Here’s a look into the future at Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve in Alaska. Green hillsides and spring showers are still months away at our country’s largest national park, but that doesn’t mean we can’t dream of endless mountain views under the midnight sun. If this doesn’t inspire you to start planning your trip, we don’t know what will. Photo by Neal Herbert, National Park Service.
Crater Lake National Park in Oregon is not only one of the most beautiful places in the country but also one of the snowiest. Park staff work hard to keep the road to the Rim Village open year round, but all of Rim Drive won’t be open for months. Free guided snowshoe walks will continue through the end of April and cross country skis are recommended for those who want to explore the park off plowed roads. With views like this, how can you not want to see more? Photo by Eric Valentine (www.sharetheexperience.org).
It’s the best time of year! The first baby bison of spring was recently spotted at Wind Cave National Park in South Dakota. Calves are orange-red in color, earning them the nickname “red dogs.” They can walk within 3 hours of birth, and before long, nursery groups of calves will romp around together, never far from their mothers’ watchful eyes. Check out more bison facts: http://on.doi.gov/1Oc7VXg Photo by National Park Service.
Morning sunbeams shine down on Washerwoman Arch and Monster Tower at Canyonlands National Park in Utah. Two of many wonderful rock formations near the Island in the Sky Mesa, these stone towers are favorites of climbers wanting to test their skills. For visitors who want to keep their feet on the ground, Canyonlands offers hundreds of miles of hiking trails and remote roads for motorbikes and mountain bikes. Make sure to carry plenty of water and stop frequently to enjoy the amazing views. Photo by Dustin Baugh (www.sharethexperience.org).
What’s the best hike in Redwood National and State Parks? All of them! When walking through a redwood grove on a fog-shrouded morning, sounds are reduced to the musical gurgle of water trickling amongst ferns and mossy rocks, light ebbs with the somber mist and rays of sun hang like cobwebs. Stillness and peace weave their spells on you. For those with mobility issues, a number of the park’s trails are ADA accessible, and wheelchairs and beach wheelchairs are available at its visitor centers. Photo by Anna Day (www.sharetheexperience.org).
The road to Clingmans Dome is open again, offering visitors the chance to enjoy stunning mountain views up to 100 miles. At 6,643 feet, Clingmans Dome is the highest point in Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the tallest mountain in Tennessee. It’s 7 miles to the end of Clingmans Dome Road, and there are scenic pullouts with endless views of ridges and valleys along the way. The road ends in a large parking area where a short trail leads to an observation tower on top. Photo by Vivek Sharma (www.sharetheexperience.org).
The night time hoots of owls can make the forest a little spooky, but the look of this young great horned owl is just terrifying. Though it’s covered in fluffy feathers, its dominant features are its huge yellow eyes and powerful talons. Soon, this owl at Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado will learn how to fly and become one of nature’s most skilled hunters; feared by prey across the country. Photo by Carole Meeter (www.sharetheexperience.org).
Lenticular clouds are stationary, saucer-shaped clouds that form when moist air is pushed over large obstructions. As the tallest mountain in the Cascade Range, Mount Rainier in Washington is a great place to see these unique cloud formations. If you don’t care about the clouds, you can still enjoy amazing recreation, wildlife watching and cultural history at Mount Rainier National Park. Photo by Jacklyn Fraizer (www.sharetheexperience.org)
As the sun nears the horizon of this huge, high-elevation valley at Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, its intense light shines through soft atmospheric haze – shifting the color spectrum toward crimson. Early explorers were moved by this phenomenon and named this Colorado mountain range Sangre de Cristo, meaning the “Blood of Christ.” Visitors today are also inspired by the vibrant color and light in these mountains, which reach over 14,000 feet! Photo by Patrick Myers, National Park Service.
We can’t get enough of the National Park of American Samoa. Like an emerald set in an ocean of aquamarine, this jewel of a park welcomes visitors to a world of sights, sounds and experiences unlike any other national park in the United States. You can celebrate Samoan culture, spot exotic birds, snorkel in clear ocean waters and hike up into the lush mountains for unforgettable views. And after all that, you can just lay on the perfect white sand beach. Photo by National Park Service.