Photo of the Day: Mount McKinley No More, President Obama Makes Denali Official (again)

Even before we laid eyes on the mountain when our Trans-Americas Journey explored Alaska back in 2007 we were calling it Denali as the Athabascan native people have for generations. In 1886 a gold prospector christened the mountain Mount McKinley after President William McKinley and the US government recognized the name in 1917. The renaming sparked plenty of controversy and a serious push to reinstate the native name has been going on since 1975. In 1980 Mount McKinley Park became Denali National Park and Preserve but the mountain was still called McKinley. But no more. President Barack Obama has reinstated Denali as the official name of the iconic mountain, ditching Mount McKinley for good.

Any way you look at it, the tallest mountain in North America–which the USGS just re-surveyed and declared to be 20,310 feet (stripping 10 feet/3 meters off the previous height–is one gorgeous bump on the map.

Denali from the National Park


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Photo of the Day: Desert Beauty, Joshua Tree National Park, California

Joshua Tree National Park in California celebrates its 18th birthday today! It, along with Death Valley, was inscribed as a national park on this day in 1994 as part of the California Desert Protection Act. Located in both the Mojave Desert and the Colorado Desert, this beautiful park is named after a rare type of yucca plant, as seen in our photo of the day, below. We have no idea who Joshua is…

Joshua Tree National Park, California  Anniversary

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Photo of the Day: In the Pits at the Indianapolis 500 – Indianapolis, Indiana

Long story, but back at the beginning of our little road trip we were given “hot passes” to the Indianapolis 500. There are two types of access passes commonly doled out at the Indy. Cold passes let you onto the track and into the pits and just about anywhere else you want to go, but only until 11:30 (well before the race actually starts). Hot passes, on the other hand, let you go essentially wherever you want before, during and after the race. That’s how we managed to get this shot in the pits. We love it because it demonstrates the level of organization it takes to keep those incredible cars driving around in circles all day.

Indy 500 race tires - Indianapolis, IN

In the pits at the Indy 500

Find out how we got hot passes in the first place and read about what it was like to do laps around the iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the official pace car and witness Danica Patrick’s pre-race ritual.

You can also see shots from pre-race day as well as more shots from the race itself and see what it was like being in the official Indianapolis 500 parade (with Gene Simmons from Kiss!)

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Photo of the Day: Maroon Bells – Aspen, Colorado

In 1965 eight climbers died on the two peaks that make up the Maroon Bells in five separate accidents. Since then the Forest Service has referred to the Maroon Bells (both peaks are above 14,000 feet/4,267 meters high) as the Deadly Bells.  Despite the macabre nickname, the Maroon Bells, near Aspen, are among the most photographed destinations in Colorado. 

This shot was taken from Maroon Lake. 

Maroon Bells, Colorado



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Photo of the Day: Supermoon 2012 – Lake Apoyo, Nicaragua

It’s a stupid name. But the so-called “supermoon 2012” that rose on May 5 was amazing to look at anyway–especially from above Lake Apoyo glistening in the crater of a still-active volcano in southern Nicaragua.

The technical name of the supermoon is a mouthful: “perigee-syzygy of the Earth-Moon-Sun system” (hence the silly nickname). All you really need to know is that this moon was 14% larger and 30% brighter than normal, a phenomenon that only occurs when the full moon coincides with the moon’s closest approach to Earth. Which is not often.

Saturday’s moon was the closest and, therefore, the biggest and brightest full moon of the year since it was only about 221,802 miles from our planet, roughly 15,300 miles closer than average.

And now, supermoon 2012…

Supermoon - Lake Apoyo, Nicaragua

Supermoon - Lake Apoyo, Nicaragua

Supermoon - Lake Apoyo, Nicaragua

Want more lunar lunacy? Check out our amazing time-lapse photo montage of the full lunar eclipse in 2010, shot from Chichicastenango, Guatemala.


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Photo of the Day: Semana Santa – Antigua, Guatemala

We spent last Easter in Antigua, Guatemala (along with about 200,000 other people) and enjoyed one of the largest and most extravagant Semana Santa (Holy Week) celebrations in The Americas. It’s a true spectacle for travelers and locals and Eric took hundreds of photos during Semana Santa. However, this photo of the day, captures the essence of Semana Santa as 80 costumed men delicately maneuver a 5,000 pound float over a meticulously created carpet on its way out of incense-filled San Felipe Church.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. From Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday the cobble stone streets and historic churches of Antigua are taken over by dozens of processions take place during all hours of the day and night featuring enormous wooden floats carried by up to 100 people at a time. Toss in vibrant street carpets hand-crafted out of dyed sawdust and flower petals (which are then destroyed under the passing feet of float bearers), special holiday foods and lots and lots of incense and you’ve got yourself one heck of an Easter celebration.

Read more about Semana Santa in Antigua, Guatemala

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