Category: america’s great outdoors

Towering rock formations, majestic bison and tens of millions of years of natural history await you at Badlands National Park in South Dakota. Don’t let the name fool you – you’re sure to have a good time here. First protected as a national monument in 1929, Badlands was established as a national park on this day in 1978. Learn more about the rugged beauty of this park and all it has to offer: www.doi.gov/blog/10-things-you-didnt-know-about-badlands-national-park Photo by Donna Schneider (www.sharetheexperience.org).

Some of the best times to see the Northern Lights are typically in the early fall and late winter, and some of the best places to experience this incredible lights how are on the nearly 72 million acres of Alaska’s public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management. The amazing natural spectacle is created when particles ejected by sun flares collide with Earth’s magnetic field. You don’t need to know the #science to appreciate the beauty, though. Photo by Jeremy Matlock, Bureau of Land Management (@mypubliclands).

Walking down the winding staircase from the Cape Blanco Lighthouse to the sandy beach below, you can stroll across the sandy beach as the sun sets over the Pacific Ocean. Waves and wind pound the surrounding bluffs at this western-most point of land in Oregon. Daytime views provide an unparalleled opportunity to watch California gray whales and other marine mammals swimming just offshore and the lighthouse itself is a fascinating glimpse into our history. Just another wonderful day on public lands. Photo by Lisa McNee, Bureau of Land Management.

Meep meep! Just like in the cartoons, roadrunners love to run and can reach speeds of up to 20 miles per hour. They can fly for short distances but prefer to remain on the ground where they hunt for prey. Cute in a goofy kind of way, roadrunners are very fierce predators. They will eat pretty much anything they can catch, including mice, lizards, scorpions, rattlesnakes and other birds. This one at Big Bend National Park in Texas grabbed this snake snack to present to a potential mate. How romantic! Photo by Lee Jaszlics (www.sharetheexperience.org).

The American bison is our national mammal and a symbol of the Department of the Interior. Rugged and resilient, bison are surprisingly agile, able to jump fences and run up to 35 miles an hour. Recovering from near extinction, 17 bison herds can be found on public lands across the West. They are a wonder to see in the wild and we’re proud to feature them on National Bison Day. Photo of bison at Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming courtesy of Travis O’Brien.

In the blink of an eye, fall gives way to winter weather at Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. Before the leaves even have a chance to drop, snow swoops in to dust this gorgeous landscape in a dramatic white blanket. Don’t worry, though. The end of fall doesn’t mean the end of fun. Visitors can enjoy snowshoeing, skiing and sledding in the park. Just plan ahead and be sure to layer up with insulating, waterproof clothing, wear sunglasses, use sunscreen and carry water. Photo of Hallett Peak and Flattop Mountain by Jacob W. Frank, National Park Service.

Are you feeling the Halloween mood yet? While we love taking a walk in the woods, sometimes it can feel a little spooky. At Catoctin Mountain Park in Maryland, when the mist floats through the forest and the owls hoot from the trees, you could feel a little shiver. The sound of a snapping branch can startle you and your mind can imagine the strangest things. But there’s really nothing to fear here. Since the park’s boundaries include the Presidential Retreat of Camp David, it’s actually a really safe place. Photo by T. Zygmunt, National Park Service.

October is a busy time at Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. Campgrounds fill up and Skyline Drive sees an increase in traffic. Everyone wants to marvel at the fall beauty of the mountains and forests. The park is over 100 miles long and spans a wide elevation range. Fall color conditions can vary dramatically from area to area. Weather affects the color from day to day and even hour to hour. If this feels frantic to you, don’t worry. Shenandoah has many trails and overlooks where you can settle down and find a peaceful moment, looking up at the streaming sunlight and the fluttering autumn leaves. Photo by N. Lewis, National Park Service.

Certain places evoke a specific feeling. Redwood National and State Parks in California definitely qualifies. “When I think of the Redwood forest, I think of giant trees, lush green ferns, fog and beams of light shining through the forest canopy. This is exactly the feeling that I set out to capture during a recent trip to the Redwoods. While driving through the Del Norte Redwoods, I saw the light bursting through the trees, so I quickly pulled the car over, jumped out and ran into the forest, hoping that the light would last long enough to capture a few images,” said photographer David Dinette. We think he got it. Photo courtesy of David Dinette.

Photographer Nate Luebbe’s passion is taking gorgeous photos in public lands. This shot comes from Glacier National Park inMontana. Nate told us about how he captured this breath-taking image: “After an unusually strong storm in September closed all the roads into the park last month, I was forced to find new angles to work with. Thankfully, in a place like Glacier, there’s beauty around every corner, and we were treated to this spectacular twilight moonset over a partially frozen river. It’s moments like this that inspire me to keep exploring.” Photo courtesy of Nate Luebbe.