America's Great Outdoors
Yosemite National Park received a little snow this weekend, although it is melting quickly in the Valley, the clearing storm made for a stunning morning.Photo: National Park Service

Yosemite National Park received a little snow this weekend, although it is melting quickly in the Valley, the clearing storm made for a stunning morning.

Photo: National Park Service

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.

Two Sandhill Cranes flying over a wetland in Great Sand Dunes National Park earlier this month.Photo: Patrick Myers

Two Sandhill Cranes flying over a wetland in Great Sand Dunes National Park earlier this month.

Photo: Patrick Myers

Sunrise over Shenandoah National Park in Virginia last weekend.Photo: National Park Service

Sunrise over Shenandoah National Park in Virginia last weekend.

Photo: National Park Service

Happy 165th birthday to the Department of the Interior! On March 3, 1849, President Polk signed the legislation into law creating the department.Today, the Department manages the Nation’s public lands and minerals including providing access to public lands and the Outer Continental Shelf, for renewable and conventional energy; is the steward of 20% of the Nations lands, including national parks, national wildlife refuges, and the public lands; is the largest supplier and manager of water in the 17 western states and a supplier of hydropower energy; and upholds federal trusts to Indian Tribes and Alaska Natives. It is responsible for migratory wildlife conservation; historic preservation; endangered species conservation; surface-mined lands protection and restoration; mapping, geological, hydrological, biologic science for the Nation and financial and technical assistance for the Insular Areas.To learn more about the Department, click here.Photo of Bryce Canyon National Park by Kuang-Yu Jen

Happy 165th birthday to the Department of the Interior! On March 3, 1849, President Polk signed the legislation into law creating the department.

Today, the Department manages the Nation’s public lands and minerals including providing access to public lands and the Outer Continental Shelf, for renewable and conventional energy; is the steward of 20% of the Nations lands, including national parks, national wildlife refuges, and the public lands; is the largest supplier and manager of water in the 17 western states and a supplier of hydropower energy; and upholds federal trusts to Indian Tribes and Alaska Natives. It is responsible for migratory wildlife conservation; historic preservation; endangered species conservation; surface-mined lands protection and restoration; mapping, geological, hydrological, biologic science for the Nation and financial and technical assistance for the Insular Areas.

To learn more about the Department, click here.

Photo of Bryce Canyon National Park by Kuang-Yu Jen

The iconic Bridalveil falls in Yosemite National Park after a snowstorm in early spring 2012.Photo: Sankar Salvady (www.sharetheexperience.org)

The iconic Bridalveil falls in Yosemite National Park after a snowstorm in early spring 2012.

Photo: Sankar Salvady (www.sharetheexperience.org)

A geomagnetic storm earlier this week caused an explosion of color as the northern lights danced across the starry sky over Denali National Park. Photo by Daniel A. Leifheit

A geomagnetic storm earlier this week caused an explosion of color as the northern lights danced across the starry sky over Denali National Park.

Photo by Daniel A. Leifheit

Up for a trip to northern Maine? If so, Aroostook National Wildlife Refuge is a great spot for winter sports. This time of year, the refuge in Limestone, offers seven groomed miles of trails perfect for snowshoeing and skiing. If you’re not the cold weather type, and of the angling persuasion, wait until late spring and summer when the refuge hosts an annual fishing derby. Originally part of the Loring Air Force Base, the refuge was founded in 1998 with a primary focus of forest and grassland management.Besides removing the Cold War-era military buildings and demolishing fences and railways, the refuge manages around 400 acres of grasslands. Biologists have even investigated using some of the abandoned military bunkers for artificial bat hibernacula! (Really, it’s true; click here) Located in a part of Maine dominated by potato and broccoli farming, the refuge is key in preserving the northern Maine forests and its wildlife, including upland sandpipers and neotropical migratory birds. If that’s not enough to get you up there, this photo should do the trick.Photo: Sharon Wallace/USFWS

Up for a trip to northern Maine? If so, Aroostook National Wildlife Refuge is a great spot for winter sports. This time of year, the refuge in Limestone, offers seven groomed miles of trails perfect for snowshoeing and skiing. If you’re not the cold weather type, and of the angling persuasion, wait until late spring and summer when the refuge hosts an annual fishing derby. Originally part of the Loring Air Force Base, the refuge was founded in 1998 with a primary focus of forest and grassland management.

Besides removing the Cold War-era military buildings and demolishing fences and railways, the refuge manages around 400 acres of grasslands. Biologists have even investigated using some of the abandoned military bunkers for artificial bat hibernacula! (Really, it’s true; click here) Located in a part of Maine dominated by potato and broccoli farming, the refuge is key in preserving the northern Maine forests and its wildlife, including upland sandpipers and neotropical migratory birds. If that’s not enough to get you up there, this photo should do the trick.

Photo: Sharon Wallace/USFWS

Winter sunset over Arches National Park - Utah.Photo: Jacob W. Frank

Winter sunset over Arches National Park - Utah.

Photo: Jacob W. Frank