America's Great Outdoors

Photos from America's public lands. A project of the U.S. Department of the Interior.

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americasgreatoutdoors·a day agoPhoto

Spring wildflowers are lovely even in dim starlight. Between 1841 and 1869, more than 200,000 settlers of European descent traveled from Missouri to central California, lured by gold and farmland. The movement of these pioneers and their animals deeply impacted the Native Americans and wildlife that lived here before. The Nobles Emigrant section of the California National Historic Trail in Nevada is a remote, unpaved corridor with no services that still resembles the landscape of that time. Running past Smoke Creek Canyon and the Skedaddle Mountains, the original trail is still visible in many places. Photo by Bob Wick, Bureau of Land Management.

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americasgreatoutdoors·2 days agoPhoto

On Memorial Day, we honor those who have fallen in the service of our nation. Across the country, memorials, cemeteries and battlefields help remind us of the extraordinary sacrifices made to keep us united and free. All gave some, some gave all. Few places evoke a more powerful connection to the lost than the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the National Mall and Memorial Parks in Washington, D.C. Photo by Richard Paige (

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americasgreatoutdoors·3 days agoPhoto

Flashes of beauty and color make birds a welcome sight as spring unfolds with their songs and activity. And wow, are they busy right now! At Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, one of the most recognizable birds, the Northern cardinal, swoops in for a graceful landing. Common in brushy habitats, and found throughout a lot of the eastern U.S., cardinals can be seen while hopping around on the ground looking for larvae, seeds, berries, or visiting feeders. Both male and female cardinals have crests and masks, but male cardinals are a deep vermillion red, whereas the females have rose-colored blush accenting their wings, tail, face and crest. What are the birds up to where you are? We want to know! Photo by Linda Webster (

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americasgreatoutdoors·4 days agoPhoto

There’s just no other place quite like Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona. With its sheer size and scale, looking out across this massive landscape of canyons, cliffs and colors can be overwhelming. From every overlook at every time of day, the view is always changing, but never uninspiring. Currently open for Memorial Day weekend, the park is working with federal, state, tribal and local public health authorities to take a responsible approach to increase access of public lands while reducing the potential exposure of COVID-19. Photo by NationalPark Service.

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americasgreatoutdoors·5 days agoPhoto

All across Whipple Mountains Wilderness in California, life has adapted to thrive. From the spiky saguaro to delicate wildflowers, plants accent and soften the rocky ground. Bighorn sheep, mule deer, wild burros, coyote, black-tailed jackrabbits, ground squirrels, kangaroo rats, quail, roadrunners, owls, desert tortoises, and several species of rattlesnakes and lizards live here. And above, soaring through the dramatic desert sky, eagles, hawks and falcons look down on their next meals. Photo by Bureau of Land Management.

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americasgreatoutdoors·6 days agoPhoto

Blue sky and warm sun make the water glisten at Stillwater National Wildlife Refuge, a prized oasis in the Nevada desert. More than just astounding views, it serves as a vital stopover for birds and other wildlife. In winter, snow tops the mountain backdrop, raptors hunt the landscape and migrating waterfowl and tundra swans take up residence. Spring and summer bring bird nesting, shorebirds and the intensifying heat of the desert. The sun, the drive, the vibrant wildlife, company you care about – all add up to make an excellent formula for adventure. Taking time to explore national wildlife refuges so often bring refuge to those who visit too.

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americasgreatoutdoors·7 days agoPhoto

Dawn breaks at Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve in Virginia, and the new day cracks open with enchanting light and birdsong. Red-winged blackbirds and song sparrows sing boldly this time of year, while bald eagles are spotted lingering on the mudflats or in the towering trees. This wetland forest trail offers incredible birding and boating opportunities, allowing visitors the chance to explore unique stretches of the Potomac River. Narrow leafed cattails bend in the wind, water sloshes against the muddy edges, and you get drawn into the magic of the marsh. Photo of Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve, a part of the George Washington Memorial Parkway, courtesy of Geoff Livingston.

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americasgreatoutdoors·8 days agoPhoto

Rising just inland from the Pacific Ocean, the Santa Monica Mountains hover over the city of Los Angeles. With more than 500 miles of trails, this rugged landscape is easily accessible to millions of people, both residents and visitors to Southern California. Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area also abounds with historical and cultural sites, from old movie ranches to Native American centers. There’s a lot to enjoy here. We particularly love the sunset views. Photo by Kayla McCraren, National Park Service.

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americasgreatoutdoors·9 days agoPhoto

City of Rocks National Reserve is an extraordinary encirclement of granite rising out of the gently rolling sagebrush country in south-central Idaho. This remarkable landscape has attracted and intrigued people since they first entered this region. The Shoshone camped here as did the emigrants traveling along the California Trail, marveling at the fascinating results of erosion on the rocks. The great variety of textures, colors and shapes in the natural landscape contributes considerably to the reserve’s scenic quality. The cotton candy clouds are just a bonus. Photo by National Park Service.

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americasgreatoutdoors·10 days agoPhoto

There’s lots of room to roam at Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina and Tennessee. This 520,000 acre park preserves a vast expanse of southern Appalachian Mountains ecosystem featuring its awesome scenic beauty, extraordinary diversity of natural resources and rich human history. Whether you delight in the challenge of a strenuous hike to the crest of a mountain or prefer to sit quietly and watch the sun set, the park provides endless opportunities for enjoyment and inspiration. Photo courtesy of Bob Carr.  

