America's Great Outdoors
Clear skies over Yellowstone National Park’s Mammoth Hot Springs provided great views of this morning’s blood moon.

Clear skies over Yellowstone National Park’s Mammoth Hot Springs provided great views of this morning’s blood moon.

There is some excellent stargazing to be had in the Pole Creek Wilderness, Idaho.Photo: Bob Wick

There is some excellent stargazing to be had in the Pole Creek Wilderness, Idaho.

Photo: Bob Wick

The holy grail of photographs, for many photographers, is to capture the milky way, streaming across the dark night sky. This is easier to do at Mount Rainier National Park (and many other national parks) than most other places, because we truly do still have dark skies, undiminished by street lights, porch lights, neon marquees, vehicle headlights, and stadium spotlights leaking up into the night. Even with the naked eye, on a moonless night such as the ones coming up, you’ll see more stars from the parking lot at Paradise or Sunrise than you might ever have seen elsewhere in your life. At Paradise we even have volunteer rangers with telescopes to help you get a closer view.Taking a photo of it is still a challenge. It requires a good camera with manual settings, an even better tripod to keep the camera still, and a lot of trial and error. There are many good resources online to tell you how, if you’d like to try it. But even if you aren’t so inclined, an evening laying on the hood of your car, staring up into the vast infinite of the galaxy, is an experience worth having in your national park.Photo: The Milky Way over Sunrise by Chris Weber, September 8, 2013, flickr.com/groups/MountRainierNPS, used with attribution under a Creative Commons license.

The holy grail of photographs, for many photographers, is to capture the milky way, streaming across the dark night sky. This is easier to do at Mount Rainier National Park (and many other national parks) than most other places, because we truly do still have dark skies, undiminished by street lights, porch lights, neon marquees, vehicle headlights, and stadium spotlights leaking up into the night. Even with the naked eye, on a moonless night such as the ones coming up, you’ll see more stars from the parking lot at Paradise or Sunrise than you might ever have seen elsewhere in your life. At Paradise we even have volunteer rangers with telescopes to help you get a closer view.

Taking a photo of it is still a challenge. It requires a good camera with manual settings, an even better tripod to keep the camera still, and a lot of trial and error. There are many good resources online to tell you how, if you’d like to try it. But even if you aren’t so inclined, an evening laying on the hood of your car, staring up into the vast infinite of the galaxy, is an experience worth having in your national park.

Photo: The Milky Way over Sunrise by Chris Weber, September 8, 2013, flickr.com/groups/MountRainierNPS, used with attribution under a Creative Commons license.

The three majestic natural bridges of Natural Bridges National Monument in Utah invite you to ponder the power of water in a landscape usually defined by its absence. View them from an overlook, or hit the trails and experience their grandeur from below. Declared a National Monument in 1908, the bridges are named “Kachina,” “Owachomo” and “Sipapu” in honor of the Native Americans that once made this area their home. This is also home to some of the darkest night skies in the United States. Photo: Manish Mamtani (www.sharetheexperience.org)

The three majestic natural bridges of Natural Bridges National Monument in Utah invite you to ponder the power of water in a landscape usually defined by its absence. View them from an overlook, or hit the trails and experience their grandeur from below. Declared a National Monument in 1908, the bridges are named “Kachina,” “Owachomo” and “Sipapu” in honor of the Native Americans that once made this area their home. This is also home to some of the darkest night skies in the United States.

Photo: Manish Mamtani (www.sharetheexperience.org)

In the shadow of 13,063-foot Wheeler Peak, 5,000 year old bristlecone pine trees grow on rocky glacial moraines. Come to Great Basin National Park in Nevada to experience the solitude of the desert, the smell of sagebrush after a thunderstorm, the darkest of night skies, and the beauty of Lehman Caves. Far from a wasteland, the Great Basin is a diverse region that awaits your discovery. Photo: National Park Service

In the shadow of 13,063-foot Wheeler Peak, 5,000 year old bristlecone pine trees grow on rocky glacial moraines. Come to Great Basin National Park in Nevada to experience the solitude of the desert, the smell of sagebrush after a thunderstorm, the darkest of night skies, and the beauty of Lehman Caves. Far from a wasteland, the Great Basin is a diverse region that awaits your discovery.

Photo: National Park Service

Kellys Slough National Wildlife Refuge in North Dakota was established in 1936 as a refuge and breeding ground for migratory birds and other wildlife. The 1270 acre refuge serves as an important migration corridor for waterfowl and shorebirds. In 2003, the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network designated the refuge as a Regional Shorebird Reserve. It’s also not a bad place to catch the Milky Way after sunset. Photo: Ian Jamieson (www.sharetheexperience.org)

Kellys Slough National Wildlife Refuge in North Dakota was established in 1936 as a refuge and breeding ground for migratory birds and other wildlife. The 1270 acre refuge serves as an important migration corridor for waterfowl and shorebirds. In 2003, the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network designated the refuge as a Regional Shorebird Reserve. It’s also not a bad place to catch the Milky Way after sunset.

Photo: Ian Jamieson (www.sharetheexperience.org)

Some of the best dark sky photography happens on America’s public lands. This photo from Joshua Tree National Park by Manish Mamtani is a perfect example.

Some of the best dark sky photography happens on America’s public lands. This photo from Joshua Tree National Park by Manish Mamtani is a perfect example.

May the fourth be with you. Happy Star Wars day from Arches National Park!Photo: Jacob W. Frank

May the fourth be with you. Happy Star Wars day from Arches National Park!

Photo: Jacob W. Frank

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

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)