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Redwood National Park | Travel (121/556)

Redwood National Park | Travel (121/556) | Alaina Ann Photography Redwood National Park, and state parks in California, is one of the most magical places I have ever been. The early morning fog, overwhelming silence and trees beyond belief all add to the surreal feelings experienced while hiking and driving through the park.

A raven flew by at one point. It's wings flapping against the thick air was heard long before he appeared into sight and long after he vanished into the mist.

Goosebumps and peace were felt over and over again while exploring.

Redwood National Park | Travel (121/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Top Five Hikes + Places to Explore
  1. Avenue of the Giants - a scenic 32 mile drive through the heart of Humboldt Redwoods State Park.
  2. Fern Canyon - enjoy being surrounded by ferns on all sides of the canyon walls. This canyon was a filming location in the recent Jurassic Park movie.
  3. Howland Hill Road - drive through Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park for close views of redwood trees.
  4. Prairie Creek - enjoy a hiking trail by some of the larges redwood trees.
  5. Requa Road - overlooks the mouth of the Klamath River where whales are sometimes visible from above.

Tell me all about your favorite hikes and places to explore in Redwood National Park!

Redwood National Park | Travel (121/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Redwood National Park | Travel (121/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Redwood National Park | Travel (121/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Redwood National Park | Travel (121/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Mount Hood National Forest | Travel (119/556)

Mount Hood National Forest | Travel (119/556) | Alaina Ann Photography Mount Hood National Forest, in Oregon, greeted me with tall pines, cool temperatures and a foggy mist. I was smiling from ear to ear the entire time.

Mount Hood National Forest | Travel (119/556) | Alaina Ann Photography (iPhone 6)

Top Five Hikes + Places to Explore
  1. Clackamas Wild and Scenic River - deep in a gorge, surrounded by rocky cliffs.
  2. Mount Hood Meadows Ski Resort - claimed to be one of the best locations in the Northwest for skiing and snowboarding.
  3. Timberland Lodge - a National Historic Landmark, handcrafted in the 1930's and now open to the public as a ski resort with hotel and restaurant.
  4. Timberline National Historic Trail - a 36.6 mile, near loop trail, inside the Mount Hood Wilderness.
  5. Timothy Lake Recreation Area - The Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail traverses the eastern side of Timothy Lake.

What are some of your favorite places and hikes in Mount Hood National Forest?

Challis National Forest | Travel (117/556)

Challis National Forest | Travel (117/556) | Alaina Ann Photography Challis National Forest is where I hit most of the snow during my Idaho national forest loop. Would love to get back for a warmer fall day, with fewer snow flurries!

Top Five Hikes + Places to Explore
  1. Franck Church River of No Return Wilderness - quite the name! Filled with rugged mountains, canyons and whitewater rivers.
  2. Little Bayhorse Trail - a quick one mile hike around Little Bayhorse Lake.
  3. Peaks to Craters Scenic Byway - over 140 miles through diverse Idaho landscape, including mountain peaks, lava flows and ghost towns.
  4. Upper Vanity Lakes - a moderate 2.1 mile trail, out and back, to four small lakes in the Frank Church Wilderness.
  5. West Fork Lakes Trail - a 1.4 mile hike to West Fork Lakes.

What are your favorite places in Challis National Forest?

Sawtooth National Forest | Travel (116/556)

Sawtooth National Forest | Travel (116/556) | Alaina Ann Photography It was early September and snow began to fall as I drove into Sun Valley, Idaho. With a long detour through three national forests ahead, popping into a Ranger Station for weather information was my first stop in Sawtooth National Forest.

The Park Ranger kindly confirmed I would see snow during most of my drive, but would be at a low enough elevation to not worry about messy roads.

Perfect news! The sky and clouds were dramatic and changing quickly during my entire time in Sawtooth National Forest. Beyond excited to head back for more exploring.

Sawtooth National Forest | Travel (116/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Top Five Hikes + Places to Explore
  1. Eagle Loop - a short, easy 2.5 mile loop trail.
  2. Galena Overlook - after driving through some serious switchbacks, stop and take in this stunning view.
  3. Redfish Lake - named after the once abundant sockeye salmon run, this lake is ideal for enjoying the beach, surrounding views and water activities.
  4. Sawtooth Scenic Byway - a must drive on my list! 116 miles total, with canyon, mountain, river and lava deposit goodness along the way.
  5. Sawtooth Wilderness Area - with 50 jagged peaks over 10,000 feet tall, there's plenty of exploring to be had here.

