One of the most daunting tasks facing visitors to Great Smoky Mountains National Park is choosing a trail. Start by deciding on what you would like to see. Waterfalls? Wildflowers and forests? Endless mountain views? Then decide how far you would like to hike. If you haven’t hiked much recently, be cautious. Five miles roundtrip is a good maximum distance for novices. Just remember to take plenty of water and your sense of adventure, and don’t forget to tell someone where you’re heading. Photo by Stavros Mitchelides (www.sharetheexperience.org).
The baby bison at the National Bison Range Refuge Complex in Montana – often called “red dogs” because of their size and color – are growing quickly. Still not drifting too far from their mothers, they’re eating lots of spring greens and starting to form their distinctive shoulder humps. The refuge’s bison herd numbers over 300 and draws visitors year round to see these majestic animals and the beautiful landscape. Photo by Bureau of Land Management.
Happy first day of summer! With meadows of wildflowers, gorgeous sunrises and sunsets, and breathtakingly beauty sights, summer is a great time to get outdoors and explore your public lands. This summer scene is from Paradise area of Mount Rainier National Park in Washington. Photo by Steve Schwindt (www.sharetheexperience.org).
Today we’re celebrating our national bird, the bald eagle, for American Eagle Day. On June 20, 1782, the bald eagle was placed at the center of the Great Seal of the United States and remains an inspiring symbol of our country. After a dramatic recovery, bald eagles are found in every state but Hawaii, soaring high and inspiring the nation. Photo from the Gulkana Wild and Scenic River in Alaska by Bob Wick, Bureau of Land Management - Alaska (@mypubliclands).
Even under an ominous sky, the summer landscape of Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota is lovely and charming. The unique rock formations of the Little Missouri Badlands rise like wrinkles in the Earth, creating vibrant meadows and colorful grassland alcoves. Wandering through this remarkable park, visitors can encounter ancient fossils, peaceful streams and wonderful wildlife. Make sure it’s on your summer travel list! Photo by National Park Service.
One of the most spectacular hikes in Kenai Fjords National Park in Alaska, the 8.2-mile round trip Harding Icefield Trail starts on the valley floor, winds through cottonwood and alder forests, passes though heather filled meadows and ultimately climbs well above tree line to a breathtaking view of the Icefield. The trail is strenuous – it gains about 1,000 feet of elevation with every mile – and hikers should allow at least 6-8 hours. Although the view from the top is well worth the effort, you don’t need to hike all the way up to experience the wonders of this trail. This stunning photo shows the view of the wildflowers and valley below from part of the way up the trail. Be sure to check current conditions for the trail on the park’s website before heading out out on the trail. Photo by Chandra Sekhar Gantha (www.sharetheexperience.org).
Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there. George Washington is often called the “Father of our Country” and his legacy is felt and remembered at public lands across the nation. From bridges, towns, memorials and everything up to the nation’s capital and an entire state named after him, Washington – like all good fathers – gave our country an important start and an inspiring example. Photo of the sculpture of George Washington at Mount Rushmore National Memorial in South Dakota by Susan Almanza (www.sharetheexperience.org).
On public lands across the country, we are working to protect turtle habitat, monitor turtle nests and ensure hatchlings make it to the ocean. At Dry Tortugas National Park – the most active turtle nesting site in the Florida Keys – park biologists have been monitoring sea turtle nesting activity within the park since 1980. Learn more about different types of turtles found on public lands: https://on.doi.gov/2rTZ7gf
Sea turtle hatchlings at Dry Tortugas by National Park Service.
The name Observation Point mildly describes the epic view from this overlook at Zion National Park in Utah. More than 2,000 feet below, the North Fork of the Virgin River winds through the lush canyon, curving around the dramatic fin of Angels Landing. If the elevation gain of the hike there doesn’t take your breath away, then the view surely will. Photo by Leslie Poole (www.sharetheexperience.org).
It’s Flag Day! On June 14, 1777, the Second Continental Congress adopted a resolution, “that the flag of the United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field representing a new constellation.“ Changes have been made to the original design as our nation grew, but the Stars and Stripes remains a proud symbol of our country. Here it is flying near the highest place in the United States – Denali National Park & Preserve in Alaska. Photo by Jerome Ginsberg (www.sharetheexperience.org).
One of architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s most famous buildings, Fallingwater has been called “the best all-time work of American architecture.” Harmonizing with the surrounding forest, rock and water, this famous home rises over a stream known as Bear Run near Mill Run, Pennsylvania. Numerous buildings designed by Wright are designated as National Historic Landmarks, joining over 2,500 exceptional places that help tell the story of art and history in America. Photo by National Park Service.
