Undeniable Proof this Land is Worth Experiencing

Rocío LowerNPF Blog
Colorful Milky Way over Boulder Beach at Acadia National Park

The results are in! The winners of the 2017 Share the Experience photo contest have been unveiled. From the more than 16,000 submissions, these 11 shots showcase wonderful moments from the more than 500 million acres of federal lands 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. The 2018 photo contest is now accepting entries through December 31, so be sure to check out the full listing of prizing and rules and submit a photo here.

Ready to see some undeniable proof that this land is worth exploring? Get ready to be inspired to #FindYourPark / #EncuentraTuParque and then share your experience as part of this year’s contest. Your thirst for adventure and wanderlust will only be exasperated by scrolling through this post – consider yourself warned!

Grand Prize Winner

Manish Mamtani

Colorful Milky Way over Boulder Beach at Acadia National Park

Location: Acadia National Park, Maine

“I always wanted to capture a long exposure image of Milky Way with the waves crashing on the rocks of Boulder Beach, but the weatherman never co-operated with me before. When I visited in May 2017, I got the perfect conditions. It was a clear night sky with no moon, the tide level was perfect and the Milky Way was rising at an angle that I wanted. While taking the picture itself I knew that I would enter it in the Share the Experience contest as this image shows the beauty of the night sky in the federal lands.”

Second Place

Kristy Burns

Wooden wagon wheels against the walls of a fort at Fort Union National Monument

Location: Fort Union National Monument, New Mexico

“It was a blustery, but sunny November morning with that famously blue New Mexico sky crowding the horizon. We stopped at the visitor center to look at their displays and watch their documentary film before walking back to the ruins of the fort. The film made me think of how the fort offered protection and help to some and fear and threat to others. An automated recording of a bugle playing revelry blasts out across the field every hour and I was listening to how the prairie wind pushed the bugle sound away. I turned to face the wind and saw the intersection of the earthen red walls of the fort with that blue sky, backdropped by the gold of the prairie grass framed like a painting in the arched doorways and snapped the shot with my camera phone.”

Third Place

Dorrie Henderson

Red sandstone of Cathedral Rock reflected in water in a green field at Coconino National Forest

Location: Coconino National Forest, Arizona

“In March of 2017, my best friend and I were on a girls’ trip to Sedona, AZ. We had planned to take reflective pictures at Red Rock Crossing, but there had been too much rain the previous day. The creek was roiling and muddy. However, that rain had given us a very fortuitous reflective puddle in the field in front of Cathedral Rock.” 

Adventure and Outdoor Recreation

Kevin Gross

Person cross-country skiing in the snow at Denali National Park

Location: Denali National Park & Preserve, Alaska

Historical and Cultural

Curtis Creath

Location: Pu'uhonua O Hōnaunau National Historical Park, Hawai'i

Scenic, Seasons, and Landscapes

Michael DeWitt

Stockton Island during sunset from the shore at Apostle Islands National Lakeshore

Location: Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, Wisconsin

Family, Friends, and Fun

Jess Curren

A group of children running barefoot through the white sand dunes at White Sands National Monument

Location: White Sands National Monument, New Mexico


William Sweet

Brown mink with a brook trout in its mouth at Acadia National Park

Location: Acadia National Park, Maine

Night Skies

Jose Torres

The Milky Way over the brick fortress of Dry Tortugas National Park

Location: Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida

Fan Favorite

James Fong

Close-up of a red fox kit at Grand Teton National Park

Location: Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Fan Favorite

Mark Rutt

Grizzly bear mother with 2 cubs at Grand Teton National Park

Location: Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

These shots are both a feast for your eyeballs and also irresistible motivation for you to get out there and experience your federal lands! The 2018 Share the Experience photo contest is now open, so grab your camera, find your park, make new memories, and submit your favorite shots here.


Absolutely BEAUTIFUL images all!!!
Our nations national parks are priceless treasures. The landscapes, vistas and wildlife therein are so beautiful and must be preserved. If we lose these treasures, it would be a shame for all mankind.
Lived in FL 45 years and never saw a night sky as beautiful as Jose Torres' … But I never got to Dry Tortugas. Beautiful. I want to move back!
You should definitely check it out, especially on a clear night! It is truly amazing.
These are wonderful. I now have a bunch of new places to add to my "to go" list.
Need to plan our next vacation... Just beautiful
McAlevy DeSocio
I would second the request that you consider making some or all of these available as posters for framing. Some of my favorite art has been obtained through the National Parks. All photos are fabulous but the first prize photo takes my breath away. We love our National Parks!
I am so grateful for our national parks and these photos are reminders of the wonder we get to share.
What a wonderful place we live in.
Such beautiful photos highlighting the beauty of our National Parks.
For a number of years, a friend and I visited many National Parks, especially in the East and including Acadia. But since we are older and not able to drive, we have to 'remember when' and these lovely pictures add to our declining years.
These pix are all so beautiful---they really capture the beauty of America and our National Parks and Preserves.
I havent been able to travle due health and other,but these are spectacular. Congratulations to all the winners and i hope next time there will be some from others states.
I have wanderlust. These photos are breathtaking. I took up outdoor photography when I retired. I have visited 41 of the 60 National Parks in the United States. If you only go to one, do it. Each one has it's own virtues.
What beautiful photos of our glorious country, protected in part by our national parks! I’m proud to donate what little I can to support and perpetuate these sights and sounds for generations to come. I’ve been to some of the places highlighted in your winners and they excite me to wander into many more. I’m living in Australia for the summer (their winter) but can’t wait to return to the USA to explore more national parks and monuments! Thank you!
God has blessed us with such a beautiful world. Our National Parks highlight many of the gorgeous places we can visit.
Stunning pictures of our most beloved and beautiful landscapes. Thank you for sharing these inspiring photos of our incredible parks. What a privilege it is to have lands set aside for our use and enjoyment.
Every one of these photos is breath taking... I am so glad that I visited most of the Western National Parks while I was still able to hike and camp and breathe in the clean air! In my old age now I have the memories...
All the pictures are stunning, but that is a beautiful bear picture!!
Very nice! Does anyone else see a face in JOSE TORRES “Night Skies”?... very cool photo!
I never noticed it! But now that you mention it I think I do see something. Thanks! LOL
Beautiful pictures! We can’t wait to visit more National Parks in the future!!!
Exceptional - knew the photos would be nice, but still surprised about their beauty.
Absolutely beautiful! This country is amazing.
What a gold mine we have in our national parks. Just love the one taken at Grand Teton with the bear, her cubs in the midst of gorgeous wildflowers.
You won't see or experience natures beauty if you don't get out and DO IT!
Worthy of all the wins. Beautiful Pictures. Will they be made available as postcards or note cards or posters or???
Photos are stunning and truly works of art. I would second the request that they might be available as posters for framing! We love our parks!
The 1st Place photo is where I live, on Mt. Desert Island, Maine! I'm SO lucky! P.S. BEAUTIFUL photo!
These are amazing! Well done to the photographers for showing the beauty of the National Parks.


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