Sunset paints the sky pink and gold at Fire Island National Seashore in New York. Far from the pressure of nearby urban life, the dynamic barrier island beaches of Fire Island offer solitude, history and spiritual renewal. Explore Fire Island Lighthouse (pictured here), beachcomb for shells, or surf fish for striped bass, bluefish or fluke. Photo courtesy of Jill Peters.
On this day in 1861, the first major battle of the Civil War – the First Battle of Manassas – was fought on several hills not far from a critical railroad junction in Virginia. Over 60,000 soldiers got their first experience of combat, “Stonewall” Jackson earned his nickname and almost 900 dead men foreshadowed the carnage to come. Walking the fields at Manassas National Battlefield Park helps us better understand that hot, bloody day and the conflict that tore America apart. Photo courtesy of Buddy Secor.
This time of year, the sunrises around 6 am at Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. For those early risers who wake in time to watch the dawning of a new day, they’re treated with an amazing show. The sun’s first rays kiss the rolling mountains, revealing the valley below. Where is your favorite spot to watch the sunrise in the park? Photo from Shenandoah’s Hazel Mountain Overlook by National Park Service.
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.
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.