The rolling plains and scattered wetlands of Ninepipe National Wildlife Refuge in Montana were created by receding glaciers more than 12,000 years ago. Today, these lands and waters serve as habitat for a great variety of wildlife, especially migrating waterfowl. Depending on the season, the sky can hold a lone eagle, fill with waves of tundra swans or show dramatic sunset colors. Photo by Christal Steele (www.sharetheexperience.org).
Happy 40th birthday, Badlands National Park! This South Dakota park was established on this day in 1978, and it’s anything but bad. Long before it was a park, the Badlands’ rugged beauty has drawn visitors from around the world. These striking geologic deposits contain one of the world’s richest fossil beds. Today, the park’s 244,000 acres protect an expanse of mixed-grass prairie where bison, bighorn sheep, prairie dogs and black-footed ferrets live. Photo by William Green (www.sharetheexperience.org).
Just an hour from downtown Washington, D.C., Douglas Point offers a tranquil respite from the rush of the city. Several hiking trails (including part of the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail) lead through a beautiful hardwood forest to narrow beaches along the Potomac tidewaters. The Bureau of Land Management and the State of Maryland jointly acquired about 1,270 acres of land known as Douglas Point, and it’s one of the last remaining undeveloped tracts along the Potomac River. In addition to connecting nearby residents to the outdoors, Douglas Point offers visitors a chance to learn about the region’s history – close by are a Civil War encampment site of approximately 25,000 troops, archeological sites and the evolving ecosystems of the shipwrecks at Mallow Bay. Photo by Bob Wick, Bureau of Land Management, @mypubliclands
On this day in 1886, the Statue of Liberty was officially dedicated. A universal symbol of freedom and democracy, the statue was designated as a national monument in 1924, and the National Park Service has been caring for the colossal statue since 1933. Photos by National Park Service.
It can be difficult to get some people excited about Everglades National Park in Florida; there aren’t any mountains, it’s humid, the mosquitoes can be terrible. Some people are afraid of alligators. But beyond its ecological importance, this park has an understated beauty and a fascinating history. Exploring this seemingly endless sea of grass by land or water is a chance to see an incredible variety of birds and learn how much difference a few inches of elevation can make. For a living classroom, the sunsets are pretty good, too. Photo by Caitlin Rivas, National Park Service.
Just because you live in a city doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the outdoors. Urban wildlife refuges provide an easy escape to nature for millions of Americans every year. Within view of Denver’s skyscrapers, visitors to Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge can see bison, bald eagles, snow geese and sunsets. It’s just one of many resources for city dwellers. Find more: www.fws.gov/urban/wildlifeRefuges.php Sunset photo by Dave Showalter, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Tomorrow is National Hunting and Fishing Day. Held every year since 1972, National Hunting and Fishing Day celebrates outdoor sports, and how hunters and anglers contribute to conservation. Whether you are a first-timer or a seasoned sportsman or woman, your public lands are some of the best places to wet a line or bag the big one. Just ask the people at Sam D. Hamilton Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge in Mississippi, a very popular place for outdoor sports. Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Curecanti National Recreation Area in Colorado is a series of three reservoirs along the once wild Gunnison River. The reservoirs that make up Curecanti today are a destination for water-based recreation high in the Rocky Mountains. Best known for salmon and trout fishing, Curecanti also offers opportunities for hiking, boating, camping and bird watching. Photo by Paul Santellan, National Park Service.
As you enter Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks in California, Moro Rock looms overhead, thousands of feet above the highway. This large granite dome is a spectacular geologic feature that can be enjoyed from above or below. A concrete and stone stairway leads over 350 steps to the summit where views open up from the foothills and San Joaquin Valley to the west, to deep into wilderness to the east. View from the top of Moro Rock by Cheryl Dickinson (www.sharetheexperience.org).
Like the park’s namesake tree, every visit to Joshua Tree National Park in California is different. Some are wide ranging and unpredictable, others are short and prickly, and some of them look best under a starry night sky. Grab your water bottle and find out which Joshua Tree experience is for you. Photo by Hannah Schwalbe, National Park Service.