The Garden of the Gods, a registered National Natural Landmark, is located in Colorado Springs CO and is completely free to visit. Set at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, the main draw of the park is to marvel at the red sandstone rock formations scattered throughout. There are 17 different formations altogether and many different hiking trails totalling 21 miles. The Visitor Centre is a good place to start, you can pick up a free map which is helpful as there isn’t a huge amount of signage out on the trails.
Garden of the Gods Hiking
The Visitor Centre also has one of my favourite views in the park. You can see North Gateway Rock, South Gateway Rock and Gray Rock in front of the Rocky Mountains. I like the contrast of colours, from the orange/brown in the front to the green of the lower mountains and then the white of the snow capped Pikes Peak.
Wild Light is a gorgeous hardcover coffee table book celebrating Rocky Mountain National Park. It represents a decade of effort exploring and photographing this unique wilderness. The result is a work of stunning beauty that will capture your heart and make you feel at one with the mountains.
Join photographer Erik Stensland on a journey into the heart of Rocky Mountain National Park and experience its wild beauty.
It’s hard to say which I enjoyed more – the beautiful photography or the wonderful text. This book is much more than just a collection of pretty pictures. It’s informational and yet highly personal at the same time. Stensland’s love for the park is clear on every page. Not only does he present an insider’s view on the park but also how the park has changed him. The book is organized around the park’s regions, ecosystems, seasons, wildlife and human history of the park (and the changing role of the NPS). Stensland touches on more than just the beauty of the park, but also on deeper themes such as why we should care about – and why we need – places of beauty and wilderness and how they speak to our humanity. His goal is not so much to provide a documentary of the park but to allow us share in the wonder and magic of his experiences. Whether you’re a regular visitor to RMNP or reading about the park from a distance, this book draws you into the heart and essence of this special place. (amazon)
There are lots of beautiful places on this planet–so many, in fact, that no one will ever be able to see them all. Wild Light brings the best of Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park into your home and makes you wish it could do the opposite instead and transport you into the wilderness. Mr. Stensland, who resides near the park, spends hundreds of days and thousands of hours every year hiking to remote destinations in RMNP in an effort to be present when all the ideal conditions come together to create moments of magic. Sometimes that means hiking ten miles to the same spot over and over again until everything is just right. Those moments, which he solemnly captures, are presented in this magnificent book. The quality of the photography, from lighting to composition to imagination, is outstanding. The book itself is divided into sections based upon park geography. For those who have visited, this approach makes sense because different regions of the park do actually vary considerably. Each section contains dozens of magnificent scenes. Mountains, streams, waterfalls, wildflowers, forests, trees, and wildlife all make appearances and combine to offer something for every reader — (amazon)
Plan to be surprised and awed at the spectacular natural features found here at Starved Rock in Illinois.
Surrounded by the flat, seemingly endless fields of Illinois farm country, a totally different topography is found within the park. Starved Rock was formed thousands of years ago by the melting of glaciers releasing torrents of water. As the water rushed downstream it eroded and stripped away everything in its path except the resistant St. Peter sandstone. It is that sandstone that formed the steep rock walls and the cool dark valleys of the eighteen canyons. When conditions are right cascades of falling water spill down into these gorges, creating the waterfalls so many come here to enjoy.
Although you can technically see waterfalls in 14 of the 18 canyons, some of the most scenic waterfalls are found in St. Louis, French, Wildcat, Tonty, Ottawa and Kaskaskia canyons. The best times to see waterfalls are in the spring when the snow and ice melt or after a heavy rainfall.
Winter brings a whole new life to the canyons. The freezing and melting that happens during this time of year creates amazing ice sculptures in the canyons. Make sure you come back in the winter to see an icefall – they are spectacular!
600 million years ago Northern Illinois was part of a broad upland that was undergoing extensive erosion. The erosion wore
the land down to near sea level. Erosion that forms a near sea
level surface is called a peneplain. This peneplain was submerged several times by sea water and several layers of sediment were laid on the surface.
Starved Rock State Park was once covered with 3000-5000
feet of glacial ice on and off over a course of 700,000 years.
Glacial ice can move forwards never backwards. When a glacier is said to be retreating, it is actually melting faster than it is
moving forward. As glacial ice can only move forward, it picks
up rocks and carries them in the ice. When the ice melts, these
rock particles are dropped at the point of melting. All dropped
rock material is called drift. Drift found at the point of melting is
called till. Till is unsorted glacial drift. When the glacier is stagnant, the drift accumulates into a pile called an end moraine.
After the glacier has retreated, it leaves a range of irregular hills
which are the end moraine. The melt waters of the glacier were
so great that they would accumulate behind the moraines and
form vast lakes. The streams that drain these lakes were gigantic compared to today’s streams. The Illinois Valley was
formed by one of these streams.
15,000 years ago during the Wisconsinan Glacial Age, the glacial meltwater of a large lake overtopped the Marseilles Moraine and formed Lake Ottawa behind the Farm Ridge Moraine
that ran north to south along what we call Starved Rock State
Park today. This lake drained when it overtopped the Farm
Ridge Moraine cutting a channel that became the Illinois River.
