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The Seven Laws of the Great View (copyright by Robert S. Turner)
(1) The great view is always a ground-based view.
(2) The great view is enhanced by the method and path used to approach the view.
(3) The great view is enhanced by direct experience with geographical details within the expanse of the view.
(4) The great view is enhanced by knowing historical details about places within the expanse of the view.
(5) The great view is enhanced by geological knowledge, both structural and temporal, of the landscape within the expanse of the view.
(6) An ensemble of great views within sight of one another will enhance each great view.
(7) The great view both diminishes and expands the viewer's sense of self.
My ultimate goal is to go into the deep interior of China, where Tibet, Yunnan, and Sichuan intersect, looking for the great viewpoints in that vast corrugated zone of high mountains and deep valleys, which has perhaps the most spectacular scenery anywhere in the world.
That's me on the left in both pictures during one of two Grand Tours of the American West that I took with my best friend Dave when he and I each finished our undergraduate education. I've known Dave since 8th grade. That was 48 years ago! We are still great friends, which says a lot about what I value most of all. There are a multitude of things that I love about life and for which I feel enormous gratitude, but first on my list is friendship. Experiencing life and the world is wondrous and joyous, but it is so much more fulfilling when those feelings can be shared with a companion. Dave was the best company one could have traveling — smart, funny, eager to learn about natural processes, and just as enthralled as I was by the gorgeous beauty of the landscape. It was on the first of those grand tours that I conceived the project of writing a guide to the great views of the West. More than just a guidebook, it was to be a treatise on landscape aesthetics, teaching the reader how best to appreciate the grand scenery with which we who live in the American West are so blessed. I would have finished that book years ago had my life not taken that hard left turn onto a 23-year off road detour. Now that I am back on track, I am devoting myself to seeing this project through to its completion, perhaps as a book, as originally planned, but definitely as a righteous interactive website that invites viewers to post their own ideas about which views are the best in the West. To that end I am currently studying computer information technology at Fresno City College, with the aim of learning as much as I can absorb about web development and website design. At the heart of my site will be the seven laws of the great scenic view, which I discovered a few years back and am publicly displaying for the first time in the box to the left. Look for the great views website to be up and running within four years. Meanwhile, I am offering in the area below links to some of the websites that I find particularly fascinating. And on the next page is a gallery of some beautiful paintings that I found on the Web. If you want to know more about me personally, and what I like, you can check out my Facebook page, Robert Stuart Turner, where I have listed many of my interests and inspirations.
— Bob Turner —
You can reach me at
or call 559-325-4259.
GREAT LINKS — Here are some of my favorite places in the virtual world that is the Internet:
Summit Post is the best website out there about mountaineering and mountain views. It is loaded with beautiful high-resolution photographs uploaded by hundreds of contributors. This is the model for the Great Views website that I plan to build.
This website has the most amazing images of earth from miles above the landscape, all of them entirely generated by computer programs from topographical data. You have to see these to understand why I am so enthusiastic about this gallery of images.
This website shows one man’s computer-generated outlines of panoramic views from mountain summits around the world. I know of no one else who has created a program to develop this type of informative image. In California he has constructed panoramas for Mt. Whitney, Mt. Diablo, and White Mountain, all three of which are on my list of the greatest scenic views of the West. They are not like photographs, but they contain a wealth of information about a view. Someday we should be able to create a more realistic image to compare with actual photographic panoramas, which, unfortunately, are more difficult to see every year due to declining air quality.
You already know about Google Maps. Now check out OpenStreetMap, the Free Wiki Map of the World. Utilizing ArcGIS software, this map has all the streets of the world (well, a lot, anyway). Zoom in on some distant city in, say, China, or wherever, to see what I’m talking about.
For those who know some geology, here is a collection of geologic maps of the exposed granite areas of the Sierra Nevada, which are the most scenic parts of the range — the entire granite batholith of the Range of Light.
This link takes you to the website of the David Rumsey Map Collection and the page displaying a beautiful rendering of W.H. Holmes’ panoramic drawing of the view from Point Sublime. Located on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon of the Colorado, at the highest point on the anticline, the view from this location lets you see over the top edge of the South Rim and far onto the plateau toward the San Francisco Mountains.
Check out this 360° photographic panorama from the summit of Mount Everest on a beautiful clear day.
This high-resolution panoramic photograph uploaded to Summit Post was taken from the summit of Goat Mountain in Kings Canyon National Park, close by in Fresno’s back yard. It was one of the first summits climbed in the Sierra Nevada, by members of the Whitney Geological Survey in 1864, who named a number of high peaks in the region, including the Palisades and four mountains named for members of the expedition — Josiah Whitney, William Henry Brewer, Clarence King, and James Gardiner, all visible in this photo.
Here is a website I wish I had created. PanoPortal displays wide format landscape photos from around the world, some of them of mountain summits within line-of-sight from each other, so that you can enjoy views of an area from different vantage points. Many of the panoramas, though, are valley-floor views.
This fascinating essay on the Arctic Mirage, which can be so pronounced as to make the earth seem saucer shaped, lends some insight into how early explorers of the north may have seen far beyond the horizon toward landfall as they ventured into the unknown. For our purposes it helps to answer some technical questions regarding what is the farthest possible line-of-sight between two places on the earth’s surface.
Here is a website devoted entirely to waterfalls of the world. Need I say more?
The largest photograph ever taken? That’s what this website claims. See for yourself.
Check out this amazing picture and blow it up to full screen. Is it for real?
View of Half Dome and Yosemite Valley from the summit of Clouds Rest