Category: nature

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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Horses by the Sea: The Other Spectacular Sea Horse [28 PICS]

June 23rd, 2013 Permalink

When we were image hunting for seahorses, we came across photos of the “other” spectacular “sea horse.” Some people choose to experience the breathtaking beauty of the beach by horseback, so here’s some inspirational shots of horses in the sea, horseback riding by the sea, and horse / equestrian quotes.
[28 Photos]

Sea horse at Lac Bay - Bonaire, Netherlands

Sea horse at Lac Bay – Bonaire, Netherlands. “There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man, ~ quote by Winston Churchill. Photo #1 by Julia (oijulia)

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Beautiful Bamboo Forests [40 PICS]

June 19th, 2013 Permalink

Bamboo is a grass, but many of the larger bamboo species look like trees. Grown close to each other, they make up amazing forests. Here’s a look at some of those beautiful bamboo forests found worldwide. [40 Photos]

Bamboo woods in Japan

Bamboo woods in Japan, but bamboo forests are located all over the world . . . including the USA. Photo #1 by digicacy

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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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Alien-looking Island of Bliss: Enter a Different Dimension at Socotra [42 PICS]

May 24th, 2013 Permalink

Enter a different dimension at Socotra, an unusually peculiar-looking world that was long ago called “The Island of Bliss.” Located off the Horn of Africa, in the Indian Ocean, Socotra is about 150 miles away from Somalia and the threat of real-day pirates; it’s a little over 200 miles away from its mainland Yemen. And the landscape makes it “the most alien-looking place on Earth.” Although Socotra has wide sandy beaches rising to limestone plateaus full of caves, some 4.4 miles in length (7 km), wind-swept cliffs and mountains over 5,000 feet high, the island’s iconic image is of the Dragon’s Blood tree; it’s deep red resin was once considered to be ancient dragon blood. Some people have suggested that Socotra might have been the original Garden of Eden. Currently every single Trip Advisor tourist review rated Socotra as “excellent.” Of course, there are high security threats like kidnapping and terrorism; the US State Department warned Americans against traveling to Yemen. In 2011, Somali pirates were using the island as a fuel base. Yet tourists call it a “hidden gem” for those adventurous souls not seeking a luxury resort. Most of us will never visit this out of this world island of Socotra. [42 Photos]

Socotra Island, Yemen

If you are looking for a luxurious vacation, then this is not the right location for you. However, people sometimes say they want to “get off the grid” and this would be an ideal place to visit if you love adventure and nature, and don’t mind “roughing” it a bit. Far away on what appears at first to be an oasis is Socotra Island, Yemen. It is believed that Socotra got its name from Sanskrit, meaning “Island of Bliss.” Others suggest the name was derived from Arabic and means “dripping frankincense.” It may be a bit of both, currently unspoiled by man, but most people know of Socotra as being “the most alien-looking place on Earth.” It’s like a whole another world, like a different dimension. Photo #1 by Martin Sojka

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Tiptoe Through the Tulips [35 PICS]

May 13th, 2013 Permalink

There are over 3000 different registered varieties of cultivated tulips and all are a beautiful sign of spring. Tulip festivals honor the Dutch and are huge tourist attractions, but the festivals are held all over the world, including the USA. So . . . “Tiptoe through the window, By the window, that is where I’ll be, Come tiptoe through the tulips with me.” [35 Photos]

Seabird Island tulip fields and mountains in BC

Tulip fields on Seabird Island, Agassiz, British Columbia. Tulip festivals are held in many locations around the world. These gorgeous and beautifully-fragrant flowers were once so popular that they sparked a speculative frenzy now called “tulip mania.” During this time, tulips were so expensive that they were treated as a form of currency. Photo #1 by Dru!

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50 Incredible, Inspirational Double Rainbows [PICS]

May 2nd, 2013 Permalink

There are reflected rainbows in bodies of water; reflection and supernumerary rainbows, fogbows, multiple and high-order ‘rose of rainbows,’ tertiary and quaternary rainbows, twinned rainbows, and even moonbows . . . rare rainbows in the dark. Whew! Here we are focusing on a meteorological phenomenon and nature’s grand optical illusion trick that create double rainbows. Most all cultures regard a rainbow as a positive sign. So here is double the positive, double the awe and inspiration, that sparked the double rainbow meme. Have a great day and enjoy! [50 Photos]

Double rainbow over Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs, CO

Double rainbow over Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs, CO. Did you know there really isn’t an “end” to a rainbow? Maybe that’s why finding a pot of gold is as hard as spotting a tricky leprechaun. If you stood at where I can see the “proverbial” end of the rainbow, then that rainbow would appear to you to be in a different spot. It’s one of nature’s very best optical “illusion” tricks. Experiencing the phenomenon depends upon where you are standing, where the sun is and where the moisture is just right in the air. Rainbows, especially double rainbows, are considered a positive, awe-inspiring sign in most cultures. Photo #1 by Raymond Larose

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