Here’s a look into the future at Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve in Alaska. Green hillsides and spring showers are still months away at our country’s largest national park, but that doesn’t mean we can’t dream of endless mountain views under the midnight sun. If this doesn’t inspire you to start planning your trip, we don’t know what will. Photo by Neal Herbert, National Park Service.
With towering cliffs, flowing water and a rich diversity of flora and fauna, Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness remains one of Arizona’s truly unique areas. Its 19,410 acres of designated wilderness beckons adventurers who yearn for solitude and scenic splendor. Aravaipa Creek flows year-round, an unusual phenomenon in the desert. Nurtured by this abundant water, sycamore, ash, cottonwood and willow trees flourish along the stream and the spring wildflower blooms can be beautiful. Photo by Bureau of Land Management (@mypubliclands).
The sun sinks behind the horizon, coloring the sky a bright orange before night falls in South Florida. Big Cypress National Preserve protects 729,000 acres of unique freshwater swamp, offering refuge to a wide variety of plants and animals. From hardwood hammocks hiding rare Florida panthers to tidal estuaries teeming with birds and fish, there is so much to see in this wonderful place. Photo by National Park Service.
A maze of meandering bayous and rippling marshes, Sabine National Wildlife Refuge in Louisiana occupies over 125,000 acres of waters and wetlands. Providing habitat for an impressive variety of birds, the refuge is also a vibrant nursery to shrimp, blue crab and numerous fish species. Boardwalks and hiking paths allow visitors to explore the area. On sunny days, it’s common to see alligators resting by the water. Photo by Colleen Stringer (www.sharetheexperience.org).
It’s International Dark Sky Week, and we’re celebrating some of the public lands that are awesome stargazing destinations. Some of the last harbors of dark skies, public lands provide unspoiled views of the stars glittering above. Named the first International Dark Sky Park in 2007, Natural Bridges National Monument in Utah contains three beautiful natural bridges. At night, the bridges form a window into the sky, giving visitors a view of thousands of stars that are bright enough to cast a shadow. Visitors here can see up to 15,000 stars throughout the night.
Check out more awesome night sky photos: https://on.doi.gov/2qwdV51
Photo of the Milky Way and Owachomo Bridge by Manish Mamtani (www.sharetheexperience.com).
Crater Lake National Park in Oregon is not only one of the most beautiful places in the country but also one of the snowiest. Park staff work hard to keep the road to the Rim Village open year round, but all of Rim Drive won’t be open for months. Free guided snowshoe walks will continue through the end of April and cross country skis are recommended for those who want to explore the park off plowed roads. With views like this, how can you not want to see more? Photo by Eric Valentine (www.sharetheexperience.org).
It’s the best time of year! The first baby bison of spring was recently spotted at Wind Cave National Park in South Dakota. Calves are orange-red in color, earning them the nickname “red dogs.” They can walk within 3 hours of birth, and before long, nursery groups of calves will romp around together, never far from their mothers’ watchful eyes. Check out more bison facts: http://on.doi.gov/1Oc7VXg Photo by National Park Service.
Happy birthday, Arches National Park! This red-rock wonderland is home to over 2,000 natural stone arches – in addition to hundreds of soaring pinnacles, massive fins and giant balanced rocks. You’ll be amazed by the park’s world-famous landscape, including Delicate Arch pictured here. Photo courtesy of Duane Jurma.
The calendar says it’s spring, but it still looks like winter at Chautauqua National Wildlife Refuge in Illinois. The snow and fog glow in the purple gloom on this April morning. Despite the chill, the wetlands, forests and prairies of the refuge are great places to see migrating waterfowl and shorebirds. Listen for their calls in the morning. Photo by Mitchell Baalman, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Here’s a great view from Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area on the Wyoming-Montana border. From the fabulous Pryor Mountain wild horses to majestic bighorn sheep, hundreds of bird species and a world-class fishery, Bighorn Canyon is an excellent destination for outdoors lovers. The centerpiece of the 68,000 acre recreation area is the canyon itself, boasting steep walls as deep as 2,500 feet in some locations. It’s quite a sight from hiking trails on the canyon rim or from a boat drifting on the river below. Photo by Todd Johnson, National Park Service.
