Devils Tower

Previewing a Series of Blog Posts — July 2019 National Parks Journey

There can be nothing in the world more beautiful than the Yosemite, the groves of the giant sequoias and redwoods, the Canyon of the Colorado, the Canyon of the Yellowstone, the Three Tetons; and our people should see to it that they are preserved for their children and their children’s children forever, with their majestic beauty all unmarred. President Theodore Roosevelt

The Parks are the Nation’s pleasure grounds and the Nation’s restoring places… The National Parks… are an American idea; it is one thing we have that has not been imported. Horace McFarland, president, American Civic Association, 1916

There is nothing so American as our National Parks… The fundamental idea behind the Parks… is that the country belongs to the people, and that it is in process of making for the enrichment of the lives of all of us. President Franklin D. Roosevelt

National Parks are the best idea we ever had. Absolutely American, absolutely democratic, they reflect us at our best rather than our worst. Wallace Stegner, 1983


July 12-24, 2019 Judy and I enjoyed a dream National Parks tour through Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, and Badlands… among other natural and historic features and monuments. Watch for 6-10 additional Blog Posts with photos and applicable observations and reflections. I won’t know exactly what topics I’ll address until I get into drafting. The list of potential topics includes:

Great Salt Lake and Wasatch Range

The Wasatch Range, the distant feature to the right in the photo below, rises dramatically as the eastern wall of the Salt Lake basin, a remnant feature of prehistoric Lake Bonneville. Water (primarily snowmelt) enters the basin from the lofty mountains, yet never exits, hence the evaporation-derived salinity referenced by the lake’s moniker.


Basin and Range

Author John McPhee wrote in Basin and Range, If you free yourself from the conventional reaction to a quantity like a million years, you free yourself a bit from the boundaries of human time. And then in a way you do not live at all, but in another way you live forever. We saw basin after range after basin after range as we made our 1,400-mile five-state journey.


Grand Teton National Park

This was my third visit to the Tetons, perhaps my favorite place on the planet. Grand Teton towers more than a mile above the valley floor to its 13,770-foot peak. John Muir said of such country, Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine into trees.


Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem

Stretching from Jackson, Wyoming into America’s premier National Park treasure, the greater Yellowstone ecosystem epitomizes Nature’s rich beauty, magic, wonder, and awe. Once again, Muir expressed its essence, This grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere; the dew is never all dried at once; a shower is forever falling; vapor ever rising.


Yellowstone Caldera and THE Hotspot

The Park is a “super volcano,” which last erupted 640 million years ago. That event ejected 240 cubic miles of volcanic material, contrasted to Mt Saint Helen’s 1980 eruption ejection of 0.1 cubic miles. Old Faithful is just one of the Park’s associated hydro-thermal features.



The Bad Lands grade all the way from those that are almost rolling in character to those that are so fantastically broken in form and so bizarre in color as to seem hardly properly to belong to this earth. Theodore Roosevelt.


Devils Tower

From an 1875 Geologic Survey Team, Henry Newt (1845-1877), geological assistant to the expedition, wrote: Its [the Tower’s] remarkable structure, its symmetry, and its prominence made it an unfailing object of wonder. . . It is a great remarkable obelisk of trachyte, with a columnar structure, giving it a vertically striated appearance, and it rises 625 feet almost perpendicular, from its base. Its summit is so entirely inaccessible that the energetic explorer, to whom the ascent of an ordinarily difficult crag is but a pleasant pastime, standing at its base could only look upward in despair of ever planting his feet on the top. . .


Crowds – To Cherish We Must See and Fondle

Aldo Leopold wrote in his 1949 A Sand County Almanac, All conservation of wildness is self-defeating, for to cherish we must see and fondle, and when enough have seen and fondled, there is no wilderness left to cherish. Fortunately, the National Park Service manages National Park visitation in a manner that accommodates large crowds even while enabling back-country exploration for those seeking solitude and escape.


