Resembling the work of an artist, sunsets like this one in Utah from Plateau Viewpoint in Labyrinth Rims/Gemini Bridges Special Management Recreation Area can feel almost unreal. Pink hues of the day’s last light grace the sandstone domes of the Sand Flats Recreation Area and the forested slopes of the Manti-La Sal National Forest. Bureau of Land Management manages this area, offering incredible opportunities for world-class recreation, like mountain biking, camping and river-rafting– or —gawking at sunsets. Photo by Stephen Smith (www.sharetheexperience.org).
Walking down the winding staircase from the Cape Blanco Lighthouse to the sandy beach below, you can stroll across the sandy beach as the sun sets over the Pacific Ocean. Waves and wind pound the surrounding bluffs at this western-most point of land in Oregon. Daytime views provide an unparalleled opportunity to watch California gray whales and other marine mammals swimming just offshore and the lighthouse itself is a fascinating glimpse into our history. Just another wonderful day on public lands. Photo by Lisa McNee, Bureau of Land Management.
The mighty Mississippi River flows past Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge in Wisconsin early in its 2,300 mile voyage to the Gulf of Mexico. In the fall, migrating birds and monarch butterflies likewise travel south, looking for food and warmer temperatures. Other wildlife remain, keeping the refuge active through winter. As the leaves fall, it’s easier to spot eagles in trees, rabbits bounding through fields, foxes chasing mice and river otters playing on the banks of the river. Photo by Michael Boerger (www.sharetheexperience.org).
The end of the day provokes purple skies and tranquil waters at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge in Maryland. This brackish tidal marsh is a vital waterfowl sanctuary. It was created to support birds migrating along the Atlantic Flyway, and does that and so much more. All week long we’ve been celebrating the varied and critical roles of national wildlife refuges and Blackwater is no different. The tidal marsh buffers storm waters, slows erosion and absorbs pollutants before they reach the bay. Photo courtesy of Youchun Yao.
Devils Tower was established as America’s first national monument by President Theodore Roosevelt on September 24th in 1906. Rising high out of the Black Hills, in northeast Wyoming, this geological wonder is an astounding sight. Devils Tower National Monument is a sacred place to over 20 Native American tribes and is also called “Bear’s Lodge” or “Bear’s Tipi.” Reaching 867 feet from its base to the summit, the Tower stands tall in the minds of all its admirers. Photo by Don Davis (www.sharetheexperience.org).
Everyone can enjoy cruising along Skyline Drive at Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. There are so many gorgeous places to stop and enjoy waterfalls, wildlife, trails and amazing views. Photographer Stephen LaVine enjoyed every minute of his visit: “My wife took me to the park for a couple of days for my birthday, so it was a really special time. Each night we went out in search of a sunset to watch and capture and this one definitely did not disappoint!” Photo courtesy of Stephen LaVine.
A brilliant sunset casts color and light over pinelands and grasslands in Everglades National Park, the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States. This Florida park is a subtle place where earth, water and sky blend in a low green landscape – where mere inches of elevation produce distinct changes in vegetation and a great wealth of birds and other unique wildlife find refuge. One of the most environmentally significant regions in the world, Everglades National Park can also impress with its sublime beauty. Photo by Vineesh Agrawal (www.sharetheexperience.org).
Photographer Patrick Rodden captured glorious orange and purple skies over Isle Royale National Park in Michigan. He explains, “It’s a park with so many opportunities from hiking to boating and excellent wildlife viewing. Not only did I enjoy the terrestrial views, but I also had an incredible time watching the sky. This photo was taken from Rock Harbor on my last night on the island. It was a phenomenal sight to end a week of hiking. There is nothing like a midwestern sunset in all of its raw beauty and power.” Photo and words courtesy of Patrick Rodden.
Photographer Saxon Smith loves making the drive out to Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma. It’s a great place to escape the city and explore a lovely natural area. “After a gorgeous hike among wildflowers and blooming cacti this spring, we stayed in the refuge until dusk to see the sunset before heading home. As with most Oklahoma sunsets – especially with the backdrop of our beautifully worn and ancient Wichita mountains – it did not disappoint.” Photo courtesy of Saxon Smith.
The reward for an uphill journey is the view from the top. Many of the vistas along the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina are spectacular, showing off layers of rolling, forested mountains stretching out to the horizon. Find your favorite spot and treat it like a friend. Visit it in good times and bad. Sit down with your coffee and share a sunrise together. Take its picture and keep it in your heart. Photo courtesy of Luke Sutton.