Creative inspiration from National Parks

Road trip from Saratoga, WY to Los Angeles, CA

Traveling cross-country to various artist residencies provides creative inspiration when in transit to and from programs. After my residency in Wyoming, I hit the road on my way back to Los Angeles, CA and made two major stops along the way: Yellowstone National Park and Arches National Park. This trip took 5 days to complete.

“In every walk with nature one receives more than he seeks.”

— John Muir


The first leg of the trip was accompanied by journalist Judith Torrea from Ciudad Juárez as we made our way to Yellowstone National Park for the first time. With just 2 days to explore this expansive park, we traced Grand Loop Road, making stops to see the famous Old Faithful while visiting dozens of geysers up through Norris and Mammoth Hot Springs, with wildlife sightings (bison, wolves, elk, and deer) along the way. We hiked along the Lower and Upper Yellowstone Falls and explored the Canyon Village.


It is no wonder there is an “Artists Point Trail” on-site and an Artist-in-Residence program at all National Parks throughout the United States, since serene emergence in nature is truly unique. The untouched landscapes look like paintings unto themselves. Diverse topography and rainbow geysers are vibrant, surreal, and boiling. We hiked above and alongside hot pools colored by bacteria. It is hard to believe that all life evolved from this primordial slime!


On a rainy drive home I had to visit the Arches National Park, only a few miles off-course, which offers free entry after 4:30pm! Since my time was limited, I drove the 36-mile scenic drive to various sites and hiked to the North and South Windows and Sand Dune Arch. Given the heavy rain, some trails and sites were blocked off but there was plenty to see.

From Balanced Rock to the figurative silhouettes of Tower of Babel, the geography is monumental. The iron-colored formations are sculpted out of 100 million years of erosion. The geography is a time capsule revealing weather patterns, shifting ecology, and the history of life.


I photographed these rocks from all distances, finding wonder in the vastly large clusters and close-up patterns and textures. I explored this area on my own and couldn’t help but think of our human desire to colonize Mars. The red iron ore deposits that color the sedimentary rocks is the same iron dust that covers the surface of Mars. What would it be like to visit or live on a red planet? If offered the option, would I go? There needs to be the first artist in space, right?

These questions will be further elaborated and questioned at my next residency alongside space enthusiasts, explorers, astronauts and engineers at Planet Labs, an Earth-imaging company in San Francisco. I am excited to explore the planet one scenic drive, hike, and software tour (Planet Explorer Beta) at a time.