America's Great Outdoors
The view from Glacier Point in Yosemite National Park was not too bad last Friday.Photo: National Park Service

The view from Glacier Point in Yosemite National Park was not too bad last Friday.

Photo: National Park Service

Looking for something fun and fantastic to do with family and friends? Head out to America’s national parks where millions of stars light up the dark night sky, deer and antelope (and a few other critters!) play on the wide open range, and history is an unbelievable experience, not a boring class lecture.The National Park Service is proud to once again join with the National Park Foundation, the official charity of America’s national parks, to present on April 19-27, 2014, National Park Week, a presidentially proclaimed celebration of our national heritage.You can plan your visit by what you want to do, or where you want to go … or you can browse our event calendar and check out the special programs offered throughout the week. On opening weekend, Saturday and Sunday, April 19 to 20, every national park will give you free admission!Photo of Grand Teton National Park by Arianna Grainey (www.sharetheexperience.org)

Looking for something fun and fantastic to do with family and friends? Head out to America’s national parks where millions of stars light up the dark night sky, deer and antelope (and a few other critters!) play on the wide open range, and history is an unbelievable experience, not a boring class lecture.

The National Park Service is proud to once again join with the National Park Foundation, the official charity of America’s national parks, to present on April 19-27, 2014, National Park Week, a presidentially proclaimed celebration of our national heritage.

You can plan your visit by what you want to do, or where you want to go … or you can browse our event calendar and check out the special programs offered throughout the week. On opening weekend, Saturday and Sunday, April 19 to 20, every national park will give you free admission!

Photo of Grand Teton National Park by Arianna Grainey (www.sharetheexperience.org)

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

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

This image was taken at Balanced Rock inside Arches National Park and includes Zodiacal Light and the Milky Way.Photo: Brad Goldpaint (www.goldpaintphotography.com)

This image was taken at Balanced Rock inside Arches National Park and includes Zodiacal Light and the Milky Way.

Photo: Brad Goldpaint (www.goldpaintphotography.com)

"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 have reached peak bloom at the Tidal Basin on the National Mall and Memorial Parks!Photo: Joe Milmoe, USFWS

We have reached peak bloom at the Tidal Basin on the National Mall and Memorial Parks!

Photo: Joe Milmoe, USFWS

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