America's Great Outdoors
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.

Oolah Valley in Gates of the Arctic National Park offers hidden delights to the intrepid hiker willing to explore off the beaten path.Photo: National Park Service

Oolah Valley in Gates of the Arctic National Park offers hidden delights to the intrepid hiker willing to explore off the beaten path.

Photo: National Park Service

Alpenglow on Denali. NPS Photo/Daniel A. Leifheit 

Alpenglow on Denali.

NPS Photo/Daniel A. Leifheit 

There’s something about a 14,000-foot mountain looming on the horizon that draws the attention of photographers. Yet Mount Rainier isn’t the only spectacular bit of scenery in our park! The Tatoosh Range, half the size of Rainier and a dozen times older, can also make for breathtaking photography. This image of Eagle Peak in the snow, beautifully framed and photographed by Jill Foster on March 4, 2012 and shared in the Mount Rainier National Park photo group at http://flickr.com/groups/MountRainierNPS, is a good example. There are great pictures everywhere. Just keep your eyes open, and look away from the big volcano now and then!

There’s something about a 14,000-foot mountain looming on the horizon that draws the attention of photographers. Yet Mount Rainier isn’t the only spectacular bit of scenery in our park! The Tatoosh Range, half the size of Rainier and a dozen times older, can also make for breathtaking photography. This image of Eagle Peak in the snow, beautifully framed and photographed by Jill Foster on March 4, 2012 and shared in the Mount Rainier National Park photo group at http://flickr.com/groups/MountRainierNPS, is a good example. There are great pictures everywhere. Just keep your eyes open, and look away from the big volcano now and then!

Snow fell earlier this week in the middle and high elevations of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This photo was taken on Sparks Lane in Cades Cove late last March, but you could have captured pretty much the same scene if you had visited the cove early this week! ©2013 Kristina Plaas, All Rights Reserved.

Snow fell earlier this week in the middle and high elevations of Great Smoky Mountains National Park

This photo was taken on Sparks Lane in Cades Cove late last March, but you could have captured pretty much the same scene if you had visited the cove early this week! ©2013 Kristina Plaas, All Rights Reserved.

You can probably name this Park Place if you’ve spent much time in Mount Rainier National Park's wilderness. Can you see why this is a favorite destination of many backpackers? It's even doable round-trip in a long, but strenuous, day hike. Name this park place and share your photos of it in the comments below. NPS/Dave Turner photo

You can probably name this Park Place if you’ve spent much time in Mount Rainier National Park's wilderness. Can you see why this is a favorite destination of many backpackers? It's even doable round-trip in a long, but strenuous, day hike. Name this park place and share your photos of it in the comments below. 

NPS/Dave Turner photo

Ascending to 14,410 feet above sea level, Mount Rainier stands as an icon in the Washington landscape. An active volcano, Mount Rainier is the most glaciated peak in the contiguous U.S.A., spawning six major rivers. Subalpine wildflower meadows ring the icy volcano while ancient forest cloaks Mount Rainier’s lower slopes. Wildlife abounds in the park’s ecosystems. A lifetime of discovery awaits.Photographed by Justin Kern September 10, 2012 and shared in Mount Rainier Flickr photo group http://flickr.com/groups/MountRainierNPS.

Ascending to 14,410 feet above sea level, Mount Rainier stands as an icon in the Washington landscape. An active volcano, Mount Rainier is the most glaciated peak in the contiguous U.S.A., spawning six major rivers. Subalpine wildflower meadows ring the icy volcano while ancient forest cloaks Mount Rainier’s lower slopes. Wildlife abounds in the park’s ecosystems. A lifetime of discovery awaits.

Photographed by Justin Kern September 10, 2012 and shared in Mount Rainier Flickr photo group http://flickr.com/groups/MountRainierNPS.

Sunset over Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee.Photo: Austin Leih (www.sharetheexperience.org)

Sunset over Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee.

Photo: Austin Leih (www.sharetheexperience.org)

This photo is for everyone who is ready for spring/fall. Sunrise at Oxbow Bend in Grand Teton National Park.Photo: Robert McKinney (www.sharetheexperience.org)

This photo is for everyone who is ready for spring/fall. Sunrise at Oxbow Bend in Grand Teton National Park.

Photo: Robert McKinney (www.sharetheexperience.org)

Wild ice views of Telaquana Lake in Lake Clark National Park and Preserve from an overflight this past Monday. Photo: National Park Service

Wild ice views of Telaquana Lake in Lake Clark National Park and Preserve from an overflight this past Monday. 

Photo: National Park Service