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.


Stunning beauty! I have been privileged to see many of these and some still to explore! thank you for sharing our National Parks!
Beautiful! God Bless America!
Stunning pictures!
Hats Off to all the photographers for their determination and time to create these beautiful images.
These photos are wonderful. We live in a beautiful country without a doubt!
A couple that live in my building who originally came from Germany "You people in the United States have NO idea what you really have in this country." Amen
I only wish I could go see them all; but these photos help to ease the pain
Beautiful photos! I'm on a tour of National Parks in Alaska right now, and I hope I get some great shots like these.
What beautiful pictures! 1: I need a new camera. 2: Need to get out more to the parks!
These pictures are jaw dropping!
My husband and I have been fortunate to travel our wonderful country for nearly 7 years and enjoyed so many beautiful scenes such as these. Since we live in Maine, the Acadia shot is of course our favorite!
So beautiful, they absolutely take your breath away!!! Ken Burns was so right---Our national parks--America's best idea!!!
Gorgeous! I need no coaxing, but if I did, these pics would do it!
We travel by car whenever we can, so we can see as many beautiful places our country has to offer. Thanks for highlighting some of those.
My husband and I spent the last three years traveling this country. I’ve lost count of the National Parks, Forests, Recreation Areas, Shorelines, and Monuments we have seen. Some of the most stunning beauty on earth. My favorite so far is Death Valley. It all takes my breath away.
ABSOLUTELY incredible photos! Just proves, once again, that we live in a beautiful country!!
Wonderful representations of our beautiful National Parks.
Some excellent pictures. The grand prize picture is stunning!
So breathtakingly beautiful.....all of the photos!!
I would hate to be a judge!! Just so many beautiful photos to have to chose from. Congrats all. Well done!!
oh my gosh these make me weep with joy they are all so stunning! what a wonderful world
Perfectly said !!! They are all phenomenal !!! Congratulations to all and thank you for sharing with all of us !


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