On this day in 1867, the Territory of Alaska was formally transferred from Russia to the United States, and in 1917, Alaska Day was created to celebrate this historic moment. From stunning mountains to winding rivers that snake through valleys, there are over 222 million acres of public lands in Alaska and much of it’s managed by the Interior Department. This beauty scene is Beaver Creek Wild and Scenic River. The river flows west past the jagged limestone ridges of the White Mountains and is a popular spot for river adventurers. It’s great for a float trip, wildlife viewing and fishing. Photo by Bob Wick, Bureau of Land Management, @mypubliclands
We’re ending our week-long celebration of rivers and trails with this beautiful shot of Cow Island – where the Missouri Wild and Scenic River crosses the Nez Perce National Historic Trail. Canoeists can follow in the footsteps of famous explorers Lewis and Clark as they traverse the geological folds and faults of “Breaks” country on Montana’s Upper Missouri River. Anglers can cast a line for one of the many fish species found here, or #FindYourWay to adventure along the river’s banks. This spot doesn’t just protect an outstanding landscape and the story of its legendary exploration. It also tells the story of a brutal, sorrowful moment in our history – the 1877 flight of the Nez Perce Indian Tribe from their homelands while being pursued by the U.S. Army. After the Nez Perce were ordered to relocate to a reservation, violence erupted and the Nez Perce fled towards Canada. Nearly 750 Nez Perce men, women and children travelled over 1,170 miles through the mountains before they surrendered just shy of the Canadian border. Their desperate and circuitous escape route, along with their story of pursuit and persecution, is now called the Nez Perce National Historic Trail. As you walk in the same path as the Nez Perce, learn about this part of our country’s heritage and see some of the sacred land that the Nez Perce still use today. Photo by Bureau of Land Management, @mypubliclands
As we continue our celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Wild and Scenic Rivers System and the National Trails System, we’re spotlighting the St. Croix Wild and Scenic River. One of the original eight rivers protected in 1968 under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, the St. Croix is a lush green ribbon that winds along the border of Minnesota and Wisconsin, offering outdoor enthusiasts a chance to enjoy nature within easy reach of a major metropolitan area. You can #FindYourWay in a canoe and camp amid the northwoods; boat and fish surrounded by wooded bluffs, state parks and historic towns; or enjoy a swim, take in bountiful scenic views and watch for wildlife that make the banks their home. Nearby, the Ice Age National Scenic Trail traces the southern edge of the Wisconsin Glaciation, which ended 10,000 years ago. Several sections of the Ice Age Trail are rail-trails – disused railway tracks that have been converted to recreational trails. Rail-trails are part of the National Trails System, and today there are nearly 24,000 miles of rail-trails across the United States. Photos courtesy of Craig Blacklock.
