National Parks of the West
by Kerry L. Thalmann



Please note:  All images featured at this site Copyright ęKerry L. Thalmann, all rights reserved.   These images are protected by U.S. and international copyright laws and may not be used or reproduced without permission. For licensing information, or to order prints, please contact Kerry L. Thalmann at photos@thalmann.com


Please click on one of the following thumbnails to see a larger image.

Note: For those not familiar with the 4x5 format, I have included the approximate 35mm equivalent focal length for each image.

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone (119k)

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
Yellowstone National Park, WY, MT, ID


Yellowstone is the where it all started - the world's first National Park.  It is still one of the crown jewels of the US National Park system.  In additional to outstanding scenic and thermal features, it is also a haven for wildlife.  This photograph was taken looking down canyon from the brink of the Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River.

Links:
Official NPS Yellowstone Website
Expanded NPS Yellowstone Website

4x5 Format - 135mm lens
(35mm equivalent focal length ~38mm)

Mount Gould from Swiftcurrent Lake (62k)

Mount Gould from Swiftcurrent Lake
Glacier National Park, MT

Only tiny remnants of the glaciers remain, but the landscape they created is spectacular.  Rugged mountain peaks, deep U-shaped valleys and crystal clear lakes are all the work of glaciers.  In 1932, the governments of the United States and Canada joined together to create Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park - the world's first International Park.

Links:
Official NPS Glacier Website
Expanded NPS Glacier Website

4x5 Format - 210mm lens
(35mm equivalent focal length ~59mm)

Moraine Lake (70k)

Moraine Lake
Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

Canada's first National Park was established in 1885 and originally named Rocky Mountains National Park.  In 1930, the name was officially changed to Banff National Park.   The famous view of Moraine Lake and the Wenkchemna Peaks adorned the back of the Canadian twenty dollar bill for many years.

Link:
Official Parks Canada Banff Website

4x5 Format - 135mm lens
(35mm equivalent focal length ~38mm)

Clearing Winter Storm - The Kolob Canyons (104k)

Clearing Winter Storm - The Kolob Canyons
Zion National Park, UT


The Kolob Canyons are not as well known as Zion Canyon, but they are no less spectacular.   Located in the extreme northwest section of the park, they are not accessed via the main Zion Canyon road, but from a short dead end road off I-15.  The Kolob Canyons are also at a higher elevation than Zion Canyon, which increases the likelihood of snow in the winter.  After a couple wet soggy December days in Zion Canyon, I decided to head up to the Kolob Canyons for an afternoon of photography.  I got there just as the clouds were clearing to reveal the red rock formation draped in a fresh coat of white snow.

Link:
Official NPS Zion Website
Expanded NPS Zion Website

4x5 Format - 210mm lens
(35mm equivalent focal length ~59mm)

Fall Colors - Zion Canyon (138k)

Fall Colors - Zion Canyon
Zion National Park, UT


Zion Canyon in the Fall is a magical place.  This image features red and orange maple trees at the base of the Great White Throne and golden cottonwoods along the Virgin River in the foreground.  In most years, the maples and cottonwoods do not reach peak color at the same time.  The first week of November, 1998 was an exception.  Both were peaking together and the weather was perfect.  Throw in the always spectacular setting and you have all the right conditions for some exceptional photography.  If you happen to visit Zion in the Fall, be sure to bring plenty of film.

Links:
Official NPS Zion Website
Expanded NPS Zion Website

4x5 Format - 450mm lens
(35mm equivalent focal length ~127mm)

Bryce Canyon from Inspiration Point (91k)

Bryce Canyon from Inspiration Point
Bryce Canyon National Park, UT


I can think of no better place to photograph at sunrise than from the rim of Bryce Canyon.   The main amphitheaters in Bryce face east to greet the rising sun, and the first rays of light make the orange formations absolutely glow with color.  Inspiration Point, along with Sunrise Point, are my two favorite overlooks for sunrise photography in Bryce Canyon National Park.

