Here I have posted some photos from the 8 states I visited during my 14 days long road trip in Western USA in May-June 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 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 then west on Interstate 90. The last days saw a lots of driving, with only brief stops in Montana, Idaho and Washington state before delivering the rental car in Seattle.
Blacktip Reef Shark (Carcharhinus melanopterus), Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific
Wednesday May 18, 2011.
End of conference. Picked up the rental car, a black Chevy Impala with a 3.5 L engine and automatic transmission. Driving out of Los Angeles around 12.00 PM toward Death Valley on Interstate 15. Stopped for a late lunch/early dinner in Barstow (the Outlets of Barstow), California, sitauated about halfway between Long Beach and Las Vegas. Ended up in Baker, south of Death Valley, in the evening after a brief stopover in Mojave Desert. Wills Fargo Motel, $65.
Desert landscape with Joshua Tree and Mojave Yucca (Yucca schidigera)
Motel in Baker
Baker Country Store
Thursday May 19, 2011
Out from Baker early. Drove north to Death Valley National Park. Spent the day in the park. In the afternoon, drove eastward to Nevada, and then straigtht through Las Vegas without stopping. Ended up in a town called Mesquite. Overnight at Valley Inn Motel.
Death Valley National Park
Next service far away
Selfie in Death Valley - 2011
Badwater Basin, 85.5 meters below sea level
Driving through Las Vegas
Motel in Mesquite, north of Las Vegas, Nevada
Friday May 20, 2011
Drove from Mesquite via Arizona and into Utah. A brief stop at a very crowded Zion National Park. Some rain. Lot's of flowering spring wildflowers. Drove further north to Bryce Canyon National Park. Magnificent amphitheather! Saw mule deer and pronghorn, Fishers' jay. Overnight at Flute Motel, Torrey, $50.
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
Welcome to Zion National Park, Utah
Creek in Zion National Park, Utah
Red-tailed Hawk - western type (Buteo jamaicensis)
Sevier River along Hwy 89 in Utah. Creek valley with Sagebrush
Riverside Restaurant along Hwy 89, Utah
Sevier River along highway 89 in Utah
Roadside red rocks in Utah
Utah literature, found in all motel rooms ("I myself stick to The Book of Morons...it has served me well")
Pronghorns (Antilocapra americana), Bryce Canyon National Park
Saturday May 21, 2011
A lot of very nice red cliffs in southern Utah! Visited Capitol Reef National Park. Sunny, but cold. Pleasant 3 km stroll along a creek. After lunch, a long drive through the prairie via Green River and then south to Arches National Park. Hiked to Delicate Arch. Afterwards it was impossible to find accomodation in Moab. Everything was fully booked, so I had to drive north after dark to Green River for accommodation. Ramanda Inn, $103.
Lush river valley, Southern Utah
Sunset over barren land in Southern Utah
Common Checkered-Skipper (Pyrgus communis)
Outback lunch in Capitol Reef National Park
Capitol Reef National Park
Western Whiptail Lizard (Cnemidophorus tigris), Capitol Reef National Park
River in Utah
Rock Wren (Salpinctes obsoletus), Capitol Reef National Park
Highway 24, north toward Interstate 70 and the city of Green River
Arches National Park entrance
Arches National Park
Arches National Park
Hiking toward the Delicate Arch
At the Delicate Arch, Arches National Park
Food and gas supply. Shady Acres Gas and Groceries, Green River, Utah
Genius on the road 1. Helmet for sale!
Sunday May 22, 2011
Slow morning in Green River. Shopping in Price. Chose to skip Salt Lake City, and rather take a more easternly route to experience Ouray National Wildlife Refuge. Ouray National Wildlife Refuge is known for its rich wildlife. Illegal (and stupid) driving on the riverbank, as the Green River was flooding, and the road was disappearing into the river. Scary! Went to Kernal where the dinosaur museum was closed. Crossed several pass later in the day, of which two were more than 9,000 feet high. Up to Interstate 90, and Rock Springs. Budget Host Inn, $43.15.
White-tailed Prairie Dog (Cynomys leucurus), Ouray National Wildlife Refuge, Northern Utah
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
Green River, Northern Utah
White Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos), northern 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
Snow fence, Northern Utah
Flaming Gorge Reservoir, Northern Utah
Flaming Gorge Reservoir. Quite massive, length 145 km, surface 171 square km
Cattle ranch, Wyoming. This state holds some of the largest cattle ranches in the country
Monday May 23, 2011
Up early at 06.30. Again breakfast in the car, banana and apples, supported by a sweet Starbuck donut and coffee. Was driving north through Wyoming and to Jackson Hole. Saw bald eagle, pronghorns, and uinta ground squirrel. Bighorn sheep in Shoshone National Forest. Grand Teton National Park, $25 for the entry to both Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Park, lasting for 7 days. Still lot's of snow in the Northern parts of Wyoming. Bison, moose, elk, kingfisher, swan. Bad weather. Overnight at Antler Inn, Jackson Hole, $85.
