Travel

9 Amazing Tree Houses You Can Actually Sleep In

This hotel trend definitely took root and branched out globally.

By Austa Somvichian-Clausen

Think tree houses are just rickety pieces of lumber crafted into backyard forts for kids? Think again. Tree house hotels are a fast-growing trend that allows anyone to escape the mundane with a new perspective on nature.

Not only are tree house hotels praised for their novel design, but they also have a sustainable edge on traditional hotels. Building tree houses require no clearing of the ground around the grove, and hotel owners (and visitors) have a stake in the health of the tree that supports the lodging. This, along with visitors’ close proximity to nature during their temporary residence, leads to a unique way for them to connect with the natural world around them.

As more tree house hotels take root, the options can become overwhelming. Get a head start on your search with these amazing arboreal accommodations around the world.

tranquil resort in kerala, india 9 amazing tree houses you can actually sleep in

Tranquil Resort In Kerala, India. PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY TRANQUIL RESORT

TRANQUIL RESORT: KERALA, INDIA

This 400-acre private estate is situated on a coffee and spice plantation in the northern Kerala rainforest. It features only seven rooms and two tree houses. Accessed by walkways in the forest canopy, Tranquil’s tree houses are made from local coffee wood and overlook the plantation 45 feet below from the branches of a royal poinciana tree. From inside the bedroom, guests can see the tree trunk growing through the ceiling. Take a dip in the resort’s year-round pool, or get an Ayurvedic massage for optimal relaxation. The grounds include 13 walking trails through the plantation, and guests even can take one of their pet dogs along as a guide.

mirror cube at the treehotel in harads, sweden 9 amazing tree houses you can actually sleep in

Mirror Cube At The Treehotel In Harads, Sweden. PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY TREEHOTEL

TREEHOTEL: HARADS, SWEDEN

Twilight Zone meets contemporary art gallery at this Swedish hotel only 30 miles south of the Arctic Circle. A different Swedish architect designed each of the seven individual rooms at Treehotel, so every stay is unique. One of their most sought-after is the UFO-themed room, while another looks appropriately like a bird’s nest. Even the bathrooms are special, with combustion toilets that incinerate their contents at more than 1100 degrees Fahrenheit.

the gibbon experience project in huay xai, laos 9 amazing tree houses you can actually sleep in

The Gibbon Experience Project in Huay Xai, Laos. PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY THE GIBBON EXPERIENCE PROJECT

GIBBON EXPERIENCE PROJECT: HUAY XAI, LAOS

Well-known as one of Laos’s most unique accommodations, the Gibbon Experience is a two- or three-day adventure into some of the country’s most pristine forest canopy, complete with a series of navigable zip lines that crisscross the property and some of the highest tree houses in the world. Since its inception in 1996, the project has made it their mission to preserve the rain forest that surrounds it from threats such as poaching, slash-and-burn agriculture, and logging. They have been pursuing two reforestation schemes in recent years—a commercial farm to promote sensible logging practices and reforestation of degraded areas in Nam Kan National Park.

hapuku lodge in kaikoura, new zealand 9 amazing tree houses you can actually sleep in

Hapuku Lodge in Kaikoura, New Zealand. PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY HAPUKU LODGE

HAPUKU LODGE AND TREEHOUSES: KAIKOURA, NEW ZEALAND

A deer breeding farm on the South Island of New Zealand is home to Hapuku at the base of the Kaikoura Seaward Mountain Range. The lodge includes five tree houses that are nested in the canopy of a Kanuka grove and designed to complement the natural environment. Hapuku is a family-owned business of native Kiwis that originally moved to the area for farming and surfing opportunities. The lodge eventually found its beginnings thanks to the growth of eco-marine tourism in the area, and now offers its visitors a chance to immerse themselves in the rugged coastline and flourishing maritime environment of Kaikoura.

airbnb's - secluded intown treehouse - in atlanta, georgia 9 amazing tree houses you can actually sleep in

Airbnb’s “Secluded Intown Treehouse” in Atlanta, Georgia. PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY AIRBNB

