Yellowstone Falls

Yellowstone Falls is located in... wait for it... Yellowstone National Park. I bet you knew that but I just wanted to make sure. The falls consist of the upper falls and the lower falls. The more popular is the lower falls and is this weeks post picture. The lower falls is approximately 308 feet high and is best viewed, in my opinion, from Lookout Point. Yellowstone Falls is twice the height of Niagara falls although Niagara falls does have a higher volume of water flowing over it.  According to the National Park Service,  "The volume of water flowing over the falls can vary from 63,500 gal/sec at peak runoff to 5,000 gal/sec in the fall."

I visited the falls in early October and it was pretty amazing. I am not sure the flow rate but nonetheless by my calculations it is was a lot. There is a lookout in the park off of the north rim trail that will take you down directly over the falls. The trail is a series of switchbacks leading down to the lookout so keep that in mind. It's a strenuous but short hike and well worth it. The view you get is staring directly down a 308 foot waterfall drop. It's pretty gnarly and Highly recommended!

This weeks post image was taken with a tripod mounted 70-200. I shot an 9 image panorama. It was an overcast day which helped but I also used an 8 stop ND filter to blur the water of the falls. I shot at f8 to get the sharpest shot I could and the ND filter gave me something like a 6 second exposure. I will cover how I shoot panoramas in a future post as it's too lengthy for this one.

Yellowstone Falls is one of the most popular sights in the park and is a must see. Now only if you can keep from saying Yellowstone when you mean Yosemite or vise versa, you're better than I.

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is located in NW Lower Michigan. The National  Lakeshore was established in 1970 and encompasses just over 71,000 acres and attracts over one million visitors a year. Sleeping Bear, managed by the National Park Service, has a good-sized  hiking trail system that provides breathtaking views year round. Sleeping Bear Dunes was named after a Chippewa legend of the Sleeping Bear. According to the National Park Service the legend is as follows.

"Long ago, along the Wisconsin shoreline, a mother bear and her two cubs were driven into Lake Michigan by a raging forest fire. The bears swam for many hours, but eventually the cubs tired and lagged behind. Mother bear reached the shore and climbed to the top of a high bluff to watch and wait for her cubs. Too tired to continue, the cubs drowned within sight of the shore. The Great Spirit Manitou created two islands to mark the spot where the cubs disappeared and then created a solitary dune to represent the faithful mother bear."

I have spent most of my life admiring the beauty of the Sleeping Bear Dunes, growing up in the area, my parents took me to the dune climb many times when I was a young whippersnappa. Sleeping Bear provides many activities in all seasons, but my favorite are fall and mid spring.   The surrounding area towns include Glen Arbor, Glen Lake, Glen Haven, and Empire. These small villages cater to the tourism that Sleeping Bear draws in and being surrounded by water, forests, and farmland it's really is a magical place to visit.

Traverse City is the nearest "big" city that has all the hotels and restaurants that you could ever want, but Traverse City is about 30 to 40 minutes away from The Sleeping Bear Dunes. If you want to stay in a bed and breakfast or vacation rental  to isolate yourself from the crowds, there are many to choose from in the local communities. Click here to start planning a visit.

The dunes offer many photographic subjects. The dunes itself, Lake Michigan, wildlife, vegetation, and even Americana in the surrounding towns. I usually travel with my backpack full of gear, but a safe bet would be a wide-angle lens to encompass the Sleeping Bear Dunes landscape. You will run into many species of wildlife but most likely whitetail deer and various small critters.

It's definitely a place I will always go back to see because it holds a lot of magic, mystery, and intrigue. This weeks post image was taken from the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive, which is one of the main attractions of the lakeshore.