Readers’ wildlife photos

May 19, 2023 • 8:15 am

Today’s batch of photos (please send yours in!) comes from reader Joe Baldassano. His notes are indented, and you should click on the photos to enlarge them.

Joe’s intro:

Recently I took a trip to the following national parks: Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado, Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado, Petrified Forest National Park, AZ, Saguaro National Park, AZ and White Sands National Monument, NM.

Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado

Photo of Sand in the valley which extends high up on the hills:

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve protects the tallest dunes in North America… and a whole lot more. The park and preserve contain ecosystems ranging from wetlands to forest to tundra—each supporting specially adapted plant, animal, and insect life. (Source: National Park Service)

Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado

Photos of the Cliff Dwellings (A & B):

The Ancestral Puebloans, also known as the Anasazi, were an ancient Native American culture that spanned the present-day Four Corners region of the United States, comprising southeastern Utah, northeastern Arizona, northwestern New Mexico, and southwestern Colorado.  The Ancestral Puebloans lived in a range of structures that included small family pit houses, larger structures to house clans, grand pueblos, and cliff-sited dwellings for defense. (Source: Wikipedia)

Petrified Forest National Park, AZ

Photos: Walking Path through the forest, and then a Fallen Petrified Tree

Get up close to petrified logs by wandering along trails in the park’s southern section. The Petrified Forest was formed from these ancient trees, given the scientific name Araucarioxylon arizonicum, and have morphed from wood to almost solid quartz, taking on colors from iron, carbon and manganese. The Crystal Forest, Giant Logs and Long Logs trails loop past petrified wood deposits, huge logs and even an ancient log jam. Interested more in ancient fauna than flora? The Rainbow Forest Museum has paleontological displays of prehistoric animal skeletons. (Source: state of Arizona visitor’s Guide)

Saguaro National Park, AZ

Me standing in front of a large cacti to show size:

Rainbow over a walking trail through the park (a very lucky shot):

A cactus, showing the landscape.

Tucson, Arizona is home to the nation’s largest cacti. The giant saguaro is the universal symbol of the American west. These majestic plants, found only in a small portion of the United States, are protected by Saguaro National Park, to the east and west of the modern city of Tucson (Source: state of Arizona visitor’s Guide)

White Sands National Park, NM

Visitors sleigh riding on the sand as if it were snow (I’m told this is a regular pastime for locals):

Sun beginning to set over the sand covered landscape.

Rising from the heart of the Tularosa Basin is one of the world’s great natural wonders – the glistening white sands of New Mexico. Great wave-like dunes of gypsum sand have engulfed 275 square miles of desert, creating the world’s largest gypsum dune field. White Sands National Park preserves a major portion of this unique dune field, along with the plants and animals that live here. (Source: National Park Service)

10 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. What magical landscapes! I’ve heard some animals including spiders have evolved white coloration to live on the White Sands (and avoid predation, obv).

  2. One of my favorite childhood memories is going to White Sands at night. They used to be open until midnight on full moon nights (they may still be, but I haven’t been there in years). It is cold there at night, but you can burrow into the dunes, and it’s warm under the surface because the sand holds the heat very well.

    So, you can cover yourself up in sand and watch the full moon rise. Wow!


  3. Wonderful images, but I have to disagree about the first one. The sand at Great Sand Dunes is reddish tan, and the pictured peak is unfamiliar to me.
    The park is not far from the ranch, and we have been there a lot over the years.
    Also, sand would not accumulate on the Yucca plants like that.
    But all the pictures are top rate.
    White sands holds a lot of cool memories for me. When I was a kid, we were hunting in the basin, outside the park, and found remnants of a V2 rocket. I still have part of the tail fin mounted in a frame in my office.

  4. I’ve only visited the ruins at Bandelier, but they’re great. Driving out there from Santa Fe, I wondered how there could be anything there since it was all flat scrub pine en route. Then you drop down into this relatively small ravine and all the ecology changes. Sort of the western version of Hocking Hills in Ohio.

Leave a Reply