Tagged: nature

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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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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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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Beautiful Untamed Treasure: Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area [42 PICS]

April 23rd, 2013 Permalink

Tasmania, the “Island of Inspiration,” is home to one of the last large areas of temperate wilderness in the world. The Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area covers about 20% of Tasmania and is one of the largest conservation areas in Australia. About 3.4 million acres make up the Tasmanian Wilderness and it includes Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park, Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park, Hartz Mountains National Park, Mole Creek Karst National Park, Southwest National Park, Walls of Jerusalem National Park, Central Plateau Conservation and Protected Areas, Devils Gullet State Reserve and South East Mutton Bird Islet. That network of six national parks and three reserves are the wild, green, and rugged Tasmanian Wilderness. It is one of the last true untamed wilderness areas remaining on Earth and has it all for nature lovers such as dense woods, lakes, rivers, mountains, waterfalls, steep gorges that underwent severe glaciation and caves. The Great Wilderness of Tasmania is beloved by hikers, climbers, bushwalkers, cavers, rafters and any other adventuresome souls. [42 Photos]

Gorgeous green moss and trees in the forest near Cradle Mountain and Lake St. Clair - Tasmania, Australia

Gorgeous green moss and trees in the forest near Cradle Mountain and Lake St. Clair in Tasmania, Australia. It is one of six national parks and three reserves within the 3,410,041 acres that make up the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. Tasmania has been called the “Island of Inspiration” and “island at the edge of the world;” the Tasmanian Wilderness is a land of gorgeous contrasts and is one of the last areas of temperate wilderness left in the world. Photo #1 by Jes (mugley)

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Enchanted Forests Carpeted in Beautiful Bluebells

April 19th, 2013 Permalink

Every spring as the soil warms and the leaves begin to form a shade canopy over Europe’s ancient woodlands, there is a wildflower spectacle in the undergrowth. When millions of violet-blue bluebells stretch as far as the eye can see and their strong, sweet scent permeates the air, the forest seems almost magical. Because these woods take on an almost enchanted quality when carpeted by beautiful bluebells, it may be why bluebells have also been dubbed “fairy flowers.” If you are not fortunate enough to experience beautiful British bluebell woods in real life, we hope you can be inspired by these pictures of heavenly bluebells.
[38 Photos]

Bluebells in Micheldever Wood, Hampshire

The carpet of beautiful bluebells makes an almost magical setting and may also be why these wildflowers have been called fairy flowers. According to the photographer, “There are more bluebells (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) in England than anywhere else in the world, and Micheldever Wood often has a magnificent display.” Photo #1 by Anguskirk

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Beautifully Exotic Caño Cristales: River That ‘Ran Away From Paradise’ [37 PICS]

April 12th, 2013 Permalink

A river in Columbia is beautifully exotic and home to a natural phenomenon that earned it many complimentary names like ‘the river that ran away from paradise.’ You can only visit the Caño Cristales river from July to December. Within that time frame is a shorter period when the conditions are perfect to cause blooms in the water that showcase a ‘liquid rainbow’ of ‘yellow, green, blue, black, and especially the red of the Macarenia clavigera.’ During the rest of the year, the water looks like any other river, surrounded by fantastic rock formations that are so steep they are said to hide away the view of numerous waterfalls and natural swimming holes. The rock formations look remarkably similar to Moon Valley in beautiful Brazil, but Rio Caño Cristales has been bestowed with many titles such as “The River of Five Colors,” “The Liquid Rainbow”, “the river that ran away from paradise,” and even “The Most Beautiful River in the World.” [37 Photos]

The Liquid Rainbow aka Caño Cristales

The Liquid Rainbow aka Caño Cristales. Photo #1 by Guillermo Vasquez

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Gorgeous Glasswing Butterflies (42 Stunning Photos)

March 29th, 2013 Permalink

Nature has better tricks than even Photoshop, as these translucent glasswing butterflies illustrate. [42 Fabulous Photos]

Glasswing butterfly at the glasshouse at RHS Wisley

Not Photoshop, but transparent camouflage occurring in nature in a place other than in the sea. While there are numerous gardens that successfully raise glasswings in captivity such as seen here in the glasshouse at RHS Wisley, when found in nature, the glasswing thrives in central-American, especially Costa-Rica, Panama, Ecuador, Venezuela. Photo #1 by Farrukh (Swamibu)

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Beautiful Blue Lake Cave in Brazil

February 24th, 2013 Permalink

Bonito is the heart of eco-tourism in Brazil because it is famous for its natural beauty, prehistoric caves, waterfalls, and clear blue waters. One of the most beautiful is Blue Lake Cave (Gruta do Lago Azul). Amazingly, it is believed that no human set foot inside the cavern with the cobalt blue waters until 1924 when an Indian from the Terena tribe discovered it. That’s not to say nothing ventured down into the 328 feet (100 meters) deep cave, since massive mammals fossils from about 10,000 years ago were discovered by cave divers, bones such as those belonging to the Saber-tooth tiger and giant ground sloth. Because the water is so clear, it is hard to fathom that Blue Lake Cave is about 295 feet (90 meters) deep. Adventurers start with a hike through the forest, then go caving through a wide entrance that allows sunlight to illuminate the gorgeous blue waters as well as stalactites and stalagmites of all different sizes. Here’s a look at Bonito, Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil and some of the extraordinary and unusual ecotourism adventures and true natural treasures including beautiful Blue Lake Cave. [25 Photos]

Sunlight lighting up the blue waters in the ancient cavern

Sunlight lighting up the blue waters in the ancient cavern. The cave itself is deep, 328 feet (100 meters) deep, and the lake inside has a depth of about 295 feet (90 meters). Photo #1 by LNarimatsu

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Living Rainbow: Rainbow Eucalyptus, Most Beautiful Tree Bark on Earth [36 PICS]

January 29th, 2013 Permalink

Does a living rainbow exist? Yes! Extremely cool yet natural outdoor coloring can be found under the shade of this living rainbow. The Rainbow Eucalyptus is truly one of the most amazingly stunning trees and it definitely has the most beautiful bark of any tree on Earth. [36 Photos]

Rainbow Eucalyptus

While this may appear to be a cool tree with camouflaged bark, it actually continues to morph in all the colors of a rainbow. If you enjoy the forest, then you probably like trees. This isn’t Somewhere Over the Rainbow, but somewhere under the rainbow, so if you don’t live in a warm, moist climate, then you might not have ever come across the most beautiful bark of any tree on Earth. With bright and uniquely-colored trunk and branches, the Rainbow Eucalyptus is “one of the most amazingly colorful species of tree,” noted the photographer. Photo #1 by Roberto Verzo

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Top 20 Highest Points On Islands Worldwide [41 PICS]

January 26th, 2013 Permalink

When you think of islands, do you picture a tropical scene with beautiful warm beaches? Yet some islands are bitterly cold and covered in ice and snow. Some islands seem to have it all, from wonderful crashing waves to high peaks that are covered in snow. This is a list of high points for the top 20 islands in the world ordered by their highest point. As we did to illustrate the 20 U.S. National Parks by elevation, including the 20 highest points found in that park, here starting at #20 and counting down to #1 we show the immense diversity of islands. We’ve included an image from each island as well as a photo of the mountain or volcano peak that is the highest point of that island. [41 Photos]

Along the road to Hana, Maui, list of top 20 islands by highest point

Starting at #20 and counting down to #1, this is a list of the top 20 ‘highest’ islands in the world, ordered by their highest points. Photo #1 by Paul (dex) Bica

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