There are skies and then there are Blue Ridge Parkway skies. The southern end of the parkway in North Carolina winds through the highest elevations, offering dramatic mountain top views. When photographer Robert Stephens chanced upon this scene at Bear Trap Gap, he said “It almost felt like an out of body experience. You can’t believe what you’re seeing, but it’s there! I was so in awe of the light filtering over the ridges I had to remember to snap my shutter!” Photo courtesy of Robert Stephens.

Yeah so everyone’s like “I never expected park rangers to be leading the resistance” and I’m over here like

LISTEN

I worked with park rangers for six years ok? They are some of the most passionate, most badass individuals you will ever meet. Their commitment to history (since we were in a historical park) was unwavering. They read history books for FUN ok? FOR FUN. They are excellent fact checkers. If they don’t know something, they will find it out. They are unflappable.

When I worked on an island with the rangers there, they were committed to both history and nature. They are caretakers and deeply passionate about stewardship of the earth. They want people to have knowledge. They want to spread information far and wide.

So yeah. Park rangers, man. They are BADASS.

A lavender sunrise reveals the marbled and cracked surface of Dream Lake at Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. If not for the chill, this would be the most beautiful floor in the world. Photo courtesy of Eric Schuette.