What are some of your favorite areas of Sawtooth National Forest?

Sawtooth National Forest | Travel (116/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Sawtooth National Forest | Travel (116/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Badlands National Park | Travel (99/556)

Badlands National Park | Travel (99/556) | Alaina Ann Photography Over a decade went by between visits to Badlands National Park. I knew my arrival would be greeted with wonder, fresh eyes and amazement. During my first evening and morning in the park, storms were rolling in and out. The dynamic blue sky served as a stunning contrast to the badlands and areas with green grass and vegetation.

There's no way I will wait another ten years before my next visit!

Badlands National Park | Travel (99/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Top Five Hikes + Places to Explore
  1. Badlands Loop Road - driving through the entire park on the loop road is a great way to see diverse badlands, stunning overlooks and enjoy short hikes.
  2. Big Badlands Overlook - my number one spot for sunrise.
  3. Castle Trail - a moderate, 10 mile hike passing through badlands formations.
  4. Saddle Pass - a short, strenuous quarter mile trail climbs up Badlands Wall offering a vantage point above the White River Valley.
  5. Yellow Mounds - the colors in this region are absolutely breathtaking.

Tell me all about your favorite hikes and places to explore, in the comments below!

Badlands National Park | Travel (99/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Badlands National Park | Travel (99/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Badlands National Park | Travel (99/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Badlands National Park | Travel (99/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Badlands National Park | Travel (99/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Badlands National Park | Travel (99/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site | Travel (83/556)

Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site | Travel (83/556) | Alaina Ann Photography (iPhone 6) The downside of my visit to Saugus Iron Works National Historic Park was the pouring rain. The upside was having the entire park to myself. And to be honest, it was quite beautiful, peaceful and the grass was bright green from all the rain.

Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site | Travel (83/556) | Alaina Ann Photography (iPhone 6)

This small park has a nice, easy nature trail along the Saugus River. Other points of interest include touring the Iron Works House, Industrial Site and Museum.

I'm hoping to make my way back during the fall one year. I trust the nature trail is breathtaking during the autumn months.

Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site | Travel (83/556) | Alaina Ann Photography (iPhone 6)

Great Smoky Mountains National Park | Travel (60/556)

Great Smoky Mountains National Park | Travel (60/556) | Alaina Ann Photography (iPhone 4s) My most recent visit to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, in Tennessee, was filled with pouring rain, fog and cool temperatures. Both the fog and cool temperatures were spectacular. The rain made it difficult to hike and go beyond the overlooks and scenic drives.

An excellent reason to make a return fall visit :)

During a previous visit, I made my way to the North Carolina portion of the park. Seeing the elk herds was fantastic!

Top Five Hikes + Places to Explore
  1. Cades Cove - allow two to four hours to explore this area, drive the 11 mile loop and enjoy Thunderhead Mountain.
  2. Charlies Bunion - an 8 mile hike along the Appalachian Trail, offering breathtaking distant views.
  3. Highway 441 - countless overlooks with beautiful views.
  4. Newfound Gap Road - this stunning stretch goes for 40 miles between the Sugarlands and Oconaluftee visitor centers.
  5. Rainbow Falls - another Appalachian Trail hike, at 5.4 miles in length. On a sunny afternoon you will see a rainbow appear in the mist of the waterfall.

What are some of your favorite hikes and places to explore in Great Smoky Mountains National Park? I plan to head back SOON!

Incoming Desert Snow | Photograph Story

Incoming Desert Snow | Photograph Story | Alaina Ann Photography Oh how I LOVE snow in the desert.

On the afternoon of New Year's Eve, my sister and I decided to drive up Mount Lemmon. Snow began to appear at the summit and the winding road was suggesting a retreat back to lower elevation :)

We made our way to Saguaro National Park and perfectly timed seeing the snow storm swiftly move across the mountains.

All the golden brown was covered with fresh white goodness. The saguaros had a thin layer of snow and ice. We danced a little in the big snowflakes. And then a rainbow appeared.

Such a special, fun and stunning moment in the desert. Sharing this rare occurrence with my sister made it all more exciting!