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americasgreatoutdoors·11 days agoPhoto

Cotton candy skies melt into a blissful sunset at a wildlife haven in coastal Maine. Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge is the northernmost refuge in the Atlantic Flyway, a migratory bird route that stretches from Greenland to South America. Shorebirds and songbirds flit amongst the streams and marshes that weave through the landscape. The wetland shores are a sanctuary of breeding grounds for migratory birds. In mid-May, Magurrewock Marsh abounds with geese and ducks who have stopped to rest on their journey northward. Photo by Keith Ramos, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

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americasgreatoutdoors·12 days agoPhoto

Ozark National Scenic Riverways in Missouri was established in 1964 as the first national park site to protect a river system. The Current and Jacks Fork Rivers are two of the finest floating rivers you’ll find anywhere. These 134 miles of spring-fed, cold and clear waters are a delight to canoe, swim, boat or fish. The rivers are bordered by forests of sycamores, maples, cottonwoods and willows, high cliffs, and over 300 caves. The Ozark Region is rich in history, too. People have lived here from 10,000 years ago to the present. Every time and every group of people has a story to tell. Will you stop to listen? Photo of sunset from the Clubhouse overlook on the lower Current River by Brock Davis, National Park Service.

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americasgreatoutdoors·13 days agoPhoto

What a view! Gilded clouds stretch in gleaming ribbons across the cool Nevada sky. Basin and Range National Monument is famous for its empty spaces—but behind the austere of deserted ranges lies monument valleys, winding canyons and brilliant rock art – perfect for exploring. Drive two hours north from the hustle and bustle of Las Vegas, and stumble into serene solitude when you tread into this sprawling wilderness. It’s a landscape that unfolds with craggy cactuses and extends for hundreds of miles to meet striking mountains on the horizon. Photo by Bob Wick, Bureau of Land Management.

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americasgreatoutdoors·14 days agoPhoto

Soothing golden hues greet us as the sun descends at Colusa National Wildlife Refuge in California. Waterfowl find cover to roost for the evening, and the activity shifts into a chorus of nocturnal sounds. This refuge is one of the five national wildlife refuges and three wildlife management areas that make up the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex. At 70,000 acres, this complex supports a wide array of wildlife, including 300 bird species, as well as reptiles and mammals. The setting sun provides a serene ambiance, encouraging us to pause and be present with this moment. The sounds and sights of the day slipping into night can bring such peace. Photo courtesy of Hazel Holby.

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americasgreatoutdoors·15 days agoPhoto

Turtles are cool. Blanding’s turtle is a medium-sized reptile found mostly in the Great Lakes region and a pocket of New England. Very mobile on land and in the water, this turtle eats crustaceans, insects and fish, as well as plants. Its lifespan rivals that of humans. A Blanding’s turtle can live up to 80 years and remains active and hearty throughout its long life. You can always tell a Blanding’s turtle by the bright yellow streak under its chin and neck. Photo of a young Blanding’s turtle by Jessica Bolser, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

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americasgreatoutdoors·16 days agoPhoto

Let’s start the week with an Atlantic sunrise above the sandy beaches of Cape Hatteras National Seashore in North Carolina. A trip here is a memorable experience, no matter your activity level. You can enjoy walking along the nearly 70 miles of beach, sitting around the crackle and warmth of a beach fire in the evening, flying kites in the warm summer breezes, picnicking with your favorite food, searching for shells washed ashore, sculpting sand into works of art or just relaxing on the warm, golden sand. Photo by Eric Blankenship (

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americasgreatoutdoors·17 days agoPhoto

Happy Mother’s Day! For all the moms that protect, feed and teach their little ones life lessons, we say thank you! This mama opossum sure looks like she’s working hard. Opossums are the only marsupials found in the U.S. They first carry their babies in a pouch, then the little ones ride on her back. Better than a minivan. Photo from Wapanocca National Wildlife Refuge in Arkansas by Bill Peterson, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

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americasgreatoutdoors·18 days agoPhoto

Floofy bird alert! The songbird splendor is in full force right now as birds sing in their bright breeding feathers across the country. Matching a brilliant blue sky, male indigo buntings are one of the species serenading much of the Eastern United States from the treetops. Indigo buntings are expert travelers, wintering in south Florida to northern South America, but coming north to breed. They migrate their impressive 1,200 miles each way at night, using the stars as their guide. Noticing and appreciating our feathered neighbors is a perfect way to celebrate spring. What birds are you seeing? Photo by N. Lewis, National Park Service.

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americasgreatoutdoors·19 days agoPhoto

Bighorn Canyon is a wonderland of recreation, a geologist’s dream and an animal lover’s paradise. Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area on the border of Montana and Wyoming offers a diverse landscape of forest, mountains, upland prairie, deep canyons, broad valleys, lake and wetlands. The wildlife is equally diverse. From large mammals to snakes, hundreds of bird species and a world class fishery, many animals roam the park’s 68,000 acres. The canyon itself is a majestic highlight, with high rocky walls 1,000 feet deep at Devil Canyon and 2,500 feet deep on Bull Elk Ridge. Photo by National Park Service.

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americasgreatoutdoors·20 days agoPhoto

Two years ago this month, large lava flows covered land southeast of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, destroying over 700 homes and devastating residential areas in the Puna District. At the same time, the summit area of the park was dramatically changed by tens of thousands of earthquakes, towering ash plumes and a massive collapse of Kīlauea caldera. The lava lake in the Halema'uma'u crater drained and the crater deepened and expanded. Today, a body of water the size of a football stadium simmers at the bottom and no molten lava or lava glow can be seen anywhere in the park. Photo from June, 2018, by U.S. Geological Survey.

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