Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument

with 24 comments

Two years ago today we stopped at Arizona’s Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument, which we’d never heard of it till we were in the area.

The oozing, highly textured trunk of an aspen tree (Populus tremuloides) caught my attention there.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 21, 2018 at 10:29 AM

24 Responses

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  1. I love the black soil/rock left from these old volcanoes. If you are ever up this way, you might enjoy seeing Belknap, too.

    Tree bark makes some of the most artistic forms in nature besides rock. Beautiful photo, Steve.

    Lavinia Ross

    October 21, 2018 at 10:51 AM

    • Just as I hadn’t heard of this volcano, I hadn’t heard of the Belknap Volcano that you linked to. Yes, I’d like to see it, along with other related places in your general part of the country like Mount Lassen, Crater Lake, and Mount St. Helens. You have a rich legacy of vulcanism up there.

      I’m with you in valuing the patterns in tree bark along with those in rocks. When it comes right down to it, I’m partial to patterns of all sorts, regardless of the medium.

      And yes, the black cinders/soil really caught my attention.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 21, 2018 at 11:19 AM

  2. That is a place that I just happen to be familiar with, almost. On the way to Oklahoma, we stayed in a hotel in Bellemont. It was late at night. We would not have seen Mount Humphreys if we had driven though that night. It was incredibly scenic the following morning!


    October 21, 2018 at 11:41 AM

    • I like the way you put it: “familiar with, almost.” Humphreys Peak is about 8 miles west of Sunset Crater, and visible from it. A scenic area, indeed, and it continues being so further north, as we found when we continued on toward Zion National Park.

      I had to look up Bellemont, having forgotten that we passed through that town on the way from Flagstaff to the Grand Canyon (where I took the pictures that appeared here two posts back).

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 21, 2018 at 2:18 PM

  3. The aspen is cool, Steve (always), and this National Monument left a lasting on us. We, too, did not know about it until we saw it on the map, when we were visiting the area a few years back. A fascinating landscape.


    October 21, 2018 at 6:12 PM

    • Fascinating indeed. I’d enjoy spending more time there if the chance ever arises. Maybe it’s good that more people don’t know about it.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 21, 2018 at 10:04 PM

      • I think you are right, as it is not nearly as overrun as some better-known places.


        October 22, 2018 at 3:31 PM

        • That’s for sure. In the days just before this we found Sedona and the Grand Canyon mobbed. Likewise for Zion the day after this.

          Steve Schwartzman

          October 22, 2018 at 4:53 PM

  4. Setting aside the colors, the smooth, rippling slopes in the first photo are somewhat like I imagine aspen or poplar bark to be like, while the trunk of the aspen looks for all the world like hard, cold cinders. It makes for an even more interesting juxtaposition. I certainly never have seen anything like that tree trunk. It looks like it’s suffered multiple insults over the years.


    October 21, 2018 at 8:10 PM

    • I’m not sure I’ve ever seen another trunk like this one, either. The colors and textures were a photographer’s delight, even if the features reflect damage. How interesting that you would carry over the large-scale cindery quality of the volcano’s cone to the bark of the so-much-smaller tree; it was in fact growing pretty close to a lava flow, though that’s not visible in the picture.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 21, 2018 at 10:24 PM

  5. There are flowers at this park that grow nowhere else. Have to dig through my stuff to find them.


    October 22, 2018 at 7:29 AM

  6. I immediately spotted an eye in the tree trunk; perhaps because this past week I photographed an ‘eye’ image in a balsa tree, and had seen an old photo taken of another similar eyes.. seems that the trees are watching!

    i’m at a cyber but tomorrow will be at a little hotel where i hope to catch up on things cyber.. the next morning/sed is a press conference with the artists of the nomadas show… i’m hoping that you might help me with a worthy translation of muir’s quote, ‘any fool can destroy trees; they cannot run away..’ most translators might have trouble with ‘bole backbone’ etc, and i predict that you will ‘nail’ it!

    here’s a link to the painting, which i hope to have the english version on one side and the spanish on the other.


    this will be for the november 15th opening show of ‘lisa brunetti – a journey’ but it would be nice to have the translation to hand to the members of prensa. our province is being destroyed/deforested at an alarming rate, and i hope to address that if possible.

    see you online tomorrow, and thanks if you can help…

    Playamart - Zeebra Designs

    October 22, 2018 at 5:38 PM

    • I was thinking about you this morning, and now voilà. It’s good to hear you have a show coming up in three weeks. Felicitaciones.

      English gloms words together in ways that many other languages can’t. You’re right that the Muir quotation is a challenge, but here goes:

      Cualquier idiota puede destruir árboles. No se pueden escapar; y aun si lo pudieran, todavía serían destruidos—perseguidos y cazados siempre que uno lograra divertirse o extraer un dólar de sus pellejos de corteza, de sus cuernos enramados, o de las magníficas columnas vertebrales que son sus troncos.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 22, 2018 at 7:09 PM

      • am doing a fast internet check before heading to the museum, 45 minutes away.. wow, thank you sooooo much, and i’ll spend more time with this when i check into the hotel! grrrrrrrrrrrracias!

        Playamart - Zeebra Designs

        October 23, 2018 at 2:16 PM

        • You may want to have a native Spanish speaker check it over to ferret out anything that doesn’t sound right.

          Steve Schwartzman

          October 23, 2018 at 3:39 PM

          • Will be picking up the curator on my way to the museum/press conference, so will ask her feedback.. her English is excellent, and she’s very well read! Thank you again – I look forward to pairing this with the English version and with the art. Sigh, too bad that the human needs to sleep, as I could work day and night if my body didn’t protest!

            Playamart - Zeebra Designs

            October 24, 2018 at 12:04 AM

            • Some thinkers have wondered recently whether there can be a mind that isn’t embodied. Sweet dreams.

              Steve Schwartzman

              October 24, 2018 at 4:54 AM

    • And yes, I eyed that eye too.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 22, 2018 at 7:09 PM

  7. The aspen tree bark looks like it would make a great camouflage pattern.


    October 24, 2018 at 7:42 AM

    • I imagine people have studied which sorts of camouflage patterns work best in which environments. Perhaps you’re onto a business opportunity here.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 24, 2018 at 7:49 AM

  8. Nice post and amazing pictures.

    Do take part in this challenge – https://mesmotsbysazz.com/2019/01/23/no-words-wednesday-challenge-4/


    January 22, 2019 at 11:42 PM

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