If you like strange and colorful landscapes, you’ve got to visit John Day Fossil Beds National Monument in Oregon. The yellows, golds, blacks and reds of the Painted Hills are striking and surreal. Changing light and moisture levels drastically affect the tones and hues visible in the hills. The seasons can also change the look of the Painted Hills. Spring often brings wildflowers that grow in between the hills, adding even more color. Photo by Chaney Swiney (www.sharetheexperience.org).
Morning frost clings to tall grasses at Chase Lake National Wildlife Refuge in North Dakota. Half water and half rolling hills, Chase Lake plays an important role in the conservation of the American white pelican, hosting a large breeding population in the summer. Those big white birds won’t be back for a few months, but there’s still lots to see and do at the refuge. Sunrises are a great way to start the day. Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Happy Birthday, Glacier Bay National Park! Designated from a national monument to a national park on this day in 1980, Glacier Bay covers 3.3 million acres of rugged mountains, dynamic glaciers, temperate rainforest, wild coastlines and deep sheltered fjords. From sea to summit, the Alaska park offers limitless opportunities for adventure and inspiration. And the most incredible blue water you’ll ever see. Photo by Cliff LaPlant (www.sharetheexperience.org).
Autumn is a spectacular time to visit Santee National Wildlife Refuge with its cypress forest turning shades of red. This wildlife refuge is located on the north shore of Lake Marion – the largest lake in South Carolina – and is home to a wide diversity of wildlife species. It’s a major wintering area for ducks and geese, as well as a nesting and stopover area for neo-tropical migratory birds, raptors, shore birds and wading birds. Visitors can take in the amazing fall colors, try their luck fishing in Lake Marion or enjoy the sight and sounds of all the birds. Photo by Marc Epstein, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
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).
Forested hills slope down to the banks of the mighty Mississippi River at Port Louisa National Wildlife Refuge in Iowa. The yellow leaves of maple trees are catching the sunlight, providing a lovely and soothing atmosphere for hikers, anglers, kayakers and photographers. Other autumn visitors include thousands of migrating birds pausing at the refuge as they make their way south. Photo by Jessica Bolser, 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.
Visitors to City of Rocks National Reserve in Idaho often get really into geology. With classic examples of features like tafoni, panholes, xenoliths and intrusions, the park makes an excellent outdoor classroom. But if you don’t find the rocks that fascinating, you can still enjoy the natural beauty of this rugged landscape. Photo by National Park Service.
Summer green becomes autumn orange in the blink of an eye at Denali National Park in Alaska. Termination dust – what Alaskans call the high altitude snow that signals the end of summer – coats mountains and sprinkles onto valleys. The red leaves of blueberry bushes carpet the landscape and offer bears a last dessert before hibernation. It’s a feast for the eyes. Photo from a previous fall by Tim Rains, National Park Service.
The violet light of sunset reflects on the water at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge in Maryland, while this great blue heron concentrates on its next meal. Great blue herons live year-round in the Chesapeake Bay watershed and spend most of their waking time fishing. Growing up to 4 feet tall with a wingspan of more than 6 feet, they are graceful birds flying through the air or wading in the water. Where is your favorite place to watch great blue herons and other birds? Photo by Kaila Ferrufino (www.sharetheexperience.org).