Bobcats thrive at Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument in New Mexico but are rarely seen. Mostly nocturnal, they use stealth and excellent night vision to hunt small mammals in darkness. Bobcats are usually tawny with darker spots and streaks on their body and legs, and light-colored undersides. They have short black tufts on their ears and a ruff of longer fur on their face. The kittens may look like ordinary house cats, but they quickly grow to twice the size of domestic cats. Photo by National Park Service.
The wildflowers are on full display at Lemhi Pass in Idaho. This location is where Lewis and Clark crossed over the Continental Divide in 1805. This marked a major milestone in the U. S. westward expansion, but Lewis and Clark were not the first people to use the pass. They followed a well-traveled Shoshone Trail. Sacajawea lived as a child below the pass along Agency Creek until age 12 when she was captured during a battle with another another tribe and forced to North Dakota. It was here that she became part of the Corps of Discovery with Lewis and Clark and proved to be invaluable to the success of the expedition. Today the pass is traversed by a 35-mile long graded unpaved Backcountry Byway through public lands. Interpretive pullouts and scenic views abound. Pictured here are arrowleaf balsam-root (yellow), lupine and delphinium (purple) at sunset. Photo by Bob Wick, Bureau of Land Management, @mypubliclands
Dinosaur National Monument contains famous fossil finds, dramatic river canyons, intriguing petroglyphs, and endless opportunities for adventure. Whether you delight in the challenge of a strenuous hike to spectacular views, the thrill of rafting through a twisting canyon, or sitting quietly and watching the sunset, Dinosaur National Monument offers a myriad of activities for you to enjoy. This photo is from the Cub Creek area, which includes hiking trails, petroglyphs and pictographs, historic structures from the monument’s homesteading history and more. Photo by National Park Service.
What are you doing for National Get Outdoors Day? If you’re a fan of public lands, you could frolic in the sand at a national seashore, take a peaceful hike in a wilderness area, go bird watching in a wildlife refuge or enjoy breathtaking views at our incredible national parks. These deer at Olympic National Park in Washington seem to have the right idea. Photo by Jason Horstman (www.sharetheexperience.org).
It’s World Oceans Day – a time for people to spotlight the importance of oceans, which connects us all on our blue planet. Located halfway between Hawai‘i and American Samoa, Palmyra Atoll National Wildlife Refuge is a circular string of about 26 islets nestled among several lagoons and encircled by 15,000 acres of shallow turquoise reefs and deep blue submerged reefs. Palmyra Atoll is one of six refuges in the area that provide a safe haven for millions of birds and marine life that feed, mate and give life to their offspring in the shallow waters nearby.
Photo by Kydd Pollock, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Sometimes you have to get below the surface to truly appreciate public lands. Cave systems are fascinating places and can be found at several unique parks across the country. Jewel Cave National Monument in South Dakota boasts over 195 miles of mapped and surveyed passages, an underground wilderness that appeals to human curiosity. The splendor of this hidden gem is revealed through fragile formations and glimpses of brilliant color. Its maze of passages lure explorers, and its scientific wealth remains a mystery. Photo of a lantern tour by Christopher Raborn (www.sharetheexperience.org).
Today marks the 74th anniversary of D-Day. A major turning point in World War II, the Allied landings at Normandy established a foothold in France and helped bring an end to the war the following year. Encountering fierce resistance, American courage won the day at Utah and Omaha beaches and at airborne assault points inland. On June 6 alone, almost 1,500 Americans were killed. Photo of the World War II Memorial on the National Mall & Memorial Parks by National Park Service.
Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge in Delaware was established in 1937 as a link in a chain of refuges extending from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. The refuge protects one of the largest remaining tidal salt marshes in the region, which serves as a vital feeding and resting place for migratory birds. Wildlife can be seen year round at Bombay Hook, but spring and fall offer the best opportunity to observe large numbers of waterfowl and shorebirds. Photo by Tim Williams, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
There’s no better place to celebrate National Fishing and Boating Week than America’s public waters. On rivers, lakes, ponds, wetlands and oceans, you can paddle thrilling whitewater or float your way to relaxation. Grab your rod and reel (and maybe a friend) and try to hook the big one. Whatever you do, make a splash. Photo of Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area in Colorado by Bob Wick, Bureau of Land Management. #FindYourWay