Inspiration to #RecreateResponsibly
The results are in! The winners of the 2019 Share the Experience photo contest have been revealed. From the over 9,000 submissions, these 11 shots showcase wonderful moments from the more than 500 million acres of federal lands and waters across the country.
As the official photo contest of America’s national parks and federal recreational lands, Share the Experience invites amateur photographers to submit their favorite views, moments, and experiences through this annual competition. Many thanks to all who submitted, and congratulations to our Share the Experience photo contest winners!
And great news, the 2020 contest is now accepting entries! This year’s contest is a special edition “Best of the Decade.” Take a trip down memory lane or let this year’s winning photos inspire you to #RecreateResponsibly and then submit your best pics (pun intended) here now through December 31.
Grand Prize Winner
“This was my first time in Redwood National Park! I’m spoiled by having many of the lesser acclaimed redwood forests minutes from where I live in the Bay Area, but Redwood National Park is really the pinnacle, with the amount of old growth forests and untouched stands of truly enormous trees.
I shot this photo on a road trip with my parents - I had just relocated to the Bay Area for a grad school program, and in the week before the school year started, we road tripped through Lassen Volcanic National Park, Crater Lake National Park, and finally Redwoods, where this photo was taken. It was a fantastic way to explore the wild lands adjacent to my new adopted home and with the people that originally introduced me to experiencing the outdoors, my parents. My mom’s starring role in the photo really captures the essence of that trip.”
“Antietam is place I visit often. I've been going there for years, but it’s become a very special place for me since 2014. In 2014 my daughter, Amanda, died by suicide, and Antietam has provided a place of great healing over the last few years as I walk the rolling hills and open fields. It has given me time to reflect, feel, forgive, and move forward. I go alone mostly because I like to catch the sunrise and there is very little traffic at that time of day. This particular shot was on a morning where the clouds were perfect and so was the fog.”
“I have loved photography from a young age but never got serious about it until about 15 years ago. My husband doesn’t have the patience for photography, so I travel with my photo buddy, Linda. We both enjoy the West—the open space, beautiful landscapes, and wildlife. It was late afternoon, and I was driving and Linda was watching out the window. We drove for several miles when suddenly Linda said she thought she saw something. There was a huge prairie dog town on the right side of the road, [and] I assumed Linda had probably just seen a prairie dog until she said it was black and white. Then I saw it. It was a badger! This was the first time I had ever seen a badger in the wild. I was thrilled! Before we knew it, a second badger appeared! We got a few more shots and then both badgers darted into a den opening. We thought our photo session was over but hung around for a bit longer. Then, to our amazement, the whole badger family emerged from the opening! I felt so blessed to have seen these three badgers and realized I’d probably never see this again.”
Adventure & Outdoor Recreation
“My father (pictured) and I are both huge fans of public lands and advocates of measures to protect environmental and historical treasures. We've visited close to twenty national parks all over the country, from Acadia to Zion. And then there are, of course, national monuments and historic sites! We also enjoy national forests and are fortunate enough to have one about two hours away. The remote wilderness of the area is excellent, and the trout really enjoy the cool waters. We try to make it up there at least once a year in the summer for a fishing/camping trip. This photo, in particular, was from a particular outing along the Tionesta Creek, just south of Sheffield, PA. I almost always have my camera on me, so I just snapped a picture while taking a quick break from fishing. I didn't realize how dynamic the photo was until I got home.”
Historical & Cultural
“Being a resident of Gettysburg, as I have been for the past 40 years, I sometimes take my surroundings for granted and don’t always appreciate the natural beauty that my town has to offer. Since I have taken up photography as a hobby, I have become so much more observant of my surroundings and how picturesque Gettysburg really is. I especially love sunrise and sunset times on the Battlefield. One morning in early March, my husband Tom and I decided to take a drive into town to test out my new camera lens. There was still a trace of snow on the ground from the previous week’s snow fall. When we came upon this monument and the sun rising above the trees, I could see the snow sparkling and the glow it was casting on the monument and cannons. The scene was eye-catching! I have really come to admire the beauty of our public lands and parks. They inspire me to capture that beauty in photographs to share with others, so that they too can appreciate the natural beauty of our lands.”
Scenic, Seasons, & Landscapes
“My wife and I planned a vacation to Maui many months after our wedding. Since we planned at the last moment, we could not make a Haleakalā Sunrise Reservation and had to go with a tour company. We woke up at 2 am, and a tour guide got us to the top before anyone else, [so] we were able to secure the best spot for viewing. We waited patiently as it was cold and windy for the sunrise. As the sun rose over the clouds, we saw the amazing golden light illuminating the clouds and hitting the crater and exposing the colors of the lava rock, which made us realize that it was rightly called Haleakalā, the house of the Sun. I started clicking away, exposing for the sky and for the foreground and was extremely happy to be able to capture the sunburst. Finally, after coming home and editing it, my vision came to life and we felt the same magic that we felt when we were there watching the sunrise.”
