On this day in 2001, Carrizo Plain (CA), Sonoran Desert (AZ), Pompeys Pillar (MT), Upper Missouri River Breaks (MT) and Kasha-Katuwe (NM) National Monuments were designated by Presidential Proclamation.

Pictured here, the #milkyway over North Maricopa Wilderness in the Sonoran Desert National Monument, a part of the BLM’s National Conservation Lands.


Happy anniversary to the Wilderness Act!  On September 3, 1964, President Lyndon Johnson signed this landmark conservation legislation. The BLM has stewardship responsibilities for 223 Wilderness Areas with over 8.7 million acres in 10 Western States. These areas are protected in their undeveloped state and offer outstanding recreation opportunities for visitors willing to experience nature on its own terms. BLM managed wilderness areas include vast southwestern deserts, red-rock canyons, rugged Pacific coastline and alpine peaks.


Heading into the holiday weekend with beautiful new shots of Red Cliffs National Conservation Area in Utah.  Add Red Cliffs to your bucket list for rugged beauty and miles of trails – great for hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding.  #getoutdoors

Photos by Bob Wick, BLM


Ending the day with new photos of Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area and wilderness within the stunning desert landscape – by Bob Wick, BLM.  The grey limestone of the La Madre Peaks Wilderness contrasts beautifully with the red sandstone in Rainbow Mountain Wilderness, most often associated with the conservation area.  

About the area, Bob says: “Its amazing to be in a wilderness setting looking at the Las Vegas Strip just 10 miles away as the crow flies (see Las Vegas Night).”  


#TravelTuesday with Guest Photographer Bob Wick to Northern Arizona’s Vermilion Cliffs! 

Some of my favorite photo locations are in the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, located in northern Arizona along the Utah border. The area contains colorful sculpted rock formations that are beyond description.  Most famous is “The Wave” which has a very limited number of entry permits issued through a lottery to protect its unique and fragile features.  However, South Coyote Buttes (permit required) and the White Pocket (no permit needed) offer equally spectacular and unique formations.  The area offers year-round photo opportunities, although winter access to remote locations may be blocked by snow, and back roads become impassible when wet at any time of year. Summer visitors should bring plenty of water and plan outings to avoid the unrelenting mid-day sun. 

Photo tip: The many slickrock basins hold water at certain times and provide for great reflections of the adjoining formations. To capture water reflections, photograph in early morning and late evening when glare is lower and the water is more likely to be calm.  Optimally the sun should be shining on the subject that is being reflected.  Interesting skies with textured clouds also make excellent reflection subjects.

The Vermilion Cliffs themselves form a dramatic rampart in the southern part of the monument and offer endless photo angles. Make sure to stop at the California condor release site, just two miles up House Rock Road from the main highway. The majestic condors are visible year-round at the site which is used to reintroduce them into the wild. A very long telephoto lens is needed to get good photos of the condors.

Photo tip: The “golden hour”, such as the time close to sunrise and sunset, almost always offers the best light for photography and this is especially true in the Vermilion Cliffs and other areas of the Colorado Plateau. Here the rock colors come alive with vibrant reds, oranges and golds with low sun angles, but become washed out during the mid-day.  Photographing with sidelight (camera pointed 90 degrees from the sun) will ensure that you have more texture and three dimensional qualities to your images.

Check out our @esri Vermilion Cliffs National Monument multimedia storymap for more stunning photos, videos, helpful links and maps of the area:


The Continental Divide Wilderness Study Area in New Mexico offers amazing hiking, backpacking, camping, photography and solitude. The landmark of the area – the Pelona Mountain – rises to 9,212 feet. Rolling grassland gives way to steeper slopes covered in piñon pine woodland and ponderosa pine forest, although the summit of the mountain itself is mostly grassland. Climb the Pelona Mountain for views that stretch out for miles across the surrounding plains, or take a walk along the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail that passes through this stunning wilderness. A worthy addition to your roadtrip list, especially for the #sunset!

Photos by Bob Wick, BLM.


It doesn’t get much better than colorful skies over the rugged mountains of New Mexico.  

The White Mesa Trail system offers amazing scenery and an array of challenging single track for intermediate to advanced riders.  The photo from the top of the mesa looks towards Albuquerque and Sandia Peak in the background. After a group of thunderstorms rolled through the area last night, the almost full moon broke through the pink clouds just after sunset.

