Public lands are some of the best places to enjoy the dark skies. Atop the Cumberland Plateau in Kentucky and Tennessee, Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area offers presentations that guide visitors through the night sky, and telescope viewing of stars, planets, nebulae, galaxies and the International Space Station. It’s an out of this world experience! Photo by Josh Bandy, National Park Service.
One of the most daunting tasks facing visitors to Great Smoky Mountains National Park is choosing a trail. Start by deciding on what you would like to see. Waterfalls? Wildflowers and forests? Endless mountain views? Then decide how far you would like to hike. If you haven’t hiked much recently, be cautious. Five miles roundtrip is a good maximum distance for novices. Just remember to take plenty of water and your sense of adventure, and don’t forget to tell someone where you’re heading. Photo by Stavros Mitchelides (www.sharetheexperience.org).
Like waves rolling on the ocean, layers of ridgelines at Great Smoky Mountains National Park extend out to a stunning sunrise. On the Tennessee-North Carolina border, Clingman’s Dome is the highest point in the park and a premier destination for photographers. Inspired by Ansel Adams and a lover of national park, photographer Zack Knudsen captured this amazing moment in the park a few weeks ago. Photo courtesy of Zack Knudsen
On the one mile Yahoo Falls loop trail at Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area in Kentucky, visitors can actually walk behind the waterfalls as they plunge 113 feet over the large rock shelf. In the deep forest, passing from sun to shade with the roar of the water in your ears and the spray of mist on your skin, it’s an adventure for all your senses. It’s just one of the many spectacular outdoor experiences you can have in this wonderful 125,000-acre park. Photo by Tom Wood (www.sharetheexperience.org).
Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the largest protected areas in the eastern United States where black bears can live in wild, natural surroundings. Bears inhabit all elevations of the park – with an estimated 1,500 bears living in the park. Bear cubs are usually born in the winter and emerge from their dens in late March or early April. Bears can run 30 miles per hour, can swim very well and are good tree climbers like this baby bear pictured here. Bears can live 12-15 years or more, but animals that have access to human foods and garbage have a life expectancy of only half. Do your part by using the park’s bear-proof dumpsters and disposing of all garbage properly. Photo by Sidney Cromer (www.sharetheexperience.org).
The road to Clingmans Dome is open again, offering visitors the chance to enjoy stunning mountain views up to 100 miles. At 6,643 feet, Clingmans Dome is the highest point in Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the tallest mountain in Tennessee. It’s 7 miles to the end of Clingmans Dome Road, and there are scenic pullouts with endless views of ridges and valleys along the way. The road ends in a large parking area where a short trail leads to an observation tower on top. Photo by Vivek Sharma (www.sharetheexperience.org).
Created on March 3, 1849, the Department of the Interior was sometimes called the “Department of Everything Else.” Today, Interior’s mission is a diverse mix of duties ranging from managing the nation’s natural resources and cultural heritage to pursuing cutting-edge science to benefit the pubic and honoring trust responsibilities to American Indians, Alaska Natives and affiliated island communities. Of course, we’re known best for public lands like Great Smoky Mountain National Park in North Carolina and Tennessee, one of the most visited national parks in the system.
Photo by Chris Mobley (www.sharetheexperience.org).
Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area in Tennessee protects the free-flowing Big South Fork of the Cumberland River and its tributaries. The area boasts miles of scenic gorges and sandstone bluffs, is rich with natural and historic features, and provides visitors with a wide range of outdoor recreational activities including hunting, hiking, fishing, rock climbing, horseback riding and whitewater paddling. This time of year, you can also enjoy the stunning fall colors. Photo by National Park Service.
Happy Labor Day! Thanks to all of the hard workers, especially our Interior employees, who make our country great. Enjoy a nap. We hope you sleep as well as this bear cub at Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee. Photo by Charlie Choc (www.sharetheexperience.org).
June is Great Outdoors Month and the perfect time to explore public lands and waters. Take a walk on a national seashore, go birdwatching in a wildlife refuge, paddle a wild and scenic river, find peace in a wilderness area and marvel at the natural beauty of national parks. Every outdoor experience is unique and helps strengthen our connection to nature. Even the most simple moments can have a powerful impact. In the dark and quiet forest of Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee, photographer Radim Schreiber found himself surrounded by blinking lightning bugs (or fireflies) and captured this amazing shot. Photo by Radim Schreiber (www.sharetheexperience.org).