Do you want to take a sunset stroll by Lake Michigan? Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Michigan offers 65 miles of shoreline and endless views of the lake. Although the lakeshore is long and narrow, it still has excellent forests, wetlands, lakes and streams where visitors have a wonderful opportunity for canoeing, hiking, bird watching, wildlife viewing and enjoying nature at its best. Photo by Lorie D’Elia (www.sharetheexperience.org).
The large trees at Muir Woods National Monument in California are coastal redwoods, the tallest of all living things. Undisturbed, redwoods can grow taller than the Statue of Liberty and live longer than 1,200 years. Looking up at these incredible trees in an unforgettable experience. As John Muir said, “Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of autumn.” Photo by National Park Service.
A walk in the woods can feel like an escape from the stress of modern life. Enveloped by green, sheltered by the forest canopy, it’s easy to surrender to the songs of birds and the whisper of a flowing stream. Close to the urban centers of Cleveland and Akron, Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio offers miles of hiking, biking and riding trails, numerous waterfalls, picturesque meadows and the peace you’re looking for. Photo by Amjad Zwaid (www.sharetheexperience.org).
Time seems to stand still at Saguaro National Park in Arizona. Clear, dark nights allow vivid starlight to shine down on the rugged landscape. Reaching slowly towards the sky, the saguaro cactus usually doesn’t develop branches until it’s 50 years old and isn’t considered an adult until it’s 125. Some may live to be 200 years old and reach a height of 50 feet. A return to the park decades after a visit will find things mostly unchanged. The desert isn’t trying to impress you. It just does. Photo by John Vermette (www.sharetheexperience.org).
Alaska’s Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve offers exploration in a vast and pristine landscape. The park is a haven largely untouched by glaciation and mostly free of human imprint with prime breeding grounds for the endangered peregrine falcon, calving grounds for caribou, choice paleontological sites, superb recreational waters, and the timeless presence of the mighty and historic Yukon River. Photo by Josh Spice, National Park Service.
Alligators have remained unchanged for millions of years and their ancestors date back to the time of dinosaurs. With their long tails, scales and giant jaws with sharp teeth, these predators are often a symbol of fear in the swamp. Because of their bad reputation, alligators were once hunted to the point of extinction. Now, alligators are recognized as important engineers who help maintain balance in the wetland ecosystem of Big Cypress National Preserve in Florida. Photo by National Park Service.
A dramatic backdrop of ocean, rocks and islands are hallmarks of the California Coastal National Monument at Trinidad Head. About 30 miles north of Eureka, California, lies the majestic promontory that encompasses several historic sites like the Trinidad Head Light Station, which first operated in 1871. Outdoor adventurers can choose a hike around Trinidad Head for great views of the coastal rocks and islands, stroll along the beaches and marvel at the birds, including cormorants, common murres and tufted puffins. Photo by by John Ciccarelli, Bureau of Land Management.
Fog clings to the wetlands as the sun rises above Horicon National Wildlife Refuge in Wisconsin. The refuge includes more than 15,000 acres of marsh habitat including dense stands of cattail, bulrushes, burreed, sedges and smartweeds – all great food for ducks and other migrating birds. It’s an amazing place for bird-watching as well as photography, fishing, hunting and exploring the effigy mounds left behind by Native Americans over 1,000 years ago. Photo by Rachel Samerdyke, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Over every hill and around each turn, indescribable beauty awaits you at Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. With sweeping views, dynamic skies, surprising wildlife and unforgettable experiences, there’s no wonder Yellowstone is known as the quintessential national park. Photo by Jacob W. Frank, National Park Service.
When describing glaciers in Wrangell St. Elias National Park and Preserve in Alaska, superlatives are hard to avoid. Within our largest national park exists the nation’s largest glacial system, with rivers of ice flowing dozens of miles through majestic mountains. In summer, runoff from glaciers swells rivers and precipitates an explosion of green. From the ground and the air, it’s an epic sight. Photo by Neal Herbert, National Park Service.