Mesa Verde means “green table,” but winter snows have turned most of Mesa Verde National Park white. Over 5,000 archaeological sites in the park help tell the story of the Pueblo people, who lived more than 700 years ago in what we now call Colorado. Spruce Tree House, seen here, is one of the best preserved cliff dwellings in the country and an astounding sight from Chapin Mesa overlook. Photo by National Park Service.
Do you remember what is was like to be a child, when everything seemed so huge and amazing? No matter your age, that’s the feeling you’ll get walking through the Giant Forest at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks in California. Growing over 250 feet tall and over 30 feet wide, these wonders of nature are a sight you’ll never forget. Photo by National Park Service.
Delicate frost clings to a solitary tree at J. Clark Salyer National Wildlife Refuge in North Dakota. These little details are easy to miss when visitors are busy bird watching, hiking or ice fishing. Extending from the Canadian border for 45 miles, it’s the largest wildlife refuge in the state and one of the nation’s premier birding locations. Photo by Colette Guariglia, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Only fossils remain of the dinosaurs that gave Dinosaur National Monument its name. However, some large animals continue to prowl this rugged landscape along the Colorado and Utah border. These tracks in the snow are 5 inches wide and belong to a mountain lion, just one species of the amazing wildlife that lives in the park. Photo by National Park Service.
With dawn’s light peeking over the horizon and snow dusting the steep rock walls, this winter scene at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park in Colorado reminds us of a Van Gogh painting. Every determined tree and each ripple of stone stands out, telling a story that spans geologic eras. Lesser known than other Colorado parks, the Black Canyon can be a stunning surprise to first time visitors. Photo by James Broscheid (www.sharetheexperience.org).
Soaring above a maze of red canyons, the Fisher Towers are a dramatic sight along the Colorado River in Utah. A National Scenic Trail winds 2.2 miles around the stone pinnacles and climbs up to nearly 360 degree views. Experienced climbers can test their skills on the rock faces while less daring visitors can enjoy relaxing moments at the nearby Bureau of Land Management campsite. Pro-tip: clear nights offer incredible stargazing opportunities. Photo by Adam Jewell (www.sharetheexperience.org).
The Shoshone Mountains are one of the longest ranges in the Silver State. Located in the vast, high-desert of central Nevada, this range stretches 66 miles long and encompass 400 square miles of public lands. Nearby is the Shoshone OHV trail system with about 50 miles of maintained routes for off-highway vehicles that are open year round. Photo by William O’Neill, Bureau of Land Management.
Winter has Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge in its icy grip. For countless generations, the Upper Tanana Valley of Alaska has served as a natural travel corridor – for wildlife, native people and explorers. Despite the blanket of snow, many animals live here year round – including the Great Grey Owl, which preys on small rodents. Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Virtually unchanged except by the forces of nature, Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve in Alaska is as wild as it is vast. Through endless summer days and winter nights colored by the Northern Lights, visitors travel by rivers and mountains yet to be named. With no roads, no trails and very few people, it’s the perfect place for those seeking solitude and natural beauty. Photo by Carl Johnson, National Park Service.
Are you excited for the Winter Olympics? How about winter at Olympic National Park in Washington? With amazing chances to ski and skate – plus breathtaking views along Hurricane Ridge – this park is a gold medal winner! Photo by Megan Juran, National Park Service.