The hoodoo shot from Ojito Wilderness is an easy ¾ mile hike from the trailhead along Cabezon Road.  The trail is marked with cairns and ascends a gradual grade to two areas of hoodoos backed by colorful mesas and twisted ponderosa pines.

Both areas are located about 45 minutes from Albuquerque and offer outstanding recreation opportunities close to town.

New photos by BLMer Bob Wick.


#TravelTuesday with Guest Photographer Bob Wick to A Road Less Traveled – The Denali Highway in Alaska.

Between 1957 and 1971, the Denali Highway was the only route to Denali National Park.  The partly paved but mostly gravel surface road was then replaced by the more direct Parks Highway, which shortened the drive from Anchorage.  For those who don’t mind slowing down, and who agree that the journey is as rewarding as the destination, the Denali Highway is right for you and will reaffirm your view and more! The route parallels the southern flank of the Alaska Range with glacier-clad peaks rising to 12,000 feet. At Maclaren Summit, the road climbs above 4,000 feet into vast rolling tundra and is the second highest roaded pass in the state.  

Photographers will find it difficult to choose what subjects to focus on with each mile revealing outstanding scenery as well as wildlife and bird viewing opportunities.  Numerous waterfowl including trumpeter swans can be seen in the lakes, and caribou and moose are included among the wildlife. Fishing is excellent for grayling and lake trout if you focus on clear streams and lakes. The BLM maintains two developed campgrounds along the highway and two more along the nearby Galkana Wild and Scenic River.  Both the Galkana and Delta offer multi-day boat trips into remote settings. This is a stretch of wild Alaska that is pretty much unspoiled, relatively accessible and drop-dead beautiful.

Photo tip: The adage “the golden hour” describes the hour or so near sunrise and sunset where light angles are low and photos take on their richest quality. In Alaska, with its low light angles, this timeframe is multiplied several fold, and photographers have many hours of golden light to work with.  Use this extra time to scout the perfect locations and get additional angles.

Check out our @esri Alaska Denali Highway multimedia storymap of the area:


Kicking off the week with beautiful photos from the Lower Deschutes Wild and Scenic River in Oregon! #mondaymotivation

From white water rafting and swimming to hiking and biking, you’ll find an ideal location for outdoor sports along the Lower Deschutes River. Follow the Lower Deschutes River Back Country Byway along the river to campgrounds at Beavertail and Macks Canyon, or the accessible fishing ramp at Blue Hole. The river is very popular in spring and summer, so arrive early to get a campsite. 

Photos by Greg Shine, BLM


Take a break from the winter cold at Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness in Arizona!

Aravaipa Canyon has a loyal and devoted fan base, drawing desert lovers year after year who come to explore and appreciate this oasis in the desert.  Forced to the surface as it squeezes through a tight canyon in the Galiuro Mountains, Aravaipa Creek’s flow supports a thriving riparian ecosystem complete with rare native fish, bighorn sheep, javelina, and colorful migratory birds. Visitation to the canyon is directed by a recreational permit system established to protect the canyon’s ecology.  Advanced planning pays off in an uncrowded canyon sprawled out under a canopy of sycamore you can have all to yourself!  

Photos by Bob Wick, BLM; Video by Jayson Barangan, BLM


#TravelTuesday to the Rugged Indian Pass Wilderness in California.

The Indian Pass Wilderness is a distinctive part of the Chocolate Mountains, a range which extends from south central Riverside County to the Colorado River near Yuma, Arizona.

Quartz peak is the highest point in the Wilderness capped at 2,200 feet. Jagged peaks and spires are sliced by mazes of twisting canyons which carry water from occasional desert cloudbursts into several tree-lined washes. One of these washes passes through the heart of the Wilderness area, giving rise to the region’s local name, “Julian Wash country.”

The area’s proximity to the Colorado River and the Arizona Desert contribute to the presence of wildlife species not commonly found in the California Desert. The Colorado River toad, Great Plains toad and tree lizard, while common in other states, are rarely seen in California. Burros and mule deer make their home over the entire area, and the rugged mountains provide ideal habitat for the desert bighorn sheep.

Photos by Bob Wick, BLM


#NationalParkWeek continues with the Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument in Arizona - jointly managed by the BLM and National Park Service. 

