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for people who care about the West

Photos: A year around the West, for people who love it

2016 in pictures.


This year brought many a blockbuster story out of our fair region, from the Malheur occupation in January to the protests at Standing Rock (see our roundup of top stories) in December, and much in between. But we also covered some of the little-known corners of the always-surprising West. Below we highlight some of the best photos and associated stories from each month of 2016.


A smokejumper lands with his parachute still billowing during a training exercise in an open field outside of McCall, Idaho.
Matt Mills McKnight
How smokejumpers prepare for wildfire season

Photos of the rigorous training this special type of firefighter endures.
Read the story and see more photos.


Sunset on the California Coast, Union Oil Company of California, Richmond, California.
David T. Hanson

The ‘poisoned landscapes’ we leave behind

Q&A with photographer David T. Hanson about his new book, ‘Wilderness to Wasteland,’ which shows a dystopian side of progress.
Read the story and see more photos.

A hiker’s boots are covered with dense pollen dust shed from the flower-covered desert floor of Death Valley National Park.
Desdemona Dallas

A rare ecological event: ‘super bloom’ in Death Valley

The arid California park is covered in wildflowers for the first time in a decade.
Read the story and see more photos.


Several women dressed in traditional FLDS church attire walk on the streets of Colorado City, Arizona. This and the adjoining town are where Warren Jeffs oversaw his polygamist church and where most of his followers live.
George Frey
How the FLDS church consolidated power on the Utah-Arizona border

A recent lawsuit sheds new light on how the polygamist church and municipal leadership are deeply intertwined.
Read the story and see more photos.


Hunter Todd Fritz's dogs launch out of his truck box in pursuit of a coyote.
Scott Squire
Photos: Inside the controversial sport of coyote coursing

This subset of coyote hunting involves trained dogs and is relatively uncommon in the West.
Read the story and see more photos.


A member of the Arizona Border Recon, which has volunteers from California, Maine, Arizona, and even some from as far away as China and Australia. The group includes teachers, doctors, ex-military, retirees and several other professions.
Neil Kremer and Cory Johnson
See the members of this unofficial border patrol

The Arizona Border Recon aims to provide intel and back-up for federal officers at the U.S.-Mexican border.
Read the story and see more photos.


Unique Halloween costumes and accessories are on display during a themed weekend of cyclocross racing.
Sol Neelman
Photos: A look at the West’s weirdest sports

People compete in everything from pumpkin racing to outhouse sledding.
Read the story and see more photos.


Zana, a 4-year-old Mexican gray wolf, tends to her 1-month-old puppies at Chicago’s Brookfield Zoo. Two pups from the same litter were removed in April to be “cross-fostered” with the Elk Horn Pack in Arizona.
Chicago Zoological Society
Line of descent: How poor management left Mexican wolves dangerously inbred

Missteps and conflict between the state and the feds have hounded the recovery of Arizona and New Mexico’s remaining wolf packs.
Read the story and see more photos.


Aedes aegypti mosquito sucking through human skin.
How humans nurtured the hated mosquito

Alexander von Humboldt and the spread of Aedes aegypti.
Read the story and see more photos.

Sallee is an extremely experienced diver and takes risks to maximize his catch. After hauling up a bag of sea cucumbers for Jacob to process, he sometimes chooses to return to the depths many times with few breaks that would minimize residual effects of nitrogen in his body.

Photos: Diving for delicacies

One man braves frigid Alaskan seas to harvest sea cucumbers.
Read the story and see more photos

A Department of Public Works worker uses a magnetic rake to pick up screws and nails at the site of the Man burn in Black Rock City after the city has dismantled.
John Curley

Photos: How to remove the traces of Burning Man

After the revelers leave, volunteers clean up every piece of trash they can find.
Read the story and see more photos.


Sunken cruiser, east of Escalante River.
Hope in a post-nature society

A writer seeks answers from Lake Powell.
Read the story and see more photos.

What will 2017 bring? We hope you'll stay tuned to High Country News to find out.

If you want to see even more photos, take some time to check out our 2016 photo contest submissions.