Monday, July 12, 2010

Great Basin Summer

It is July here at the eastern edge of the Great Basin and the foot of the Wasatch Range of the Rocky Mountains.  Typically at this time of year from late June through August temperatures range in the 90 degree Farenheit range with about one to two weeks in the 100+ degree range possible.

Now sometimes I think of the Great Basin as a very boring type of desert.  The standard shrub is the sage brush. And mile after mile of the stuff can be very boring.  However there are some very pretty areas of this large basin if you know where to look.

At the northern end of the Great Basin is the Snake River Plain a large volcanic field with fertile soils that streches from Yellowstone National Park on the east to Oregon on the west. The above picture is a sunset near Ontario, Oregon.

While making a brief trip to Wyoming before the Independence Day weekend I took a shot of the new Welcome to Utah sign. Nice to see that the state finally has the idea that the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City are finally done. The old signs depicting the games were up far too long. Looking across through the sign you can see the typical high basin and range topography that the Great Basin is famous for along with the endless sage.

This photo shot near my home is one of those "get that shot" moments. We get thunderstorms that come in the afternoon. This sunset just happened on the tail end of one of them. This is over Lehi, Utah.

I am not quite sure what type of flowers these are but they stand out against the brownish clay ground cover.

This is another typical Great Basin Shot. Across the sage and salt brush you can see green junipers covering the higher foothill. These junipers are the primary conifer over most of the basin and range desert.

A pair of small daisies growing up near a rock covered with lichens.

Opuntia polycantha or the Great Basin Prickly Pear flowering amongst the rocks and sage.

Fish Springs National Wildlife Refuge in western Juab County, Great Salt Lake Desert, Utah.

Mountain stream near Sundance, Utah.

Thistles can look pretty with their white flowers. Don't touch and I would not recommend for landscaping.

The Wasatch Range looking east from Eagle Mountain, Utah.

Sclerocactus glaucus in bloom.

Dry Creek in Highland, Utah. Not quite so dry as this is right before rain and high tempratures caused the creek to overflow its banks. Dry Creek orginates in Alpine, Utah in the Wasatch Range and empties into Utah Lake.

This is Utah Lake with the snow capped Wasatch Range in the background. As late as June the mountains are still capped with snow that will run off well into July before the highest peaks at 12,000 feet are completely snow free. Utah Lake is one of three large lakes in Utah left behind by ancient Lake Bonneville 10 to 15 thousand years ago.

The Great Basin for its size has many interesting areas to visit. It has one National Park, Great Basin National Park, extinct volcanic fields scattered across the eastern and central desert, caves, and sand dunes are all found within the Great Basin geographical area.  Late spring and early summer the desert comes to life only to become dry and brownish again by August.  

Deserts truly are magnificent places. Beauty can be found if only one looks beyond the dryness and heat to see what life makes its home in such a challenging environment.

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