America's Great Outdoors
The sea otter version of a pedicure in Glacier Bay National Park.Photo: National Park Service

The sea otter version of a pedicure in Glacier Bay National Park.

Photo: National Park Service

"If it isn’t God’s backyard, then he certainly lives nearby." - Robin Williams on Glacier National Park. RIPPhoto: Kim Hang Dessoliers

"If it isn’t God’s backyard, then he certainly lives nearby." - Robin Williams on Glacier National Park. RIP

Photo: Kim Hang Dessoliers

The scenic quality of the Handies Peak Wilderness Study Area in Colorado is outstanding due to the interaction of mountainous landforms; multi-colored rock strata; diverse vegetation; and vast, open vistas. Handies Peak itself rises 14048 feet over the area and is the highest point of land managed by the Bureau of Land Management outside of Alaska. This WSA also hosts 12 other peaks that rise over 13,000 feet, three major canyons, numerous small drainages, glacial cirques and three alpine lakes. The geomorphology shows a variety of volcanic, glacial and Precambrian formations. A rock glacier formation is also located at the head of American Basin.Vegetation consists mainly of mixed sprice, fir, aspen, alpine grasses, sedges, and forbs. Fauna includes elk, deer, black bear, various small mammals, bighorn sheep, and very rarely, mountain goats.Recreation activities include hiking, backpacking, camping, mountain climbing, and photography. Please note that though unconfined recreation is encouraged in WSAs, specific types of recreation may be barred from a specific area to prevent degradation of natural conditions.Plan your trip: http://www.blm.gov/co/st/en/BLM_Programs/national_landscape/wilderness_study_areas/handies_peak.htmlPhoto: Bob Wick, BLM California — at Bureau of Land Management - Colorado.

The scenic quality of the Handies Peak Wilderness Study Area in Colorado is outstanding due to the interaction of mountainous landforms; multi-colored rock strata; diverse vegetation; and vast, open vistas. Handies Peak itself rises 14048 feet over the area and is the highest point of land managed by the Bureau of Land Management outside of Alaska. This WSA also hosts 12 other peaks that rise over 13,000 feet, three major canyons, numerous small drainages, glacial cirques and three alpine lakes. The geomorphology shows a variety of volcanic, glacial and Precambrian formations. A rock glacier formation is also located at the head of American Basin.

Vegetation consists mainly of mixed sprice, fir, aspen, alpine grasses, sedges, and forbs. Fauna includes elk, deer, black bear, various small mammals, bighorn sheep, and very rarely, mountain goats.

Recreation activities include hiking, backpacking, camping, mountain climbing, and photography. Please note that though unconfined recreation is encouraged in WSAs, specific types of recreation may be barred from a specific area to prevent degradation of natural conditions.

Plan your trip: http://www.blm.gov/co/st/en/BLM_Programs/national_landscape/wilderness_study_areas/handies_peak.html

Photo: Bob Wick, BLM California — at Bureau of Land Management - Colorado.

Established in 1911 by presidential proclamation, Devils Postpile National Monument protects and preserves the Devils Postpile formation, the 101-foot high Rainbow Falls, and pristine mountain scenery. The formation is a rare sight in the geologic world and ranks as one of the world’s finest examples of columnar basalt. Its columns tower 60 feet high and display an unusual symmetry.Photo: Leonel Torres (www.sharetheexperience.org)

Established in 1911 by presidential proclamation, Devils Postpile National Monument protects and preserves the Devils Postpile formation, the 101-foot high Rainbow Falls, and pristine mountain scenery. The formation is a rare sight in the geologic world and ranks as one of the world’s finest examples of columnar basalt. Its columns tower 60 feet high and display an unusual symmetry.

Photo: Leonel Torres (www.sharetheexperience.org)

Sometimes it is about being in the right place at the right time to see nature’s beauty revealed like in this photo from Rocky Mountain National Park.Photo: JW Frank 

Sometimes it is about being in the right place at the right time to see nature’s beauty revealed like in this photo from Rocky Mountain National Park.

Photo: JW Frank 

In the battle between raccoon and sandhill crane, it appears we have a winner.

A raccoon attempts to snag an easy meal at one of the feeders set up to supply the Mississippi sandhills with extra calories during the nesting season at the Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge. The two adult cranes decide that this will not happen on their watch and begin to display defensive behavior — the raccoon rethinks his strategy and decides to find lunch elsewhere! A juvenile crane (the drab colored individual) watches and learns in the background.

(Photo USFWS Camera Trap)

Gorgeous sunrise over Great Smoky Mountains National Park.Photo: Chris Mobley (www.sharetheexperience.org)

Gorgeous sunrise over Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Photo: Chris Mobley (www.sharetheexperience.org)

If you look closely enough, you can see eastern screech owls like this one in many national parks and wildlife refuges across the country.Photo: Steve Gifford, USFWS

If you look closely enough, you can see eastern screech owls like this one in many national parks and wildlife refuges across the country.

Photo: Steve Gifford, USFWS

Now that is a mouthful! What a great photo of a American white pelican taken at Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge.Photo: John Savage/National Wildlife Refuge Association

Now that is a mouthful! What a great photo of a American white pelican taken at Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge.

Photo: John Savage/National Wildlife Refuge Association

Evening traffic in Denali National Park. Photo by Daniel A. Leifheit

Evening traffic in Denali National Park.

Photo by Daniel A. Leifheit