Located along the northeast coast of Massachusetts, Parker River National Wildlife Refuge provides feeding, resting and nesting habitat for a wide variety of migratory birds. The refuge includes more than 4,700 acres of diverse habitats – from sandy beaches and dunes to cranberry bogs, maritime forests and freshwater marshes. The most abundant habitat on the refuge is salt marsh, one of the most productive ecosystems in nature. It’s a great place to see your favorite birds as the fall migrations begin. Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Wildflowers and epic views make Wyoming’s Carter Mountain an amazing summer spot. Located southwest of Cody, the area is composed of a mix of private lands and public lands managed by the Bureaus of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service. While there are various ways the public can access Carter Mountain, the best way is from the north, via the Carter Mountain Road off the Southfork Highway west of Cody. Photo by Gretchen Hurley, Bureau of Land Management.
As the golden sun dips behind El Capitan at Guadalupe Mountains National Park in Texas, a scattering of yellow remains on the desert plain. Skeleton-leaf goldeneye blooms throughout the late summer, growing in bunches up to 6 feet wide. An exceptionally drought-tolerant plant, it thrives in the dry soil of the desert plain below the mountains. Photo by Kelly Feeney (www.sharetheexperience.org).
Located in east central Minnesota approximately 50 miles northwest of the Minneapolis/St. Paul metropolitan area, Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1965 to promote the health and well-being of migratory birds and their habitat. Today, it’s not just celebrated for its wildlife, but also the extraordinary recreation opportunities for visitors. Photo of lupines by Tina Shaw, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
On their famous expedition, Lewis and Clark passed through Idaho’s Lemhi Range, marvelling at the quick landscape transitions and gorgeous scenery. The area is still well-known for its colorful wildflowers like these arrowleaf yellow balsam-roots, lupine and purple delphinium. Captain Lewis collected several new plant species in Idaho including mountain maple, common snowberry and Lewis’s monkey flower. Modern day explorers can follow in the expedition’s footsteps on the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail and experience the same awe without the 19th century hardship. Photo of moonrise by Bob Wick, Bureau of Land Management (@mypubliclands).
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).
One of the most spectacular hikes in Kenai Fjords National Park in Alaska, the 8.2-mile round trip Harding Icefield Trail starts on the valley floor, winds through cottonwood and alder forests, passes though heather filled meadows and ultimately climbs well above tree line to a breathtaking view of the Icefield. The trail is strenuous – it gains about 1,000 feet of elevation with every mile – and hikers should allow at least 6-8 hours. Although the view from the top is well worth the effort, you don’t need to hike all the way up to experience the wonders of this trail. This stunning photo shows the view of the wildflowers and valley below from part of the way up the trail. Be sure to check current conditions for the trail on the park’s website before heading out out on the trail. Photo by Chandra Sekhar Gantha (www.sharetheexperience.org).
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
The gorgeous landscape of Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma includes the delightful oasis of Treasure Lake near Elk Mountain. The refuge boasts almost 60,000 acres of natural grasslands that are now home to reintroduced species including bison, elk, prairie dogs, river otters and burrowing owls. Visitors can enjoy wildlife watching, fishing, climbing, hunting and walking among wildflower blooms. Photo by Stan Schwartz (www.sharetheexperience.org).
It’s National Wildflower Week! Of all the unique and colorful wildflowers on public lands, few are as fascinating as the Cahaba lily. A rare type of spiderlily with striking 3-inch white flowers, the Cahaba lily requires a specialized habitat of swift water flowing over rocks with lots of sunlight. Cahaba lilies bloom from mid-May to mid-June (or Mother’s Day to Father’s Day). The best and largest populations are located at Cahaba River National Wildlife Refuge in Alabama. Photo by Keith Boseman (www.sharetheexperience.org).