America's Great Outdoors
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

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

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)

At the edge of the Kenai Peninsula lies a land where the ice age lingers. Nearly 40 glaciers flow from the Harding Icefield, Kenai Fjords' crowning feature. Wildlife thrives in icy waters and lush forests around this vast expanse of ice. Native Alutiiq relied on these resources to nurture a life entwined with the sea. Today, shrinking glaciers bear witness to the effects of our changing climate.Photo: National Park Service

At the edge of the Kenai Peninsula lies a land where the ice age lingers. Nearly 40 glaciers flow from the Harding Icefield, Kenai Fjords' crowning feature. Wildlife thrives in icy waters and lush forests around this vast expanse of ice. Native Alutiiq relied on these resources to nurture a life entwined with the sea. Today, shrinking glaciers bear witness to the effects of our changing climate.

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

"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

Cherry Blossoms are almost in full bloom on the National Mall and Memorial Parks in Washington, DC. This weekend will be the perfect time to check them out!Photo: Andrew S. Geraci

Cherry Blossoms are almost in full bloom on the National Mall and Memorial Parks in Washington, DC. This weekend will be the perfect time to check them out!

Photo: Andrew S. Geraci

Best known for globally significant Late Triassic fossils, Petrified Forest National Park attracts geologists, paleontologists, archeologists, historians, and biologists, just to name a few. The park is also haven for those searching for scenic vistas, wilderness, hiking, dark skies, and beautiful, vast landscapes. Discover your own passion at Petrified Forest!Photo: Michael Reed (www.sharetheexperience.org)

Best known for globally significant Late Triassic fossils, Petrified Forest National Park attracts geologists, paleontologists, archeologists, historians, and biologists, just to name a few. The park is also haven for those searching for scenic vistas, wilderness, hiking, dark skies, and beautiful, vast landscapes. Discover your own passion at Petrified Forest!

Photo: Michael Reed (www.sharetheexperience.org)

Viewed from the road, Joshua Tree National Park only hints at its vitality. Closer examination reveals a fascinating variety of plants and animals that make their home in this land shaped by strong winds, unpredictable torrents of rain, and climatic extremes. Dark night skies, a rich cultural history, and surreal geologic features add to the attraction of this place. Come see for yourself!Photo: Robb Hannawacker, NPS

Viewed from the road, Joshua Tree National Park only hints at its vitality. Closer examination reveals a fascinating variety of plants and animals that make their home in this land shaped by strong winds, unpredictable torrents of rain, and climatic extremes. Dark night skies, a rich cultural history, and surreal geologic features add to the attraction of this place. Come see for yourself!

Photo: Robb Hannawacker, NPS