October 21st Marks the Anniversary for Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park!
Big enough to be overwhelming, still intimate enough to feel the pulse of time, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park exposes you to some of the steepest cliffs, oldest rock, and craggiest spires in North America. With two million years to work, the Gunnison River, along with the forces of weathering, has sculpted this vertical wilderness of rock, water, and sky.
Located in western Colorado and managed by the National Park Service, the park itself contains the deepest and most dramatic section of the canyon, but the canyon continues upstream into Curecanti National Recreation Area and downstream into Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area. The Gunnison River drops an average of 34 feet per mile through the entire canyon, making it the 5th steepest mountain descent in North America. By comparison, the Colorado River drops an average of 7.5 feet per mile through the Grand Canyon. The greatest descent of the Gunnison River occurs within the park at Chasm View dropping 240 feet per mile. The Black Canyon is so named because its steepness makes it difficult for sunlight to penetrate into its depths. As a result, the canyon is often shrouded in shadow, causing the rocky walls to appear black. At its narrowest point the canyon is only 40 ft wide at the river.
Guadalupe Mountains National Park is situated in the Guadalupe Mountains of West Texas and preserves the rugged spirit and remote wilderness of the American West. Guadalupe Peak, the highest point in Texas at 8,749 feet and El Capitan, were long used as a landmark by the Butterfield Overland Mail stagecoach line. The Guadalupe Peak Trail offers perhaps the most outstanding views in the park. Climbing over 3,000 feet to the summit of Guadalupe Peak, the trail winds through pinyon pine and Douglas-fir forests and offers spectacular views of El Capitan and the vast Chihuahuan Desert.
Saguaro National Park is home to the nation’s largest cacti — the giant saguaro — the universal symbol of the American west. These majestic plants, found only in a small portion of the United States, are protected by Saguaro National Park, to the east and west of the modern city of Tucson. Here you have a chance to see these enormous cacti, silhouetted by the beauty of a magnificent desert sunset.
October 1, 2018
In the summer of 1979 — when I was just 19 years old — I had the rare privilege of studying under Ansel Adams in Yosemite National Park. As the years go by, without question, I appreciate that experience more and more.
Yosemite National Park is an amazing “classroom” and we spent time photographing the Valley, the Merced River, as well as up in the high country. But as much as the instruction, I remember some of the social time we had in the evenings with Ansel and his wife Virginia. What an amazing life to have traveled this country — and particularly to our National Parks, and how fortunate he was to see many of these places without the large crowds and restrictions that we have today.
I had been working with black and white film for a solid decade before I began working with Adams’ Zone System, and I would spend another two decades continuing to work in black and white to hone my craft.
At 19, I was pretty awestruck in his presence. I remember scraping together the last bit of cash I had — just enough to buy two of his books at the bookstore in Yosemite; “The Negative” and “The Print” — they seemed like the obvious choices. And then, in a bit more brazened move, I asked him to autograph them! Honestly, to this day, I can’t think of any possession more cherished.
Ansel Adams visited and photographed many of our National Parks — and many places that have become National Parks or are otherwise better protected than they were 100 years ago. And The National Park Poster Project lets me share these incredible places with people from all over the world. Creating the next generation of National Park supporters is something that’s become more and more important to me, and I hope in some small way to contribute to this effort.
One of my goals is to connect with people by producing high-quality artwork that beautifies everyday life. When you buy one of my creations, you also help the trusts, conservancies and associations that support our National Parks. I donate 10% of annual profits to these organizations who use them to raise funds for their ongoing work, and in the past year, I have made financial contributions to:
- The National Park Foundation
- The Yosemite Conservancy
- Washington’s National Park Fund
- The Glacier Conservancy
- Friends of Acadia
- The Western National Parks Association
- Friends of the Smokies
- Eastern National
- The Rocky Mountain Conservancy
In addition, I have been able to donate posters to Yellowstone Forever, Washington’s National Park Fund, the Glacier Conservancy and other groups for their silent auctions to help with their fundraising efforts.
