Albino Redwood Tree

The instant that I heard that there was such a thing as albino redwood trees, I knew that I was going to have to try to find one to see it for myself. The problem is that finding them isn’t an easy thing to do. Since these trees are so rare, the places where they grow are, for the most part, deeply guarded secrets. And despite the huge contrast in color from the normal redwood trees, they can be very difficult to spot.

The albino redwood (sometimes called the ghost redwood or white redwood) gets its unique white color because it isn’t able to produce chlorophyll. The result is that it has white needles instead of the typical green needles found on most redwood trees.

These ghost redwood trees don’t grow to be very tall. Since they can’t produce chlorophyll on their own and thus lack the ability to do photosynthesis, they have to get all their nutrition from the roots of the redwood tree from which they sprouted. This limits how big that they can grow. Since they must derive all their nutrition from the roots of the main tree, this makes them a parasite. These white redwoods are exceedingly rare — It’s estimated that as few as 25 may exist in the world.

albino redwood tree

I came across this albino redwood at Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park in California. There are supposed to be several of the ghost redwoods throughout the park, but except for a single one along the Redwood Grove Nature Trail (stop #14), their locations are not publicized to keep people from destroying them.

The one on the Redwood Grove Nature Trail isn’t pure white — the needles have a slight green tint and many of the needle branches contain both green and white needles:

albino redwood tree at Henry Cowell state park

I was able to find another one which was pure white and really stood out, especially with the surrounding green of the other trees. Here are a few photos that I took:

Here is a short video about the albino redwood trees at Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park:

Berry Creek Falls Big Basin Redwoods California State Park

For anyone that visits Big Basin Redwoods state park (California) and has the time, the Berry Creek Falls trail is well worth the time and effort (approx. 10 miles round trip — the park signs estimate it at 6 hours and difficult, but I would say it’s more intermediate for anyone that does a decent amount of hiking and it should take less time. I was able to complete the hike in under 5 hours with a stop for lunch and a lot of photo taking along the way). It’s one of my favorite trails when I head back home to visit my parents, and I have the time to make the hour drive to the park. I recently was able to do the hike, and with all the recent rain in this area, Berry Creek Falls is running with more water than usual making it even more spectacular.

Berry Creek Falls

Big Basin waterfall

Berry Creek Falls top

Road To Nowhere Valley Of Fire

While I am far from a good photographer, I do enjoy taking photos as I visit various state and national parks around the country. It allows me to give you a glimpse of the beauty that is out there (although the photos never seem to do the actual scenes justice) so that you may want to visit the place one day.

I find that in additions to all the amazing places that can be accessible by hiking, often the beauty is right there next to the road. In fact, sometimes it’s the road itself (as part of the overall scene) which is part of the beauty. That is exactly the feeling I got when I came across this while driving in Valley of Fire Nevada State Park (this was driving back from White Domes back toward the visitor’s center).

road to nowhere

I actually got in trouble taking this photo. When I saw the view, I immediately pulled off to the side of the road to take it even though there really wasn’t a proper place to do so. it was one of those things that i saw and just needed to take a photo of it. A park ranger happened to be on the road and I scolded me (which he rightfully should have done). There was a parking area about a mile back and I should have parked there and hiked to get the photo. Point to remember with all the beautiful views that state and national parks provide…

Rock Fall Flow Photo Valley of Fire Nevada State Park

One of the natural wonders that I enjoy hiking to most is waterfalls. While hiking in Valley of Fire Nevada state park (a couple of hours outside Las Vegas and a wonderful day trip if you want to escape all the casinos) I came across this rock fall or rock flow (I’m not sure which to call it), but found it wonderfully interesting, especially with the contrast of colors between the striped red sandstone and the rocks in the flow / fall. This was found while doing the White Domes hike which I would highly recommend doing for anyone that makes it to Valley of Fire (click photo for a bigger, more detailed image)

rock flow

What do you think?

Big Basin CA State Park Seeking Volunteers

I just spent a day hiking at Big Basin California State Park and they are looking for volunteers to become docent-naturalists for the upcoming spring and summer seasons. This is the flyer posted on the headquarters door (click on photo for larger image)

big basin volunteers

As the sign states:

  • Become part of a team dedicated to helping the environment through education Learn to lead guided walks for school groups and the public
  • Gain natural history knowledge of the coast redwoods and their ecosystem
  • Share part of yourself with the community
  • Support California State Parks

Classes begin in April 2012. Call 831-338-8883 for more information and an application.

Atlatl Rock Valley of Fire Nevada State Park

For those who have an extra day when staying in Las Vegas and want to see something beyond the gaming floors and slot machines, an hour and a half drive out to Valley of Fire Nevada state park is definitely worth the effort. There is a good variety of scenic spots and different formations that will ensure that you don’t regret the trip. There is also a very nice display of Native American rock art at Atlatl Rock. It’s well worth stopping to see these ancient petroglyphs. An information sign placed in the parking lot before you climb a metal staircase gives the following basics about the atlatl:

An atlatl is a throwing stick or dart thrower used by ancient tribes to give more force to their darts or spears. It was usually a wooden stick about two feet long with a handhold on one end and a hook on the other end. A slot cut in the tail end of the dart was set against the hook allowing the dart to lie along the atlatl so that both could be grasped midway of the dart by the user.

