Monday, August 20, 2012

Alvord Desert

Smoke rolls over the 10,000 foot high desert peaks of the Steen's Mountains to the west and settles into the low flat playa of the Alvord Desert. The unusually thick air blankets the desert with a warm toned fog reinforcing a wild landscape that seems like Mars.

There is so much smoke in the west that photographing the usual clear blue skies of summer is out of the question. Hiking is also a bit rough on the lungs so the Alvord Desert in eastern Oregon seemed like a great place to get creative.

There is plenty of dramatic and inspirational areas on the lake surface to photograph. My favorite area on the playa is the eastern edge. The light remains on the east side a bit longer the western (Steen's) side.

The Alvord Desert is a sub desert of the Great Basin, sitting quietly at the base of the Steen's Mountains. The flat hard pan playa is 7 miles wide by 12 miles long makes for easy hiking, biking, or even driving on its surface. This desert is truly unique for this part of the Great Basin.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Thousand Springs

Many times I have driven passed the Malad Gorge, just one of the spectacular units of Thousand Springs State Park, and glanced at the silvery ribbon of water that cuts through its basalt cliffs. Even from the freeway at 65 the view is amazing. But, as you may have guessed, the view is better if you get off the freeway and look at the canyon from the foot bridge at the east edge of the park.

Thousand Springs State Park is composed of five beautiful units along the Snake River in the Magic Valley. Malad Gorge, Billingsley Creek, Earl M. Hardy Box Canyon, Niagara Springs,  and Ritter Island units. Each unit is unique providing different views of this high desert landscape. 
The cold spring water helps produce cool moist air that encourages a large variety of plant life.