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Missouri Buttes Golden Hour

Missouri Buttes Golden Hour
Missouri Buttes Golden Hour

Missouri Buttes Golden Hour

Driving up to the pass on Trail Creek Road to Rockypoint Wyoming, there is a view that tourists don’t get to see. These “little” volcanic “necks” resisting erosion and the ride to the Gulf of Mexico. The express train to the Ocean is always running though the schedule is a the whim of the environment. The sedimentary aprons around them consisting of smaller detrital chunks of the peaks piled up waiting for their ride down river.

Lighting being what it is, I chase it. Sometimes it get’s away from me. Occasionally I don’t have a camera with me (I know, Rule number 1)… If I’m in a vehicle though, I definitely have camera(s) set up for capturing an image. I say that if I can see it, I can photograph it. This looks to be a few miles out from my camera. More like 30 miles distant from my lens. Telephoto lenses crush perspective bringing in distant objects up close and personal.

This was taken during a golden sunset with the background sky being lit up by the color of the ambient light traveling through the atmosphere. The ice there reflecting the sunlight a creme soda colored look over yellow color cast peaks composed of Tertiary Porphyry Igneous rocks. Also known as the “Three Sisters”, these landmarks greeted many a pioneer in covered wagon along the trails to points west.

Location: About 10 miles from the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Missouri Buttes Golden Hour

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Volcanic Neck Golden Hour

Volcanic Neck Golden Hour
Volcanic Neck Golden Hour

Volcanic Neck Golden Hour

The mountain range on the left Horizon is the 90 mile distant Bear Lodge Mountains laying on the border of South Dakota and Wyoming. The 4 peaks on the right are the three Missouri Buttes with squarish Devil’s Tower between the Bear Lodge and the Buttes. Essentially your looking at the northern 1/2 of Crook County Wyoming in this image as I’m standing in Campbell County Wyoming by about 1 mile.

This view from the Pass at Rockypoint Wyoming to the Southeast across northern Crook County Wyoming. I’m actually standing in Campbell County with the camera. The sky was fully involved in a wonderful twilight sky snow. Well you know those distant hills as Devils Tower (left) and the three Missouri Buttes (right). 4 ancient volcanos throats exposed by erosion remain elevated over the surrounding debris plains.

The volcanos fed by these conduits didn’t erupt all at the same time precisely but were in the same general geologic time frame of a few million years. They are certainly all related and in the same volcanic “field”. Eruptions supplied by these pipes which occurred far above on ground that is no longer up there.

Erosion removed a LOT of material that used to be above the Tower and the buttes. Deeply buried these rocks were originally. The harder rock making up the Eventually the pressure in the original volcanic system dropped to the point where it was not pushing magma up the pipes. Insulated by the surrounding rock, the magma froze slowly in place. Because of that insulation and the slow cooling, the rock (Phonolitic Porphyry) was able to “crystallize” and freeze into columns.

Known for it’s columns, the Devil’s Tower has it’s status as our nations first national monument. The Missouri buttes only have SOME columns. Not as many or as well formed. So they are not considered monument worth lolol. The Bear Lodge Mountains are known as the Wyoming Black Hills and are indeed related to the geologic dome that is the Black Hill Geomorphic Expression in SD and WY. My ranch is on the farthest west edge of that uplift.

Location: Near the Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Volcanic Neck Golden Hour

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Rockypoint Pass Back Show

Rockypoint Pass Back Show
Rockypoint Pass Back Show

Rockypoint Pass Back Show

Later in the Golden Hour having worked the scenes leading up to this spot, the sunset over my right shoulder. I position myself at the top of the pass on Trail Creek Road that leads from remote to very remote country. The 35 mile distance to the Devils Tower on a day where only the sheltered hollows have snow remaining. The sublimating snow added moisture haze directly to the atmosphere bypassing the water phase entirely in this dry air.

The clouds to the west Shaded the National Monument (Devil’s Tower) to the far left and the subject of this composition the Missouri Buttes. These Exposed Volcanic Necks are erosional remnants of certainly thousands of feet of “volcanic neck” that have been removed. The Original Material (Volcanic Porphyry) stands tall. The sedimentary aprons surrounding the central mounds are the alluvial fans all merged together over time. The google word is “Fanglomerate”.

