August 25, 2016 was the 100th Anniversary of the founding of the National Park System here in the United States; this is the organization that oversees the National Parks and other protected facilities.

As someone who loves visiting and photographing in the parks, I thought I would celebrate them with a few of my favorite photographs from a few of my favorite parks.

Yosemite National Park

Half Dome after a Winter Storm

I’m lucky: I live within an easy drive of Yosemite, so I can visit it without major hassles. And I do, although I much prefer the park off-season when the crowds are smaller. And what is more symbolic of Yosemite than Half Dome?

Yosemite Valley from Tunnel View

But don’t forget the waterfalls.

Mule Deer FeedingCoyoteCommon RavenWhite-headed woodpecker

Or the Wildlife. But of course, how could you forget any of this once you’ve seen it?

(see all of my Yosemite images over on my SmugMug site)

Carrizo Plain National Monument

Carrizo Plain is an area in California’s central coast area, back in the mountains. It sits along the San Andreas Fault and the earth movement has left it with beautiful undulating hills surrounding it. It’s a dry area that has been used for cattle grazing and today is home of a number of endangered animals including the kit fox and the kangaroo rat. This is one of the country’s National Monuments, and it’s not as lushly beautiful as Yosemite is — or as accessible, since much of the site is unpaved roads with no services — but it has a stark beauty to it that’s drawn me there a number of times.

Carrizo Plain National Monument

(see all of my Carrizo Plain images over on my SmugMug site)

Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton National Park is an area to the south of Yellowstone near Jackson, Wyoming. Oxbow Bend in Grand Teton is one of the ten most famous mountain photography locations in the world, and the park, while dominated by the mountains, is a great place to find and watch Elk, Moose, Bear and other wildlife as well.

Oxbow Bend

Common RavenElkPronghorn AntelopesGrand Tetons National Park

(see all of my Grand Teton National Park images over on my SmugMug site)

Yellowstone National Park

And Yellowstone National Park. it is such a diverse and magical land as to defy description. A large and diverse population of wildlife and birds, fascinating and mystical thermal artifacts like geysers and hot springs, beautiful vistas. It’s impossible not to fall in love with it once you visit. I went there for a week in 2014 to photograph wildlife and I’ve been planning a return visit to focus on the thermal features; Laurie and I were originally planning to visit this year, but with the crowds at all the parks because of this anniversary, we decided to hold off — good idea, since Yellowstone’s attendance is up 15% over last year, and it was up last year in the run-up to the Anniversary. So Yellowstone is now on our 2017 list to visit and explore, along with Grand Teton.

Firehole Spring, Yellowstone

Lamar Valley Panorama, Yellowstone National Park

Old Faithful Geyser

Pronghorn Antelopes on the Run

Bison at Rest in Fall, Yellowstone National Park

Pronghorn Antelope, Lamar Valley, Yellowstone National ParkBison and Calves, Lamar Valley, YellowstoneMr. GrumpyBison Taking a Dust BathPronghorn Antelope and Calf

Male Elk Scratching, Yellowstone

(see all of my Tellowstone National Park images over on my SmugMug site)

The parks are worthy of your time and attention. Once you visit them, you’ll understand how special they are and want to return. There are special places being reserved and protected for all of us to know and enjoy.

I’m hoping to visit Yosemite again this fall depending on the crowds, and I’ve got a trip scheduled for next year, plus our trip to Yellowstone. The more you see and discover these places, the more often you want to return.