Snow in Flagstaff

Recently Flagstaff Arizona received quite a bit of snow, and my fiancé and I decided to take advantage of it and visited. It was very beautiful, and I really enjoyed seeing all of my favorite places covered in fresh snow.

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We first drove up to the ski resort, which was full of people looking to ski or snowboard. From there we got some amazing views of the surrounding landscape

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as well as some nice views of the San Francisco peaks.

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Then we drove around to a few places off of highway 180, north of the city. At one stop we found a small meadow with untouched snow fall.

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From there, we drove to Lake Mary and Mormon Lake to see how they looked. Lower Lake Mary was pretty small, and mostly frozen over. Upper Lake Mary was partially frozen over, except where there was a current. Here are those to lakes.

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Lake Mormon was completely frozen over, but like Lower Lake Mary, it too was very small.

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One issue we encountered while having fun in the snow was that many of the forest roads were closed, so we were unable to visit some of our favorite hikes. If you plan to visit Flagstaff during the winter to hike, be sure to check if the roads are open! The roads we tried were FR 151 and 418. Despite the road closures, I highly recommend going up to Flagstaff right now. It was so beautiful and fun to explore!

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The Giants of Muir Woods

Wow time flies! The end of the semester got a little hectic for me, so that is why I have not posted in a while. But I am back to talk about a trip I took during Thanksgiving. I went to San Francisco with my fiancé to visit some friends and while we were there, we took a trip to visit Muir Woods National Monument to see the giant costal redwood trees! Unfortunately, it was pretty late in the day when we visited, so many of my pictures did not turn out well or are very dark. I still have a few decent ones to show off though!

Muir Woods is a national monument that is north of San Francisco. To get there, we crossed the Golden Gate Bridge, which was pretty awesome. We stopped there to take some photos and then headed up to the monument. As I mentioned above, Muir Woods is home to the costal redwoods, which are massive trees growing up to 279 feet tall! And 29.2 feet wide! This forest is one of the last few strands of these special trees left in the Bay Area, so it was definitely a treat to see them! Upon arrival, we were greeted by one of the many giants in the forest right by the ranger station.

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In the forest it was fairly dark, not only because of the time of day, but also because of the thick canopy shading most of the ground. The immense trees block out quite a bit of light, and this also prevents most non-shade tolerant plants from growing in the area. There were still quite a few shade-tolerant plants to be found, especially near stream beds like this one.

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However, it was the giant redwoods that captivated us. Trying to capture their enormity was tough, though I think I did a pretty good job here:

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And hopefully through the help of my fiancé you can see how large these trees are at the base.

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Also, a fun fact about this national monument; part of Star Wars Episode VI: The Return of the Jedi was filmed here. Specifically some of the scenes from the forest moon of Endor, the moon that had the Ewoks living on it!

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Seeing these trees was an amazing experience, and I definitely hope to return one day to spend more time among some of the largest living organisms on our planet!

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Moab’s National Parks

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The North and South Windows from Arches National Park

The last stop on our national park tour was a small town in southeastern Utah named Moab. This town is located very close to two great and iconic national parks: Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. These two parks both have some of the most identifiable landscapes or features of the Southwest’s national parks, but they are very different! Starting with Arches National Park, we journeyed out of the valley that Moab is settled inside. Once we topped the eastern ridge, we were already in Arches, and were able to see the beautiful landscapes and rock features that this park contains.

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The most famous arch in this park is the Delicate Arch, which is an amazing stand alone rock arch , seen below.

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This arch, like many in the park were formed by the great force of erosion, both by wind and water. Many arches throughout the park have collapsed since the park was founded. One arch that seems close to collapsing is the Landscape Arch. People are no longer able to walk underneath this arch, because a major chunk of rock fell and the arch is somewhat unstable.

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Other major landmarks include the following:

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The Balanced Rock

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The Double Arches

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The Salt Domes

In addition to the amazing geological features that are scattered across the park, there are some outstanding views of the surrounding landscape, such as this view of the La Sal Mountains, which are south of Arches.

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After leaving Arches, we headed on over to Canyonlands National Park, which is actually composed of three sections. The first section, the one we went to, is called Island in the Sky. Here is an epic view from one of the vistas in this section:

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Another section, which is a slightly longer drive south from Moab, is called The Needles, which we saw way in the distance from Island in the Sky:

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And the third part is called The Maze, which is difficult to access. The Island in the Sky was really awesome, because we were basically on a plateau or mesa and got epic views of the park. Here is an example from one of the vista points in the park.

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Hiking in Canyonlands was also fairly intense, at least for me, because you can end up hiking alongside a 1000+ foot drop off for a long time. We hiked the Grand View Point Trail, which was awesome, and gave us some great sweeping views, like below.

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We also found a tree that someone had put a Christmas ornament in, which was a fun little thing to find.

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The last thing we did in the park was visit a feature called The Upheaval Dome. There are two theories about how this dome was formed. The first is that it is a salt dome formed by shifting rocks. The other, which now seems to have more support, is that the dome is a meteorite crater.

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After visiting these two parks, we headed back home and concluded our national parks tour! I hope you enjoyed this virtual tour, and that it inspires you to visit these amazing places for yourself. I know that I plan to go back to all of these sites and spend more time at each one!