Located along the lower Detroit River and western shoreline of Lake Erie just 20 miles south of Detroit, Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge is truly unique. The refuge was established in 2001 as a result of binational efforts from politicians, conservation leaders and local communities to build a sustainable future for the Detroit River and western Lake Erie ecosystems. Because of this collaboration, international status was given to the refuge, making it the first of its kind in North America. The refuge consists of nearly 6,000 acres of unique habitat, including islands, coastal wetlands, marshes, shoals and waterfront lands within an authorized boundary extending along 48 miles of shoreline. It’s home to 300 species of birds, including 30 species of waterfowl, 23 species of raptors, and 31 species of shorebirds, plus 117 kinds of fish – all within an urban area of six million people. Photo by Volunteer Tom Kachelmeyer, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The wildflowers are on full display at Lemhi Pass in Idaho. This location is where Lewis and Clark crossed over the Continental Divide in 1805. This marked a major milestone in the U. S. westward expansion, but Lewis and Clark were not the first people to use the pass. They followed a well-traveled Shoshone Trail. Sacajawea lived as a child below the pass along Agency Creek until age 12 when she was captured during a battle with another another tribe and forced to North Dakota. It was here that she became part of the Corps of Discovery with Lewis and Clark and proved to be invaluable to the success of the expedition. Today the pass is traversed by a 35-mile long graded unpaved Backcountry Byway through public lands. Interpretive pullouts and scenic views abound. Pictured here are arrowleaf balsam-root (yellow), lupine and delphinium (purple) at sunset. Photo by Bob Wick, Bureau of Land Management, @mypubliclands
Located near the southern edge of the Colorado Plateau, Petrified Forest National Park is part of an amazing geological region. Here you can see the colorful Painted Desert badlands next to mesas, buttes and hoodoos that have been sculpted by wind, rain and time. It’s a sight that will leave you in awe. Photo by JT Dudrow (www.sharetheexperience.org).
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
Whether you have an hour, a day or a week, Shenandoah National Park in Virginia is a great place to explore. Meander along Skyline Drive, picnic with the family or walk through the forested hillsides, where oak trees, birches and poplars stretch to the sky. Photo from Low Gap (mile 8) by N. Lewis, National Park Service.