The only winter trail in the National Trails System, the Iditarod National Historic Trail protects what was once an important artery of Alaska’s winter commerce during Alaska’s Gold Rush Era from 1880-1920. Today, the Iditarod includes a 1,000-mile main trail between Seward and Nome, and an additional 1,400 miles of side/connecting trails that link communities and historic sites. Not much of the trail’s landscape has changed since the days of the stampeders, which means today’s adventurers on the Iditarod can #FindYourWay to the same experiences and challenge of Alaska’s frontier days. The Iditarod is just one of the many trails that provide the public with vital access to the outdoors. Today, the National Trails System includes nearly 60,000 miles of trails – making it larger than the Interstate Highway System! Photo by Kevin Keller, Bureau of Land Management, @mypubliclands
#FindYourWay to deep canyons and truly wild streams along the Little Jacks Creek Wild and Scenic River in Idaho. Protected in 2009 and surrounded by wilderness in Southern Idaho’s Owyhee Canyonlands, the multi-tiered cliffs and steep grassy slopes of Little Jacks Creek plunge almost 1,000 feet to the streambed, which provides habitat for Redband trout. The Little Jacks Creek canyon is a prime example of high desert fluvial geology; vertical and angular rock lines create a mosaic amid coarse-textured, red, brown, or blackish eroded basalt cliffs, often glazed with yellow to light green micro-flora. Bighorn sheep are a main attraction for visiting hikers, so be sure to keep your eyes open! Little Jacks Creek is one of 209 river segments in 40 states that are part of the Wild and Scenic Rivers System, which has protected 12,754 miles of free-flowing rivers over the last 50 years! Photo by Bureau of Land Management, @mypubliclands
All this week, we’re celebrating 50 years of the Wild and Scenic Rivers System and the National Trails System. This stunning photo is from the Appalachian National Scenic Trail – which was established on October 2, 1968. Conceived in 1921, built by private citizens and completed in 1937, the Appalachian Trail (or A.T.) stretches 2,180 miles from central Maine to northern Georgia. As it winds through the Washington Mountains in western Massachusetts, it grazes the headwaters of the Westfield Wild and Scenic River, a partnership river also created and managed by citizens in surrounding communities. The A.T. was one of the first trails in the National Trails System, along with the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail. Today, the system includes 11 national scenic trails, 19 national historic trails and over 1,200 national recreation trails throughout the country that link historic sites, wildlife refuges, national parks, national forests and wilderness areas. Whether it’s a short day hike or an epic thru-hike, there are plenty of opportunities to #FindYourWay along one of your nation’s amazing trails. Photo by J. Smilanic (www.sharetheexperience.org).
On October 2, 1968, President Johnson signed the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act and the National Trails System Act into law – creating a system of rivers and one of trails for current and future generations to enjoy.
We’re celebrating these landmark acts all week with photos from some of the amazing rivers and trails that have been protected over the years. First up is the Flathead Wild and Scenic River in Montana – where the philosophy of river protection was born. In response to a proposed dam on the Middle Fork of the Flathead River in the late 1950s, naturalists and researchers John and Frank Craighead asserted the idea that some rivers should always remain free-flowing. Their thinking, activism and writing eventually resulted in passage of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. Today, all three forks of the Flathead River are protected. Flowing along the southern boundary of Glacier National Park, the Middle Fork serves up Class II-III whitewater. #FindYourWay to solitude and sweeping views on its North Fork, which intersects the Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail – one of the most recent scenic trails designated in 2009. Experience true wilderness water adventure on its South Fork, which flows out of the Bob Marshall Wilderness. What is your favorite river adventure? Photos by Daniel Lombardi, National Park Service.
Protected as part of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System, the South Fork of the John Day River flows from south to north through central Oregon, providing unparalleled recreational opportunities including fishing, swimming, hiking, camping and birdwatching. The views here are colorful, striking and unique. Basalt outcrops, Ponderosa pine, and Douglas and white fir intermix with juniper, sagebrush and native bunchgrasses to create a distinct pattern on the rugged canyon slopes. Photo by Greg Shine, Bureau of Land Management, @mypubliclands
Take a trip to gold country in Alaska. Canoeists along the Fortymile River can see modern prospectors working the river gravels, as well as remnants of several large historic dredges, as they float through thick stands of black spruce and tussocks that grow above the permafrost. It never truly gets dark here in summer, making more time for fun and exploring. The long days melt into a pink dusk that slowly transitions into a lengthy dawn. This is the longest river in the system with the main stem and tributaries stretching for almost 400 miles. #FindYourWay on more wild and scenic rivers: https://on.doi.gov/2vBIC9K
There’s no better place to celebrate National Fishing and Boating Week than America’s public waters. On rivers, lakes, ponds, wetlands and oceans, you can paddle thrilling whitewater or float your way to relaxation. Grab your rod and reel (and maybe a friend) and try to hook the big one. Whatever you do, make a splash. Photo of Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area in Colorado by Bob Wick, Bureau of Land Management. #FindYourWay