Morning sunbeams shine down on Washerwoman Arch and Monster Tower at Canyonlands National Park in Utah. Two of many wonderful rock formations near the Island in the Sky Mesa, these stone towers are favorites of climbers wanting to test their skills. For visitors who want to keep their feet on the ground, Canyonlands offers hundreds of miles of hiking trails and remote roads for motorbikes and mountain bikes. Make sure to carry plenty of water and stop frequently to enjoy the amazing views. Photo by Dustin Baugh (www.sharethexperience.org).
What’s the best hike in Redwood National and State Parks? All of them! When walking through a redwood grove on a fog-shrouded morning, sounds are reduced to the musical gurgle of water trickling amongst ferns and mossy rocks, light ebbs with the somber mist and rays of sun hang like cobwebs. Stillness and peace weave their spells on you. For those with mobility issues, a number of the park’s trails are ADA accessible, and wheelchairs and beach wheelchairs are available at its visitor centers. Photo by Anna Day (www.sharetheexperience.org).
The road to Clingmans Dome is open again, offering visitors the chance to enjoy stunning mountain views up to 100 miles. At 6,643 feet, Clingmans Dome is the highest point in Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the tallest mountain in Tennessee. It’s 7 miles to the end of Clingmans Dome Road, and there are scenic pullouts with endless views of ridges and valleys along the way. The road ends in a large parking area where a short trail leads to an observation tower on top. Photo by Vivek Sharma (www.sharetheexperience.org).
The night time hoots of owls can make the forest a little spooky, but the look of this young great horned owl is just terrifying. Though it’s covered in fluffy feathers, its dominant features are its huge yellow eyes and powerful talons. Soon, this owl at Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado will learn how to fly and become one of nature’s most skilled hunters; feared by prey across the country. Photo by Carole Meeter (www.sharetheexperience.org).
Here are some spring flowers for Lady Liberty. Visiting Statue of Liberty National Monument is one of the most rewarding experiences of any trip to New York City. The size and artistry of the massive sculpture is only surpassed by the incredible inspiration this iconic symbol has had on generations. Don’t forget to get tickets ahead of time. Photo by National Park Service.
On the evening of April 3, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke about how proud he was to be alive during the Civil Rights movement. Even though his dream of freedom and justice for all had not yet been achieved, Dr. King knew that someday, “we will get to the promised land.” The next evening, 50 years ago today, Dr. King was on his way to another speech when he was struck down by an assassin’s bullet. Though his life was over, his legacy lives on. You can learn more about Dr. King at Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park in Georgia, Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail in Alabama and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in Washington, D.C. Photo of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., by the National Park Service.
A group of river otters is called a romp. Commonly found in the South, Great Lakes region and in the Pacific Northwest, this romp was spotted hanging out at Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge in Montana. While they engage in playful behavior with each other, they are deadly hunters and can be dangerous when their territory is invaded. Please enjoy watching them from a distance. Photo by James Perdue, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, @usfwsmtnprairie.
Lenticular clouds are stationary, saucer-shaped clouds that form when moist air is pushed over large obstructions. As the tallest mountain in the Cascade Range, Mount Rainier in Washington is a great place to see these unique cloud formations. If you don’t care about the clouds, you can still enjoy amazing recreation, wildlife watching and cultural history at Mount Rainier National Park. Photo by Jacklyn Fraizer (www.sharetheexperience.org)
Don’t call it a bunny. This is a black-tailed jackrabbit at Hopper Mountain and Bitter Creek National Wildlife Refuges in California. Common across the western U.S., they’re known for their short black tails, powerful back legs and really long ears. This one does not look amused at your April Fools prank. Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
As the sun nears the horizon of this huge, high-elevation valley at Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, its intense light shines through soft atmospheric haze – shifting the color spectrum toward crimson. Early explorers were moved by this phenomenon and named this Colorado mountain range Sangre de Cristo, meaning the “Blood of Christ.” Visitors today are also inspired by the vibrant color and light in these mountains, which reach over 14,000 feet! Photo by Patrick Myers, National Park Service.