Bandelier National Monument’s human history extends back for over 10,000 years when nomadic hunter-gatherers followed migrating wildlife across the mesas and canyons of New Mexico. Between 1150 and 1550 CE, Ancestral Pueblo erected permanent settlements whose remains give us clues about their lives and culture. Built along the base of a cliff, the homes at Long House stood three to four stories high. The cliff face and remaining structures are decorated with hundreds of petroglyphs showing a variety of subjects. A visit here is like traveling back in time. Photo by Sally King, National Park Service.
We’re ending our week-long celebration of rivers and trails with this beautiful shot of Cow Island – where the Missouri Wild and Scenic River crosses the Nez Perce National Historic Trail. Canoeists can follow in the footsteps of famous explorers Lewis and Clark as they traverse the geological folds and faults of “Breaks” country on Montana’s Upper Missouri River. Anglers can cast a line for one of the many fish species found here, or #FindYourWay to adventure along the river’s banks. This spot doesn’t just protect an outstanding landscape and the story of its legendary exploration. It also tells the story of a brutal, sorrowful moment in our history – the 1877 flight of the Nez Perce Indian Tribe from their homelands while being pursued by the U.S. Army. After the Nez Perce were ordered to relocate to a reservation, violence erupted and the Nez Perce fled towards Canada. Nearly 750 Nez Perce men, women and children travelled over 1,170 miles through the mountains before they surrendered just shy of the Canadian border. Their desperate and circuitous escape route, along with their story of pursuit and persecution, is now called the Nez Perce National Historic Trail. As you walk in the same path as the Nez Perce, learn about this part of our country’s heritage and see some of the sacred land that the Nez Perce still use today. Photo by Bureau of Land Management, @mypubliclands
The imposing rock formation of Scotts Bluff National Monument in Nebraska rises 800 feet above the North Platte River and the surrounding prairie. For pioneers and travellers, it was visible for several days before they actually reached it and meant the end of the Great Plains and the beginning of the Rocky Mountains. Visitors today can get a sense of frontier time as they look out over some of the the best preserved prairie in the country – gorgeous grasslands relatively untouched by human disturbance. Photo by B. Wagner, National Park Service.
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
#FindYourWay to deep canyons and truly wild streams along the Little Jacks Creek Wild and Scenic River in Idaho. Protected in 2009 and surrounded by wilderness in Southern Idaho’s Owyhee Canyonlands, the multi-tiered cliffs and steep grassy slopes of Little Jacks Creek plunge almost 1,000 feet to the streambed, which provides habitat for Redband trout. The Little Jacks Creek canyon is a prime example of high desert fluvial geology; vertical and angular rock lines create a mosaic amid coarse-textured, red, brown, or blackish eroded basalt cliffs, often glazed with yellow to light green micro-flora. Bighorn sheep are a main attraction for visiting hikers, so be sure to keep your eyes open! Little Jacks Creek is one of 209 river segments in 40 states that are part of the Wild and Scenic Rivers System, which has protected 12,754 miles of free-flowing rivers over the last 50 years! Photo by Bureau of Land Management, @mypubliclands
All this week, we’re celebrating 50 years of the Wild and Scenic Rivers System and the National Trails System. This stunning photo is from the Appalachian National Scenic Trail – which was established on October 2, 1968. Conceived in 1921, built by private citizens and completed in 1937, the Appalachian Trail (or A.T.) stretches 2,180 miles from central Maine to northern Georgia. As it winds through the Washington Mountains in western Massachusetts, it grazes the headwaters of the Westfield Wild and Scenic River, a partnership river also created and managed by citizens in surrounding communities. The A.T. was one of the first trails in the National Trails System, along with the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail. Today, the system includes 11 national scenic trails, 19 national historic trails and over 1,200 national recreation trails throughout the country that link historic sites, wildlife refuges, national parks, national forests and wilderness areas. Whether it’s a short day hike or an epic thru-hike, there are plenty of opportunities to #FindYourWay along one of your nation’s amazing trails. Photo by J. Smilanic (www.sharetheexperience.org).
On October 2, 1968, President Johnson signed the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act and the National Trails System Act into law – creating a system of rivers and one of trails for current and future generations to enjoy.
We’re celebrating these landmark acts all week with photos from some of the amazing rivers and trails that have been protected over the years. First up is the Flathead Wild and Scenic River in Montana – where the philosophy of river protection was born. In response to a proposed dam on the Middle Fork of the Flathead River in the late 1950s, naturalists and researchers John and Frank Craighead asserted the idea that some rivers should always remain free-flowing. Their thinking, activism and writing eventually resulted in passage of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. Today, all three forks of the Flathead River are protected. Flowing along the southern boundary of Glacier National Park, the Middle Fork serves up Class II-III whitewater. #FindYourWay to solitude and sweeping views on its North Fork, which intersects the Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail – one of the most recent scenic trails designated in 2009. Experience true wilderness water adventure on its South Fork, which flows out of the Bob Marshall Wilderness. What is your favorite river adventure? Photos by Daniel Lombardi, National Park Service.
On September 25, 1890, President Benjamin Harrison signed legislation establishing Sequoia National Park in California. America’s second national park is not only home to incredible scenery and wildlife but also protects true natural wonders: giant sequoias. These amazing trees can grow over 250 feet tall and live more than 3,000 years. Walking among them can be an overwhelming experience. Discover more park highlights: https://on.doi.gov/2y0MRjG Photo by Hiroko Todoroki (www.sharetheexperience.org).
Our nation’s first national monument, Devils Tower was established on this day in 1906 by President Theodore Roosevelt. Unforgettable to all who see it, this ancient volcanic column rises above the rolling grasslands in eastern Wyoming like a sentinel. Northern Plains Tribes have lived and held ceremonies near this remarkable geologic formation for thousands of years, and today, many tribes continue to hold traditional ceremonies at the park. The rock tower was called “Bear’s Lodge” and “Bear’s Tipi” by the Arapahoe, Cheyenne, Crow and Lakota tribes. Made famous in the 1977 movie, “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” the monument holds an undeniable attraction to many people. Photo by National Park Service.
Today is the anniversary of the bloodiest day in American history – the Battle of Antietam. More than 23,000 soldiers were killed, wounded or missing after 12 hours of savage combat on September 17, 1862. The Battle of Antietam ended the Confederacy’s first major invasion of the North and gave President Abraham Lincoln the opportunity to issue the Emancipation Proclamation. It’s hard to imagine the horror that ravaged this Maryland community when you walk the now peaceful fields of Antietam National Battlefield. Photo by National Park Service.