Repeated meltwater floods of the Kankakee Torrent poured
through the channels cut through the Marseilles and Farm
Ridge Moraines establishing the drainage for the Illinois, Fox,
and Vermillion Rivers. This repeated drainage also cut the outcrops , overlooks, and 18 canyons that you see today.
And here are a few other great resources.
Think there is not much wilderness left in the United States…think again. And while much of it is in such states as California, Arizona, Washington and Alaska, we have a gem right here in the Midwest – Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Minnesota!
Bordering the Arrowhead Region of the Canadian Board, the combined region of the BWCAW, Superior National Forest, Voyageurs National Park, and Ontario’s Quetico and La Verendrye Provincial Parks make up a large area of contiguous wilderness lakes and forests called the “Quetico-Superior country”, or simply the Boundary Waters. Lake Superior lies to the south and east of the Boundary Waters.
190,000 acres, nearly 20% of the BWCAW’s total area is water. Within the borders of the area are over 1,100 lakes and hundreds of miles of rivers and streams. Much of the other 80% of the area is forest. The BWCAW contains the largest remaining area of uncut forest in the eastern portion of the United States.
The Boundary Waters area is within the Laurentian Mixed Forest Province (commonly called the “North Woods”), a transitional zone between the boreal forest to the north and the temperate hardwood forest to the south that contains characteristics of each. Trees found within the wilderness area include conifers such as red pine, eastern white pine, birch, ash and even raspberries can be found in cleared areas.
The BWCAW contains a variety of hiking trails. Shorter hikes include the trail to Eagle Mountain (7 miles) Loop trails include the Pow Wow Trail, the Snowbank Trail, and the Sioux-Hustler Trail. The Border Route Trail and Kekekabic Trail are the two longest trails running through the BWCAW. The Border Route Trail runs east-west for over 65 miles through the eastern BWCAW, beginning at the northern end of the Superior Hiking Trail and following ridges and cliffs west until it connects with the Kekekabic Trail. The Kekekabic Trail continues for another 41 miles (66 km), beginning near the Gunflint Trail and passing through the center of the BWCAW before exiting it near Snowbank Lake. Both the Border Route and the Kekekabic Trail are part of the longer North Country National Scenic Trail.
Junction of the Eagle Mountain and Brule Lake Trails
Hi everyone! It’s Cindy here. Last week I showed you our Bluebirds so this week I want to show you some of the other birds around our yard. Let’s start with the largest.
There is no difference between male and female Blue Jays but the next pair has subtle difference between genders.
The only gender difference between the Downy Woodpeckers is that the male has a red spot on the back of his head. The next two birds are about the same size and are some of the smallest birds we have around our yard.
Looking for spectacular views with a short hike among some of the most unique rock formations in the United States? Look no further than Garden of the Gods in Southern Illinois. The most popular hike in the Shawnee National Forest, Garden of the Gods gives tourists amazing insight into the geologic structure of Southern Illinois and a view that stretches for miles high over the pristine hills of Shawnee Forest.
More than 320 million years ago, the wind and rain patiently started to chisel away at large deposits of sedimentary rock located in what is now, Shawnee National Forest . Over the years, the elements have sculpted some of the most stunning and extraordinary rock formations known to man. There are also plenty of trails for backpacking and horseback riding, allowing nature lovers a welcome tour of what the lively environment has to offer.
There are many miles of diverse hiking and backpacking trails in the Shawnee National Forest including the 160-mile River to River Trail.
One of the most photographed locations in the state, Garden of the Gods’ scenic beauty is extraordinary. In the recreation area you can hike, camp, nature watch or picnic.
The Observation Trail features unique sandstone rock formations and panoramic views of the surrounding Garden of the God Wilderness. Interpretive signs explain the geological history. The 1/4-mile trail is made of natural sandstone and takes about an hour to walk. It contains short, steep grades and steps; benches are located along the trail and as a whole the trail is not tiring. Caution should be used due to the high cliffs in the area.
This bird book for birders and nonbirders alike that will excite and inspire by providing a new and deeper understanding of what common, mostly backyard, birds are doing–and why.
“Can birds smell?” “Is this the same cardinal that was at my feeder last year?” “Do robins ‘hear’ worms?” In What It’s Like to Be a Bird, David Sibley answers the most frequently asked questions about the birds we see most often. This special, large-format volume is geared as much to nonbirders as it is to the out-and-out obsessed, covering more than two hundred species and including more than 330 new illustrations by the author. While its focus is on familiar backyard birds–blue jays, nuthatches, chickadees–it also examines certain species that can be fairly easily observed, such as the seashore-dwelling Atlantic puffin. David Sibley’s exacting artwork and wide-ranging expertise bring observed behaviors vividly to life. (For most species, the primary illustration is reproduced life-sized.) And while the text is aimed at adults–including fascinating new scientific research on the myriad ways birds have adapted to environmental changes–it is nontechnical, making it the perfect occasion for parents and grandparents to share their love of birds with young children, who will delight in the big, full-color illustrations of birds in action. Unlike any other book he has written, What It’s Like to Be a Bird is poised to bring a whole new audience to David Sibley’s world of birds.