Link:
Official NPS Bryce Canyon Website
Expanded NPS Bryce Canyon Website

4x5 Format - 90mm lens
(35mm equivalent focal length ~25mm)

Colorful Hoodoos (111k)

Colorful Hoodoos
Bryce Canyon National Park, UT


After photographing the sunrise from the rim, I like to hike down among the hoodoos (as the colorful pinnacles are called).  The strong backlighting makes them appear to be lit from within.  This image was taken from the Navajo Loop Trail a few hundred yards below Sunset Point.

Link:
Official NPS Bryce Canyon Website
Expanded NPS Bryce Canyon Website

4x5 Format - 210mm lens
(35mm equivalent focal length ~59mm)

Approaching Storm - Delicate Arch (48k)

Approaching Storm - Delicate Arch
Arches National Park, UT


Arches National Park is said to have the largest concentration of natural rock openings in the world.  Delicate Arch is the most famous.  It's likeness was even featured on Utah license plates at one time.  The classic image of Delicate Arch is taken on a sunny day in early Spring with the snow covered La Sal Mountains in the background.   It truly is a beautiful image, but on this particular day, I hoped for something a little different.  As I parked my truck at the trailhead, I could see the storm moving in from the south.  I thought for sure I'd get soaked with rain on the hike back to the truck, but I didn't care, I wanted to photograph the arch with the approaching storm in the background.  As luck would have it, not only did I get the image I had hoped for, but I stayed completely dry.  It poured in Moab, a few miles to the south, and there were even a few water drops on the hood of my truck  when I got back to the trailhead.  Sometimes mother nature can be incredibly generous.

Links:
Official NPS Arches Website
Expanded NPS Arches Website

4x5 Format - 135mm lens
(35mm equivalent focal length ~38mm)

Balanced Rock (78k)

Balanced Rock
Arches National Park, UT


In addition to the famous arches, there are many other interesting rock formations in Arches National Park.  Balanced Rock is one of the more dramatic.  It is shown here at sunset with the La Sal Mountains in the background.  Originally shot as a 4x5, I prefer this image cropped to a more panoramic format (to eliminate excess blank sky and dark, shadowy foreground).

Links:
Official NPS Arches Website
Expanded NPS Arches Website

Cropped 4x5 Format - 360mm lens
(35mm equivalent focal length ~101mm)

Canyonlands from Dead Horse Point (96k)

Canyonlands from Dead Horse Point
Canyonlands National Park, UT


Technically, this image was not taken within a National Park.  It was taken from the overlook at Dead Horse Point State Park which is perched high above the Colorado River and the winding path it has carved through Canyonlands National Park.  In addition to this spectacular view, Dead Horse State Park also has an excellent campground with easy access to the Island in the Sky section of Canyonlands National Park.

Links:
Official NPS Canyonlands Website
Expanded NPS Canyonlands Website
Utah State Parks Dead Horse Point Website

5x7 Format - 150mm lens
(35mm equivalent focal length ~31mm)

Angel Arch (74k)

Angel Arch
Canyonlands National Park, UT


Canyonlands is one of my favorite National Parks.  It's really like three parks in one.  The Island in the Sky section is the high tableland (with many spectacular overlooks) between the Green and Colorado Rivers.  The Maze is the remote, rugged section to the southwest of the rivers, and the Needles section lies to the southeast of the rivers.  Although neighboring Arches National Park is more famous for dramatic natural spans, Canyonlands also has many equally impressive openings.  Mesa Arch in the Island in the Sky is a classic sunrise shot.  Angle Arch and Druid Arch in the Needles section are two of my favorites.  These magnificent arches, combined with spectacular destinations like Chesler Park, and many fine examples of prehistoric rock art and ancient ruins, make the Needles section of Canyonlands an outstanding location for combining hiking and backpacking with a little photography.

