Prairie Hollow Gorge (Frosty Pine Trees in Autumn)

Blufftop pine trees with a coat of frost on a chilly autumn morning at Prairie Hollow Gorge Natural Area (National Park Service).

This morning my buddy Danny MacClendon and I pulled in to the lower parking area of Prairie Hollow Gorge about an hour before sunrise. We bushwhacked up the hillside to the bluffs overlooking the canyon below where Rocky Creek threads its way among massive igneous boulders. At the summit, we selected a ledge with a nice vista and waited for the sun to paint the autumn landscape. It wasn’t long before the white oaks, strewn among the shortleaf pines, began to glow but the overall color of the scene was muted if not underwhelming.

Not to be discouraged, I continued to pan my lens across the gorge and adjacent bluff as the morning brightened. In the meantime, Danny, unencumbered by camera equipment, surveyed the area for better viewpoints. It wasn’t long before he noticed a rim-lit glow of frost atop every pine tree across the gorge, a sight that was oh-so-beautiful!

I quickly pulled up my tripod, camera, and lens (17-40 f/4), and scrambled higher to Danny’s location where a large copse of the frosty pines was in better view. I reset my tripod, switched to a 70-200 f/2.8 lens and began capturing scene after frosty scene. As I reviewed some of the images on my camera’s LCD, I was compelled to apologize to Danny for being so giddy with excitement. I often get that way when visiting Missouri’s natural gems.

One of the first scenes of the morning before we began focusing on the frosted pine trees. Most of the igneous rock on the area is coated with moss and/or lichens. Beautiful!!!

Prairie Hollow Gorge in layers.

Frosty pines and fall colors.

Prairie Hollow Gorge

When the light finally started working against us, we began our way back down, stopping for a look at the stunning igneous glade atop the bluff. Later, I showed Danny the shut-ins below where I have photographed the mini-waterfalls, cascades, and other water features during previous visits to the area.

Any visit to Prairie Hollow Gorge requires a bit of Billy Goat scrambling among the huge rocks so one must be careful, especially near the ledges. The extra effort is well worth it because I’ve never been disappointed by a visit to this unique natural area that will be in my photographic rotation for many seasons and years to come.

Happy Naturing,


Email:  Natureframes@Rocketmail.Com

Gallery:  Website

America is beautiful. I vote to keep it that way.

One comment on “Prairie Hollow Gorge (Frosty Pine Trees in Autumn)”

  1. Marvelous! Thanks for sharing … and for hitting the trail so early in the day.

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