mountain view park

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.

Morning greets Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming with curling clouds and snow-dusted peaks. When photographer Eric Adams noticed the weather clearing through airport windows, he rebooked his flight, rented a car and drove along the park’s Jenny Lake Road to capture this stunning scene. Photo courtesy of Eric Adams.

It’s the first day of fall, and we’re looking forward to amazing autumn colors. Soon, public lands across the country will transform into a tapestry of red, orange and gold. Where is your favorite place to go leaf-peeping? Here’s a breathtaking shot from a previous fall at Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. Photo by N. Lewis, National Park Service.

With massive granite towers stretching skyward and building-sized boulders scattered in valleys, there’s no need to ask how City of Rocks National Reserve in Idaho got its name. Dramatic geological features make for excellent nature study and even better climbing. You can also learn about unique plants, wildlife, and the history of Native Americans and early settlers at this fascinating park. Photo by National Park Service.

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There’s no denying the unique attraction of Devils Tower National Monument in Wyoming. Also known as “Bear Lodge” or “Bear’s Tipi,” the dramatic monolith is a sacred site to several Native American Tribes. Familiar to many in movies like “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” it’s recognizable to people around the world. But according to photographer Lori Eckhart, “There’s nothing like standing there in front of it. Its size, and the way it stands out and alone from anything else, just demands respect and fills you with awe.” Photo courtesy of Lori Eckhart.

Say hello to the second tallest mountain in America: Mount St. Elias in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve in Alaska. Standing over 18,000 feet tall, it towers over Icy Bay, which gets its name from the glaciers that run down Mount St. Elias’s slopes. It’s just one of the many amazing natural sights in America’s largest national park. Photo by Bryan Petrtyl, National Park Service.