America's Great Outdoors
Evening light makes it to the bottom of the Grand Canyon.Photo: Jacob W. Frank

Evening light makes it to the bottom of the Grand Canyon.

Photo: Jacob W. Frank

Today and tomorrow are fee free days on all of America’s National Parks. We hope you can get out and enjoy them!Photo from Glacier Bay National Park courtesy of the National Park Service.

Today and tomorrow are fee free days on all of America’s National Parks. We hope you can get out and enjoy them!

Photo from Glacier Bay National Park courtesy of the National Park Service.

Did you know that fees are waived this weekend on all of America’s National Parks? Share this photo of Rocky Mountain National Park to help spread the word! Photo: Pat Gaines

Did you know that fees are waived this weekend on all of America’s National Parks? Share this photo of Rocky Mountain National Park to help spread the word!

Photo: Pat Gaines

Arguably some of the planet’s most unique and spectacular geologic features are the narrow slot canyons of the Colorado Plateau — and the grand-daddy of them all is Buckskin Gulch in the BLM-managed Paria Canyon-Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness/National Monument. Straddling the Utah/Arizona border, this 13 mile long canyon is 400 feet deep and sometimes as narrow as six feet — not just at the bottom but all the way up to the canyon rims (thus the name “slot”). In places you can’t see the sky when looking up; only the sun’s indirect glow bouncing off the scalloped rock walls & creating an ever-changing colorful tapestry. Logs wedged between the narrow walls 20-30 feet above the stream-bed are a reminder to avoid the area during the summer monsoon, when flash floods combined with no escape routes make the canyon unsafe for hiking.Photo: Bureau of Land Management

Arguably some of the planet’s most unique and spectacular geologic features are the narrow slot canyons of the Colorado Plateau — and the grand-daddy of them all is Buckskin Gulch in the BLM-managed Paria Canyon-Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness/National Monument. Straddling the Utah/Arizona border, this 13 mile long canyon is 400 feet deep and sometimes as narrow as six feet — not just at the bottom but all the way up to the canyon rims (thus the name “slot”). In places you can’t see the sky when looking up; only the sun’s indirect glow bouncing off the scalloped rock walls & creating an ever-changing colorful tapestry. Logs wedged between the narrow walls 20-30 feet above the stream-bed are a reminder to avoid the area during the summer monsoon, when flash floods combined with no escape routes make the canyon unsafe for hiking.

Photo: Bureau of Land Management

Here they come… welcome the first bison calves of 2014 to the National Bison Range Refuge in Montana! Weighing in at 40-50 pounds, these wee ones will stay red for a few months before turning brown. By the time we see them at the annual roundup in October, most will weigh between 250-350 pounds.

Photo: USFWS

At the edge of the Kenai Peninsula lies a land where the ice age lingers. Nearly 40 glaciers flow from the Harding Icefield, Kenai Fjords' crowning feature. Wildlife thrives in icy waters and lush forests around this vast expanse of ice. Native Alutiiq relied on these resources to nurture a life entwined with the sea. Today, shrinking glaciers bear witness to the effects of our changing climate.Photo: National Park Service

At the edge of the Kenai Peninsula lies a land where the ice age lingers. Nearly 40 glaciers flow from the Harding Icefield, Kenai Fjords' crowning feature. Wildlife thrives in icy waters and lush forests around this vast expanse of ice. Native Alutiiq relied on these resources to nurture a life entwined with the sea. Today, shrinking glaciers bear witness to the effects of our changing climate.

Photo: National Park Service

"Share the road" takes on a whole new meaning in Yellowstone National Park. More on spring biking in the park at http://go.nps.gov/1x6y2m.Photo: National Park Service

"Share the road" takes on a whole new meaning in Yellowstone National Park. More on spring biking in the park at http://go.nps.gov/1x6y2m.

Photo: National Park Service

As spring grows ever-stronger, and snowfall makes way for rain at higher and higher elevations in the mountains, the Cascade Mountains begin to truly live up to their name. Mount Rainier National Park contains hundreds of waterfalls, from tiny seasonal streamlets that curtain the roadside cliffs on the way up to Paradise, to the massive thundering cataracts that plunge off the upper mountain. This is one of my favorites: Silver Falls, a short hike above Ohanapecosh in the southeast corner of the park, photographed in July of last year by Jeff Moore.

As spring grows ever-stronger, and snowfall makes way for rain at higher and higher elevations in the mountains, the Cascade Mountains begin to truly live up to their name. Mount Rainier National Park contains hundreds of waterfalls, from tiny seasonal streamlets that curtain the roadside cliffs on the way up to Paradise, to the massive thundering cataracts that plunge off the upper mountain. This is one of my favorites: Silver Falls, a short hike above Ohanapecosh in the southeast corner of the park, photographed in July of last year by Jeff Moore.

We are excited to announce our first Insta-Meet – and it’s pretty cool. A dozen followers of the Interior Instagram account (www.instagram.com/USInterior) will be invited to participate in the re-opening of the Washington Monument on May 12, 2014! You will join in the opening festivities and be among the first to go to the top of the Monument since it was closed for repairs after the earthquake in ‘11. Oh, and we’ll throw in an awesome guided tour of the National Mall and all the monuments. We are looking for active Instagram users who will document the day in real time for their followers. To be considered, please go to www.doi.gov/InstaMeet and fill out the form. We look forward to meeting 12 of you on May 12! Photo: Diana Bowen - NPS

We are excited to announce our first Insta-Meet – and it’s pretty cool. A dozen followers of the Interior Instagram account (www.instagram.com/USInterior) will be invited to participate in the re-opening of the Washington Monument on May 12, 2014! You will join in the opening festivities and be among the first to go to the top of the Monument since it was closed for repairs after the earthquake in ‘11. Oh, and we’ll throw in an awesome guided tour of the National Mall and all the monuments. We are looking for active Instagram users who will document the day in real time for their followers. To be considered, please go to www.doi.gov/InstaMeet and fill out the form. We look forward to meeting 12 of you on May 12!

Photo: Diana Bowen - NPS

Best known for globally significant Late Triassic fossils, Petrified Forest National Park attracts geologists, paleontologists, archeologists, historians, and biologists, just to name a few. The park is also haven for those searching for scenic vistas, wilderness, hiking, dark skies, and beautiful, vast landscapes. Discover your own passion at Petrified Forest!Photo: Michael Reed (www.sharetheexperience.org)

Best known for globally significant Late Triassic fossils, Petrified Forest National Park attracts geologists, paleontologists, archeologists, historians, and biologists, just to name a few. The park is also haven for those searching for scenic vistas, wilderness, hiking, dark skies, and beautiful, vast landscapes. Discover your own passion at Petrified Forest!

Photo: Michael Reed (www.sharetheexperience.org)