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).
National Wildlife Refuge Week is a great time to remind everyone that refuges are some of the best places for birdwatching. One of the most thrilling birds to spot is the bald eagle. A majestic symbol of our nation, bald eagles are found in every state except Hawaii. Males and females work together to build large nests, and you’ll often see them hunting over open fields and water. This one just left its perch at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge in Maryland. Photo by Curtis Gibbens (www.sharetheexperience.org).
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.
National parks preserve some of the most unique landscapes in America. Visitors to Badlands National Park in South Dakota are often shocked at the sudden appearance of these colorful formations rising out of the surrounding green plains. The rock formations and amazing fossil beds give us important evidence of the dramatic natural history of the area. Just another reason why national parks are great outdoor classrooms! Photo by Andreas Eckert ().