That Feeling When You See Beautiful Photography

Katherine RivardNPF Blog
Photographer taking a photo in Yosemite National Park

Ever taken note of how you feel when you come across a beautiful photograph?

Maybe you feel inspired. Maybe you feel intrigued.

Treat your eyes to the 2018 Share the Experience photo contest’s winning images and get a sense for each photographer’s experience with the accompanying descriptions.  

Then, take a moment to let the imagery and words really sink in.

How do you feel?

We invite you to please share your thoughts on these stunning snapshots in the comments below.  

And, we certainly hope you’ll get out there yourself and take some photos to enter in the 2019 Share the Experience photo contest, which runs through December 31, 2019.

Grand Prize

Bridger-Teton National Forest image by Ching Fu

Bridger-Teton National Forest


Ching Fu

This year Ching Fu won the grand prize for her bright, snowy photo of a backcountry skier in Bridger-Teton National Forest. For her, the picture is the result of her newfound appreciation for the elements: “I’ve always perceived snow as restricting my access to the outdoors - trails become hidden and trailheads get snowed in. But backcountry touring has made me realize how untrue that is. The snow completely changes the landscape, and in ways actually opens up the outdoors. I’m no longer limited to stay on actual trails and follow trail blazes. As long as I take the necessary precautions for avalanche risks, there’s much more to venture out to.”

Second Place

Yellowstone National Park  contest image by Joe Neely

Yellowstone National Park


Joe Neely

What Joe Neely loved best about his photo was the bison’s ability to “capture the harsh winter conditions that these Yellowstone bison endure as a way of life.” His photograph of a snow-covered bison in Yellowstone National Park is also a reminder of the natural habitats that national parks protect for an incredible array of animals. The park is home to the largest concentration of mammals in the lower 48 states, ranging from heft bison and moose to pikas and montane voles.

Third Place

Grand Teton National Park contest image by Adam Jewell

Grand Teton National Park


Adam Jewell

The stunning reflection of the sun and mountains, only broken by the ripples from the wading moose, was a perfect memory captured by Adam Jewell as he visited Grand Teton National Park in the fall. There is no shortage of opportunities for visitors to take incredible photos when visiting this Wyoming park. From hiking, to picnicking, to enjoying a scenic drive, visitors can easily spend 3 days or 3 weeks in the park!

Adventure & Outdoor Recreation

Olympic National Park contest image by Ashley Kerkemeyer

Adventure & Outdoor Recreation: Olympic National Park


Ashley Kerkemeyer

Sometimes you just need to sit back and enjoy the view — and that’s exactly what Ashley Kerkemeyer reminds viewers with this picture of her 6-year-old daughter, Lillie, resting in Olympic National Park. Visiting parks with children, even when they might still need a stroller, enables them to get comfortable in the outdoors or engage with history as they earn Junior Ranger badges. From learning about how to become an ocean steward to exploring any of the park’s 73 miles of rugged and natural coastline, Olympic National Park has plenty to keep the kids busy.

Historical & Cultural

Golden Spike National Historic Site contest image by Robert Fischer

Historical & Cultural: Golden Spike National Historic Site


Robert Fischer

Many Americans, like Robert Fischer, live within driving distance of a national park. Hoping to see Golden Spike National Historic Site’s trains in person, Fischer drove just a couple of hours with his family to capture this awesome black and white photo. Parks like this one keep alive some of the most transformative moments in American history and teach visitors about the diverse people that are part of our country’s story. The trains are replicas of those that bore witness to the long-awaited completion of America’s transcontinental railroad.

Scenic, Seasons, and Landscapes

Bisti Wilderness Area contest image by Jessica Fridrich

Scenic, Seasons & Landscapes: Bisti Wilderness Area


Jessica Fridrich

The moon rising above the mysterious rock formations of Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness Area, photographed by Jessica Fidirch, creates a stunning scene filled with purple hues. The area’s name comes from the Navajo words for “a large area of shale hills” and “cranes.” It lies just over an hour’s drive from Chaco Culture National Historical Park in New Mexico

Friends, Family & Fun

Great Sand Dunes National Park contest image by Eric Ritchie

Family, Friends, & Fun: Great Sand Dunes National Park

Eric Ritchie

For Eric Ritchie, it was just another pleasant weekend visiting Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve with his wife and children. The family often stops by the numerous parks near them in Colorado, but on this particular day in late May, as the group walked back from playing in the shallow, muddy waters of Medano Creek, they noticed that the early evening light perfectly highlighted the park’s namesake sand dunes.


Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge contest image by Cecil Hastings

Wildlife: Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge


Cecil Hastings

Cecil Hastings often goes to Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge to decompress. On this day, he went in the hopes of seeing a snowy owl. Instead, he spent almost 2 hours watching this striking owl perched along the side of the road: “I took over 100 shots of this beautiful bird. The shot of it looking right at me was unbelievable.”

Night Skies

Mount Rainier National Park contest image by Scott Eliot

Night Skies: Mount Rainier National Park


Scott Eliot

Understanding the glory of a new moon midsummer, Scott Eliot camped out in Mount Rainier National Park, taking in the night’s stillness and the soft sound of the White River rushing in the distance. The art created by astrophotographers are some of the most impressive pieces of all, capturing a side of your national parks that many are too sleepy to experience. Many national parks offer stargazing opportunities and some are even designated as international dark sky parks by the International Dark Sky Association.

Fan Favorite

Devils Tower National Monument  contest image by Ashley Longnecker

Devils Tower National Monument


Ashley Longnecker

Road trips with the family are one of the most iconic ways to experience your national parks, and it was a road trip that provided Ashley Longnecker with this “fan favorite” shot of Devils Tower National Monument in Wyoming. The park’s iconic tower, which is considered sacred by the local indigenous people, just up from the surrounding prairie land. Though popular with rock climbers, this unique place remains one of the best-kept national park secrets.

Fan Favorite

Great Smoky Mountains National Park contest image by Traci Thornton

Great Smoky Mountains National Park


Traci Thornton

A pre-school teacher using her summer vacation to visit Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Traci Thornton was still just starting to try out nature photography when she captured the sunlight gently streaming out through the morning clouds. Scenic drives, no matter the season, allow visitors to see large swaths of your national parks as they meander through the areas. With a bit of luck and some good timing, scenic drives can also provide incredible shots like this one!

Inspired to #FindYourPark / #EncuentraTuParque after seeing these incredible photos? They capture just a touch of the beauty of America’s public lands! Visit for yourself and be sure to bring your camera so you can capture your own breathtaking photo to enter in the 2019 Share the Experience photo contest.

The 2019 Share the Experience photo contest is hosted by the National Park Foundation and Booz Allen Hamilton in partnership with the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Reclamation, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Forest Service, and Share the Experience is the official photo contest of America’s national parks and federal recreational lands, showcasing the more than 500 million acres of federal lands and drawing entries from across the United States.

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