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).
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).
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.
Hoodoos are weathered rock formations carved by the forces of nature into fascinating shapes. Bryce Canyon National Park preserves the world’s largest display of hoodoos in a remarkable natural amphitheater. As sunlight and shadows move across the stunning landscape, the park takes on different moods, offering photographers chances for spectacular shots. This towering hoodoo is called Thor’s Hammer. Photo by James Fishman (www.sharetheexperience.org).
Happy 80th Birthday to Olympic National Park! Named after the Olympic Mountains it encompasses, Olympic National Park in Washington was established on June 29, 1938 to preserve the area’s unique wildlife and landscapes. With snow-capped mountains, lush forests and picturesque beaches, few parks posses such a variety of sights and experiences. Photo by Kristopher Schoenleber (www.sharetheexperience.org).
On their famous expedition, Lewis and Clark passed through Idaho’s Lemhi Range, marvelling at the quick landscape transitions and gorgeous scenery. The area is still well-known for its colorful wildflowers like these arrowleaf yellow balsam-roots, lupine and purple delphinium. Captain Lewis collected several new plant species in Idaho including mountain maple, common snowberry and Lewis’s monkey flower. Modern day explorers can follow in the expedition’s footsteps on the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail and experience the same awe without the 19th century hardship. Photo of moonrise by Bob Wick, Bureau of Land Management (@mypubliclands).
Mountaintop sunrise viewing is a popular experience at Haleakala National Park in Hawaii, but there’s a lot more to do there. The Kīpahulu District of the park is located where the mountain slopes down to the rugged Maui coastline. Visitors are treated to views of waterfalls, extensive hiking trails, sweeping ocean vistas and Hawaiian cultural demonstrations. Some of the camping sites are tremendous places to enjoy the sunset. Photo by Vladislav Nodelman (www.sharetheexperience.org).
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.
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).