scenically

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Preserving spectacular desert landscapes in California

Today, President Obama designated the Sand to Snow National Monument, Mojave Trails National Monument, and Castle Mountains National Monument in southern California. 

“The California desert is a cherished and irreplaceable resource for the people of southern California,” said Secretary Jewell. “It is an oasis of nature’s quiet beauty just outside two of our nation’s largest metropolitan areas. Its historic and cultural resources tell the stories of armies, travelers, ranchers, and miners, and of the original caretakers of this land. Today’s designation by the President furthers the longstanding work of public land managers and local communities to ensure these areas will remain preserved and accessible to the public for future generations.”

The national monuments, comprised exclusively of existing federal lands, will be managed by the Bureau of Land Management in partnership with the National Park Service and the Forest Service.

Read the full press release here

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The abandoned Scenic Drive-In theater, which was built around 1960 and had a capacity of 300 cars, is right along the highway in Newport, Tennessee.   One of the three partners who owned it, Harold Smith, left the partnership to open up the Woodzo Drive-in right next door because he didn’t like the way that the “adult” scenes of the Scenic’s risqué 1960′s films could be clearly seen from the road. Harold made sure that the screen at the Woodzo faced away from the highway. The Woodzo opened up in 1966.

For a short time, there were three drive-ins operating at the same time in Newport; the Scenic, the Woodzo, and the Newport.    That didn’t last for long, though, and the Scenic and Newport were both closed.

In the mid-1980′s a new owner opened the Scenic back up, and he renamed it the Newport Drive-In.   The theater closed for the second, and last, time in about 1990.  

Today, there isn’t much left of the Scenic/Newport.   The ripples for parking the cars on can still be seen, along with the skeletons of the screen and the ticket booth, and what’s left of the sign out by the road.   The combination projection booth and concession stand area were torn down in 2004 after the roof collapsed.   The only evidence of their location is a small hole in the ground with some conduit running through it.  

flickr

Encroaching by Teresa

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Welcome to the Yakima River Canyon, where Highway 821 parallels the gentle Yakima River for 27 miles, through massive basalt cliffs and rolling desert hills. Follow this scenic pathway for glimpses of rich wildlife and plant communities, echoes of a historical past and many opportunities for recreational enjoyment.

This canyon has been designated as a state scenic route and offers excellent wildlife viewing, fishing in a Blue Ribbon trout stream, family river rafting and camping. BLM manages over 9000 acres in the Yakima River Canyon area, including four developed river access sites. Follow the meandering river, as it slices between basalt cliffs formed by centuries-old upheavals. It’s thought that Yakima River predates those stony ramparts, once flowing across a relatively flat landscape. As rock ridges rose, river erosion equaled the walls which once formed part of one of the largest lava fields in the world, said to have covered 200,000 square miles in Washington, Oregon and Idaho.

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#TravelTuesday with Guest Photographer Bob Wick to Northwest Oregon’s BLM Wilds!

Numerous rivers form along western Oregon’s Cascade Range and flow through steep conifer lined valleys. They offer endless photo subjects and a broad array of recreation activities.  One of my favorite river corridors is the Molalla – less than 60 miles from Portland it makes for an easy urban escape and has a lot of diversity in a compact location.  You can explore more than 20 miles of trails on foot, horseback or mountain bike.   The river itself offers great fishing opportunities and numerous swimming holes for warm summer afternoons. For those wishing to spend the night, several dispersed campsites and one developed campground are located along the corridor.  

The Molalla corridor offers year-round photography interest, although the bright greens during spring leaf-out  in April and the fall colors of early October are my favorite times.  The river corridor has many big leaf and vine maples which turn yellow and orange in the fall.  

Photo tip: Include foreground interest in your landscape images – river rocks, flowers, fallen autumn leaves or other objects of interest will give the photo depth.  

At the Molalla River headwaters, the Table Rock Wilderness offers an entirely different suite of opportunities. A 3.3 mile trail winds past majestic basalt cliffs and old-growth fir forest to the top of Table Rock itself. Here are unmatched vistas of Cascade Volcanoes stretching across three states – from Mt. Rainer Washington in the north, to Mt. Shasta, California in the south.  The trails here are snowed in during winter and spring.

