2017 year in review

Written by Alpenglow Images on December 22nd, 2017

After 15 years of living in southern California, 2017 was one of the most dynamic in terms of weather that I can remember. January rolled in with one storm after another, dropping rain and snow on an almost continuous basis (the Sierra Nevada saw record-breaking snow depths). As I write this, we’re anxiously awaiting our first rain of the season. Our infamous Santa Ana winds have been blowing hard on a regular basis helping to fan the flames of the largest wild land fires in state history. What a difference a year can make!

To some extent, my favorite images of 2017 mirror the dynamic weather of this past year. I was able to revisit some favorite locations in new weather and discover new ones. Some highlights of the year included a phenomenal January day in Joshua Tree National Park (easily one of my most enjoyable of the entire year), a backpacking trip to the Sierra Nevada with Jackson Frishman and our sons, and discovering the Utah’s Tushar Mountains with Heather. In addition, I made some new friends which is always welcome! Those are just a few of the many great things that happened in 2017; there weren’t many lowlights.

As a photographer, I spent a lot of time this year asking myself what I want the world to hire me to do. If you’ve followed my blog this year, I’ve been a clear spokesman for public land, and as we move in to 2018, expect more advocacy for our special wild places. I try my hardest to not jam political views down my viewers’ throats; my goal is simply to share what is out there, because we can’t cherish what we don’t know exists.

To that end, I launched The Wilderness Project this fall. The goal is to showcase the federally-designated wilderness areas in Riverside County, California–my home. There are nineteen total, so this project will be ongoing, but I hope you’ll follow me on my journey by subscribing to email updates at the above link. I’ve already discovered some wonderful things about this county that I didn’t know existed before. I guess you can teach an old dog new tricks.

I hope you enjoy these ten images! I feel that they represent the year well. I’ve also included a couple of ‘honorable mentions’ or bonus images at the end. Be sure to see my past images of the year at the end of the post.

photo of rocks and bushes as the sun sets in joshua tree national park

Winter sunset in the desert


photo of large monzogranite boulders in the Jumbo Rocks section of Joshua Tree National Park at sunset. The sky is a dark blue, with hints of a winter storm, and the boulders are glowing with a golden-orange color.

Stormy sunset in Joshua Tree


photo of native american rock art in southern nevada

Desert sentinels


photograph of sunset after a rain storm in gold butte national monument

Thankful for rain


photo of dogwood blossoms in Yosemite Valley California



black and white photo of Ship Mountain in Mojave Trails National Monument at sunset

115°F at sunset


detail of a high altitude hillside in the tushar mountains of southern utah

Autumn in the high country


photo of a small waterfall and colorful aspen trees in front of two mountains peaks in utah's tushar mountains

The beginning of fall color


Photo of a lone tree on the prairie at sunset near Hawk Springs Wyoming

Lone tree in the prairie


photo of 'teddy bear' cholla cacti backlit by the morning sun, giving them translucent halos.

Ending the year back in the desert

Honorable mentions:

photo of the white mountains in California at sunset, with a cloud in the sky and the mountains pink from the setting sun.

In January, Heather and I got away for a weekend to enjoy snow and hot springs (more of the latter than the former). We were able to sit in a hot spring and enjoy this awesome sunset over the White Mountains.


Photo of an air tanker flying by a large plume of smoke from the Canyon Fire in Orange County California, September 2017

Sign of the times: an air tanker flies by a large plume of smoke after dropping its load of fire retardant. Orange County, California, September


Past images of the year:

2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2015 | 2016


16 Comments so far ↓

  1. Great set, Greg, and great year! Glad I got to be a part of it a couple times, even if we didn’t manage a really major trip this year. My personal favorites here are Stormy Sunset in Joshua Tree for the gorgeous curves and tones of those boulders; Grateful for Rain for the light and the massive sense of the clouds; and 115 at Sunset for its austere textures and beckoning emptiness. Lone Tree in the Prairie is also very evocative. Here’s to next year!

    • Thanks, Jackson! Sometimes the best laid plans fall through, but hopefully we can get a major trip in this coming year together. Looking forward to seeing your year-end retrospective; your take on the lonely places of the West are always an inspiration.

  2. ANN HARMER says:

    You never cease to amaze me–what an eye! These are stunning images…love the pictoglyphs, love the “lone tree”, love the “rain”, love all of them. Thanks for sending them along and have a wonderful 2018!!

  3. Mark says:

    Very much enjoy your evocative compositions Greg. Best to you on your Wilderness project in 2018.

  4. Excellent composition Greg. All of them are beautiful !Your Wilderness project is very impressive. Great initiative

    • Thank you for commenting, Shikha! It looks like you had a good year as well–I really enjoyed your best of 2017 on your website, and you highlighted two of my regrets from the year: NOT getting to Carrizo Plain in the spring, and not getting to the path of totality for the eclipse. Alas. I also really enjoyed the woman in red–what an interesting image!

      Cheers to a successful 2018!

  5. I think autumn in the high country is my favorite, but so many beauties! You sure took advantage of the unique weather last year!

  6. Greg, this is a wonderful collection that sums up your year in photography! It certainly was an interesting year of crazy weather! My favs are the dogwood and that colorful rain storm. Keep up the great work! All the best this year!!

  7. Congratulations on another year of outstanding photography, Greg! Faves: the dogwoods, and the desert sentinels. Best wishes for 2018 and The Wilderness Project!

  8. Greg,

    Wow! You really captured the dynamic weather this year. I love the tree on the prairie and Joshua Tree, both places that are dear to my heart.

  9. Richard Wong says:

    Really beautiful stuff this year, Greg. I like them all but lone tree in the prairie really resonates with me. Kudos to you for starting up the new project!

  10. Todd Henson says:

    Great collection, Greg. I love the soft color in Thankful for Rain. And I love the patterns in the sand leading you into 115″F at Sunset. I wish you continued success in 2018!

  11. Thanks so much everyone; it’s always fun to hear what images appeal to you.

  12. Another wonderful collection this year, Greg. My favorite is the Dogwood photo. Keep up the good work in 2018!

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