American Northwest Trip, 2017: Virginia Cascades and Firehole Canyon in Yellowstone

These photos are from two drives I took off the beaten path in Yellowstone National Park, both narrow, one-way roads along the sides of canyons. The first was the Virginia Cascades Drive, which does not appear to get much traffic, but still enough cars to make it difficult to pull over for good views of the falls, so the highlight of this drive ended up being my stop at the pretty, quiet meadow above the falls. The second drive was Firehole Canyon, which is a bit more popular but still relatively quiet compared to the main attractions of the park, with more places to pull over for beautiful views of the canyon rapids and falls. There is also a swimming area here, though I did not partake.

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California Trip, 2014: The Road Back from Yosemite

My drive back to San Francisco from Yosemite was quite an adventure. I took a scenic drive along Route 49, also known as the Gold Rush Trail, which winds up and down mountains, featuring beautiful scenery and numerous hairpin turns without any railings. The more treacherous turns are not pictured here because I was too busy trying to stay on the road to think about stopping to photograph them. 🙂

Most of the time I had the entire road to myself. When I stepped outside to take photos it was so quiet that I could hear a pin drop. Overall, it was definitely a detour worth taking. The road continues north well past where I exited; it would be cool to do the whole thing someday.

Click on any photo to open a gallery. The first photo is from the road out of Yosemite, the rest are from Route 49.

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Canada Trip, 2016: The Cabot Trail

This is a collection of photos taken over three days during my drive along the majestic Cabot Trail in Cape Breton—considered one of the most scenic drives in the world—and for good reason. The northern portion in particular reminded me of the Scottish Highlands, which makes sense given that geological evidence suggests at least part of the island was joined with Scotland millions of years ago. This is one road trip you definitely want to add to your bucket list.

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American Northwest Trip, 2017: Wyoming Scenic Drive

These photos are from my long drive across the entire state of Wyoming from Yellowstone to Deadwood, South Dakota, a roughly ten-hour drive counting stops and other delays. The road trip began with a scenic drive out of Yellowstone via the East Entrance (first photo), followed by a gorgeous drive through Shoshone National Forest (middle nine photos).

After a stop in Cody for dinner and a visit to an Old West town, I got back on the road and spent hours as frequently the only car on a flat, single-lane highway—the kind of seemingly deserted road you see in the movies. I passed by myriad ranches and their large, wooden entry gates, as well as numerous oil derricks. For a moment I was concerned that I might have to drive through major cities during rush hour, but then I remembered I was in Wyoming, where there’s no such thing as a major city.

I was beginning to think that the rest of the drive through Wyoming would be mostly flat and uninteresting—until I hit Bighorn National Forest (the last four photos). What a stunning drive that was, up and down a mountain range through spectacular scenery. It’s a shame I only had time to stop for a few photos (ones that don’t do it justice) because I literally could have stopped every hundred feet. It’s an area that demands a return visit some day just to spend more time basking in its breathtaking scenery.

If you ever find yourself driving through Wyoming, I highly recommend leaving the freeway and taking a drive along Highway 14 through these amazing national forests.

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American Northwest Trip, 2017: Wildlife Loop, Custer State Park

On the way to Mount Rushmore I detoured for several scenic drives, including Custer State Park’s Wildlife Loop, which takes you through rolling green hills reminiscent of the English countryside. For most of the drive I did not encounter much wildlife except for a lone antelope and a distant herd of bison, but toward the end I came upon a vast field of prairie dogs, antelope, and other animals. It’s a nice, pleasant drive, worth the diversion if you have the time.

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American Northwest Trip, 2017: Iron Mountain Road and Mount Rushmore

These photos are from my visit to Mount Rushmore, including a drive along the scenic Iron Mountain Road. If you ever visit Mount Rushmore, I highly recommend first driving Iron Mountain Road from south to north. Complete with switchbacks, pigtail bridges, and single lane tunnels, it is a beautiful drive culminating in the final tunnel that frames Mount Rushmore as you drive through it. Along the way there are scenic lookouts, including one in which you can get your first look at Mount Rushmore from a distance across the valley.

As for Mount Rushmore itself, it is more impressive in person than photos would lead you to believe. It was late in the day by the time I got there so I only stayed long enough to take a few pics, though there is a hike around the monument if you have more time.

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American Northwest Trip, 2017: Needles Highway

These photos are from my drive along Needles Highway, a scenic, sometimes treacherous road winding through granite “needle” rock formations in the Black Hills of South Dakota. The road has a number of one-lane tunnels cut through the rock, wherein you have to be careful and make sure nobody is coming from the other direction before driving through them.

Needles Highway was the first leg of a grand loop scenic drive I took through Custer State Park that also included the Wildlife Loop and Iron Mountain Road before ending at Mount Rushmore. If you’re planning a trip to Rushmore, I highly recommend taking this loop if you have the time as the landscape is often spectacular.

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American Northwest Trip, 2017: The Movie

This compilation of the videos I shot on my trip last summer includes footage of Mount Hood, Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton National Park, Devils Tower, and drives through Shoeshone and Bighorn national forests, Spearfish Canyon, and Custer State Park. I sped up the driving videos for effect and time—I wasn’t really driving that fast. 🙂

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