Ansel Adams, who in addition to being an amazing photographer — was also an environmentalist who was realistic about development and the subsequent loss of habitat. Adams advocated for balanced growth, but was pained by the ravages of “progress”. In his autobiography, he stated that, “We all know the tragedy of the dustbowls, the cruel unforgivable erosions of the soil, the depletion of fish or game, and the shrinking of the noble forests. And we know that such catastrophes shrivel the spirit of the people… The wilderness is pushed back, man is everywhere. Solitude, so vital to the individual man, is almost nowhere.”
Ansel Adams first visited Yosemite National Park 101 years ago in 1916. Nearly 50 years would pass before my first visit — the first of many. To this day, Yosemite remains my favorite National Park, not just for the awe-inspiring beauty that is Yosemite, but also for the memories of camping with my family, backpacking the high country with friends, and of course, the summer of 1979 studying under one of the true masters!
The Yosemite National Park poster I have created features what is commonly called the “Tunnel View” — an amazing panoramic view of the Yosemite Valley.
Now, in addition to the standard Yosemite National Park prints, Artist Proofs are available. These are the first 25 prints pulled from the press run once the colors and registration is dialed in. Artist Proofs display the pressman’s color bars, which he uses to ensure colors stay consistent and plates stay registered throughout the print run. Each print displays my “AP” mark signifying it as an Artist Proof and are numbered 1-25. They are also signed and dated.
And, all of these posters are available as canvas prints — in two sizes — 16″ x 24″ and 24″ x 36″
Sequoia National Park is a testament to nature’s size, beauty, and diversity — huge mountains, rugged foothills, deep canyons, vast caverns, and the world’s largest trees. Located in the southern Sierra Nevada east of Visalia, California, Sequoia National Park was established on September 25, 1890. The park spans 404,064 acres and encompasses a vertical relief of nearly 13,000 feet. The highest point in the contiguous 48 United States, Mount Whitney, at 14,505 feet above sea level is located within the park.
The park is famous for its giant sequoia trees, including the General Sherman tree, the largest tree on Earth. The General Sherman tree grows in the Giant Forest, which contains five out of the ten largest trees in the world. The Giant Forest is connected by the Generals Highway to Kings Canyon National Park’s General Grant Grove, home to the General Grant tree among other giant sequoias. The park’s giant sequoia forests are part of 202,430 acres of old-growth forests shared by Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.
Many park visitors enter Sequoia National Park through its southern entrance near the town of Three Rivers at Ash Mountain at 1,700 ft. The lower elevations around Ash Mountain contain the only National Park Service-protected California Foothills ecosystem, consisting of blue oak woodlands, foothills chaparral, grasslands, yucca plants, and steep, mild river valleys. The region is also home to abundant wildlife: bobcats, foxes, ground squirrels, rattlesnakes, and mule deer are commonly seen in this area, and more rarely, reclusive mountain lions and the Pacific fisher are seen as well. The last California grizzly was killed in this park in 1922.
At higher elevations in the front country, between 5,500 and 9,000 feet, the landscape becomes montane forest-dominated coniferous belt. Found here are Ponderosa, Jeffrey, sugar, and lodgepole pine trees, as well as abundant white and red fir. Found here too are the giant sequoia trees, the most massive living single-stem trees on earth. Here, visitors often see mule deer, Douglas squirrels, and American black bears, which sometimes break into unattended cars to eat food left by careless visitors.
The vast majority of the park is roadless wilderness; no road crosses the Sierra Nevada within the park’s boundaries. 84 percent of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks is designated wilderness and is accessible only by foot or by horseback.
Sequoia’s backcountry offers a vast expanse of high-alpine wonders. Covering the highest-elevation region of the High Sierra, the backcountry includes Mount Whitney on the eastern border of the park, accessible from the Giant Forest via the High Sierra Trail. On a traveler’s path along this 35-mile backcountry trail, you’ll pass through about 10 miles of montane forest before reaching the backcountry resort of Bearpaw Meadow, just short of the Great Western Divide.
