Though they are made of ancient rock, the Tetons are one of the youngest mountain ranges in North America. They have been uplifting for less than 10 million years, making them “adolescent” mountains, as compared to the “middle-aged” Rockies (60-80 million years old) or the “elderly” Appalachians (more than 300 million years old). Erosion has had much less time to work in the Teton range, comparatively, so their peaks remain rough and rugged – a major factor in the iconic appeal of Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. Photo @GrandTetonNPS by John Tobiason, National Park Service.
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).
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.
Heading east out of Los Angeles, everything just starts to open up. Wide valleys and desert plains run out to distant mountain ranges. There’s a lot of room to roam. Mojave Trails National Monument, California spans 1.6 million acres and includes ancient lava flows and fossil beds, and spectacular sand dunes. The mysterious beauty is no mirage. Photo by Kyle Sullivan, Bureau of Land Management.
Mount Rainier National Park in Washington is a place to let your spirit and feet run wild. From the hub of Rainier’s snow-capped peak, miles of trails spread out across the backcountry, offering endless adventures and stunning views. Like walking through rooms in nature’s mansion, you can stroll through an alpine meadow past a shimmering blue lake before hiking over a mountain pass into a deep evergreen forest. Every turn is a surprise and every moment is a treasure. Photo courtesy of Albert Yang.
As you enter Zion National Park in Utah, you immediately know you’re in a special place. The red rock walls stretching towards the sky, the Virgin River flowing by you and miles of trails to guide you towards nature’s great wonders. There is so much to see and do. While many visitors gather around iconic sights like Angels Landing, the Narrows and the Watchmen – seen here – there are many other stunning locations in the north and east sides of the park that are not as busy. No matter how eager you are to see everything, from time to time, you must stop and just enjoy a moment of peace in this gorgeous park. Photo by Matt Meisenheimer (www.sharetheexperience.org).
Although never a place of permanent habitation, generations of Hawaiians have journeyed to the summit of Haleakalā for many reasons. Some came to honor the gods, or to say farewell to the deceased. Some came to hunt birds for feathers or for food. Others quarried the fine-grained basalt rock to create stone tools. All who ventured to the volcanic summit, considered it to be a sacred place. Many of the legends associated with Haleakalā center around the demi-god Maui. It was Maui who pulled up the island chain we call Hawai`i with his skillfully made fishhook and line. It is here on the summit of Haleakalā that Maui snared the sun. A wilderness of the gods and a stunning natural landscape, Haleakalā National Park will make your spirits soar. Photo by Rick Vega (www.sharetheexperience.org).
It’s National Public Lands Day! Today is the perfect time to get out and explore parks, refuges and recreation areas near you. There are also thousands of volunteer events across the country, so you can give a little back to these special places. Entry fees are waived today, so head outdoors and enjoy some active time in nature. Photo of Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument in New Mexico by Bob Wick, Bureau of Land Management (@mypubliclands).
Fall colors are already spreading across Alaska. It’s a great time to be a photographer there, spotting wildlife and snapping scenery. Photographer Nate Luebbe says “Lake Clark is by far my favorite National Park. Massive, glaciated peaks tower over turquoise lakes, while bears, eagles and moose roam the forests. There’s nowhere else I’ve been that has such amazing photographic potential in every direction.” Photo at Lake Clark National Park courtesy of Nate Luebbe.