Category: environment

Crimea Landscapes: Natural Wonders & Ancient Ruins [38 PICS]

March 6th, 2014 Permalink

The Swallow’s Nest castle high on the cliff above the beautiful Black Sea has become an icon for Crimea, Ukraine. But the Crimea you hear about now involves the Ukraine crisis. While we hope for a peaceful resolution, Crimea lawmakers voted in favor of leaving Ukraine for Russia, as Russia already has the Black Sea peninsula under its control. In 10 days, citizens of Crimea must choose: Stay in Ukraine or join Russia. The crisis in Ukraine made us remember Gagra, the resort paradise turned to ruins, aka the abandoned Russian Riviera. We became curious about what else does Crimea look like, besides a castle? Here are some of what we found; here are amazing natural wonders in Crimea, gorgeous landscapes and seascapes, places with so many caves that they are known as cave towns, as well an ancient ruins that go back to medieval times. [38 Photos]

Swallow's Nest castle high on the cliff above the beautiful Black Sea has become an icon for Crimea, Ukraine crisis, Russia

Although the Swallow’s Nest castle high on the cliff above the beautiful Black Sea has become an icon for Crimea, Crimea is so much more than a castle or resorts along the Black Sea. Here are some of Crimea’s amazing natural wonders and ancient ruins. Photo #1 by Fr Maxim Massalitin

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Walking on Water: Adventure Across Frozen Lake Superior to Apostle Island Ice Caves

February 27th, 2014 Permalink

There’s at least one great thing about super frigid weather, at least if you are near Apostle Islands National Lakeshore where sea caves have been transformed into ice caves. For the first time in five years, Lake Superior is so solidly frozen that people are coming from all over the world to walk on water. The phenomena has transformed the Wisconsin winter wonderland into a hot tourist destination. [32 Photos]

Frozen waterfalls, ice caves at Meyer's Beach on frozen Lake Superior

There’s at least one great thing about super frigid weather, at least if you visit Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in northern Wisconsin. Nearly 100,000 people have walked across frozen Lake Superior, iced solid enough this year for the first time in 5 years, to see a winter wonderland of frozen waterfalls and dazzling ice formations inside ice caves that are sea caves in the warmer months. Photo #1 by turn off your computer and go outside

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Unrivaled Wild Beauty of US National Forest Pacific Northwest Region [48 PICS]

November 16th, 2013 Permalink

Let’s take a majestic, if not also magical, trip to Oregon and Washington to an area called “Region 6.” That might not sound overly impressive, but “the Pacific Northwest region is host to a number of outstanding National Forests,” said the US Forest Service. Outstanding is an underestimate, since that area within the USA is sometimes called God’s Country. “The Pacific Northwest Region (Region 6) of the US Forest Service contains 17 National Forests, two National Scenic Areas, a National Grassland, and two National Volcanic Monuments, all within the states of Oregon and Washington.” Each one is stunning with so many varied landscapes that you might not see all, even if each was a post on its own. From wonderful waterfalls, wilderness areas, lakes, mountains, volcanic monuments and national recreation areas, here’s a broad overview of the unrivaled beauty of Pacific Northwest Region 6. [48 Photos]

Lower Proxy Falls

Lower Proxy Falls, a glimpse into the Willamette National Forest. Willamette and Deschutes National Forests in Oregon make up Three Sisters Wilderness. Photo #1 by stokes rx

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Fantastic Fall Season in the Great Smoky Mountains [38 PICS]

November 2nd, 2013 Permalink

Between North Carolina and Tennessee is a spectacular chain of mountains known as the Great Smoky Mountains, commonly called the Smoky Mountains or simply the Smokies. Although they are a subrange of the Appalachian Mountains, the Great Smokies encompass over 500,000 acres of beautiful scenery and are the home of America’s #1 most visited national park, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. People travel from all over globe to the Smokies during autumn to see ridge after ridge of forest bursting with fall foliage. There are 16 peaks that rise more than 6,000 feet, more than 270 miles of roads, and over 800 miles of maintained trails were visitors can see lush forests, breathtaking waterfalls, rushing streams, and abundant wildlife. Due to the different elevations, the fall leaf colors can last for weeks, meaning the Great Smoky Mountains are especially beautiful in autumn and extremely busy during the last three weeks of October. Here’s a look at the fantastic fall season in the Smokies, the Land of Blue Smoke. [38 Photos]