The monument includes more than one million acres of remote and unspoiled public lands in Arizona, with deep canyons, mountains and buttes, and scenic vistas. Here, paleozoic and mesozoic sedimentary rock layers offer a clear view to understanding the geologic history of the Colorado Plateau. The monument encompasses the lower portion of the Shivwits Plateau, an important watershed for the Colorado River and the Grand Canyon.

The monument is also known a vast landscape where the only nighttime light comes from the stars. The International Dark Sky Association recognized the unspoiled quality of its pristine and breathtaking night skies with an official IDA designation as “Parashant International Night Sky Province,” joining an elite group of other international Night Sky Places around the globe.

Photos by Bob Wick, BLM


Organ Mountains featured by the Los Angeles Times: “Walk in the footsteps of Billy the Kid and Apollo astronauts at this national monument in New Mexico”

Michael Mello of the Los Angeles Times shared, “As you drive through this crossroads of the Southwest, it’s difficult not to notice the sawtooth-ridged mountains bracketing the city to the east. Known as the Organ Mountains, these rhyolite and andesite peaks emboss New Mexico’s southern basin and range area. The mountains love to show off in the evening, reflecting the orange hues of the setting sun.” Read the full article HERE.

The Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument was established on May 21, 2014, by Presidential Proclamation, and is a part of the BLM’s National Conservation Lands. The National Monument - a total of 496,330 acres - includes four distinct areas with a wide variety of recreation opportunities: the Organ Mountains, Desert Peaks, Potrillo Mountains, and Doña Ana Mountains.

The Organ Mountains range from 4,600 to just over 9,000 feet, and are so named because of the steep, needle-like spires that resemble the pipes of an organ. Alligator juniper, gray oak, mountain mahogany and sotol are the dominant plant species here, but in the upper elevations stands of ponderosa pine may be found. Seasonal springs and streams occur in canyon bottoms, with a few perennial springs that support riparian habitats. Wildlife includes desert mule deer, mountain lion, a variety of song birds, and a race of the Colorado chipmunk. 


#mypubliclandsroadtrip Camping Picks – Views for You and Your Horse!

The Fort Stanton National Conservation Area sits within the eastern foothills of the Sierra Blanca Mountains of south-central New Mexico. With rolling hills, mesas, perennial streams and the renowned Snowy River sub-surface caves, the area has endless opportunities for recreation and overnight camping.

Rob Jaggers Campground within the conservation area consists of a large parking area, vault toilet, and facilities for staging horseback riding. There are eight RV hookups with electricity and potable water, and other potable water outlets. Groups and individuals may camp in the parking lot and grounds along a loop road immediately east of the parking lot. To make group shelter reservations, please contact the camp host at 575-322-0030.


Spring Greenup in the Cache Creek Wilderness Area in California!

This wilderness area burned in last year’s Lake County wildfires. Although the fire burned hot in many areas, the ecosystem is fire-prone, and things are quickly resprouting. The photos taken last week show wildflowers in the burn area along the Redbud Trail.

Photos by Bob Wick, BLM.


The Hoodoo Mountains Wilderness Study Area - 80 miles east of Missoula, Montana - features dense forests of fir, lodgepole and pine with some open meadows and riparian areas that attract elk and moose. Its highest point Old Baldy Mountain reaches 7,511 feet. BLM manages much of the surrounding Garnet Range, including a second Wilderness Study Area (Wales Creek) and the popular Garnet Ghost Town. Perfect for the history buff and nature lover! #SeeBLM

Photos by Bob Wick, BLM.


Thanks, Tumblrs, for following our #takeover of @USInterior’s Instagram Account Today!

Included here are today’s photos and a few other favorites posted by Interior over the last year.  Photos by Bob Wick, Wilderness Specialist for the BLM’s National Conservation Lands.


Carrizo Plain National Monument, only a few hours from Los Angeles, offers a rare chance to be alone with nature. Some visitors even say you can “hear the silence.”

The remote monument is home to diverse communities of wildlife and plant species, including several listed as threatened or endangered. The area is traversed by the San Andreas Fault which has carved valleys, created and moved mountains, and yet up close, is seen in subtle alignment of ridges, ravines and normally dry ponds.  Explore this scenic #mypubliclandsroadtrip by road, trail or cross-country.

Photos by BLMer John Kelley and photographer Karl Geurs


Happy Earth Day 2015 from the BLM!

Enjoy a snapshot of your amazing public lands - #noplacelikehome.

Whether you #hike #ride #climb #bike or #volunteer, share your own nature photos today with tag #NatureSelfie.