Links:
Official NPS Canyonlands Website
Expanded NPS Canyonlands Website

4x5 Format - 135mm lens
(35mm equivalent focal length ~38mm)

The Great Gallery (107k)

The Great Gallery
Canyonlands National Park, UT


Not only does our National Park Service protect outstanding scenic areas and wildlife habitat, they also protect and preserve many significant historic and prehistoric sites.   The Park Service preserves our nation's heritage in sites like Boston National Historic Park, where you can visit Paul Revere's house and the Old North Church, and Independence National Historic Park in Philadelphia, where you can see the Liberty Bell and visit Independence Hall, where both the Declaration of Independence and our Constitution were created.  The legacy of ancient  civilizations is also preserved in sites such as Mesa Verde National Park and Hovenweep National Monument.   The remote, detached Horseshoe Canyon section of Canyonlands National Park was set aside to protect the Great Gallery.  This huge panel of ancient rock art is the largest, most well preserved example of the Barrier Canyon style of pictographs.  Using current techniques, it is not possible to determine exactly when these pictographs were painted, but most estimates are between 2,000 to 4,000 years ago (some estimates as high as 8,000 years ago).  No matter how old they are, the pictographs of the Great Gallery are remarkably well preserved and very impressive (the largest figures are over seven feet tall).

Links:
Official NPS Canyonlands Website
Expanded NPS Canyonlands Website

4x5 Format - 150mm lens
(35mm equivalent focal length ~42mm)

The Mittens and Merrick Butte (63k)

The Mittens and Merrick Butte
Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, UT/AZ


Even if you've never been there, you're sure to recognize Monument Valley.  From the time it was first featured in the 1938 classic Stagecoach, Monument Valley has represented the quinessential western landscape featured in countless movies and commercials.  Many people incorrectly assume that Monument Valley is part of US National Park Service.  It is not.  It is a Navajo Tribal Park, straddling the Utah/Arizona border.  This image is the classic view from the visitor center.   The visitor center, Mitten View Campground and the 17 mile self guided loop road are all open to the public.  To visit the more remote sections of the park, you must hire a local Navajo guide. 

Link:
Navajo Nation Parks and Recreation Department Monument Valley Website

4x10 Format - 210mm lens
(35mm equivalent focal length ~30mm)

Morning Light from Mather Point (103k)

Morning Light from Mather Point
Grand Canyon National Park, AZ


It is impossible to capture the immensity of the Grand Canyon in a photograph.  Even witnessing it first hand, it's hard to fully appreciate exactly how much dirt and rock the Colorado river has carried away over the millennia to create this wondrous chasm.

Links:
Official NPS Grand Canyon Website
Expanded NPS Grand Canyon Website

4x5 Format - 360mm lens
(35mm equivalent focal length ~101mm)

Sand Dunes (46k)

Sand Dunes
Death Valley National Park, CA


Death Valley is a land of extremes.  Elevation in the park ranges from -282 feet at Badwater, the lowest point in the western hemisphere, to 11,049 feet at the summit of Telescope Peak.  In the Summer, temperatures at the park's lower elevations often top 120 degrees, with a North American record of 134 degrees recorded on July 10, 1913.   Death Valley is also a vast area of stark beauty.  It has long been a popular tourist destination, but Death Valley has only recently gained National Park Status.   On October 31, 1994, the boundaries of Death Valley National Monument were expanded to enclose over 3.3 million acres and the name was officially changed to Death Valley National Park.  Thus creating the largest US National Park outside of Alaska.   Death Valley has several dune fields.  This image was taken as the first rays of morning light grazed the dunes near Stovepipe Wells.

Link:
Official NPS Death Valley Website
Expanded NPS Death Valley Website

4x5 Format - 360mm lens
(35mm equivalent focal length ~101mm)

Clearing Winter Storm - El Capitan (74k)

Clearing Winter Storm - El Capitan
Yosemite National Park, CA


It is often said that Yosemite is both overcrowded and over photographed.  Still, it is definitely worth a visit and is high on my list of favorite places to photograph.   John Muir described it as "the incomparable valley", and Yosemite Valley is truly one of the most spectacular landscapes I have ever seen.  Yes, overcrowding can be a major problem - if you confine your visit to Yosemite Valley during the popular Summer months.  To avoid the crowds and take advantage of some special photographic conditions, I recommend visiting Yosemite during the off season.  If you come during the winter months, be prepared for winter travel conditions, and some very rewarding photography.  This image was taken on a March morning two years ago after twelve inches of fresh snow had fallen the previous night.  I spent the entire morning photographing in Yosemite Valley, and saw almost nobody else out and about until after 11:00am when most of the snow had melted.  Not bad for such an overcrowded park.