Photo tip:  Rivers like the Mollala with riffles and small falls that make for interesting subjects. You must use very slow shutter speeds to make water take on a misty flowing look – I use ½ second or longer.  A tripod is a must.  Shoot on cloudy days or other low lighting conditions so that you can slow down your shutter to the correct exposure.

Check out our @esri Northwest Oregon’s BLM Wilds multimedia storymap for more stunning photos, videos, helpful links and maps of the area: mypubliclands.tumblr.com/traveltuesdaynorthwestoregon.

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#TravelTuesday with Guest Photographer Bob Wick through Southeastern Utah’s Red-Rock Riches!

Moab, Utah is synonymous with slickrock canyons and public land adventure sports. One could fill a novel with nearby public land recreation opportunities within a stone’s through of town. But for this trip, we’ll use Moab as a jumping off point to head further south into more remote canyons and mesas of Southeast Utah. 

Between Moab and Montecello is the immense Canyon Rims Recreation Area. It offers top-of-the-world vistas of vast the labyrinth of Colorado River Canyons including several BLM wilderness study areas and the east side of Canyonlands National Park.  The BLM maintains two primitive campgrounds on the rim, which are open from May to October and can serve as a base for exploration – although the views from the campgrounds themselves are so spectacular that there is no need to go far for stunning photo opportunities. More adventurous explorers can search the canyon rims for that perfect photo angle in the ever-changing light on the multi-hued red rocks.

Next, continue south to Cedar Mesa to visit one of the most significant cultural history locales in North America. This area was occupied by Ancestral Puebloan Native Americans, often called the “Anasazi”, between 800 and 2,000 years ago. Remains from their civilization are located throughout the canyons that dissect the mesa, and it is very moving and humbling to stand among them. Cliff dwellings, graineries and other structures are extremely well preserved and perched under overhangs in the cliffs. Amazing pictographs and petroglyphs can also be found here.  All of the sites require moderate to arduous hikes into the canyons and even multi-day backpacks are popular in Grand Gulch.  Due to the significance and fragility of the sites, you must obtain a permit for use of the area and numbers are limited during peak seasons. Plan ahead and also stop by the Kane Gulch Visitor Center for the latest information. 

Driving further south along Cedar Mesa, Highway 261 eventually reaches a lip that seems like the end of the earth – the mesa drops 1100 feet straight down to the desert below with the buttes and spires of Monument Valley visible in the distance.  The curiously named “Moki Dugway”, a bit of a white-knuckle route carved into the escarpment, allows you to drive down the cliff face to the valley below. A short drive further takes you to the Valley of the Gods, a hidden gem with scenery similar to that of nearby Monument Valley. Valley of the God’s isolated buttes, towering pinnacles and tall cliffs offer endless photo angles.  A 17 mile drive circles the valley and more adventurous explorers can go into the Road Canyon Wilderness Study Area for backcountry hikes.

Photo Tips: Often the best and most unique photo angles in Utah’s canyon country and other western landscapes require traveling far off the pavement on remote back roads, then hiking away from your vehicle. I often use web-based aerial image programs (like Google Earth) to scout areas before trips for the best potential photo spots. Safety should always be front in these remote places.  Even renowned western author and explorer Edward Abbey spoke of some close calls in the desert in his book Desert Solitare.  I always tell someone where I am going with as many specifics as I can. Most importantly I tell them when I plan to be out and when I will contact them.  I always carry a GPS emergency locator unit, and I can use that to check in with family each night while on extended trips when I am out of cell range. I also carry enough clothing and water to be able to be on my own without help for several days. Finally, I mark my vehicle location with a GPS waypoint so that I can find it when I am hiking back in the dark after an evening photo shoot!

Check out our @esri Southeast Utah multimedia storymap for more stunning photos, videos, helpful links and maps of the area: mypubliclands.tumblr.com/traveltuesdaysoutheasternutah.