Rays of sunlight create a mesmerizing glow that illuminates Yosemite National Park in California. Spectacular autumn colors decorate the trees, enhanced by the morning’s soft light. As we shift from busier seasons into quieter ones for most of the national parks, take a minute to reflect. Winter is coming, and it’s sure to be its very own incredible adventure. Seasons may shift, but the resonating beauty offered at Yosemite continues to ignite the imagination and hearts of many. Photo by Menchor Cuizon (www.sharetheexperience.org).
Let’s start off the week with a beautiful sunrise from Acadia National Park in Maine. At 1,530 feet, Cadillac Mountain is not only the tallest mountain in the park, it is also the tallest mountain along the eastern coast of the United States. That means for half the year, this is the first place in the Continental U.S. to see the sunrise each day. That fact, along with its rugged beauty, make Cadillac Mountain a very popular destination. During the busy months, parking lots can fill up, so if you want to see this impressive sight, please plan ahead. Photo by Kristopher Schoenleber (www.sharetheexperience.org).
Warm sunlight breaks through clouds at Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge in North Carolina. Located on the north end of Hatteras Island, the coastal barrier island that the refuge is on is part of the Outer Banks. Pull off when you see the signs and take a peaceful stroll along the beach to enjoy the rolling surf. Lauded as an excellent spot for bird watching, it’s a fantastic location to sit by the ocean, enjoy some privacy and take in a sunrise or sunset. Photo courtesy David Blevins.
Sometimes you just crave the heat and mystery of the desert. Exploring Eagletail Mountains Wilderness will remind you there is so much life baked into these landscapes. From saguaro cactus to the mesmerizing shift from dawn to morning, the desert holds many charms. Located 65 miles west of Phoenix, Arizona, Eagletail Mountains Wilderness is as stunning as it is wild. Photo by Cliff LaPlant (www.sharetheexperience.org).
Take a moment to relax and enjoy this gorgeous tie-dye sunrise at Florida Keys National Wildlife Refuge. This delightful refuge is a place to experience warm air, gentle waves, soft bird calls and miniature deer slowly prancing by you. The refuge was established to protect Key deer and other wildlife in the Florida Keys and includes pine rockland forests, tropical hardwood hammocks, freshwater wetlands, salt marsh wetlands, mangrove forests and absolutely stunning views. Photo courtesy of refuge volunteer Mickey Foster.
At Great Falls Park in Virginia, the Potomac River builds up speed and force as it falls over a series of steep, jagged rocks and flows through the narrow Mather Gorge. Located just fifteen miles from Washington, D.C., the park is a popular site with local residents and tourists from around the world. Photographer Gabe Leidy got to the falls early enough to enjoy this dramatic sunrise. “It was absolutely magical! Of all the places we’ve been before and since, I think my wife still talks about this one the most – what a rugged, inspirational landscape in an unassuming location.” Photo courtesy of Gabe Leidy.
Sunrise over Badlands National Park in South Dakota reveals a landscape of grassy prairies and rugged rock formations. The rock layers testify to tens of millions of years of deposition – when tiny grains of sediments such as sand, silt and clay are cemented together into rock. Different environments – sea, tropical land and open woodland with meandering rivers – caused different sediments to accumulate here at different times. About half a million years ago, the process reversed itself and now water and wind erode the rocks, leaving behind this jagged silhouette and its embedded fossil treasures. Photo by National Park Service.
Dawn breaks at Savannah National Wildlife Refuge and the marsh comes alive with the cheery birdsong of the red-winged blackbird. The refuge consists of 31,551 acres marshes, tidal creeks and bottomland hardwoods, providing vital food and homes for wildlife and a great place to explore in Georgia and South Carolina. Visitors enjoy the scenic 4-mile Laurel Hill Wildlife Drive, that promises views of many bird species, from bald eagles to anhingas and an excellent chance to see American alligators, big and small. Bring bug spray, a sense of adventure and your binoculars. Photo courtesy of Pat Moore.
Waves break under a cotton candy morning sky at Cape Hatteras National Seashore in North Carolina. Spend time listening to the sound of the surf, climb to the top of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, camp under the stars and find peace of mind in the sunshine at the nation’s first national seashore. With splendid views of the Atlantic Ocean, Cape Hatteras National Seashore allows you the beach time you’ve been craving. Photo by Roupen Baker (www.sharetheexperience.org).
On Memorial Day, we hope you’ll take a moment to honor all those who made the ultimate sacrifice and gave their lives for their country. We encourage you to visit one of the many war memorials dedicated to the men and women who died for our freedom. From local Revolutionary War battlefields to national cemeteries across the country, the memory of those heroes is enshrined forever. Photo of the World War II Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. by National Park Service.