All throughout Big Bend National Park, bands of different-colored rocks give the mountains a painted look. At sunset, the sky and the mountains and the desert floor all explode with vibrant colors, and it seems like you’ve stepped straight into the canvas into another world. Taken on January 11, 2013 with a Nikon D7000 and 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 Nikkor lens. Click image to enlarge.
Composed of many different types of volcanic rock, Big Bend National Park’s Tuff Canyon is a geologic wonder. My companion and I climbed through the canyon a good distance before we began to lose daylight. To save time getting back to our vehicle, we scaled one of the canyon walls. Three quarters of the way up, I couldn’t help taking a shot of the breathtaking view below us. Taken with a Nikon D7000 and 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 Nikkor lens. Click image to enlarge.
During my Grapevine Hills hike at Big Bend National Park, the clouds were varied and remarkable. Click here for a more detailed description of the hike. Both photos were taken near the trailhead on January 10, 2013 with a Nikon D7000 and 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 Nikkor lens. Click image to enlarge.
Grapevine Hills, a valley of boulders and monoliths. While the main attraction of this 2.2-mile hike at Big Bend National Park is an enormous rock window affectionately known as “Balanced Rock,” the view back towards the trailhead and down into the boulder valley is just as impressive. As I weaved in and out of boulders, I mused about how easily a mountain lion could lay in wait for me behind one of the boulders, if it wanted to. Taken on January 10, 2013 with a Nikon D7000 and 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 Nikkor lens. Click image to enlarge.
“Then shouldering their burdens, they set off, seeking a path that would bring them over the grey hills of the Emyn Muil, and down into the Land of the Shadow.” – J. R. R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings. In some places, Big Bend National Park does look like Mordor; as a land birthed in volcanic activity, the result is a valley of stunning, jagged mountains, striped ruddy, white, and black. Taken January 11, 2013 with a Nikon D7000 and 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 Nikkor lens.
Soft morning light illuminates the Upper Falls, a natural limestone- and cypress-lined swimming hole at McKinney Falls State Park in Austin, TX. McKinney Falls is a hidden gem in Austin, providing 700 acres of wilderness just 15 minutes from the downtown hubbub. Usually crowded with park-goers, the Upper Falls is pristine and peaceful in the early morning. Taken on June 15, 2013 with a Nikon D7000 and 18-55mm f.3.5-5.6 Nikkor lens. Click photo to enlarge.
A hiker takes a much-needed rest after a cold, rainy hike along the backside of the Chisos Mountain range (beneath the Window) to Cattail Falls, a rare desert waterfall oasis that is only active after substantial rains. This hike is little known, since it’s not marked on Big Bend National Park’s maps. Taken on January 9, 2013 with a Nikon D7000 and 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 Nikkor lens. Click photo to enlarge.
Gray skies blanket the Chihuahuan Desert in Big Bend National Park, near Castolon Village and Visitor Center. The prominent peak is called Cerro Castellan, which means “castle-warden’s hill.” Stretching 3,293 feet above sea level, TSHA calls it “a high stack of volcanic rocks.” Read more from TSHA here. Taken on January 11, 2013 with a Nikon D7000 and 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 Nikkor lens. Click photo to enlarge.
A free climber begins her winter ascent of Big Bend National Park’s Burro Mesa Pour-Off, a desert waterfall that is only active after substantial rains. She made it into the cave, but the slick, volcanic rhyolite at the higher levels of the pour-off made it impossible to continue. Photo taken January 14, 2013 with a Nikon D7000 and 18-55mm f3.5-5.6G Nikkor lens. Entered in the 2013 National Geographic Traveler Contest. Click photo to enlarge.