recreational area

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Spent the long weekend in Colorado, the place that got me into photography a decade ago, and fell even more in love with it than I was before.

Various locations in the state of Colorado. July 2016. (Instagram)

Happy 80th birthday to the Golden Gate Bridge. On this day in 1937, this iconic bridge first opened. With towers extending 700 feet into the sky and over 100 feet beneath the San Francisco Bay, the bridge is an engineering marvel. In addition to driving, you can walk or bike the entire length of its 1.2-mile expanse, bounded on either side by spectacular scenery. Photo from Golden Gate National Recreation Area courtesy of Bruce Getty.

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Salton Sea, California - 1962 by Brad Smith
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Salton Sea, California - 1962. Photo by George Mann.

Sacramento River Bend Outstanding Natural Area in California includes expansive rolling hills of blue oak and lush forests surrounding the Sacramento River and its tributaries. The beautiful and diverse habitat – home to bald eagles, osprey, deer and salmon – offers natural beauty and solitude paired with numerous recreation opportunities. You can explore the area by foot, horseback, boat and bike, and then pitch a tent at the end of the day for stunning sunsets on your public lands. Photo by Bob Wick, Bureau of Land Management (@mypubliclands).

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On this day in history in 1934, a federal prison opened on Alcatraz Island built to house the most dangerous prisoners and ones with a pension for escaping. The prison held notorious criminals such as gangsters Al Capone and George “Machine Gun” Kelly. In 1963 the prison closed due to high expense of maintenance. Later in 1964, members of the Sioux tribe occupied Alcatraz Island, citing an 1868 treaty with the US government and Sioux allowing them to claim any unoccupied government land. The occupation grew in 1969 when hundreds of Native students, protesters, and activists from across the country gathered for the Alcatraz Occupation. It became a place where many found their voices in the shadow of the Civil Rights movement and in the face of continued injustices perpetrated on American Indians by the United States government. In 1971 federal marshals forced everyone to clear the island. Shortly after, the island became a public recreation area maintained by the National Park Service. In 2001, filmmaker James Fortier brought his documentary Alcatraz Is Not an Island to the Sundance Film Festival to shed light on this important historic event. The film features archival footage and photography as well as a series of interviews with participants of the Alcatraz Occupation. 

Film still and poster courtesy of Alcatraz Is Not an Island

Boundary Reservoir Recreation Area in eastern Washington is the perfect place for an outdoor adventure. Recreation activities include boating, swimming, fishing, picnicking, camping, hiking and nature viewing. You’re going to love soaking in the sun while bobbing on the waves of the calm, blue lake. Photo by Jeff Clark, Bureau of Land Management.

It’s spring in the Mojave Desert, with beavertail pricklypear blooming all around. Indigenous people still use this plant as a food source, including making jelly with the fruits. I’m always charmed by the presence of beavertail cactus, not only when it’s showy like this but all year round.

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Tarn by Stones 55
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Tarn on top of a lahar deposit. Mt. Baker National Recreation Area

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Schriebers Meadow Cinder Cone by Stones 55
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One of two small lakes inside the Schriebers Meadow cinder cone. You can barely see it. Mt. Baker National Recreation Area

Curecanti National Recreation Area in Colorado is a series of three reservoirs along the once wild Gunnison River. The reservoirs that make up Curecanti today are a destination for water-based recreation high in the Rocky Mountains. Best known for salmon and trout fishing, Curecanti also offers opportunities for hiking, boating, camping and bird watching. Start planning your trip now. Photo by Alex Stephens, Bureau of Reclamation.