Great White Heron National Wildlife Refuge in Florida is a haven for great white herons, migratory birds and other fascinating wildlife. The refuge consists of almost 200,000 acres of open water and scattered islands, and is known in the Keys as the “backcountry.” The refuge provides critical nesting, feeding and resting areas for hundreds of species of birds and sea turtles. The beaches, mangroves and sparkling blue water are favorites for the visitors who explore this beautiful and fragile place. Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Start your spring outdoor adventure with a sunrise at Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. With waterfalls, wildlife, history, hiking trails and amazing views along the famous Skyline Drive, the park is a feast for your eyes and spirit, and will keep you coming back for more. Photo from Thornton Hollow Overlook by N. Lewis, National Park Service.
Colorful and bold, the sandstone cliffs at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan tower 50-200 feet directly above the dynamic waters of Lake Superior. Wind and water carved the stone into unique shapes. Chapel Rock is a favorite destination for visitors, who enjoy the nearby beach and taking photos of this interesting formation topped by a tree. Photo by Viktor Posnov (www.sharetheexperience.org).
Born in the Appalachian Mountains, the New River flows north through several states before joining the Ohio River system, then the Mississippi River and finally the Gulf of Mexico. In West Virginia, it tumbles through the wide valley of New River Gorge – an area rich in natural and cultural history. 70,000 acres of this forested valley are protected as New River Gorge National River, where people and wildlife can enjoy the endless natural splendor. Photo by Richard Burgess (www.sharetheexperience.org).
As the snow melts on the rugged peaks of Kit Carson Mountain, water flows into seasonal creeks, weaving through valleys and around the massive Star Dune at Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve in Colorado. The water, sand and stone catch the light and show unique textures that make photos of the park often look like oil paintings. Taking pictures, making memories and learning the stories are great ways to experience this unique park. Photo by Patrick Myers, National Park Service.
The Painted Canyon at Theodore Roosevelt National Park is an amazing landscape of colorful cliffs and rolling grasslands. The rugged beauty of the North Dakota badlands have captured the hearts of millions of visitors – including President Theodore Roosevelt, who owned a ranch in the area. With stunning scenery, bountiful wildlife and an impressive history, one trip is never enough. Photo by Josette Hayes, National Park Service.
There are no live dinosaurs today at Dinosaur National Monument in Utah, but there are other surprises. For most of its length, the Ruple Point Trail crosses a rolling terrain filled with sagebrush and juniper. Near the end of the trail, a short descent suddenly reveals breathtaking views of Split Mountain Canyon and the Green River 2,500 feet below. It’s a great reward at the halfway point of this 9.5 mile hike. Take plenty of water! Photo by National Park Service.
It’s National Wildflower Week! Of all the unique and colorful wildflowers on public lands, few are as fascinating as the Cahaba lily. A rare type of spiderlily with striking 3-inch white flowers, the Cahaba lily requires a specialized habitat of swift water flowing over rocks with lots of sunlight. Cahaba lilies bloom from mid-May to mid-June (or Mother’s Day to Father’s Day). The best and largest populations are located at Cahaba River National Wildlife Refuge in Alabama. Photo by Keith Boseman (www.sharetheexperience.org).
Grab your hiking boots and get ready for spring at North Cascades National Park in Washington. You’ll feel the burn getting up to Easy Peak, but a view of Whatcom Peak and Mt. Challenger in the distance, it’s like standing on top of the world. Say hi to the mountain goats! Photo by National Park Service.
On the one mile Yahoo Falls loop trail at Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area in Kentucky, visitors can actually walk behind the waterfalls as they plunge 113 feet over the large rock shelf. In the deep forest, passing from sun to shade with the roar of the water in your ears and the spray of mist on your skin, it’s an adventure for all your senses. It’s just one of the many spectacular outdoor experiences you can have in this wonderful 125,000-acre park. Photo by Tom Wood (www.sharetheexperience.org).