When describing glaciers in Wrangell St. Elias National Park and Preserve in Alaska, superlatives are hard to avoid. Within our largest national park exists the nation’s largest glacial system, with rivers of ice flowing dozens of miles through majestic mountains. In summer, runoff from glaciers swells rivers and precipitates an explosion of green. From the ground and the air, it’s an epic sight. Photo by Neal Herbert, National Park Service.
One of the most daunting tasks facing visitors to Great Smoky Mountains National Park is choosing a trail. Start by deciding on what you would like to see. Waterfalls? Wildflowers and forests? Endless mountain views? Then decide how far you would like to hike. If you haven’t hiked much recently, be cautious. Five miles roundtrip is a good maximum distance for novices. Just remember to take plenty of water and your sense of adventure, and don’t forget to tell someone where you’re heading. Photo by Stavros Mitchelides (www.sharetheexperience.org).
The sun sinks behind the horizon, coloring the sky a bright orange before night falls in South Florida. Big Cypress National Preserve protects 729,000 acres of unique freshwater swamp, offering refuge to a wide variety of plants and animals. From hardwood hammocks hiding rare Florida panthers to tidal estuaries teeming with birds and fish, there is so much to see in this wonderful place. Photo by National Park Service.
Lenticular clouds are stationary, saucer-shaped clouds that form when moist air is pushed over large obstructions. As the tallest mountain in the Cascade Range, Mount Rainier in Washington is a great place to see these unique cloud formations. If you don’t care about the clouds, you can still enjoy amazing recreation, wildlife watching and cultural history at Mount Rainier National Park. Photo by Jacklyn Fraizer (www.sharetheexperience.org)
Land and sky collide as wispy clouds creep between rolling mountains along the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina. The drifting clouds and forested peaks create layers of white and green, stretching out to the horizon. The parkway is only 469 miles long, but the views are endless. Photo courtesy of Joshua Moore.
Today marks the 115th anniversary of the creation of the first national wildlife refuge at Pelican Island in Florida and the birth of the national wildlife refuge system. From Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge on the Atlantic to Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge in the Pacific, over 550 wildlife refuges – many of them close to urban centers – protect an incredible array of wildlife and landscapes. Find a refuge near you. Photo of Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge in Virginia by Heather Bautista (www.sharetheexperience.org).
Famous for its place in space travel history, Canaveral National Seashore in Florida has wonders that are much easier to experience than the walking on the Moon. As high-tech rockets soar into space, sea turtles – one of the oldest animals still living on Earth – nest on a nearby beach. Walking paths lead visitors by more than 1,000 species of plants as exotic birds fly overhead. Mosquito Lagoon harbors an amazing variety of fish, oysters, crabs and shrimp. We also recommend settling in the sand and watching the sunset. Photo by Phillip Lott (www.sharetheexperience.org).
Within sight of the New York City skyline, Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge is an 18,000-acre wetland estuary bordered by Brooklyn and Queens. An area almost equal to the size of Manhattan, this stunning getaway consists of numerous islands, a labyrinth of waterways, meadowlands and two freshwater ponds. Part of Gateway National Recreation Area, the refuge provides an accessible and unique environment for both wildlife and urban recreation. Photo by Micael Fano (www.sharetheexperience.org).
Halemaʻumaʻu Crater at Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park holds the largest lava lake on Earth. When all that molten rock splashes around, the dynamic orange light can fill the crater and make the nearby steam clouds glow. It’s a jaw-dropping sight and a reminder of the powerful forces of nature that continue to shape our planet. Photo by Janice Wei, National Park Service volunteer.
The Shoshone Mountains are one of the longest ranges in the Silver State. Located in the vast, high-desert of central Nevada, this range stretches 66 miles long and encompass 400 square miles of public lands. Nearby is the Shoshone OHV trail system with about 50 miles of maintained routes for off-highway vehicles that are open year round. Photo by William O’Neill, Bureau of Land Management.