AIRBNB’S SECLUDED INTOWN TREE HOUSE: GEORGIA, U.S.A

This tree house is located just minutes away from the hustle and bustle of-of downtown and was voted Airbnb’s number one most wished-for listing worldwide in 2016. The property was designed and constructed by Peter Bahouth, former Greenpeace executive and current executive director of the U.S. Climate Action Network. It features three separate suites, interconnected by fairy-light-bedecked wooden bridges. The linens are organic, the furnishings are vintage, and the tree houses themselves were created from salvaged materialss—including the 80-year-old windows from a Masonic Temple in South Carolina, leading to the sublime experience.

maguire house at the free spirit spheres in vancouver island, bc 9 amazing tree houses you can actually sleep in

Maguire House at the Free Spirit Spheres in Vancouver Island, BC. PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY FREE SPIRIT SPHERES

FREE SPIRIT SPHERES: VANCOUVER ISLAND, CANADA

Inventor Tom Chudleigh created these handcrafted wooden spheres inspired by sailboat construction and using the practice of biomimicry—innovation that seeks long-lasting, sustainable solutions to human issues by emulating strategies seen in nature. The orbs are suspended in the middle of multiple trees, which they are tethered to. This ensures a stable hang, and since they use the forest for their foundation, the occupants have a vested interest in the health of the grove and are reminded of human connectedness to our ecosystem.

finca bellavista treehouse community in costa rica 9 amazing tree houses you can actually sleep in

Finca Bellavista Treehouse community in Costa Rica. PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY FINCABELLAVISTA TREEHOUSE COMMUNITY

FINCA BELLAVISTA: ZONA SUR, COSTA RICA

About a decade ago, Erica and Matt Hogan stumbled upon a plot of land that was marketed as a potential timber harvesting site. Seeing this prompted them to save the land from deforestation and transform it into what is now Finca Bellavista. Presently, the community encompasses nearly 600 acres in the south Pacific region of Costa Rica, including mountainous rain forest, two white water rivers, and organic gardens. The site is entirely off the grid and powered completely by solar energy. The tree houses—both aboreal and stilt-supported—allow for terrestrial migration of animals and growing the majority of the food on-site. A network of zip lines and platforms lets guests explore the rain forest in a thrilling, eco-friendly fashion.

papaya playa project in tulum, mexico 9 amazing tree houses you can actually sleep in

Papaya Playa Project in Tulum, Mexico. PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY PAPAYA PLAYA PROJECT

PAPAYA PLAYA PROJECT: TULUM, MEXICO

Venture about 80 miles south of party capital Cancun to find this luxurious eco-resort nestled in the coastal town of Tulum. Although Papaya Playa started out with a traditional hotel model, their latest addition is a stunning two-story tree house suite set amongst a landscape of lush Mexican jungle. The design of the treehouse utilizes local timber, and evokes the traditional Mayan building technique “Chukum,” or using tree resin to cool the building interiors. In recent years, Papaya Playa launched their mission to achieve zero emissions and zero contamination community by 2018. Since then, they got started with solar energy, water recycling, and local sourcing of jobs and materials to achieve their goal.

lion sands game reserve in kruger national park - south africa 9 amazing tree houses you can actually sleep in

Lion Sands Game Reserve in Kruger National Park, South Africa. PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY LION SANDS GAME RESERVE

LION SANDS GAME RESERVE: KRUGER NATIONAL PARK, SOUTH AFRICA

Lion Sands calls their tree houses the “ultimate bush bedrooms” for good reason–visitors are almost completely exposed to the vast wilderness right outside of their room. Arrive at sunset with a picnic dinner waiting for you, then enjoy stargazing while listening to the sounds of the animals to spot the next day. On the list: hippos, lions, leopards, hyenas, impalas, and more. Lion Sands offers game drives, walking safaris, and helicopter rides over the Blyde River Canyon. The reserve also takes guests to Henna Pre-School to see firsthand the work they are doing to empower local communities.

Via

Read More...

Travel

The Amazing Tottori Sand Dunes Japans

Escape the big city lights and get lost in this spectacular desertscape.

tottori sand dunes japan the amazing tottori sand dunes japans

PHOTOGRAPH BY SEAN PAVONE, ALAMY STOCK PHOTO

Sea winds sweep over Tottori’s rolling sand dunes along Japan’s coast. The area has shrunk in recent years due to changing sea currents and the encroachment of plants.

