park views

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.

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.