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
If patience was a plant, it would be a Bristlecone pine. Cautiously growing in the harsh terrain of Great Basin National Park in Nevada, these amazing trees can grow to be more than 5,000 years old. Gnarled, twisted and scattered in groves on rocky ground, Bristlecone pines make excellent subjects for photos, especially with a night sky or sunset backdrop. Photo by Thomas Sikora (www.sharetheexperience.org).
One of the earliest wildlife refuges, Quillayute Needles was created by Teddy Roosevelt to protect and enhance habitat for seabird populations. Today 13 species of seabirds nest and raise their young on these windswept islets, rocks, reefs and islands that stretch along Washington’s coast. Black oystercatchers tend pebbly nests at the water’s edge, common murres lay gravity defying eggs on barren ledges, and tufted puffins burrow their nests deep into the loamy bluffs. Kelp beds surrounding the islands provide territory for a growing reintroduced sea otter population to cavort. While the refuge is closed to human disturbance because of it’s fragile and remote nature, visitors can view the refuge and its inhabitants at one of the several beaches in Olympic National Park. Photo by Melissa Hahn (www.sharetheexperience.org).
There is no best place for watching the sunset over the Grand Canyon – just great places and even better places. Look for viewpoints in the national park that jut into the canyon for views both east and west, and plan to arrive as much as 90 minutes before sunset. Don’t rush off. Stay at least 10 minutes after the sunsets and is no longer illuminating the buttes and pinnacles of this Arizona landmark – the sky may light up red, pink or orange. Photo courtesy of Jacob W. Frank.
As the snow melts on the rugged peaks of Kit Carson Mountain, water flows into seasonal creeks, weaving through valleys and around the massive Star Dune at Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve in Colorado. The water, sand and stone catch the light and show unique textures that make photos of the park often look like oil paintings. Taking pictures, making memories and learning the stories are great ways to experience this unique park. Photo by Patrick Myers, National Park Service.
Happy birthday, Glacier National Park! On this day in 1910, President William Taft signed a bill into law establishing this Montana park – making it our nation’s 10th national park. 108 years later, Glacier remains the Crown of the Continent with glacier-carved peaks and valleys, pristine turquoise lakes and streams, and dense ancient forests for all to enjoy: https://on.doi.gov/glacier. What is your favorite memory at Glacier?
Photo of Wild Goose Island by Jacob W. Frank, National Park Service.
The Painted Canyon at Theodore Roosevelt National Park is an amazing landscape of colorful cliffs and rolling grasslands. The rugged beauty of the North Dakota badlands have captured the hearts of millions of visitors – including President Theodore Roosevelt, who owned a ranch in the area. With stunning scenery, bountiful wildlife and an impressive history, one trip is never enough. Photo by Josette Hayes, National Park Service.
One of the most spectacular geologic features on Earth, Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona never fails to impress. Carved over the course of millions of years, the canyon averages 10 miles in width and 1 mile in depth. Resplendent with colorful layers and rugged textures, you’ll never forget your first sight of this incredible place. Photo by W. Tyson Joye, National Park Service.
Ozark National Scenic Riverways in Missouri is the first national park area to protect a river system. The Current and Jacks Fork Rivers – the beating heart of the park – are two of the finest floating rivers you’ll find anywhere. Spring-fed, cold and clear they are a delight to canoe, swim, boat or fish. The watershed also quenches the thirst of lush forests and grasslands, making it the perfect place for a spring hike. Photo by Pamela Reid (www.sharetheexperience.org).
The sun sinks behind the horizon, coloring the sky a bright orange before night falls in South Florida. Big Cypress National Preserve protects 729,000 acres of unique freshwater swamp, offering refuge to a wide variety of plants and animals. From hardwood hammocks hiding rare Florida panthers to tidal estuaries teeming with birds and fish, there is so much to see in this wonderful place. Photo by National Park Service.