Bobcats thrive at Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument in New Mexico but are rarely seen. Mostly nocturnal, they use stealth and excellent night vision to hunt small mammals in darkness. Bobcats are usually tawny with darker spots and streaks on their body and legs, and light-colored undersides. They have short black tufts on their ears and a ruff of longer fur on their face. The kittens may look like ordinary house cats, but they quickly grow to twice the size of domestic cats. Photo by National Park Service.
Sometimes you have to get below the surface to truly appreciate public lands. Cave systems are fascinating places and can be found at several unique parks across the country. Jewel Cave National Monument in South Dakota boasts over 195 miles of mapped and surveyed passages, an underground wilderness that appeals to human curiosity. The splendor of this hidden gem is revealed through fragile formations and glimpses of brilliant color. Its maze of passages lure explorers, and its scientific wealth remains a mystery. Photo of a lantern tour by Christopher Raborn (www.sharetheexperience.org).
There are no live dinosaurs today at Dinosaur National Monument in Utah, but there are other surprises. For most of its length, the Ruple Point Trail crosses a rolling terrain filled with sagebrush and juniper. Near the end of the trail, a short descent suddenly reveals breathtaking views of Split Mountain Canyon and the Green River 2,500 feet below. It’s a great reward at the halfway point of this 9.5 mile hike. Take plenty of water! Photo by National Park Service.
It’s the first day of spring! We hope you’re making plans to get outside on your public lands to enjoy the coming color. We’re excited for scenes like last year’s Superbloom at Carrizo Plain National Monument in California, where wildflowers put on a spectacular show. Photo by Bob Wick, Bureau of Land Management.
At 10,000 feet above sea level, Cedar Breaks National Monument gets you just a little closer to the moon. With epic night skies, unique red rock canyons and excellent wildlife viewing, Cedar Breaks is another must-see on your next adventure. Winter activities include snowmobiling, snowshoeing and cross country skiing on miles of awesome trails. Photo by Richard Cozzens (www.sharetheexperience.org).
Snow clings to the jagged sides of Devils Tower National Monument in Wyoming. This astounding geologic feature is considered sacred to the Northern Plains Indians and other tribes, who call it “Bear’s Tipi” or “Bear’s Lodge.” Winter activities include hiking and cross-country skiing, but a word of caution: trails are not maintained during the winter months. Check out more amazing photos of public lands in winter: https://on.doi.gov/2Bt6ijV. Photo by National Park Service.
Rafting is a popular way to experience Dinosaur National Monument’s remote canyons. From origins high in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, the Green and Yampa Rivers wind their way past steep canyon walls and across sagebrush-covered plains. Some stretches are calm and peaceful, others promise the thrill of swift rapids. All offer amazing views and fun outdoor adventures. Photo by Alan Nyiri, National Park Service volunteer.
The colors at John Day Fossil Beds National Monument in Oregon will make you do a doubletake. The yellows, golds, blacks, greens and reds of the Painted Hills are beautiful at all times of the day, but are best lit for photography in the late afternoon. Changing light and moisture levels can drastically affect the tones and hues visible in the hills. It’s easy to become immersed in the views, but please remember to stay on the trails. Photo by Bill Vollmer (www.sharetheexperience.org).
Here’s a photo to get your heart racing. The massive stone column at Devils Tower National Monument in Wyoming – known as “Bear’s Lodge” or “Bear’s Tipi” to local tribes – rises 867 feet from its base. Hundreds of parallel cracks divide Devils Tower into large hexagonal columns, making it one of the finest traditional crack climbing areas in North America. Approximately 5,000 climbers a year test their skills on this amazing natural tower. Photo by National Park Service.
The superbloom has migrated north to California’s Central Valley, and the show is simply indescribable at Carrizo Plain National Monument. The Valley floor has endless expanses of yellows and purples from coreopsis, tidy tips and phacelia, with smaller patches of dozens of other species. Not to be outdone, the Temblor Range is painted with swaths of wildlflowers in oranges yellow and purple like something out of a storybook. Visitors are flocking to the area to see this explosion of color, and travelers should be prepared with a full tank of gas as there are no services in the monument. Photos by Bob Wick, Bureau of Land Management (@mypubliclands).