It can be difficult to get some people excited about Everglades National Park in Florida; there aren’t any mountains, it’s humid, the mosquitoes can be terrible. Some people are afraid of alligators. But beyond its ecological importance, this park has an understated beauty and a fascinating history. Exploring this seemingly endless sea of grass by land or water is a chance to see an incredible variety of birds and learn how much difference a few inches of elevation can make. For a living classroom, the sunsets are pretty good, too. Photo by Caitlin Rivas, National Park Service.
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).
Just because you live in a city doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the outdoors. Urban wildlife refuges provide an easy escape to nature for millions of Americans every year. Within view of Denver’s skyscrapers, visitors to Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge can see bison, bald eagles, snow geese and sunsets. It’s just one of many resources for city dwellers. Find more: www.fws.gov/urban/wildlifeRefuges.php Sunset photo by Dave Showalter, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Tomorrow is National Hunting and Fishing Day. Held every year since 1972, National Hunting and Fishing Day celebrates outdoor sports, and how hunters and anglers contribute to conservation. Whether you are a first-timer or a seasoned sportsman or woman, your public lands are some of the best places to wet a line or bag the big one. Just ask the people at Sam D. Hamilton Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge in Mississippi, a very popular place for outdoor sports. Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Curecanti National Recreation Area in Colorado is a series of three reservoirs along the once wild Gunnison River. The reservoirs that make up Curecanti today are a destination for water-based recreation high in the Rocky Mountains. Best known for salmon and trout fishing, Curecanti also offers opportunities for hiking, boating, camping and bird watching. Photo by Paul Santellan, National Park Service.