America's Great Outdoors
The Milky Way over Arches National Park.Photo: National Park Service

The Milky Way over Arches National Park.

Photo: National Park Service

The Milky Way and the Northern Lights dwarfed Thoroughfare Mountain (Denali National Park) last night in a grand display. Photo by Daniel A. Leifheit

The Milky Way and the Northern Lights dwarfed Thoroughfare Mountain (Denali National Park) last night in a grand display.

Photo by Daniel A. Leifheit

As summer winds down - fall is a wonderful time to visit Great Basin National Park in Nevada - especially for the Astronomy Festival coming this September 18-20. See details at www.BestNightSky.com.Photo: National Park Service

As summer winds down - fall is a wonderful time to visit Great Basin National Park in Nevada - especially for the Astronomy Festival coming this September 18-20. See details at www.BestNightSky.com.

Photo: National Park Service

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 rugged beauty of the Badlands draws visitors from around the world. These striking geologic deposits contain one of the world’s richest fossil beds. Ancient mammals such as the rhino, horse, and saber-toothed cat once roamed here. The park’s 244,000 acres protect an expanse of mixed-grass prairie where bison, bighorn sheep, prairie dogs, and black-footed ferrets live today.Photo: Kevin Palmer (www.sharetheexperience.org)

The rugged beauty of the Badlands draws visitors from around the world. These striking geologic deposits contain one of the world’s richest fossil beds. Ancient mammals such as the rhino, horse, and saber-toothed cat once roamed here. The park’s 244,000 acres protect an expanse of mixed-grass prairie where bison, bighorn sheep, prairie dogs, and black-footed ferrets live today.

Photo: Kevin Palmer (www.sharetheexperience.org)

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.

How about a “wow” photo to start the day. Max Seigal took this great nighttime photo of The Wave in Paria Canyon-Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness in Arizona.

How about a “wow” photo to start the day. Max Seigal took this great nighttime photo of The Wave in Paria Canyon-Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness in Arizona.

Shooting stars and the twinkle of the Milky Way are nature’s own fireworks! Enjoy the show every night in your Rocky Mountain National Park. Happy 4th of July weekend! 
(photo taken by Ranger JWF at Bear Lake)

Shooting stars and the twinkle of the Milky Way are nature’s own fireworks! Enjoy the show every night in your Rocky Mountain National Park. Happy 4th of July weekend! 

(photo taken by Ranger JWF at Bear Lake)

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