IT was the light that attracted me to capture this scene. I see this stuff visually and have to coerce my camera’s to properly configure. It’s a process up stream against the chaos principal certainly. After all I do deal with various rules of the universe in my daily travels. Unfortunately for me I can’t ignore some of them. Others I can’t miss. The play of light in this image led to a nice brown season layered landscape. Taken two weeks ago when as this posts.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming / Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Rockypoint Pass Back Show

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Missouri Buttes Snowy Squalls

Missouri Buttes Snowy Squalls
Missouri Buttes Snowy Squalls

Missouri Buttes Snowy Squalls (I see the Devil’s Tower’s outline on the left but it’s pretty far out in the snow to show up here lol. )

I’m a photorealist who preaches against “blue snow”. I maintain the practice of maintaining a blue snow free zone in my gallery, except when it was really blue. This was blue sky and hills distant but the snow was white.

So much of the deeply blue snow you see in forum photos is bad or excessive color enhancement or improper setting for white balance in that camera. It drives me crazy lolol. I’ve always argued that blue snow doesn’t exist in nature but for a few, very few mornings, early in twilight. This color is as I experienced it. Think about it, have you ever seen electric blue snow?

I do sunrises and sunsets almost every day photographically. This twilight was a rmisty one indeed. This is a view looking to the south east from near the Montana/Wyoming border. This is very far northeastern Wyoming.

Remember that those 4 hills are all related volcanic necks. Being made of hard rock, they stick up above the softer rock the volcanic neck melted through to the surface. Much sediment has been removed around this volcanic pipes now more than a 1000 feet in the air. They used to be miles deep. Everybody known about the Devils Tower but also part of the same “Volcanic neck” complex formed around the same time as the MIssouri Buttes. This is the Non tourist angle from the north east .. Devils tower had more time to cool slowly and the columns formed much better

Location: near the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Missouri Buttes Snowy Squalls

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Snow Storm Missouri Buttes

Snow Storm Missouri Buttes
Snow Storm Missouri Buttes

Snow Storm Missouri Buttes

The 3 Missouri Buttes (the real name) is about 30 miles drive from my cameras vantage. The wagon train pioneers called them the “Three Sisters”. They were a major sign post along the way to all places west. The tower is closer to 45 miles out. View to the southeast (the side the tourists NEVER see). That is all northwestern Crook County.

The weather during this sunset over my shoulder was a tad snowy. Those were all falling ice plates (Diamond Dust). The next morning I went up on that pass and worked that fresh snow as well. Lots of good captures on this timeline). Taken up on the pass to Rockypoint Wyoming (Trail Creek Road). The view is to the southeast. This is off the beaten path a tad lolol.

Geologic Musings:

The Exposed Volcanic Necks in this image are all related in space and time. Once deeply buried volcanic conduits to the surface. Each of the 3 (actually 4 but you can only see the 4th from above), peaks stands eroded at the surface. These pipes carried magma to the surface as lava/ash in four volcanos popping off at the surface . The rock we see here froze solid in that neck cooling slowly being insulated by the surrounding rocks. . We know this was deep as the columns of rock in the Devils Tower nearby cooled VERY slowly. This allowing the columns to crystallize in the eroded tower that the National Monument is famous for. Lots of material around them washed down the river to expose those necks. All that sand/mud is sitting in the Gulf of Mexico at the moment.

Location: about 10 miles from the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana (Wyotana)

Title: Snow Storm Missouri Buttes

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Missouri Buttes + Devil’s Tower

Missouri Buttes + Devil's Tower
Missouri Buttes + Devil's Tower

Missouri Buttes + Devil’s Tower

The Exposed Volcanic Necks in this image are all related in space and time. Once deeply buried volcanic conduits to the surface. Each of the 4 peaks stands eroded at the surface. These pipes carried magma to the surface as lava/ash in four volcanos popping off at the surface . The rock we see here froze solid in that neck and cooled. We know this was deep as the column of rock in the Devils Tower cooled very slowly allowing the columns of rock the National Monument is famous for. Being our nations first national Monument is the moniker that Devil’s Tower and surround area carry. Wyoming and all that

Being 40 miles away from the tow and the buttes somewhat closer, this becomes a terribly long shot to actually be able to resolve the columns on the tower. There is SOME columnar jointing in the Missouri Buttes. Emplaced closely in time and space does not say they were coterminous in their eruptions. . We don’t know their exact schedule.

