A maze of meandering bayous and rippling marshes, Sabine National Wildlife Refuge in Louisiana occupies over 125,000 acres of waters and wetlands. Providing habitat for an impressive variety of birds, the refuge is also a vibrant nursery to shrimp, blue crab and numerous fish species. Boardwalks and hiking paths allow visitors to explore the area. On sunny days, it’s common to see alligators resting by the water. Photo by Colleen Stringer (www.sharetheexperience.org).
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).
To watch the sunrise, most people face east. At Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, turning west will allow you to see the morning’s first rays touch the peaks and work their way down the mountain faces, spreading light, warmth and beauty. Shades of orange and pink glow on the snow to create a picture perfect moment. Photo by John Corso (www.sharetheexperience.org).
Skyline Drive curves around mountaintops and pushes through clouds at Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. With plenty of spots to pull off and take in the view, it’s the perfect place to enjoy a mountain sunrise. The speed limit is 35 mph, so plan to take your time and make sure to watch for wildlife in the road. Photo by N. Lewis, National Park Service.
Did you know that there are five national wildlife refuges in Rhode Island? Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge features rocky shorelines, sandy beaches and a large salt marsh that provide habitat to amazing birds like the piping plover. In the winter, visitors can walk or cross-country ski on the refuge trails and enjoy sunrises and sunsets over the water. Photo by Chris Hunter (www.sharetheexperience.org).
Today marks the 115th anniversary of the creation of the first national wildlife refuge at Pelican Island in Florida and the birth of the national wildlife refuge system. From Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge on the Atlantic to Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge in the Pacific, over 550 wildlife refuges – many of them close to urban centers – protect an incredible array of wildlife and landscapes. Find a refuge near you. Photo of Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge in Virginia by Heather Bautista (www.sharetheexperience.org).
Boat, hike, cycle, camp and fish at America’s most diverse national recreation area: Lake Mead. This year-round playground spreads across 1.5 million acres of mountains, canyons, valleys and two vast lakes in Arizona and Nevada. Whether it’s seeing the Hoover Dam from the waters of Lake Mead or finding solitude in one of the park’s nine wilderness areas, Lake Mead is the place for world-class adventure. Photo JT Dudrow (www.sharetheexperience.org).
Set between the jagged peaks of the Sierra Nevada and the geologically complex Inyo Mountains, California’s Alabama Hills is the perfect place for rock climbing, horseback riding, mountain biking – and for films buffs, touring “Movie Road.” Since the 1920s, more than 400 movies have been filmed at the Alabama Hills, and Movie Road allows visitors to walk or drive along the sets of many of their favorite blockbusters. Filmmakers love to use the steep hills, natural arches and windows found throughout the area to evoke far away places, including Afghanistan in Iron Man, the Himalayas in Gunga Din and a Spanish Estate in Gladiator. Photo by Michele James (www.sharetheexperience.org).
Golden sunrise light streams through the pinelands at Everglades National Park in Florida. Across the park’s 1.5 million acres, thick forests transition to wide wetlands and coastal lowlands; each distinct ecosystem dependent on water conditions and a few inches of elevation. On your next adventure, explore these different lands and waters in search of your perfect Everglades moment. Photo courtesy of Andrew R. Slaton.
Within sight of the New York City skyline, Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge is an 18,000-acre wetland estuary bordered by Brooklyn and Queens. An area almost equal to the size of Manhattan, this stunning getaway consists of numerous islands, a labyrinth of waterways, meadowlands and two freshwater ponds. Part of Gateway National Recreation Area, the refuge provides an accessible and unique environment for both wildlife and urban recreation. Photo by Micael Fano (www.sharetheexperience.org).