A taste of Western USA - by Siona
Siona’s intensive, two-week journey across Western USA was full of imposing encounters, from impressive manmade structures to the striking work of mother nature across some exceptional landscapes. In fact, there were so many amazing photographs that I had a hard time selecting which ones to include, which is why I think there will inevitably be another post of her Wild, Wild West adventure and her travels will be documented in a two-part photoblog series.
In the picture above, we see her sitting against a mountainous background in the famous Grand Canyon, one of the U.S.A’s most easily recognised attractions.
Mount Rushmore - South Dakota
One of the most eye-catching and famous of American sites, The Mount Rushmore National Memorial is indeed a remarkable and daunting collection of face sculptures carved into the granite stone of Black Hills in Keystone, South Dakota. Created to immortalise the facial features of four of America’s presidents, this grand design was built between 1927 and 1941 by Gutzon Borglum and his son. The presidents featured were carved in chronological order, from left to right: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.
Deadwood - South Dakota
Declared a National Historic Landmark District for the astonishing preservation of its Gold Rush-era architecture, the entire city of Deadwood evokes a past of gun-wielding frenzy and saloon-style entertainment. With a small population of just 1,270 townsfolk, this place feels as remote and exotic as they come, with plenty of photo-ops for the Wild, Wild West enthusiasts.
As shown on the second picture to the left, one of the saloons here (Saloon Number 10) happened to be the place where Wild Bill was shot in August 1876 with a sign clearly indicating this historic site. As can be expected, the souvenir saloon shops are great fun too and more likely than not, you will walk away with a piece of memorabilia or two.
Bighorn Mountains - Wyoming
Featuring extensive alpine tundra, as well as some charming local wildlife, the Bighorn mountain range comprises an area of varied geological attractions. A scenic lake is part of the landscape (as can be seen on the first photo on top) affording some incredible views from the timberline.
Some of the animal species to spot in the valleys include mule deers (shown on the third picture above), rattlesnakes, pronghorns and golden eagles. The area is popular among hikers, backpackers, horse riders and fly-fishing enthusiasts. Other active pursuits include ATV riding and snowmobiling at some of the peaks, which remain covered in snow for most of the year (except for July and August).
Yellowstone - Montana
One of the favourite stops in Siona’s trip was the Yellowstone National Park, with its dramatic landscapes and rare, endangered wildlife. The one thing she was most looking forward to seeing here was the protected community of threatened bisons, and as you can clearly see on the first picture above, her wish was granted!
But she was also stunned at the sight of the hot springs and the Old Faithful geyser, which erupts once every two hours, giving visitors a pretty good chance of catching it in action (12 times a day). As can be seen on the right hand side picture above, she was indeed very lucky to witness its steamy outburst during her stop here.
Grand Teton - Wyoming
Located just ten miles south of the Yellowstone National Park, the Grand Teton National Park stands as one of America’s favourite mountaineering destinations, covering an area of 310,000 acres and named after its highest, snow-capped peak. Highly popular with hikers, it offers 200 miles of trails that provide direct access to camping areas.
But there’s another activity that this park is famous for: boating on its vast, tranquil lakes and spotting some of the feathery residents on the way. A sailing journey on these waters provides not only a relaxing way to unwind but also amazing opportunities for spectacular shots of the surrounding scenery. The big photo up on top was taken as Siona enjoyed a trip down Snake River, close to Harrison Ford´s ranch!
Bryce Canyon - Utah
The arresting sight of the giant natural amphitheatres in Bryce Canyon will take your breath away as you wonder whether man himself could have created something so delicately beautiful. In contrasting hues of orange, red and white; despite resembling a perfectly arranged structure, these pointy, naturally occurring formations called “hoodoos”, are some of Mother Nature’s finest work. No wonder most visitors are absolutely taken by it.
Lake Powell and Monument Valley - Arizona (Utah)
A major holiday hotspot for Americans, Lake Powell is the second largest manmade reservoir in the U.S., visited by around two million people every year. It’s home to a variety of attractions such as the Rainbow Bridge (a National Monument and one of the world’s largest natural bridges) and six different marinas. For this part of her tour, Siona hopped on a small plane that afforded her some scenic aerial views.
The cluster of sandstone buttes that characterise Monument Valley are rare and spectacular beauties to behold. They are enormous, with the largest of them standing tall at 300 metres above the valley floor. Unsurprisingly, the area has featured in many media publications since the 1930s and has been used as filming location for a number of John Ford films.
The Famous Route 66
Also known as the Mother Road or the Main Street of America, the famous Route 66 is a legendary highway indeed, and one of the original roads of the U.S. Highway System built in 1926. It runs from Chicago, Illinois to Santa Monica, California, passing through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. It’s so popular it had its own song “(Get your kicks on) Route 66” and a TV show named “Route 66” which aired in the 60s. As the quirky pictures above show, the Route 66-inspired toilet is quite bemusing to say the least, and our traveller tells us she didn’t fail to use it!
Las Vegas - Nevada
A place that needs little introduction as most of us can picture it vividly in our minds thanks to mainstream media, films and TV, there’s more to Las Vegas than most people think and the pictures here clearly illustrate that.
Beyond casinos, strip clubs and glittering night lights, Las Vegas has beautiful recreations of famous world cities and landmarks, from New York’s Statue of Liberty to Paris’ Eiffel Tower, the Sphinx of Giza and Venice’s canals. It all makes for rather colourful picture-taking.