Today, June 15th, is Nature Photography Day! This day was designated by the North American Nature Photography Association (NANPA) 11 years ago “to promote the enjoyment of nature photography, and to explain how images have been used to advance the cause of conservation and protect plants, wildlife, and landscapes locally and worldwide.”
To celebrate Nature Photography Day, I’m headed out to my local park today for a hike with my camera. I also thought I’d share some of my favorite nature images from the last few months, most of which have been created in U.S. National Parks. This year, rather than roaming around tropical jungles and remote islands, I’ve been exploring wilderness areas in the United States. Despite being a self-proclaimed “nature photographer”, I’ve spent relatively little time in America’s iconic parks. I’ve never visited the Grand Canyon or Arches or Yellowstone, and my few trips to the West Coast have been for conferences. This spring, to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the U.S. National Park Service, Rick and I decided to fly out west for a National Parks road trip from Las Vegas to San Francisco. The trip, which lasted three weeks, took us to Death Valley, Sequoia, Kings Canyon, and Yosemite National Parks. We hiked mountains, climbed sand dunes, and gazed up at redwoods. Looking down over Yosemite Valley at dusk, I was reminded of how lucky I am to live in a country that values wild places.
In a time when we can hop on a plane and visit national parks around the world, from Namibia to Peru to Indonesia, it is easy to forget how special our own parks are. In 1872, President Ulysses S. Grant made Yellowstone National Park the first national park in the world. Over forty years later, in 1916, the U.S. National Park Service was created to care for our national parks. Thanks to these systems, there are still places where we can escape urbanization, where we can make eye contact with bobcats and bears, and where we can feel small.
I hope everyone gets outside today with a camera (or a camera phone) to a local park, an urban green space, or even to a national park. Happy Nature Photography Day! Learn more at NANPA Nature Photography Day.