Continuing along the High Sierra Trail over the Great Western Divide via Kaweah Gap, you pass from the Kaweah River Drainage, with its characteristic V-shaped river valleys, and into the Kern River drainage, where an ancient fault line has aided glaciers in the last ice age to create a U-shaped canyon that is almost perfectly straight for nearly 20 miles (32 km). On the floor of this canyon, at least two days hike from the nearest road, is the Kern Canyon hot spring, a popular resting point for weary backpackers. From the floor of Kern Canyon, the trail ascends again over 8,000 ft. to the summit of Mount Whitney. At Mount Whitney, the High Sierra Trail meets with the John Muir Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail, which continue northward along the Sierra crest and into the backcountry of Kings Canyon National Park.
Rob Decker is a photographer and graphic artist with a single great passion for our National Parks! When he was just 19, he studied under Ansel Adams in Yosemite. Now he’s on a journey to create original, WPA-style artwork for each of our national parks!
Click here to learn more about Rob’s work and The National Park Poster Project.
Fall is such a great time to explore the California coast! The weather is still warm, the summer fog is less prevalent, and trees, grasses and shrubs begin to show their fall colors. From its thunderous ocean breakers crashing against rocky headlands and expansive sand beaches to its open grasslands, brushy hillsides, and forested ridges, Point Reyes National Seashore offers visitors over 1500 species of plants and animals to discover. Home to several cultures over thousands of years, the Seashore preserves a tapestry of stories and interactions of people.
One of Colorado’s lesser known national parks is Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve. The tallest dunes in North America are the centerpiece in a diverse landscape of grasslands, wetlands, conifer and aspen forests, alpine lakes, and tundra. Here you can experience this diversity through hiking, sand sledding, splashing in Medano Creek, wildlife watching, and more! The park and preserve are always open, so you can also experience night skies and nocturnal wildlife.
The five national parks in Utah draw several million visitors from around the world each year to marvel at surreal scenery and create their own unforgettable experiences. A must-see is the sunrise over the towering depths of the canyons or perhaps at the famed Mesa Arch at Canyonlands National Park. Here you can explore a wilderness of countless canyons and fantastically formed buttes carved by the Colorado River and its tributaries. Rivers divide the park into four districts: Island in the Sky, The Needles, The Maze, and the rivers themselves. These areas share a primitive desert atmosphere, but each offers different opportunities for sightseeing and adventure.
Lily Lake offers splendid views of Longs Peak and Mount Meeker amid rocky outcrops. The broad, flat path begins by winding along the base of Lily Mountain, then meanders through meadow and open forest on the west shore of the lake, and finally passes through a wetlands area, populated by a variety of water fowl, on the southern shore. This level packed gravel trail encircles the lake, which features educational exhibits and a fishing pier. Strollers permitted. Enos Mills, the “father of Rocky Mountain National Park,” enjoyed walking to Lily Lake from his nearby cabin. Look for wildflowers in the spring and early summer. In the winter the trail around the lake is often suitable for walking in boots, or as a short snowshoe or ski.
Lily Lake offers hikers some of the best mountain views from an easy, roadside trail. The Diamond Face of Longs Peak towers to the south; the Twin Sisters, rocky escarpments skirted in scenic woodlands, lie to the east; and Lily Mountain, yet another spectacular stone-crowned peak, dominates the northern horizon. If you have the time, you can hike the nearby Lily Mountain trail, which lies outside the park proper.
To reach the trailhead from Estes Park, drive 6.3 miles south on Colorado Highway 7 to the Lily Lake parking area. You can park at the lake or in a dirt lot across the highway. In 1992 the Lily Lake area was purchased by Rocky Mountain National Park. Five years later, with funding from the Rocky Mountain Conservancy, the popular handicapped accessible trail was constructed using hard packed gravel. Although you can start in either direction, this description follows the loop in a clockwise direction.
In addition to being an outstanding family hike, the trail offers several picnic opportunities along the way. Fishing is also a popular activity, but is catch and release only. The lake is stocked with greenback cutthroat trout, a federally listed threatened species.
Photographer and graphic artist Rob Decker studied photography with Ansel Adams in Yosemite National Park during the summer of 1979 when he was just 19. IT was an experience solidified his love of photography and our National Parks. Now he is on a journey to photograph and create iconic WPA-style posters of all 59 major national parks as we celebrate the next 100 years of the National Park Service.
Click the images below to check out his three Rocky Mountain National Park posters!