Mount Rainier National Park in Washington offers amazing rewards for visitors willing to brave the cold. Epic views of mountains and valleys glimmer in snow white and subtle blue combine with the crunch of ice under your boots and the welcome warmth of daylight. The park is open, but vehicle access is limited, so bring your snowshoes and skis. Photo by Jared Pratt (www.sharetheexperience.org).
America’s largest national park is also one of its most beautiful. Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve in Alaska is open all winter, and snowmobiles (Alaskans call them snowmachines) are a popular way to see this breathtaking landscape. Visitor centers and ranger stations are closed, so park goers should be well prepared and self-sufficient. Photo by National Park Service.
As evening falls over Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, the sunset sends light streaming over the silhouetted Teton Range. It’s one of the most beautiful sights you’ll ever see. Until sunrise lights up the mountains the next morning. Photo by Robert Warrington (www.sharetheexperience.org).
It doesn’t take long for fall to turn into winter at Glacier National Park in Montana. While the falling snow brings road closures and smaller crowds, it also opens the season for skiing and snowshoeing in the park. There are options for all ability levels and trails that offer access to spectacular scenery cloaked in winter’s blanket of white. Photo by Jacob W. Frank, National Park Service.
The first rays of the sun rises over the Jim Sage Mountains and illuminate the granite spires of Castle Rocks, Idaho. This little known gem located near the Utah border packs spectacular scenery and diverse natural features into a compact area. Granite spires rise up to 400 feet above the mixed aspen, fir and pinon pine forest. Single-leaf pinon (shown in photo) is relatively rare in Idaho and is a traditional food source to area Native Americans. The area is of great importance to the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes of Fort Hall and the Shoshone-Paiute Tribes of Duck Valley who have worked with the Bureau of Land Management to protect sensitive resources here. The adjoining Castle Rocks State Park offers developed camping, hiking trails and other visitor amenities with expansive vistas of the spectacular rock formations and surrounding mountain ranges. The area served as a landmark along the California and Oregon National Historic Trails. Photo by Bob Wick, Bureau of Land Management, @mypubliclands
The fall colors are showing at Blue Lake in North Cascades National Park in Washington. Photographer Albert Yang described the scene he captured: “The lake was so still I almost felt like I had to hold my breath to embrace it. I was searching for fall colors and these larch trees were just gorgeous. It was my first time exploring this area and I know I will return many, many times in the future.” Photo courtesy of Albert Yang.