Pinehurst Fog | Photograph Story

Pinehurst Fog | Photograph Story | Alaina Ann Photography Once upon a time, I lived in Pinehurst, North Carolina. While living among the golf courses, I had the pleasure of meeting so many great people and still call many dear friends today.

After photographing a lifestyle session on a cool, foggy morning, I decided to switch lenses and capture a few landscape photographs.

I am *mildly* obsessed with fog and fall.

This morning was a lovely combination of both. The pops or orange and red in the trees with the misty fog moving between the branches was absolutely beautiful.

Having a photograph from an old home, with nature elements I love, makes my heart happy :)

Ouachita National Forest | Travel (56/556)

Ouachita National Forest | Travel (56/556) | Alaina Ann Photography (iPhone 4s) The rain was falling pretty hard when I woke up in Arkansas, ready to explore Ouachita National Forest. Each mile in the car delivered smaller raindrops and a bit more fog. Quite the moody scene for exploring.

Top Five Hikes + Places to Explore
  1. Beech Creek National Scenic Area and Botanical Area - with over 32 miles of trails and a 400 acre botanical area, this is a must see spot.
  2. Buffalo Gap Trail - 9 mile trail offering panoramic views of the national forest.
  3. Hunt's Loop - great day hike at 4.3 miles. Short Mountain Vista offers panoramic views, wooded areas and cliff side views.
  4. Ouachita National Recreation Trail - this is a long one at 192 miles. Hiking smaller sections during the spring and fall offers great temperatures and beautiful colors.
  5. Scenic 7 Byway - loved driving this mountain road. The fall colors were spectacular!

What are your favorite hikes and places to explore in Ouachita National Forest?

Frozen Leaves | Photograph Story

Frozen Leaves | Photograph Story | Alaina Ann Photography Sometimes, when it's below zero, I like to bundle up and venture into the brisk outdoors. Seeing what I may find, or what may find me.

Stepping outside onto the frozen grass filled the quiet yard with loud crunching noises. Each step reminded me of breaking glass beneath my boots.

I turned around the front corner of the house and saw frozen leaves suspended from a bush and began to smile. The entire branch and all the leaves were encased in ice. So beautiful.

After capturing a few photographs I continued on my backyard exploration. A few other sights caught my eye, but none were quite as intriguing as these lovely leaves.

Two winters in, after living in lovely Arizona, and people keep saying the upcoming winter is going to be even worse than the last. I may have more frozen leaves to photograph in the near future :)

San Juan National Forest | Travel (48/556)

San Juan National Forest | Travel (48/556) | Alaina Ann Photography The San Juan National Forest is at the top of my must visit list, especially during fall. Covering over 1.8 million acres of land in southwestern Colorado, there's plenty of goodness to enjoy.

San Juan National Forest | Travel (48/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

On another note, Durango (my favorite mountain town) is located within this amazing national forest. All the more reason to stop in and stay awhile :)

San Juan National Forest | Travel (48/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Favorite Hikes + Places to Explore
  • 14,000 Feet and Above - several mountain peaks fall into the 14'ers category. For a full list, click here.
  • Durango - my favorite mountain town :) Always worth a visit and overnight stay if you find yourself in the area. Other great towns include Telluride, Ouray and Silverton.
  • Hiking - the Dolores and Columbine Ranger Districts are my most visited areas for hiking. My list of favorites is far too long to share!
  • San Juan Skyway - SO much goodness on this 232 mile scenic byway loop. I try to drive this at least once a year.
  • South San Juan Wilderness - includes portions of the southeastern San Juan Mountain range and the Continental Divide.

What are some of your favorite spots in San Juan National Forest?

Durango, Colorado | Travel

Durango, Colorado | Travel | Alaina Ann Photography Durango, Colorado is my favorite happy place. One day this mountain town will be called home and these amazing areas will be just outside my doorstep :)

Durango, Colorado | Travel | Alaina Ann Photography

I try to make my way through Durango each year while on my around the country road trip. As you will notice from the posts below, my arrival almost always coincides with peak fall foliage.

Durango, Colorado | Travel | Alaina Ann Photography

Favorite Hikes + Places to Explore
  • U.S. Route 550 - this curvy drive from Durango to Silverton, and even Ouray, is quite spectacular. Each turn offers a new perspective of mountain goodness. And the mountain towns are small yet grand.
  • Hiking - this website is great for finding hikes in and around Durango.
  • Historic Downtown - filled with restaurants, shops and great mountain views.
  • Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad - this train ride is fun for all ages, taking you to areas only accessible by backpacking or from the windows of this train.

