Las Vegas


Motel in Mesquite, Nevada

Soaptree Yucca (Yucca elata), Southern Utah


Yucca flowers with Seven-spotted Lady Beetle (Coccinella septempunctata)

Redneck US of A


Southern Utah landscape

La Verkin, Utah


Silver Bear rock shop, Springdale, Utah

Outside Zion National Park (Route 9), Utah


North Fork Virgin River, Utah



Red-tailed Hawk - western type, (Buteo jamaicensis)

Utah literature, found in all motel rooms ("I myself stick to The Book of has served me well")


Pronghorns (Antilocapra americana), Bryce Canyon National Park

Oil exploration, Utah


Yellow-headed Blackbird (Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus)

Most likely Common Checkered-Skipper (Pyrgus communis)


Evening sky

Outback lunch in Capitol Reef National Park


Capitol Reef National Park

Western Whiptail Lizard (Cnemidophorus tigris), Capitol Reef NP


White-tailed Prairie Dog (Cynomys leucurus), Ouray National Wildlife Refuge, Northern Utah

Ouray National Wildlife Refuge


Ring-necked Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus), shot through the windshield in Ouray National Wildlife Refuge. An introduced species in the USA. This one belongs to the Chinese Ring-necked Pheasant group

Snow fence, Northern Utah


Vernal, Utah

Mule Deer (Odocoileus hemionus), Northern Utah. Notice the black tip of the tail, and the large ears


Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos), near Ouray National Wildlife Refuge, Northern Utah

California Quail (Callipepla californica), Northern Utah


Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura), Northern Utah

Cattle ranch, Wyoming

Into Yellowstone National Park


White Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos), northern Utah

Jackson Hole, Wyoming


Lunch at a cowboy pub, Jackson Hole

Still lots of snow in southern parts of Yellowstone in late May


In the Cascades, Washington

Pub in Cooke City, Montana


Sleeping Bison (Bison bison)

Clark Fork River, Montana


Idaho countryside

Washington state


Old-town district, Ellensburg Pearl Street, Washington

Western trillium (Trillium ovatum), Cascades


Western Skunk Cabbage (Lysichiton americanus), Cascades

Coffee-bar, Seattle


Pike Place Market, Seattle