By Alexandra E. Petri

Stretched along the Sea of Japan just outside the city of Tottori is an unexpected swath of gold: Japan’s only sand dunes. Unlike classic images of Japan—sushi, bullet trains, Shibuya Crossing, and Hello Kitty—Tottori is more like a scene from Arabian Nights. Sand dunes curl nearly 160 feet above your head, camels are a form of transportation, and dreamy desert mirages replace big city lights.

The Tottori Sakyu, or Tottori Sand Dunes, were formed thousands of years ago when sand carried by the nearby Sendai River was dumped into the sea. Strong winds and a strong current deposited the sand along the coast, creating a desert oasis in the land of sushi.

the wind carves ephemeral patterns into the sands of the tottori sand dunes japan the amazing tottori sand dunes japans

PHOTOGRAPH BY YOSHIKI FUJIWARA

The wind carves ephemeral patterns into the sands of the Tottori dunes

thick snow blankets the tottori sand dunes japan in winter the amazing tottori sand dunes japans

PHOTOGRAPH BY JTB MEDIA CREATION, INC./ALAMY STOCK PHOTO

Thick Snow Blankets The Tottori Sand Dunes Japan In Winter

At just nine miles long and less than 1.5 miles wide, Tottori is a small piece of something bigger: Japan’s San’in Kaigan National Park, a UNESCO Global Geopark and symbol of the country’s commitment to conservation, cultural history, and biodiversity.

Tottori may not have appeared in One Thousand and One Nights, but its appearance in several other notable works of literature in Japan reveals its longtime cultural significance. Japanese poet Takeo Arishima made the dunes famous when he wrote a poem about an affair he was having with a married woman, describing the deep misery he felt while surrounded by the sands. He and the woman committed a double suicide shortly thereafter.

Decades later, in the 1960s, Tottori set the stage for Japanese writer Kōbō Abe’s book, Woman in the Dunes, a story that was considered ahead of its time and eventually turned into an Academy Award-nominated film.

With more than two million visitors annually, there are plenty of things to do in Japan’s only sand dunes, including camel rides, sandboarding, paragliding, and an impressive sand sculpture museum. Though you won’t find any overnight camping in Tottori like you would in Dubai, impressive views of the desert meeting the sea, together forming an extended horizon, make it worth the trip.

two children are dwarfed by the steep at totori sand dunes japan the amazing tottori sand dunes japans

PHOTOGRAPH BY BUDDHIKA WEERASINGHE, GETTY IMAGES

Two children are dwarfed by the steep sand dunes, which stretch nearly 160 feet into the air.

tottori sakyu tottori japan the amazing tottori sand dunes japans

tottori sakyu tottori japan (commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Tottori-Sakyu_Tottori_Japan.JPG)

Read More...

Photography

The Energy of Future Looks Strikingly Artistic from Above

A photographer shares his unique perspective on the growing wind and solar power industries.

Large Scale Solar Power in Nevada

large scale solar power in nevada the energy of future looks strikingly artistic from above

PHOTOGRAPH BY JASSEN T.

Some large-scale solar power installations concentrate sunlight on a pipe of oil that, once heated, boils water to generate electricity. Others, like this one in Nevada, reposition mirrors to focus sunlight on a central receiver tower, in which molten salt powers the generator.

By Rachel Brown

When seen from thousands of feet in the air, solar installations and wind turbines become abstract works of art: a glinting fractal of metallic petals circle a single pale stamen, and sharp, slender flowers tower above the earth.

Futuristic and abstract as these sites may seem, the concrete reality is that solar and wind energy are thriving. (Explore what your state’s energy mix will look like with 100{e5bed0f29e82a3ab4abfcc2c8594997d5325c4d883e18fd68d78cfcfee3631a1} renewable energy.)

Each year, government incentives, shifting public policy, and technological advances make these sources of clean, renewable energy more attractive to corporations and individuals alike. And in the United States last year, solar employed more people than traditional coal, oil, and gas combined.