Family, Friends, & Fun
“We travel full-time, and we’ve been to Glacier National Park once before in the summer. This time we headed to the eastern part of the park before the Going-to-the-Sun road was open. We had the campground pretty much to ourselves, and we would go on little “hikes” around the area. Emmi had just finished her Junior Ranger Book and dressed up for the occasion to drop it off with the ranger and say her pledge (it’s always a big event for her). The bridge to the Ranger Station was scary for Sam, so Emmi held his hand, and they talked about the Junior Ranger book and what Emmi wanted to ask the Ranger.”
“When I first found out that you could swim with manatees, I couldn't believe it. The idea of getting in the water with these gentle sea cows sounded incredible. Within a day I had a firm plan in place, and I convinced my cousin, Kelly, to join along. After paddling our kayak through the warm waters [and] a short swim through a narrow passage, we arrived at the beautiful spring area. It was magical. The water was so clear you could see almost a hundred feet in front of you. Palm trees swayed overhead. As we explored, a large brown blob began to appear through our snorkel masks. As we got closer, the blob began to move—a manatee! In my excitement, I almost swallowed water through my snorkel. You're not allowed to approach manatees, so we floated silently observing it from a distance. After a few minutes, the manatee's curiosity got the best of him and he gently swam over to us. I had my underwater camera with me and happily began to shoot away. We spent the next 20 minutes hanging out with him as he would swim between us. It was truly remarkable.”
“This photo was taken as part of a trip to St. Louis, Missouri. I was able to ride to the top of the Arch in the tram and see the beautiful aerial view of St. Louis. Learning about how the Arch was constructed was informative and intriguing. As I walked around the area, I was impressed by the way the Arch just overwhelms the landscape and becomes a focal point as you walk. I took this photo in Kiener Plaza looking toward the Gateway Arch because I was so amazed with all the elements captured in this one shot. This urban playground – an oasis of green space tucked in the city and this historically significant landmark rising above the tall buildings of downtown St. Louis – was perfectly highlighted by the deep blue sky and fluffy white clouds reflected on the building to the right. I took a few shots from this area, and this was my favorite because it included so many different elements in one shot.”
“This was actually my second attempt to get this particular shot. My first attempt, the entire valley where Falling Water Creek runs was socked in with heavy fog, blocking out all the stars. The Milky Way galactic core is only visible from May through September, so I planned again for the next new moon and finally got this photo. I was accompanied by my wife, Bethany, and our 17 year-old grandson, Presley—Presley is interested in photography and this was a great bonding opportunity. We made an all-night adventure of it, getting lots of photos here and at Six Finger Falls further down the road a few miles, stopping often to just take in the Ozarks and the night sky with a glorious view of the Milky Way in a very “dark sky” area. I had only been doing night photography for a year when this photo was taken, and I grabbed the opportunity to get this particular composition as soon as I could.”
“My dream has always been to visit Yellowstone. I saved every penny I could and started to make my arrangements for my dream trip. Wildlife is my passion, and I prayed that even if I can’t photograph a grizzly, I was hoping to at least see one. My very first day driving thru the park to get to my motel in Gardiner I saw a grizzly and cub far off on a hill. It looked like just a moving speck, but another visitor watching that same grizzly let me look through his scope. After spending several days in Yellowstone, I thought I would drive over to the Grand Tetons. I left early morning driving south and came to an area where they were doing construction. It was too early for them to be working, and I saw several cars pulled over. Down in the valley was a mating pair of Grizzlies—someone said it was Raspberry and her beau. For a long while I just stood in awe watching these two interact then realized I needed to start capturing these two magnificent animals. This is something I will never forget and was one of the highlights of my trip.”
These beautiful images highlight shared moments and incredible adventures across the nation and provide irresistible motivation for you to get out there, #RecreateResponsibly, and experience America's federal public lands and waters! The 2020 Share the Experience photo contest is now open, and this year's special edition contest commemorates the "Best of the Decade," celebrating photos taken over the last ten years through 2020. So, dust off your ol’ photo albums (we know, they’re likely online!) and submit some of your favorite memories and shots here.
The 2020 “Best of the Decade” Share the Experience photo contest is hosted by the National Park Foundation and Booz Allen Hamilton, the contractor and partner for the Recreation.gov platform, 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 Recreation.gov. 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.