These petroglyphs were made by ancient tribes. Respect their antiquity. Help preserve them.

When you reach the top of the staircase, the rock art is easily seen and quite bold. The art above the protective fence is well preserved and has little damage:

atlatl rock

atlatl rock valley of fire

Unfortunately, the art work below the fence line has been vandalized to some degree:

atlatl rock petroglyphs

At the top, there is another informational sign which reads:

These petroglyphs have existed for over 4,000 years. Ancient drawings are a reflection of the past and the lifestyles of Native American cultures. Although we don’t know exactly the meaning of the images, this art reflects the thoughts of these people.

In order to protect these cultural treasures, we ask that you do not walk on, touch or deface the rock. Help us protect our petroglyphs for others to enjoy for generations to come.

Report Vandalism!

Be sure to look around a bit because there id definitely more rock art than their first appears to be

Fallen Giant Redwood Dynamited At Redwood National Park

What happens when a giant California coastal redwood tree falls in a wind and rain storm? This was the question that the rangers at Redwood National Park had to solve recently when an eight foot diameter redwood fell across the popular Newton P. Drury Scenic Parkway in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. The decision? Forget chainsaws and bulldozers — get out the dynamite. That’s exactly what they did, and they hope to have the road opened by the end of this week:

fallen giant redwood tree gets dynamited at Redwoods National Park

While the reopening of the road will be appreciated by those wishing to drive the scenic route, bicyclists and hikers may be a little less enthusiastic. With the tree forcing the closure of the road for about the last month, bicyclists and hikers have been taking the rare opportunity to see Atlas Grove and the Procession of Giants without any vehicle traffic.

Somehow I don’t think the entire dynamite process was quite a spectacular as when National Forest personal decided to use dynamite to blow up a beached whale. Enjoy (thanks Kevin in comments)

Photo courtesy of the NPS. More information can be obtained at

The Goblin of Goblin Valley Utah State Park

One of the first things you will discover when you begin to wander around Goblin Valley at Goblin Valley state park is that the goblins form a wide variety of shapes. Among the hundreds of goblins in the valley, I saw camels, skulls, monkeys, and snakes to name just a few. As I rounded one corner, I found myself face to face with what could only be the Goblin of Goblin Valley:

Goblin Rock at Goblin Valley State Park in Utah

the goblin of goblin valley state park in Utah

While there are a number of different formations that look like goblin rocks, this is the one that instantly proclaimed Goblin Rock to me. What do you think?

Best Hike at Goblin Valley State Park Utah

While there are a number of trail hikes at Goblin Valley state park (Curtis Bench Trail, Entrada Canyon Trail, and Carmel Canyon Trail), the best hike at Goblin Valley state park isn’t a marked trail at all. One of the wonderful aspects about Goblin Valley is that you can wander into the valley among all the goblins and explore to your heart’s content creating your own hike. Since the Observation Point makes for an easily recognizable orientation point, you don’t have to worry about getting lost or turned around as you wander.

As soon as you make your way down into the valley, you’re greeted with the goblins at eye level:

the valley floor at Goblin Valley stat park Utah

What makes wandering the valley so much fun is that around every corner there are more goblins hidden around unseen side valleys:

goblin valley state park

Hiking among the goblins also lets you see how playful they can be:

looking through goblins at goblin valley state park utah

There are actually three valleys which you can explore (be sure to take plenty of water) meaning that it is easy to spend hours wandering while seeing new goblin formations. For those that like to wander instead of following a preset path when hiking, this is definitely a destination you want to add to your list.

Observation Point Goblin Valley Utah State Park

Sometime when I’m traveling, I come across a name of a park that is so intriguing that I have to go there even without knowing what I’m going to find. That was the case when I saw Goblin Valley Utah State Park on the map. I can honestly say that this was one of the best decisions I have made. If you have never visited Goblin Valley, it’s one of those places that you want to add to your bucket list.

When you first enter Goblin Valley state park, the first recognizable formation you will see are the three goblins. While the three goblins give the impression that the valley will be filled with sparse, distinct goblin formations, you immediately realise this is not the case when you reach Observation Point. Observations Point gives you a wonderful view of Valley 1 (there are actually three valleys) and the hundreds of “goblins” that live within the valley:

observation point Goblin Valley state park Utah

Goblin Valley from Observation Point in Utah

In addition to giving you an amazing first view of Goblin Valley, Observation Point also becomes an essential orientating landmark when you venture down into the valley to look at all the goblins up-close. The point has a large picnic structure with roof that can easily be seen from most places in the valley which keeps one from getting lost in the maze of all the goblins and gives you the security of being a bit more adventurous in your exploration that you might be without this landmark.