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).
Even under an ominous sky, the summer landscape of Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota is lovely and charming. The unique rock formations of the Little Missouri Badlands rise like wrinkles in the Earth, creating vibrant meadows and colorful grassland alcoves. Wandering through this remarkable park, visitors can encounter ancient fossils, peaceful streams and wonderful wildlife. Make sure it’s on your summer travel list! Photo by National Park Service.
The name Observation Point mildly describes the epic view from this overlook at Zion National Park in Utah. More than 2,000 feet below, the North Fork of the Virgin River winds through the lush canyon, curving around the dramatic fin of Angels Landing. If the elevation gain of the hike there doesn’t take your breath away, then the view surely will. Photo by Leslie Poole (www.sharetheexperience.org).
It’s Flag Day! On June 14, 1777, the Second Continental Congress adopted a resolution, “that the flag of the United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field representing a new constellation.“ Changes have been made to the original design as our nation grew, but the Stars and Stripes remains a proud symbol of our country. Here it is flying near the highest place in the United States – Denali National Park & Preserve in Alaska. Photo by Jerome Ginsberg (www.sharetheexperience.org).
One of architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s most famous buildings, Fallingwater has been called “the best all-time work of American architecture.” Harmonizing with the surrounding forest, rock and water, this famous home rises over a stream known as Bear Run near Mill Run, Pennsylvania. Numerous buildings designed by Wright are designated as National Historic Landmarks, joining over 2,500 exceptional places that help tell the story of art and history in America. Photo by National Park Service.
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.
Dinosaur National Monument contains famous fossil finds, dramatic river canyons, intriguing petroglyphs, and endless opportunities for adventure. Whether you delight in the challenge of a strenuous hike to spectacular views, the thrill of rafting through a twisting canyon, or sitting quietly and watching the sunset, Dinosaur National Monument offers a myriad of activities for you to enjoy. This photo is from the Cub Creek area, which includes hiking trails, petroglyphs and pictographs, historic structures from the monument’s homesteading history and more. Photo by National Park Service.
What are you doing for National Get Outdoors Day? If you’re a fan of public lands, you could frolic in the sand at a national seashore, take a peaceful hike in a wilderness area, go bird watching in a wildlife refuge or enjoy breathtaking views at our incredible national parks. These deer at Olympic National Park in Washington seem to have the right idea. Photo by Jason Horstman (www.sharetheexperience.org).
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).