Mt. Cammerer Sunrise, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Mt. Cammerer sunrise showcases an amazing autumn as far as the eye can see. The photographer added, “Great Smoky Mountains National Park – Mt. Cammerer, looking north 10 minutes before sunrise.” Photo #1 by Michael Hicks

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Eerily Beautiful Underwater Sculptures: Art Transformed into Artificial Reefs [PICS]

October 12th, 2013 Permalink

Our coral reefs are dying, but forward-thinking eco-minded artists are helping nature by creating stunning life-sized sculptures . . . and then sinking them. Man has been creating artificial reefs for thousands of years, starting with the Ancient Persians who wanted a military advantage by blocking off an area of the sea. As mankind has evolved, so too have our artificial reefs. The most amazing consist not of our trash or out-dated ships, but of incredibly detailed sculptures created to be placed underwater and slowly but surely undergo a metamorphosis under the sea. While it may look like abandoned statues starting to decay, it is actually art being rebirthed into living, breathing reefs. If you haven’t had a chance to dive or snorkel such locations, then you are missing out. So here is a look at the eerily beautiful process of spectacular art, underwater sculptures, transforming into artificial reefs. [52 Photos]

August 2011 Silent Evolution

More than 400 life-sized sculptures, collectively as The Silent Evolution, form a massive artificial reef in the shallow waters off of Cancun, Mexico. Slowly but surely, in an eerily beautiful process, the art changes; nature transforms the underwater sculptures from concrete, to covered with algae, and then coral, creating new reefs and new homes filled with a wide variety of marine creatures. Photo #1 by © kozyndan

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America the Beautiful in Autumn: Peak Fall Foliage Dates for 48 States [50 PICS]

October 3rd, 2013 Permalink

America the beautiful in autumn. Here are the predicted peak fall foliage dates for the 48 contiguous states, according to the Farmers’ Almanac. Enjoy! [50 Photos]

Autumn mountain peak foliage colors, West Virginia

America is always beautiful, but especially so in autumn when fall foliage is reaching peak colors. All sorts of people and sites make prediction for when the colors will be the best, but here are the peak fall foliage dates for the 48 contiguous states, according to the Farmers’ Almanac. Photo #1 by ForestWander

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Outstanding Natural Beauty of World Heritage Sites in Africa [36 PICS]

August 27th, 2013 Permalink

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has designated 129 World Heritage Sites in Africa, but these 36 are listed as Outstanding Universal Value for natural heritage. As you might expect, there is a wide diversity of flora and fauna in each. Sadly, some of these have also been placed on UNESCO’s List of World Heritage Sites in Danger, most often due to poaching of endangered wildlife. The UNESCO committee may inscribe new sites on the list, or it may delist sites if the area no longer meets the criteria, but this is UNESCO’s current list for Africa in 2013 as of the time of publishing.
[36 Photos]

Lion at Serengeti National Park, Masai Mara, Tanzania

Lion at Serengeti National Park, Tanzania. It is one of many UNESCO World Heritage Sites for natural and outstanding universal value in Africa. This vast savanna has 3,648,000 acres (1,476,300 ha) and is world-renowned for its annual herd migrations in search of water and pasture. Two million wildebeests, hundreds of thousands of zebras and gazelles, and all their predators make it “one of the most impressive nature spectacles in the world.” Because there is so much prey, it contains the “Big Five.” Serengeti is believed to hold more than 3,000 lions, the largest population of lions in Africa, about 1,000 African leopards, African Buffalo, African Elephants and Black Rhinoceros — but few rhinos are said to remain due to “rampant poaching.” It was designated as a natural site by UNESCO in 1981. Photo #1 by Anita Ritenour

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Hidden Gems: 25 Least Crowded U.S. National Parks [50 PICS]

July 23rd, 2013 Permalink

National Park Service sites receive approximately 280 million visitors each year and it publishes a ‘Ranking Report for Recreation Visits’ every year. This public usage list includes all NPS properties, not just National Parks, but also National Monuments (NM), National Historical Parks (NHP), National Seashores (NS), National Military Parks (NMP), National Recreation Areas (NRA), and so on as listed on the ranking report for 2012. The National Park Service says it has one mission, to “care for special places saved by the American people so that all may experience our heritage.” There are a total of 367 places on this list, but when it comes to only national parks — some with and without a preserve — what are the hidden gems among national treasures, the least crowded U.S. National Parks? If you want more of nature, and less of people, then you might be interested in visiting one that is less popular. Here’s a list starting at #25 and working down to the #1 least-visited, therefore least-crowded national parks in all of the United States during 2012. [50 Photos]

