It’s National Wildlife Refuge Week! From Patuxent Research Refuge on the outskirts of Washington, D.C. to Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge (seen here) on an Alaska island, refuges are the perfect places for people to connect to the outdoors and appreciate wildlife. Clever and cute, these foxes are just an example of some of the amazing things you might see when you visit a refuge. See more: https://on.doi.gov/2P6CcZw Photo by Josh Blouin (www.sharetheexperience.org).
The only winter trail in the National Trails System, the Iditarod National Historic Trail protects what was once an important artery of Alaska’s winter commerce during Alaska’s Gold Rush Era from 1880-1920. Today, the Iditarod includes a 1,000-mile main trail between Seward and Nome, and an additional 1,400 miles of side/connecting trails that link communities and historic sites. Not much of the trail’s landscape has changed since the days of the stampeders, which means today’s adventurers on the Iditarod can #FindYourWay to the same experiences and challenge of Alaska’s frontier days. The Iditarod is just one of the many trails that provide the public with vital access to the outdoors. Today, the National Trails System includes nearly 60,000 miles of trails – making it larger than the Interstate Highway System! Photo by Kevin Keller, Bureau of Land Management, @mypubliclands
Bering Land Bridge National Preserve in Alaska erupts with color during the short fall season. Reds, oranges and yellows carpet the ground at this continental crossroads. More than just an epic landscape, research at the Bering Land Bridge continues to uncover evidence of prehistoric animals and the first people to settle North America. Photo by National Park Service.
After hiking past the turbulent Tanalian Falls, the serenity of Kontrashibuna Lake is a pleasant surprise. Just one of many stunning landscapes at Lake Clark National Park & Preserve in Alaska, the lake’s frigid waters are colored a light blue by glacial dust and lap at the edges of rich forests and rugged mountains. Fall colors make the area even more popular with intrepid visitors. Photo by W. Hill, National Park Service.
Summer green becomes autumn orange in the blink of an eye at Denali National Park in Alaska. Termination dust – what Alaskans call the high altitude snow that signals the end of summer – coats mountains and sprinkles onto valleys. The red leaves of blueberry bushes carpet the landscape and offer bears a last dessert before hibernation. It’s a feast for the eyes. Photo from a previous fall by Tim Rains, National Park Service.
Take a trip to gold country in Alaska. Canoeists along the Fortymile River can see modern prospectors working the river gravels, as well as remnants of several large historic dredges, as they float through thick stands of black spruce and tussocks that grow above the permafrost. It never truly gets dark here in summer, making more time for fun and exploring. The long days melt into a pink dusk that slowly transitions into a lengthy dawn. This is the longest river in the system with the main stem and tributaries stretching for almost 400 miles. #FindYourWay on more wild and scenic rivers: https://on.doi.gov/2vBIC9K
Many mountains and streams go unnamed on maps of Gates of the Arctic National Park & Preserve in Alaska. The wilderness is vast and untamed, forcing the people who explore this gorgeous landscape to depend on themselves. Maintaining its wild and undeveloped character, the park offers opportunities to experience both quiet solitude and thrilling recreation. Photo by National Park Service.
Exit Glacier is the only part of Kenai Fjords National Park in Alaska accessible by road. From the Nature Center, visitors can explore trails, walk very close to an active glacier or take a ranger-led walk. It’s a place where you can witness up close how glaciers re-shape a landscape and learn how plant life reclaims the barren rocky land exposed by a glacier’s retreat. In the summer, the wildflower blooms and endless views make the experience magical. Photo by Catherine Danley (www.sharetheexperience.org).
Wrangell-St. Elias is a vast, remote national park with endless opportunities to experience the stunning beauty of Alaska. Come climb the mountains, float the rivers, ski the glaciers, hike through meadows of wildflowers or fly above it all. Come, but come prepared since you are mostly on your own. Whatever you choose to do, it’s sure to be an adventure! Photo by Jacob W. Frank, National Park Service.