By Eilene Lyon
These are more of the parks and other public lands I’ve visited over the past five years, minus the political lecture (see Part I). To learn more about issues affecting these places, click on the links. The image above is the White Canyon in Bears Ears National Monument (2017). This 1.3 million acre monument was decreed to be decreased by 85% this past December. It may sound like a huge area, and it is, but it is so sparsely populated, when I drive through the area I actually worry about running out of gas. The artifacts are scattered throughout, hence the large size.
Valley of the Gods (2015) is part of the Bears Ears, but will not be part of the reduced monument. Unlike the nearby Monument Valley, which sits on tribal land, Valley of the Gods is BLM and access is not restricted. Like Monument Valley, though, expect arresting sandstone formations and endless vistas.
This is my favorite photo from my 2016 travels – at the very top of Lassen Peak in Lassen Volcanic National Park. Lassen is something like a mini-Yellowstone. If you want to enjoy active volcanic features like boiling mudpots, without the crowds, check out this northern California park. All four types of volcanoes can be found there: shield, composite, plug dome, and cinder cone. Below is photo of the hydrothermal features in Bumpass Hell basin.
Ever since I saw “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” back in 1977, I’ve wanted to visit Devils Tower National Monument (2015) in northeastern Wyoming. I suppose in some sense it wasn’t quite as imposing as I expected when I got up close to it. But seen at a distance, it really is astonishing in its singularity. The first known ascent of the tower occurred in 1893. About 5000 climbers from around the world visit every year. The Native American narrative credits the creation of the tower to a boy turning into a bear and “clawing” the stump of a giant tree.
Yaquina Head (2016) lighthouse on the Oregon coast is part of the Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area, a BLM-managed property. It’s a great place to explore tide pools and watch for harbor seals and migrating gray whales. There’s great bird-watching, too. The light (originally called the Cape Foulweather Light) was first lit in 1873 and stands 93 feet tall.
Another BLM property, in northern New Mexico, is the Angel Peak Scenic Area (2015), an area of badlands filled with fossils. Though natural gas wells are part of the scenery, it’s an interesting place to explore. There aren’t any official trails, but there are camp sites available. The eponymous peak rises to nearly 7,000 feet.