Links:
Official NPS Yosemite Website
Expanded NPS Yosemite Website

4x5 Format - 110mm lens
(35mm equivalent focal length ~31mm)

Bridalveil Falls (86k)

Bridalveil Falls
Yosemite National Park, CA


From Carlton Watkins in the 1860s through the legendary Ansel Adams, Yosemite has long been a prime destination for nature photographers.  While setting up your camera in Ansel's tripod marks may not be the most original thing in the world, the light and weather in Yosemite Valley is ever changing, making it possible to create your own unique Yosemite images.  In my photography, I try to capture special places at special moments in time.  This image is my version of the classic shot of Bridalveil Falls and Cathedral Rocks.  A fast moving May storm lead to this opportunity.  I arrived at the parking area at Tunnel View to find the rock wall facing the Valley lined with photographers standing shoulder to shoulder.  To get away from the mob scene, I walked a couple hundred yards up the Inspiration Point Trail.  This gave me a slightly different perspective with some nice trees in the foreground.  As the sun began to break through gaps in the cloud cover,  I waited patiently for the exact moment when the direct sunlight illuminated only Bridalveil Falls and the surrounding rock face.  The result is a slight variation on a very familiar subject.

Links:
Official NPS Yosemite Website
Expanded NPS Yosemite Website

4x5 Format - 210mm lens
(35mm equivalent focal length ~59mm)

Sunset - Ruby Beach (45k)

Sunset - Ruby Beach
Olympic National Park, WA


With a unique combination of glacier clad mountain peaks, low elevation temperate rain forests and some of the most remote stretches of wilderness beach in the lower 48, Olympic National Park contains unparalleled scenic diversity.  As a sunset symbolizes the end of the day, I chose this image of a sunset from Ruby Beach to conclude this Showcase.   Thank you for stopping by, I hope you enjoyed this exhibit and that it inspires you to visit your National Parks and support legislation and park policy that will further protect and preserve these very special places for the enjoyment of our children and grand children. 

Links:
Official NPS Olympic Website
Expanded NPS Olympic Website

4x5 Format - 150mm lens
(35mm equivalent focal length ~42mm)

About the Exhibit:

The idea that a nation would set aside large tracts of land to preserve and protect them for the enjoyment of future generations has often been called "the best idea America ever had".  This idea became a reality with the signing of the Yellowstone National Park Act of 1872.  For the first time, a country's federal government had created a park "for the benefit and enjoyment of the people."  Canada soon followed suit with the creation of Rocky Mountains National Park (later re-named Banff National Park) in 1885.  In 1957, the Navajo Nation in the Four Corners region of the American Southwest created their own Parks and Recreation Department, and their first National Park - Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park.

Links:
US National Park Service Official Website
Parks Canada Official Website
Navajo Nation Parks and Recreation Department Website

In the 128 years since the creation of Yellowstone National Park, the United States Park System has grown to include 55 National Parks, 72 National Monuments, 74 National Historic Sites, 10 National Seashores, 4 National Lakeshores, 9 National Wild and Scenic Rivers, plus many more sites of natural and historic significance.  All total, the United States National Park service currently manages 378 sites encompassing 80.7 million acres and ranging in size from 0.02 acre (Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial, PA) to 13.2 million acres (Wrangell - St. Elias National Park and Preserve in SE Alaska).  It certainly was a good idea.

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About the Photographer:

Living in the West provides easy access to many of our most spectacular National Parks.  Over the past several years, I have been fortunate enough to visit and photograph in most of the western parks.  This Showcase features some of my favorite images made during those visits.  I especially enjoy visiting the National Parks during the "off season".  Not only are the parks much less crowded, but the photography is often better as well.  The most dramatic photographs are often the result of what most people would consider "bad" weather.  To photograph Yosemite Valley or Zion under a fresh coat of snow requires waiting out a winter storm.  I also love the dramatic light that often follows or precedes storms as they sweep across the red rock landscapes of the Southwest.   I have truly enjoyed creating these images and welcome the chance to share them with you.  I hope you enjoy them as well.

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I welcome your comments on this exhibit.  Please send them to me at: photos@thalmann.com