Phenolitic Porphyry is the name of the rock. It cooled into big 6 foot in diameter crystals up the length of the tower. I used one of several possibilities all related to volcanic activity to describe the tower as volcanic necks. There are multiple configurations and possible variations in this discussion I won’t get into here but feel free to google devils tower origin to discover more.

Location: The Pass at Rockypoint Wyoming, Trail Creek Road, NE Campbell Country

Title: Missouri Buttes + Devil’s Tower

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Missouri Buttes and Devil’s Tower

Missouri Buttes and Devil's Tower

Missouri Buttes and Devil’s Tower

This is one of those RARE times when the colorcast from the twilight was so intensely orange, that the reflections on the snow was very noticeable. I’m a photorealist who preaches against “blue snow”. I maintain the practice of maintaining a blue snow free zone in my gallery, except when it was really blue.

So much of the blue snow you see in forum photos is bad color correction or improper setting for white balance in your camera. I’ve always argued that blue snow doesn’t exist in nature but for a few, very few mornings like this extreme one. This color is as I experienced it. I could easily drop out the bark blue in the snow and make it white but that isn’t how it was. Early morning colorcast twilight is the only times I have ever seen this phenomena. Even then, I’ve only seen this one other time 2 winters ago. That time the colorcast was WAY red. This one is a very pervasive colorcast covering every object in it’s glow.

I do sunrises and sunsets almost every day photographically. This twilight was a rare one indeed. This is a view looking to the south east from near the Montana/Wyoming border. This is very far northeastern Wyoming.

Remember that those 4 hills are all related volcanic necks. Being made of hard rock, they stick up above the softer rock the volcanic neck melted through to the surface. Much sediment has been removed around this volcanic pipes now more than a 1000 feet in the air. They used to be miles deep. Everybody known about the Devils Tower but also part of the same “Volcanic neck” complex formed around the same time as the MIssouri Buttes. This is the Non tourist angle from the north east .. Devils tower had more time to cool slowly and the columns formed much better

Location: near the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Missouri Buttes and Devil’s Tower

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Northern Crook County Wyoming

Northern Crook County Wyoming
Northern Crook County Wyoming

Northern Crook County Wyoming 3:1 Aspect triplet.

This is an image of more or less the entire northern 1/2 of Crook County Wyoming. This vista is a very wide and deep telephoto composite at high resolution. The light was wonderful that morning with a strong orange colorcast. This orange tinting was extreme at times reflecting off the snow quite strongly. I have several captures with it WAY more extreme than this. However this work is very representative of what I was watching this am. (about a week before this posts).

This photo is of course from on top of the Trail Creek Road Pass to RockyPoint Wyoming. I live on this same high ridge but my ranch is about 6 miles over my shoulder. If this ridge wasn’t here, this is view we would have. It’s starting to get snowy. By the time this posts, I should be driving a taller vehicle (ford f-150) with quality studded snow tires. My 2006 Jeep Grand Cherokee is being traded in. I just cleaned it completely out of anything remotely “mine” today. It’s amazing how many photographic gadgets I had stashed in there.

In Wyoming during the winter driving extended backcountry roads, I am very well prepared. Essentially I always over dress and generally drive with one or more windows open at most winter temps. A comprehensive emergency kit including most medical and lots of blankets/carbs. I alway wear pretty high tech gear in multiple layers. I carry a radio that easily will connect with my home base. Someone usually knows where I’m going if I’m going far. This is my 20th winter in these lowlands. I spent 10 years living at the foot of the Teton Range for my snow training 😃 Jackson is 6200 feet and snowy, we are 4000 feet and blowy …….

I might have the feet heater going hard though lol. Keeping the car temp and the outside temp the same reduces mirage effects on your images from a vehicle.

