The rolling plains and scattered wetlands of Ninepipe National Wildlife Refuge in Montana were created by receding glaciers more than 12,000 years ago. Today, these lands and waters serve as habitat for a great variety of wildlife, especially migrating waterfowl. Depending on the season, the sky can hold a lone eagle, fill with waves of tundra swans or show dramatic sunset colors. Photo by Christal Steele (www.sharetheexperience.org).
In a land of stark white sand, a little fall color really stands out. White Sands National Monument in New Mexico preserves part the world’s largest gypsum dunefield. Gypsum sand is considered rare because gypsum is water soluble – it dissolves in water like sugar in iced tea. The 275-square miles of dunes are comprised of over 4.5 billion tons of gypsum sand. It is one of the many things that make White Sands a unique and special place. Photo by Jim Langford (www.sharetheexperience.org).
A scenic drive along the Molalla River in Oregon offers easy river access and opportunities for picnicking, swimming, camping, whitewater boating and fishing. The river is one of the few undammed tributaries of the Willamette River and cuts a picturesque gorge on its way to the valley floor. Molalla River Recreation Area offers an extensive network of more than 20 miles of trails for hikers, bicyclists and equestrians. Take your time on the trails to enjoy the changing colors. Photo by Greg Shine, Bureau of Land Management.
Take a look at Cedar Breaks National Monument in Utah. The monument is best known for its geologic amphitheater – a brilliantly colored limestone coliseum that plunges a half-mile deep. In addition to enjoying incredible views, visitors can wander among timeless bristlecone pines, stand in lush meadows of wildflower, ponder crystal-clear night skies and experience the gorgeous fall colors of the park’s subalpine forest. Photo courtesy of Gary Fua.
Visiting Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge in Wyoming can be such a delight: walking the paths, listening to the birds and keeping your eyes open for whatever might appear around the next bend in the trail. It could be a sandhill crane dance party, elk splashing across streams or maybe even a supremely confident badger with wits as sharp as its claws. National Wildlife Refuges are full of inspiration. Photo by Tom Koerner, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
It’s National Wildlife Refuge Week! From Patuxent Research Refuge on the outskirts of Washington, D.C. to Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge (seen here) on an Alaska island, refuges are the perfect places for people to connect to the outdoors and appreciate wildlife. Clever and cute, these foxes are just an example of some of the amazing things you might see when you visit a refuge. See more: https://on.doi.gov/2P6CcZw Photo by Josh Blouin (www.sharetheexperience.org).
Dinosaur National Monument offers a lifetime of places to explore. Depending on your interest and time, you can discover dinosaur fossils, Native American rock art, homesteader cabins, early 20th century ranches, remote canyons, dramatic vistas, peaceful rivers or windswept peaks. Some places are easily accessible from the monument’s roads, while others may require extended hikes or river trips. Looking down hundreds of feet to the Green River as it curls past narrow canyon walls, you’ll know it was worth the exercise. Photo by National Park Service.
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.
Sometimes we need to push ourselves. Get off the beaten path. Try something new. Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona offers backcountry adventures in a startlingly unique landscape. Deep blues, purples, reds and whites color the badlands and seem to shift throughout the day and with the seasons. Off the trail, you’ll need a good map, compass, sturdy shoes, sun protection, food and lots of water. The challenge is its own reward. The natural beauty is a bonus. Photo by Marlon Ignacio (www.sharetheexperience.org).
Everyone can take pleasure in a summer sunset at Voyageurs National Park in Minnesota. From Native American tribes to French-Canadian trappers to modern day park goers, people have celebrated the waters and forests of this stunning place. On many of the ponds, lakes and streams, more than 3,000 beavers live in a habitat ideal for their needs. It’s easy to spot their dams on the water and their chew markings on trees. The park is their home, so please be a courteous visitor and do not disturb them. Photo from Beaver Lake by Nathan Manz (www.sharetheexperience.org).