Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Hot Springs National Park, Part I

Taryn and I made the five-hour drive from Dallas this past weekend to another national park I'd yet to visit -- Hot Springs. It's actually the closest national park to us, but it still took me more than a year to get to it. I may have just been saving the last one within reasonable driving distance.

View from Hot Springs Mountain Tower
We first headed to the top of the park's Mountain Tower, which Taryn insisted we climb up rather than taking the handy elevator.  Fortunately it's only 216 feet tall, and I've still got enough Colorado in my blood (and lungs and legs) to make that with no trouble.  The mid-afternoon sun was still pretty high in the sky, so the light was fairly harsh.  But the view back down to the town itself was still nice.

Sunset Trail, Hot Springs National Park
After heading back down to Bathhouse Row to check out the visitor center, we decided to hike out to Balanced Rock for sunset.  Twilight was already starting to descend when we hit the trail.

Balanced Rock, Hot Springs National Park
A short 1.4-mile walk got us to our vista just in time.  Sparse clouds and smoke from what appeared to be some controlled burns were showing promise for a colorful display.

Taryn at Balanced Rock, Hot Springs National Park
Taryn took up position on the outcropping and left me to mess around with my equipment.  Her way of enjoying a sunset is certainly simpler.

Sunset from Balanced Rock, Hot Springs National Park
There was an interesting division in the sky where the color just stopped abruptly for no obvious reason.  I've got no good idea what could have caused it, but it was an interesting effect.

Sunset from Balanced Rock, Hot Springs National Park
I regretted not bringing my gradual neutral density filter to balance the exposure between the sky and the ground a little better.  But I still thoroughly enjoyed the scene.

Balanced Rock, Hot Springs National Park
After the sun dropped below the horizon I grabbed a quick shot of the lichen on the rocks.  Without a tripod, I never could have gotten this shot.

Balanced Rock, Hot Springs National Park
Nor could I have gotten this last one of Balanced Rock itself.  The light was well and truly faded as we began our return trek, and we were using the flashlight on Taryn's iPhone by the time we made it back to the car.  But it was good to get in a workout after spending most of the day driving, and a beautiful sunset is always a worthwhile reward.

More to come!

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