Durango, Colorado | Travel | Alaina Ann Photography

To take a trip down memory lane, here are links to other Durango blog posts.

Fall in Colorado Durango & Silverton Fall Photo Train Fenced Aspens Passing Train Moody Mountain iPhone Favorites Durango Fall Goodness Durango Ranch Tall Aspens

So... there are just a FEW mentions of Durango on this little website of mine!

What are you favorite hikes and places to explore in Durango, Colorado?

Guadalupe Mountains National Park | Travel (44/556)

Guadalupe Mountains National Park | Travel (44/556) | Alaina Ann Photography Moments before leaving Texas to drive into New Mexico, this stunning view appeared. I knew the next national park on my list was just ahead.

Guadalupe Mountains National Park was filled with low clouds throughout my visit, allowing me to pop in and out of the mist. The park is made for exploring by foot, with very few roads to take you around the mountains.

With more than 80 trails, you'll want to lace up and grab your backpack to enjoy the goodness :)

Sadly, many areas were closed during my visit due to recent flooding and road damage. All the more reason to head back another time!

Guadalupe Mountains National Park | Travel (44/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Favorite Hikes + Places to Explore
  • Dog Canyon - an extremely remote area, located on the northern edge of the park.
  • Frijole Ranch - a museum and one room schoolhouse. Also the starting point for the Smith Spring Trail.
  • Guadalupe Peak Trail - the "Top of Texas" via an 8.4 mile hike.
  • McKittrick Canyon - limestone walls reaching 2,000 feet.
  • Salt Basin Dunes - white salt basin dunes that extend over 2,000 acres.
  • Smith Spring Trail - a 2.3 mile loop trail to the Smith Spring.
  • The Bowl - a strenuous 9.1 mile hike requiring 8-10 hours of your time. The hike will take you from the desert up 2,500 feet to ridges of forest.
  • The Pinery Trail - a short .75 mile hike to the ruins of the old Pinery Station.
  • Williams Ranch - a single, well preserved house at the base of a rock cliff canyon.

Guadalupe Mountains National Park | Travel (44/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Tell me all about your favorite spots in Guadalupe Mountains National Park! I'm heading back sometime soon :)

Big Bend National Park | Travel (43/556)

Big Bend National Park | Travel (43/556) | Alaina Ann Photography Big Bend National Park on a moody, storm filled day, is quite the experience. Fog and low clouds drifted across the mountains. Rain poured down from the sky and a few of the roads close to the border with Mexico were covered in debris and water.

My heart was pounding with excitement and I was a little damp from running around in the rain :)

Big Bend National Park | Travel (43/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Favorite Hikes + Places to Explore
  • Chimneys Trail - a moderate 4.8 mile hike to volcanic formations.
  • Chisos Basin Loop - a moderate 1.8 mile hike through dense vegetation. An attractive area for mountain lions and bears.
  • Dager Flat Auto Trail - a dirt road filled with desert views. Check on road conditions before heading out.
  • Grapevine Hills Trail - a 2.2 mile trail to balanced rocks.
  • Hot Springs Canyon Trail - a moderate 6 mile trail taking you close to the river and Hot Springs Canyon.
  • Mule Ears Spring Trail - a park favorite at 3.8 miles, through the foothills of the Chisos Mountains.
  • Rio Grande Village - an easy .75 mile trail with spectacular views of the Rio Grande River.
  • Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive - a 30 mile paved road with stunning overlooks and access to numerous hikes.
  • Sam Nail Ranch - an easy .5 mile loop to the old ranch homestead.
  • Santa Elena Canyon - a moderate 1.7 mile hike to Santa Elena Canyon, taking you to the water's edge.
  • Window Trail - a moderate 5.6 mile hike through Oak Creek Canyon.
  • Window View Trail - an easy .3 mile hike perfect for catching sunset in the park.

Big Bend National Park | Travel (43/556) | Alaina Ann Photography

Do you have a list of favorite hikes and destinations in Big Bend National Park? If so, I would love to hear all about them in the comments below!

Big Bend National Park | Travel (43/556) | Alaina Ann Photography