Happy National Puppy Day! Did you know that dogs aren’t the only animals with pups? Other species, like the fox, have young that are also called pups. In the spring, a mother fox gives birth to a litter of 2-12 pups (also called kits). When the pups are about seven months old, they’re ready to strike out on their own. By winter the pup will find a mate and will stay with that mate for the rest of their life. Check out more photos of different pup species: https://on.doi.gov/puppies.
Photo of a red fox at Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge in New Jersey by Ashleigh Scully via U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
If you think the colorful landscape of John Day Fossil Beds National Monument in Oregon is interesting, just wait until you see what’s hidden among the unique rock formations. The erosion that created the painted hills and deep ravines also revealed one of the longest records of evolutionary change on the continent. On the park’s 14,000 acres, scientists have uncovered fossils of plants and animals dating back from 5 million to 44 million years old. If each time period recorded here is a page in a book, John Day Fossil Beds holds an entire chapter of Earth’s history. Photo by Lucie Jiraskova (www.sharetheexperience.org).
Check out this peaceful scene at Table Rock Wilderness in Oregon for International Day of Forests. See old growth Douglas fir and western hemlock along four terrific trails as you hike up to the “fortress” of Table Rock. Breathe in the rich, forest air and remember the poem by Robert Frost, “The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep. And miles to go before I sleep. And miles to go before I sleep.” Photo by Bureau of Land Management, @mypubliclands.
Happy first day of Spring! Let’s welcome the season with a blanket of wildflowers at Carrizo Plain National Monument in California. Only a few hours from Los Angeles, Carrizo Plain offers visitors a chance to be alone with nature. Prominent features of the monument include the white alkali flats of Soda Lake, vast open grasslands and a broad plain rimmed by mountains. When conditions are right, numerous wildflowers can carpet the valley floor, creating a beautiful, but temporary landscape of color. Photo by Curtis Kautzer (www.sharetheexperience.org).
Death Valley National Park is famous for its spectacular spring wildflower displays. While the intensity of the bloom varies greatly from year to year, flowers are never totally absent. This year, wildflowers are generally sparse along popular scenic routes, but intrepid photographers like Michael Hardridge are finding desert sand verbena blooming at Ibex Dunes, a remote area that requires a 4-wheel drive vehicle and good route finding skills. For exceptional wildflowers this year, head to other southern California parks like Joshua Tree and Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. Sunset photo taken on March 4 courtesy of Michael Hardridge.
A lavender sunrise reveals the marbled and cracked surface of Dream Lake at Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. If not for the chill, this would be the most beautiful floor in the world. Photo courtesy of Eric Schuette.
Is everyone wearing green today? Nature’s light show displays a fantastic emerald ripple above Denali National Park in Alaska, a great place to see the Northern Lights. Says photographer Carl Johnson, “Having great aurora borealis images to show for a night out in the cold cannot truly capture the thrill of just being out there and witnessing this amazing phenomenon.” Photo courtesy of Carl Johnson. #StPatricksDay
The vast, wild landscape of Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area offers visitors unparalleled opportunities to immerse themselves in the natural world, and experience the wonders of this extraordinary place. With over 120,000 acres in Montana and Wyoming, one can find an astounding diversity in ecosystems, animals and more. It’s also an amazing place to greet the new day. Photo courtesy of Aaron Selig.
Highly intelligent and resourceful, raccoons are one of the most widespread mammals in North America. They have adapted to live in forests, mountain areas, coastal marshes and even urban centers. In Native American legends, they are known as tricksters and mischief-makers. Their characteristic masks and dexterous paws make them seem cute and approachable, but never forget that they are wild animals. Photo by Gary Miller, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge is a small piece of land in the Indian River Lagoon on the Atlantic coast of Florida. It may look tiny, but it has a very large international footprint. The 5400+ acres of land and water (mostly water) represent the world’s first wildlife refuge. Established on this day in 1903, the refuge continues to protect beautiful birds like this glossy ibis. Learn more about the history of the national wildlife refuge system: https://on.doi.gov/refuges2017. Photo by Keenan Adams, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The desert at sunrise seems so peaceful and still, but if you look closer, the sights and sounds of Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in Arizona reveal a remarkable community of plants and animals. Human stories echo throughout this desert preserve, chronicling thousands of years of desert living. A scenic drive, wilderness hike or a night of camping will expose you to a living desert that beautiful and thriving. Photo by National Park Service.
