Discover rich history, spectacular overlooks, unique rock formations, cascading waterfalls and an extensive trail system at Cumberland Gap National Historical Park in Kentucky. Following in the footsteps of Native Americans and early pioneers, modern day explorers can scramble up mountains or descend into the park’s elaborate cave system. Don’t forget to keep an eye out for wildlife, too. Deer, black bears, rabbits, raccoons, opossums, gray squirrels, foxes and wild turkeys are commonly spotted. Photo by Kim Maxwell (www.sharetheexperience.org).
No, this isn’t another planet. The Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness is a rolling landscape of badlands which offers some of the most unusual scenery in New Mexico. Time and natural elements have etched a fantasy world of strange rock formations made of sandstone, shale, mudstone, coal and silt. The King of Wings – seen here under a stormy sky – is just one example of these amazing works of natural art. Photo by Jim Long (www.sharetheexperience.org).
Chase the sunset to Channel Islands National Park in California. Located over 12 miles off the coast, the park encompasses five remarkable islands and their ocean environment, preserving a wealth of natural and cultural resources. Each of the islands is a fascinating world unto itself with unique wildlife and awesome views. Sunset on Anacapa Island is a highlight for many visitors. Photo by Aaron Echols (www.sharetheexperience.org).
The peaceful beauty of a winter sunset at Crater Lake National Park in Oregon gives few hints of the landscape’s violent past. For approximately 400,000 years, volcanic eruptions built up a 12,000 foot mountain now called Mt. Mazama. 7,700 years ago, the volcano erupted in a cataclysmic explosion. Fatally weakened, the top of the mountain collapsed and created the hole – the caldera – that we now see today filled with pristine blue water. Photo courtesy of Albert Yang.
The last moments of light before the sun sets at Zion National Park in Utah are a sight to behold. The Watchman stands tall overlooking the Virgin River flowing along the iconic trail. A view like this is easier to achieve than you might think. Pick a few days and plan your next adventure. Photo courtesy of Kenny Chen.
The purple light of dawn glows in the morning sky above Mount Moran at Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. The winter air is cold and fresh as frost and snow cover this gorgeous landscape. Less than 10 million years old, the Tetons are one of the youngest mountain ranges in North America. In that time, Mount Moran has risen 6,000 feet above the valley and supported the creation of Falling Ice and Skillet glaciers. Photo courtesy of Daniel Ewert.
Not far from the glitz and excitement of Las Vegas, Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area in Nevada offers a different kind of thrill. With scenic trails for hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding, it’s easy to find a quiet place to enjoy its natural beauty. Photographer Courtney Knaup – a frequent visitor – recently enjoyed a perfect moment of wonder and solitude. “Being out there alone, watching the first light hit the cliffs is always magical. Even more so with a fresh layer of snow.” Photo courtesy of Courtney Knaup.
Happy Birthday to us! The U.S. Department of the Interior was officially created on March 3, 1849. For 170 years, Interior’s mission has expanded to include protecting and managing our natural resources and cultural heritage, providing scientific solutions and honoring trust responsibilities to our nation’s first people. With public lands being what we’re best known for, instead of candles on a cake, we’ll celebrate with sunlight glowing on a gorgeous mountain. Photo at Glacier National Park in Montana courtesy of Christina Adele Warburg-Hon.
For many public lands, one visit is never enough. Photographer Dawn Demaske made several summer trips to Badlands National Park in South Dakota, but hadn’t seen a winter sunrise until recently. Setting up near the park’s signature rock formations, Dawn watched the sky lighten. “The sunrise was spectacular and it was everything I wished it would be. I felt very fortunate to be there at that moment and I took it all in.” Photo courtesy of Dawn Demaske.
In the winter, waterfalls at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan freeze into amazing formations of natural art. Water seeping out of the porous sandstone cliffs can also freeze into curtains and columns of blue, white or yellow ice. The ice generally begins to form by mid-December and can remain until early April. Some skilled climbers travel to the park to ascend these formations using ice axes and crampons. It’s really something to see. Photo by National Park Service.