Category: summer

Half a year away

For waterfall lovers, there’s no better place than Yosemite National Park in California. The roar of the water, the feel of the mist and a glimpse of a rainbow give us a thrill and a sense of romance. The 317-foot tall Vernal Fall is a popular destination in the park, with views from the Mist Trail and the John Muir Trail. Please use caution when hiking. The trails are steep and slippery. A safe visit is a fun visit. Photo courtesy of Mark Bouldoukian.

It’s easy to have a good time in Badlands National Park in South Dakota. The park’s rugged beauty comes from millions of years of geologic forces building up and tearing down this unique landscape and can be explored from numerous trails. Visitors can see bison, bighorn sheep, prairie dogs and black-footed ferrets in their native habitat as well as the fossilized remains of ancient mammals like three-toed horses, oreodonts and saber-toothed cats. Pretty cool. Photo by David Restivo, National Park Service.

A new day begins, and summer’s brilliance radiates at Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge. The sun burns through the fog and bursts through a burl oak tree on a serene Minnesota morning, casting light upon magnificent wildflowers. Goldfinches, song sparrows and yellow warblers are common to see this time of year on the refuge, and the warmth of summer brings a variety of dragonfly and damselfly species. Photo by Erik Fremstad @erikfremstad (

If you’re a photographer, you can’t find a much better model than Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. They might not be able to smile and twirl, but the mountains are beautiful, reliable and look good in just about any light. Photographer Josh Packer has taken countless shots in this epic park, but this is one of his favorites. “This had to be one of the most stunning sunsets I have ever experienced in the Tetons and is one I will not soon forget.” Photo from Schwabacher Landing courtesy of Josh Packer.

Unlike any other place on Lake Superior, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan offers the opportunity to explore miles of pristine beaches, hike nearly 100 miles of trails, view towering sandstone cliffs and experience the serenity of northern woodlands. The multicolored cliffs that give the park its name rise 200 feet above the lake’s turquoise waters in some places. It’s a great place for a summer adventure. Photo by Sonja Saxe (

Dawn breaks and you can almost smell the fresh mountain air by Sprague Lake at Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. One of the shortest and most enjoyable day-hikes the park offers, a stroll around Sprague Lake is sure to reinvigorate and lift the spirit. Photo by Nathaniel Gonzales (

Walk alongside wild roses in bloom and watch summer unfold at Willapa National Wildlife Refuge in Washington. Explore the freshwater marshes, grasslands, coastal dunes, old growth forests and beaches – and get to know one of the most pristine estuaries in the United States, Willapa Bay. Wet fields and soggy forests provide incredible wildlife viewing opportunities.   Visitors may spot residents such as Roosevelt elk, long-tailed weasels, black bears, shorebirds, and spawning salmon. Walk the Art Trail boardwalk with friends and take in the sounds and sights of summer. Photo by Andy Zahn (

Flowing north through the longest gorge in the Appalachian Mountains, the New River is actually one of the continent’s oldest rivers. New River Gorge National River protects over 70,000 acres of land along 53 miles of the New River in West Virginia, from rolling mountains and craggy cliffs to deep forests and teeming wetlands. The park’s waters support a fascinating aquatic ecosystem that includes distinct populations of native fish, mussels, crayfish, rare amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals. Photo by National Park Service.

Late summer