Location: near the Bliss Dinoaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Northern Crook County Wyoming

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Devil’s Tower/Missouri Buttes 3:1 Aspect

Devil's Tower/Missouri Buttes 3:1 Aspect
DevilsTower/MissouriButtes 3:1 Aspect

This Capture of Devil’s Tower/Missouri Buttes 3:1 Aspect is very high resolution composite:

It is composited from three high resolution 1200 mm telephoto images combined back into one image in the digital darkroom. Left image + center image+ right image = this photo… This is not taking a cell phone and swinging a phone lol… I’m considering this one of the best daytime shots I have of Devils Tower from the Pass at Rocky Point and that’s saying something 📸 This is a distance of 35 miles. The sun was setting golden hour, the air was full of ice but hadn’t gone pink just yet. Maybe 1/2 hour to sundown.

This image was taken from the snow line on the pass I was on but you can see the valleys were not covered at this capture about 10 days ago as it publishes. The snow we got last night and today took care of the snow cover in the valley. We’ve had a very early winter up here so far. The long term forecast looks to be cold and snowy. We always need the moisture but it’s a trudge sometimes to deal with all the snowfall each year.

In all fairness to the rough weather we have here in the NE part of the state. Hat’s off to the folks in Jackson Hole and the high country along the western part of the state. It’s relatively mild living here compared to the decade I lived in Jackson Hole Wyoming. We used to get 6 feet flat in the back yard every year. Closer to the range folks would get 10. Cleaning snow off roofs is an industry there :).

We just enjoy MUCH more wind than Jackson Hole does. I’m not sure anyone living there appreciates the difference but I may be wrong. Migration of Wyoming folks are moving outwards not toward that area. 🙁

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Devil’s Tower/Missouri Buttes 3:1 Aspect

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Devil’s Tower Missouri Buttes Twilight

Devil's Tower Missouri Buttes Twilight
Devil's Tower Missouri Buttes Twilight

Here is a rare shorter narrative as I realized I didn’t have a 3pm post ready lol. The Devil’s Tower Missouri Buttes Twilight 3:1 Aspect image is 60 x 20 inches at full resolution. This was taken about 2 days ago.
In full disclosure it is a Left/Center/Right telephoto image from 35 miles distant. This is a view from the Northwest looking southeast. The Pass at RockyPoint Wyoming with Trail Creek Road going over the “hill” is a pretty good view if the weather cooperates. It’s an hour and a half from the nearest population center so there aren’t a lot of images like this out there I suspect.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Devil’s Tower Missouri Buttes Twilight

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“Belt of Venus” NE Wyoming

"Belt of Venus" NE Wyoming
"Belt of Venus" NE Wyoming

Here I have posted a very well developed “Belt of Venus” . NE Wyoming version. Lots of Ice in the air…..Backshow from the sun that just went down over my shoulder.

This is the view from the Pass at RockyPoint Wyoming showing the 4 volcanic necks. The debris from them being eroded (sediments) are draping off them making an apron of debris to the relatively hard peaks. The Devil’s Tower (left) is the best known volcanic neck in this complex

. The other three peaks were emplace around the same time as the towers rocks were cooling in the deeply buried neck of an ancient volcano.

“Belt of Venus” NE Wyoming

The Missouri Buttes AKA the Three sisters are in fact 4 buttes. Hard to see all 4 unless your on the top of Devils Tower though or in a plane. Two of the buttes rise slightly lower topographically than the Tower, while the remaining two are actually higher. Devil’s Tower was formed from the same type of rock type as the Missouri Buttes. Rocks there are classified as “phonolite porphyry” by geologists.

There is some agreement among geologist (rare thing lol) that these volcanic necks were from the same intrusion of magma. That event created the hard magmatic origin rocks that obviously later resisted erosion better than the surrounding sediments. Thus they stick out of the surrounding landscape that washed away.

Erosional Remnants:

Geologists think magmatic injection, lead to these erosional remnants (mountains). All these peaks rocks were formed during closely related volcanic timelines it appears. Although some columnar jointing is evident in the Little Missouri Buttes, they lack the distinctive appearance and magnificent grandeur of Devils Tower which cooled over a longer period of time allow the giant columnar crystals of Dark Porphyry. These eroded exposed volcanic necks dominate the landscape with their presence here in the NorthEastern Corner of the state. This is almost entirely in Crook County but I’m standing in Campbell County Wyoming.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title “Belt of Venus” NE Wyoming