Pronghorn along Highway 191, Wyoming
Pinedale along Highway 191, Wyoming
Antler Motel, Jackson, Wyoming
Lunch in The Million Dollar Cowboy Bar, Jackson
River north of Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Horse ranch outside Jackson Hole
Tuesday May 24, 2011
Late start from Jackson Hole. Drove into Yellowstone National Park. Still lot's of snow in the southern parts of the park. Two meter snow around the South Entrance (Moran). Stopped at Old Faithful, and observed the famous geysir erupt. Continued to Hayden Valley. Cold, and snowing lightly the whole day. Observed my first wild grizzly bear! And 2 coyotes. Elk, bison, ducks. To the city of West Yellowstone in the evening. Had to buy a sweater, as I was not prepared for the cold weather. Buffalo meatloaf for dinner. City Center Motel, West Yellowstone, $77.
Into Yellowstone National Park
Still lots of snow in southern parts of Yellowstone in
In Yellowstone National Park
Hot springs, Yellowstone National Park
A Bison at Old Faithful, Yellowstone National Park
Look, there's a grizzly bear! Roadside chaos, Yellowstone
And here is what everyone was looking at, a mama grizzly bear with her cub in the snow
Hayden Valley, Yellowstone, in late May
Elk shedding his winter fur, Yellowstone
Wednesday May 25, 2011
Started 07.30. Spent the whole day in Yellowstone National Park. Clouded but no rain/snow this day. Made the roundtrip to see the geysirs first, including the beautiful Midway Geysir. Then north to Mammoth, and then to Tower Falls, and Lamar Valley. Some sun after lunch, and the temperature increased to 56-58°F in the afternoon. Black bears around Tower Falls. 5 more grizzly’s. Bighorn sheep, coyote, blue grouse. Drove to Cooke City before dark, Montana, at 20.30. Alpine Motel, $65.
Alpine Motel, Cooke City
Prospector Restaurant, Cooke City, Montana, East of Yellowstone
Pub in Cooke City, Montana
Thursday May 26, 2011
Woke up and it was snowing and freezing cold. A bit depressive. But partly sunny later in the day in Lamar Valley Saw my first wild wolf, but only through a telescope and with the help from some local wildlife observers. Saw 4 new grizzly’s in Lamar Valley. Off towards the Hayden Valley again. Observed a grizzly quite close to the road not too far from from Mammoth on the road leading to Canyon and Hayden Valley. Observed another grizzly bear with two cubs near Yellowstone Lake. Wolf crossing the road in Hayden Valley, still snowing. Back to Lamar, but then it started snowing really heavy, and I decided to leave Yellowstone. Drove north to Livingstone, Montana. Budget Inn, $53.50.
Mule Deer, Montana
Motel in Livingstone, Montana
Westward on Interstate 90 in Montana
Clark Fork River, Montana
A Boeing Max decommissioned?
Genius on the road 2. Another winner. This fellow resembled Jack Nicholson
Top Hat Motel, Ritzville
Friday May 27, 2011
Driving day. Westward through Montana, and a stop at Clark Fork River. Idaho, the next state, was very scenic, with lots of forest, valleys and lakes. Very crowded on the interstate through Spokane, Washington State. Overnight at Top Hat Motel in Ritzville, $43.
Columbia River, Washington
Pothole Reservoir, Washington
Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica), Pothole Reservoir
Veiny Dock (Rumex venosus), Pothole Reservoir
Old-town district, Ellensburg Pearl Street, Washington
Saturday May 28, 2100
Visited Pothole Reservoir. Western grebe. A brief stop in the Cascades mountains. Overnight at North Bend Motel, $66. Tasty dinner at Boxter's.
Into the Cascade Mountains, Washington
A fern in the Cascade Mountains, maybe Western Swordfern (Polystichum munitum)
A small detour in the Cascades
Winter roads, Cascades
Western Trillium (Trillium ovatum), Cascades
Western Skunk Cabbage (Lysichiton americanus), Cascades
Twede's Cafe featured in Twin Peaks, North Bend, Washington
Twede's Cafe with the cherry pie, North Bend
North Bend, where they filmed Twin Peaks
North Bend Motel, North Bend
Sunday May 29, 2100
Into Seattle. Visited Pike Seafood Market. And went for a Starbuck coffee, of course! Went to Ballard, the “Norwegian” area for a quick sight-seeing. Drove south in vain in search for some state parks. Shopping at Wallmart. Motel 6, $69.
Coffee-bar visit, a "must" in Seattle
Pike Place Market, Seattle
Seafood at Pike Place Market, Seattle
Pike Place Market, Seattle
Monday May 30, 2011
Drove to Seattle International Airport and delivered the car. Flying home, via Portland, Amsterdam and Bergen.