America the beautiful indeed. The United States' national parks are some of the most wild and naturally breathtaking places in the world.
Looking for something inspiring this holiday season? It turns out you don't have to look much further than your own back yard. In fact, you don't even have to look further than your own computer. The United States Department of the Interior has blessed us with a wonderful gift to close out the year: A selection of the most stunning images from the country's national parks, which they've been posting to their Instagram account regularly over the last few weeks. Here we share 10 of our favorites. Enjoy!
A magical #moonrise over #Yosemite National Park in #California. Matt Walker (@rootswalker) captured this night shot -- yes, it’s a night shot -- on Thanksgiving week. It had snowed all day and began clearing around sunset. An hour later, the #fullmoon rose with an intense glow as fog and clouds swirled around #YosemiteValley @yosemitenps. “It was an amazing experience having my 10-year-old son next to me watching this unbelievable moonrise,” says Walker. Photo courtesy of Matt Walker (@rootswalker).
Last month, snowstorm graced #Utah’s Zion #NationalPark early, and it was a stunning sight! RJ Hooper captured this surreal shot when an unusually early #winter storm coated #Zion Canyon in a nice layer of wet snow. “Once the sun came through the clouds it quickly became nothing but a memory,” says Hooper. Photo of @zionnps courtesy of RJ Hooper (@rjhooperphoto).
With its snow-capped peaks and colorful skies, #GrandTeton #NationalPark in #Wyoming never disappoints. But what’s it like to live and work @grandtetonnps? For park ranger Christina Adele Warburg, “It is living life amplified -- that’s what Grand Teton is like.” Check out DOI.gov for Christina’s insider travel tips on what not to miss at Grand Teton. Photo courtesy of Christina Adele Warburg (@christinaadelephoto).
Foggy autumn morning in #Cataloochee Valley. Located in #GreatSmokyMountains #NationalPark, Cataloochee is a peaceful mountain valley surrounded by 6000-foot peaks. It’s a great place to see wildlife, like the bulk #elk pictured here. In 2001, elk were released in Cataloochee Valley. Today the herd has now surpassed an estimated 400 animals. Photo of @greatsmokynps courtesy of Brian Simpson.
Check out this gorgeous #sunset at #Canyonlands #NationalPark in #Utah. Every overlook in the park offers a different perspective on Canyonlands' spectacular #landscape. The Island in the Sky mesa rests on sheer sandstone cliffs over 1,000 feet above the surrounding terrain offering spellbinding views. Photo by Jeremy Stevens (www.sharetheexperience.org).
#Sunrise from one of the most beautiful places on the east coast: Great Smoky Mountains #NationalPark. Ridge upon ridge of forest straddles the border between #NorthCarolina and #Tennessee in @greatsmokynps. Santosh Kanthety snapped this photo of the park’s rolling mountains as first light illuminated the gorgeous fall colors. Photo by Santosh Kanthety (www.sharetheexperience.org).
There’s something else in Cleveland that rocks -- #CuyahogaValley #NationalPark in #Ohio. It’s a quick drive from both #Cleveland and #Akron, so there’s no excuse not to #OptOutside. Take a hike, ride the scenic railroad or bike the towpath trail. #BlueHenFalls is a popular destination, too. It’s an easy #hike, so feel free to bring the family. Photo by Bob Trinnes (www.sharetheexperience.org).