So today, August 25th 2016 is the official Centennial of the National Park Service in the USA! It’s pretty much been a year long celebration of the park system, but today is the official day! Now being a wedding photographer in Sligo means I cannot just head off in August on a parks trip as I’m still too busy, but I was never going to miss the Centennial! So I’ll be heading stateside in a month’s time to take in as many parks as possible in 3 weeks…well not as many parks as possible as I hate rushing through them! So I’ll take our time & hike some trails we’ve done before, and some we’ve never done before!

I’ll be starting in one of the most famous, Yosemite, where I have Clouds Rest, North Dome & Half Dome hikes pencilled in for the 3 days I’ll be in the park. As long as the weather cooperates, that’s the plan! Now this being a website for my panoramic photography, will I be concentrating on shooting as well? Not this trip unfortunately…that’s down to the price of Fuji Velvia getting outrageous and wanting to concentrate on hiking & taking it in, instead of waiting wondering what the light will do. Whilst I’ll obviously have a camera (or a few) with me, I won’t be shooting with the Xpan.


After Yosemite, we’ll be heading down to Death Valley, where after the usual crap summer we’ve had in Ireland, I’ll be one of the few loving the heat!


Following DV, we’ll be heading towards Utah, where we’ll hit Zion National Park, one of my favourite parks. The plan here is to do the Angels Landing hike first thing one morning, and after I’ll cool down by going up the Narrows for a few miles. That hike is one I’ve never done before so really looking forward to that!

After Zion, we’ll spend a couple of days exploring the area, and see some places that while aren’t national parks, have as much kudos as them…White Pocket in particular is one place I’m looking forward to seeing. To be honest, The Wave is somewhere I’ve never had the urge to see or photograph, but I had planned on entering the lottery for this trip but totally forgot about it! So I’ll head to White Pocket instead!


I haven’t been to the Grand Canyon since 2010, so I’m giving it another go this trip! I couldn’t leave it out on the Centennial year! The North Rim always shuts early in October, so it won’t have long before it closes for winter…and I’m praying for dark foreboding skies while there instead of the clear blue sunny weather I had last time!!

From there I’m venturing up into one of my favourite areas of Utah, the Monument Valley & Moab areas. I haven’t been to Moab since I spent a full week there in winter of 2013 shooting Arches & Canyonlands every other day. You could easily spend months there & not see everything there is to see! I’ve seen Delicate Arch so many times at sunset, so I’m going to try it at sunrise one morning. I did the hike one morning in winter, but it started snowing & there wasn’t any sunrise that morning so I didn’t see much! I’ve always wanted to hike it at sunrise after seeing a Ken Duncan panoramic there that he shot at sunrise.


Following Moab, I’m heading into uncharted territory into Colorado, to take in Black Canyon of the Gunnison & Rocky Mountain National Parks. I haven’t been to Colorado since 2007 so really looking forward to getting back there. Hopefully all the awesome aspen trees haven’t all gone by the time I get there!

That’s the rough plan for finding my park in the year of the NPS Centennial! To see some of my previous visits to America’s Best Idea, click here – Xpan USA!

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