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.
Palmyra Atoll National Wildlife Refuge is easily the kind of place you picture when you hear the word “paradise.” It is part of the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument and is located about halfway between Hawaii and American Samoa. The palm trees bust over the edge of the water like a vase overstuffed with a giant bouquet. Palmyra consists of a remote string of 26 islets nestled among several lagoons and encircled by 15,000 acres of shallow turquoise reefs and deep blue submerged reefs. While people are scarce, both the lush jungle and ocean waters teem with tropical wildlife. Video by Ian Shive, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Waves break under a cotton candy morning sky at Cape Hatteras National Seashore in North Carolina. Spend time listening to the sound of the surf, climb to the top of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, camp under the stars and find peace of mind in the sunshine at the nation’s first national seashore. With splendid views of the Atlantic Ocean, Cape Hatteras National Seashore allows you the beach time you’ve been craving. Photo by Roupen Baker (www.sharetheexperience.org).
A storm is brewing over the Atlantic near Cumberland Island National Seashore in Georgia. Purple clouds catch the light and sea oats sway in the breeze. The white powdery sand is cool beneath your feet and seagulls screech out, flying low over your head. Without a building in sight, it’s easy to imagine that you’re the first person ever here, but Cumberland Island is as historic as it is beautiful. Native Americans, missionaries, enslaved African Americans and wealthy industrialists all walked here. But right now, it’s just you and the salt air. Photo by Stephen Michel (www.sharetheexperience.org).
A true tropical paradise, National Park of American Samoa is the ideal island getaway. Photographer Ian Shive explains “The park is spectacularly beautiful. I was able to walk up the beach alone, without seeing any other people, just the occasional crab climbing out of a hole in the sand.” National Park of American Samoa is really ‘three parks’ on three separate islands–Ta’u, Ofu, and Tutuila in the South Pacific. Relax in the shade, learn about the area’s rich culture, snorkel and see an abundance of fish, and enjoy a walk along the beach. It’s time to recharge. Photo courtesy of Ian Shive.
Last month, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore was redesignated as America’s 61st national park. Located in northwest Indiana, the park includes 15 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline and 15,000 acres of beaches, woods, prairies and marshes. If you love sand, surf and sun, start planning your visit to Indiana Dunes National Park. Photo by Rafi Wilkinson, National Park Service.
Vieques National Wildlife Refuge in Puerto Rico offers access to quiet beaches, spectacular ocean views and topnotch snorkeling. The refuge was created to maintain rare subtropical dry forest habitat, help local wildlife and protect historical and archeological sites. It’s a blend of rich heritage and the soothing calm of paradise. Photo courtesy of Keenan Adams.
Talk about a long walk on the beach; Padre Island National Seashore stretches across 70 miles of sandy coastline near the southern tip of Texas. Under the endless sky, visitors can fish in the surf, camp along the dunes and spot incredible wildlife like migrating birds and nesting sea turtles. Put it on you winter recreation bucketlist. Photo by Sue Wolfe, National Park Service Artist-In-Residence.
Olympic National Park’s 73-mile long wilderness coast is a rare treasure. This Washington park is home to rocky headlands, sandy beaches and tidepools teeming with life. Offshore sea stacks topped by nesting seabirds and wind-sheared trees add to the already picturesque landscape of Ruby Beach. Sunset photo by Brooke McLean (www.sharetheexperience.org).