Virgin Islands National Park, Trunk Bay and the beach on Saint John, called the most beautiful beach in the world

#25 of the 59 U.S. National Parks: Virgin Islands National Park had 483,341 visitors in 2012, coming in with a rank of #119 of the #367 on the list. It is the 25th least-crowded national park in the U.S. This is Trunk Bay and the beach on Saint John, called the most beautiful beach in the world. It is continually listed in the top 10 beaches worldwide to visit. Photo #1 by Iliyan Gochev

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Endearing, Endangered Gentle Giants: Marvelous Manatees [44 PICS]

July 12th, 2013 Permalink

Massive yet gentle, manatees are endangered marine mammals. Sometimes called “sea cows,” they were once thought to be a bit dimwitted, but now are known to have a similar intelligence to dolphins. We fell in love with them while we were in Florida, so here’s look at these endearing, endangered gentle giants. [44 Photos]

Kissing manatees in Georgia

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (.pdf), “Christopher Columbus was the first European to report seeing a manatee in the New World. To Columbus, and other sailors who had been at sea for a long time, manatees were reminiscent of mermaids—the mythical half-fish, half-woman creatures of the ocean. Manatees are not fish, however, but marine mammals.” When you think about manatees, you probably think of those living in Florida. However, these West Indian manatees traveled to Georgia in late spring and early summer. Photo #1 by Michael Gilbert, Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge Complex / USFWS

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Cool Karst at China’s Shilin Stone Forest: 270 Million Year Old Natural Wonder [35 PICS]

June 6th, 2013 Permalink

Imagine 96,000 acres of forest, then swap out the trees in your mind’s eye for huge karst formations, some of which formed at least 270 million years ago, and that “stone forest” is Shilin in China. Since the Ming Dynasty in 1368-1644 AD, the collections of intricate karst formations and landscapes at Shilin Stone Forest have “bewitched” people; the site became known as the ‘First Wonder of the World,’ according to the China Travel Guide. South China Karst is not one Stone Forest, but made up of many such individual landscapes of all sizes. In fact, UNESCO says South China Karst has “outstanding universal value” and named two smaller stone forests, Naigu Stone Forest and Suogeyi Village, both as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Here’s a look at Shilin Stone Forest in China.
[35 Photos]

Lunan County, China, Stone Forest, Shilin

Imagine 96,000 acres of forest, then swap out the trees in your mind’s eye for huge karst formations, some of which formed at least 270 million years ago, and that “stone forest” is Shilin in China. It’s located about an hour away from Kunming. Shilin is dotted with 65 reservoirs and ponds. Photo #1 by Richard IJzermans

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Camping Under the Stars [42 PICS]

June 3rd, 2013 Permalink

With the arrival of summer, the great outdoors is calling, “Come play in me.” Millions of people enjoy hiking, backpacking, trekking and then camping under the stars. Here are some positive quotes and tremendous night sky views to inspire you to get out there; have an adventure, and go camping! [42 Photos]

Camping under the stars at Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota

Camping under the stars at Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota. “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle,” ~ quote by Albert Einstein. Photo #1 by Justin Kern

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Spectacular Sand Beaches in a Rainbow of 10 Incredible Colors [43 PICS]

May 31st, 2013 Permalink

When you think about summer and visiting a beach, do you visualize a seashore with golden-brown sand? That may depend upon where you live and what beach you are picturing. We are constantly amazed and appreciate seeing the diversity in nature, such as the extremely colorful sandy beaches that nature painted from a palette of rainbow-like shades. These unique-colored beaches are located all around the world and come in varying sandy shades of green, red, orange, pink, purple, black, gray, brown, golden-yellow and white. Here is a sampling of some of those beautiful beaches with spectacular sand in incredible colors. [43 Photos]

Paragliding over Rainbow Beach in Queensland, AU

Paragliding over Rainbow Beach in Queensland, AU. This coastal and former sand mining town got its name, Rainbow Beach, from the rainbow-colored sand dunes, with as many as 72 different colored sands, surrounding it. Photo #1 by texaus1

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