Just 75 miles from the bustle of Washington, D.C., Shenandoah National Park is your escape to cascading waterfalls, spectacular vistas and one of the best drives on the east coast. There are 75 overlooks along the park’s Skyline Drive that offer stunning views of Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley to the west or the rolling Piedmont to the east. So roll down your windows, feel the breeze and experience every curve and turn of this beautiful drive. Photo from The Point Overlook at milepost 55 by National Park Service.
Every spring, the cherry blossoms at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. explode into a gorgeous display of white and pink. Blooming into flowering clouds that hover over the Tidal Basin, it’s an incredible natural event in the middle of an urban area. With peak bloom expected March 19-22, the National Park Service is getting ready to welcome over 1.5 million people to this annual festival. Photo from a previous year by Jesse Collins (www.sharetheexperience.org).
Many visitors to Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve are mystified: Why is there a Sahara-like dunefield below alpine peaks that reach over 13,000 feet in Colorado? The answer is complex, but the two essential elements are here: Avast, arid, closed basin that lakes once covered and a mountain barrier with a low curve to funnel winds into this natural pocket. Learn more at https://on.doi.gov/2lU4nyW. Photo by Patrick Myers, National Park Service.
Within sight of downtown Miami, Biscayne National Park in Florida protects a rare combination of aquamarine waters, emerald islands and fish-bejeweled coral reefs. There’s also evidence of 10,000 years of human history, from pirates and shipwrecks to pineapple farmers and presidents. Outdoors enthusiasts can boat, fish, snorkel, camp, watch wildlife or simply enjoy a gorgeous sunrise over the ocean. Photo courtesy of Andrew R. Slaton.
Travel back in time at Hovenweep National Monument where six prehistoric, Puebloan-era villages spread over a 20-mile expanse of mesa tops and canyons along the Utah-Colorado border. Multi-storied towers that are perched on canyon rims and balanced on boulders lead visitors to marvel at the skill and motivation of their builders. Newly retired Gary German snapped this wonderful sunrise photo while enjoying his morning coffee from the park’s Sleeping Ute Mountain. Photo courtesy of Gary German.
There’s something interesting around every turn at Badlands National Park in South Dakota. You’ll see colorful rock formations, a mind-blowing collection of fossils, wildlife like bighorn sheep, bison and prairie dogs, and sunrises that will inspire you. In sunlight or snow, the park’s 244,000 acres offer a tempting reason for you to get outside and explore. Photo by National Park Service.
The Iditarod National Historic Trail in Alaska encompasses a 1,500-mile system of winter trails that first connected ancient Alaska Native villages, opened up Alaska for the gold rush and now plays a vital role for travel and recreation. Maintained by the Bureau of Land Management, the trail is now mostly closely identified with the famous annual sled dog race. The race, which started this weekend, challenges the racer and the 21 dog team with harsh conditions across rugged, but beautiful terrain. Photo by Kevin Keeler, Bureau of Land Management (@mypubliclands).
Half the park is after dark when the night skies come alive with dazzling stars. In the winter, skies are filled with a whole new catalog of stars, making the experience even better. Derek Culver took this amazing photo in December of Zion National Park in Utah. That’s the Virgin River, the Watchman, and in the sky, you can see the Orion Constellation with Barnard’s loop and Orion Nebula. Photo courtesy of Derek Culver.
Sunset at Death Valley National Park in California is a magical time. The retreating sun mutes the shadowed ripples and graceful curves of the sand dunes while the day’s last light focuses on the mountaintops. Here, a rogue white cloud wanders in to enjoy the view. Photo courtesy of Sandra Slead.