For Spacious Skies — Cloud Wonder and Magic

I’m an unabashed and unashamed cloud addict and weather junkie — here’s a late afternoon shower approaching as we visited West Thumb Geyser Basin on Yellowstone Lake at 7,733-feet. Watch for my two-week, five-state cloud-photo catalog and journal.


Spectacular Scale

A consummate tree guy, I accept the horizon-constraining forests that blanket most of Alabama. Yet I heartily embraced the unlimited viewscape frequently presented during our tour.



I’m a southern Appalachian spring wildflower enthusiast. Mid-summer across our tourscape offered a rich palette of floral wonder. I will need lots of time to hazard identification of the scores of special flower-gifts I photographed!



I won’t need to sort through  library references to place an i.d. on the region’s charismatic megafauna! Thank God America awakened to the serious bison extinction trajectory we were on before it was too late… from 30-60 million animals to a few hundred.


I offer this Post as a teaser… a place-holder while I gather my thoughts, organize photos, and select themes. One overriding theme relates to our extraordinarily dynamic home planet. Consider the inexorable forces responsible over the vast sweep of time for the Tetons rising, the crustal plate drifting over THE Hotspot, the Devils Tower intrusion, and the Badlands eroding.

Another theme I’ll be sure to address, as noted above, derives from Aldo Leopold’s quote on the conservation of wildness (A Sand County Almanac): Conservation of all wildness is self-defeating, for to cherish we must see and fondle. And when enough have seen and fondled, there is no wilderness left to cherish. I thought often of Thoreau’s blessed isolation at Walden Pond as I experienced the press of humanity at Old Faithful, Devils Tower, and Mount Rushmore… and every time in Yellowstone that a bison or elk stood roadside, creating a traffic jam.

I know, too that I will explore my five essential verbs applied to Nature observation, revelation, and Earth stewardship: Believe, Look, See, Feel, and Act. Because we spent much of our 12-day trip passing near and through all manner of Federal Lands (National Forests, National Wilderness, and the Parks, I’ll find a way to discuss the defining management and intent of those respective lands. For example, so many people confuse “conservation” and “preservation.”


Thoughts and Reflections

I wrote my books Nature Based Leadership (2016), Nature-Inspired Learning and Leading (2017), and Weaned Seals and Snowy Summits: Stories of Passion for Place and Everyday Nature (2019; co-authored with Dr. Jennifer Wilhoit; Submitted to publisher May 31, 2019), as well as another one by me (single author) scheduled for 2020, Natural Elixir: Lifting Your Life through Nature’s Inspiration, to encourage all citizens to recognize and appreciate that every lesson for living, learning, serving, and leading is either written indelibly in or is powerfully inspired by Nature. Both published books are available on Amazon and other online sources.

Here are the three succinct lessons I draw from this Blog Post:

  1. Nature’s inspiration buffet is without limit.
  2. While Nature offers much wherever we live, nothing surpasses an occasional sojourn to places of incalculable beauty and grand scale.
  3. Creating our National Parks — America’s Best Idea!

Inhale and absorb Nature’s elixir. May Nature Inspire and Reward you!


Note: All blog post images created & photographed by Stephen B. Jones unless otherwise noted. Please circulate images with photo credit: “©2019 Steve Jones, Great Blue Heron LLC. All Rights Reserved.”

Another Note: If you came to this post via a Facebook posting or by an another route, please sign up now (no cost… no obligation) to receive my Blog Post email alerts:

And a Third: I am available for Nature-Inspired Speaking, Writing, and Consulting — contact me at


Reminder of my Personal and Professional Purpose, Passion, and Cause

If only more of us viewed our precious environment through my own filters. If only my mission and vision could be multiplied untold orders of magnitude:

Mission: Employ writing and speaking to educate, inspire, and enable readers and listeners to understand, appreciate, and enjoy Nature… and accept and practice Earth Stewardship.


  • People of all ages will pay greater attention to and engage more regularly with Nature… and will accept and practice informed and responsible Earth Stewardship.
  • They will see their relationship to our natural world with new eyes… and will understand more clearly their Earth home.

Tagline/Motto: Steve (Great Blue Heron) encourages and seeks a better tomorrow through Nature-Inspired Living!