Saguaro National Park

Petroglyphs on Signal Hill, Saguaro National Park, Tucson, Arizona
Petroglyphs on Signal Hill, Saguaro National Park, Tucson, Arizona

Saguaro is unique among the nation’s National Parks. Almost entirely a wilderness preserve, it surrounds a major metropolitan area yet manages to retain its remote and wild feeling. Just minutes from the city lights of Tucson you’ll find yourself immersed in a world rich in native american history and the striking flora of the Sonoran Desert.

Two units separated by the city, the Tucson Mountain District to the west and the Rincon Mountain District to the east, provide two unique environments. Signal Hill in the Tucson Mountain District includes hundreds of ancient Hohokam petroglyphs surrounded by dense saguaro forests and wonderful views of the local mountains.

The Rincon Mountain District to the east includes the land protected in the original monument before it became a park in 1994. It’s a desert sky island home to bears, cougars, and the elusive kudamundi. This side of the park has fewer saguaro than its western counterpart, but they are larger in size due to greater amounts of rainfall and runoff from the Rincon Mountains. Rising from the desert floor to over 8,500 feet, these rugged peaks even support a temperate conifer forest – rare in this desert climate.

The American southwest is a fascinating land of beauty and contrast. And for anyone searching for great desert photography, a chance to connect with past civilizations or simply find desert solitude Edward Abbey style,  Saguaro National Park is a prime destination.

©Russ Bishop/All Rights Reserved

Mountain Solitaire

Backcountry skier under Piute Pass, John Muir Wilderness, Sierra Nevada Mountains, California USA (Russ Bishop/Russ Bishop Photography)
Backcountry skier under Piute Pass, John Muir Wilderness, California

Backcountry skiing opens up a whole new world of travel, sport and photographic possibilities. Locations in my local Sierra Nevada Mountains, which are crowded and require permits long in advance during the rest of the year, are quiet and often untouched during the winter months.

Temperatures can drop to -20 degrees Fahrenheit so proper equipment is a must, but the reward is experiencing your own private ski bowls and perfect mountain landscapes just waiting to be photographed.

This image was made in the John Muir Wilderness where a fresh blanket of snow provided a pristine scene to rival the Alps or Canadian Rockies. It’s hard to imagine that just two months earlier this location was bustling with visitors chasing the fall colors, but on this three day trip we didn’t see another soul.

For those looking to experience the Sierra in the winter months, but who aren’t prepared with overnight gear, several businesses in the towns of Bishop and Mammoth Lakes offer day trips and overnight hut arrangements. Either way, there’s a beautiful untouched world out there just waiting to be explored.

 

©Russ Bishop/All Rights Reserved

My Backyard

Sunset over the Channel Islands from Ventura State Beach, Ventura, California
Sunset over the Channel Islands from Ventura State Beach, Ventura, California

As a landscape photographer I spend a fair amount of time on the road each year often traveling hundreds or thousands of miles to remote locations. So it struck a chord when it was recently suggested within the online community of photographers to showcase images of those special places that are close to home – essentially in our backyard.

I’m fortunate to have a national park adjacent to my community and, although it’s 11 miles offshore in the Pacific Ocean and I don’t make it out there as often as I’d like, I do get to see it most every day. Channel Islands National Park is made up of five of the eight Channel Islands with Santa Cruz seen here being the largest. The islands are rich in Native American culture and wildlife, and are a diver’s paradise. But even from afar they make a wonderful setting for a classic Southern California sunset.

When planning your next photographic adventure don’t overlook the local gems that are within easy reach and may provide just as much visual opportunity as those popular locations miles from home.

 

©Russ Bishop/All Rights Reserved