Wind Turbines Stands Tall in California

wind turbines stands tall in california the energy of future looks strikingly artistic from above

PHOTOGRAPH BY JASSEN T

A row of wind turbines stands tall in California, where officials have pledged to source 50{e5bed0f29e82a3ab4abfcc2c8594997d5325c4d883e18fd68d78cfcfee3631a1} of the state’s energy from renewables by 2030.

Wind Turbine’s with Three Curved Blades

wind turbine’s with three curved blades the energy of future looks strikingly artistic from above

PHOTOGRAPH BY JASSEN T

A wind turbine’s three curved blades can be as long as 200 feet; as they spin, they turn a shaft connected to an electric generator. Critics point to the blades’ deadly impact on flying life, but windmills are actually less dangerous to birds and bats than cars, power lines, and high-rise buildings.

wind turbines and solar panels in the Mojave Desert, California the energy of future looks strikingly artistic from above

PHOTOGRAPH BY JASSEN T

Wind turbines and solar panels in the Mojave Desert, California, provide renewable clean energy. By 2050, 50{e5bed0f29e82a3ab4abfcc2c8594997d5325c4d883e18fd68d78cfcfee3631a1} of California’s energy could be produced by solar plants and onshore wind.

nevada solar one - las vegas the energy of future looks strikingly artistic from above

PHOTOGRAPH BY JASSEN T

Spread over 400 acres, Nevada Solar One is a massive project built in the hot, dry desert just south of Las Vegas. The plant uses 760 parabolic trough concentrators with more than 182,000 mirrors that concentrate the sun’s rays onto more than 18,240 receiver tubes. Every year, the projected amount of CO2 emissions this plant avoids putting into the atmosphere is equivalent to taking approximately 20,000 cars off the road.

custom steel pipes for oil and gas industry in north america the energy of future looks strikingly artistic from above

PHOTOGRAPH BY JASSEN T

Rows of pipe produced by United Spiral Pipe stretch across a lot in California. These custom steel pipes are primarily used in the North American oil and gas industry; there are about 2.5 million miles of oil pipeline in the United States.

windmill farm at sunset in northern california the energy of future looks strikingly artistic from above

PHOTOGRAPH BY JASSEN T

An aerial view of a windmill farm at sunset in northern California. By 2050, wind power could supply an estimated 35{e5bed0f29e82a3ab4abfcc2c8594997d5325c4d883e18fd68d78cfcfee3631a1} of California’s energy, and 30{e5bed0f29e82a3ab4abfcc2c8594997d5325c4d883e18fd68d78cfcfee3631a1} of the world’s energy.

Some worry it’s too little, too late. Scientific consensus agrees that the need for green energy is greater than ever: the carbon emissions of an average Westerner melt 323 square feet of Arctic ice a year, contributing to global sea level rise. (These side-by-side photos show climate change’s dramatic impact on Arctic glaciers.)

Turning from fossil fuels to an array of clean, renewable energy sources—like solar and wind—is a step in the right direction. And for a Your Shot photographer whose work was recently featured as part of National Geographic’s #myclimateaction challenge, the future is bright. (See editor’s top picks from the Your Shot challenge.)

EYE IN THE SKY

A native of Bulgaria, Jassen Todorov is a violinist and music professor at San Francisco State University. He’s also a pilot and a member of National Geographic’s Your Shot community, regularly sharing photographs taken from his four-seater plane.

“In my twenties, I was freaking out about being able to find a job” as a musician, Todorov laughs. “So I thought, ‘What if I became a pilot?’ Well, I did, and I haven’t looked back.”

But he’s certainly looked down. “It opens up a whole new world,” he says. “Flying from point A to point B, there’s so much to discover in between…it’s just a matter of looking and realizing ‘Oh my god, this is incredible, I better photograph this.’” (Meet another Your Shot photographer documenting climate change.)

concord naval weapons station superfund site the energy of future looks strikingly artistic from above

PHOTOGRAPH BY JASSEN T

Concord Naval Weapons Station Superfund Site. since being listed as a Superfund site, the 12,800-acre Concord Naval Weapons Station has seen some recovery from its three decades of heavy metal contamination.

oil wastewater in kern county, california the energy of future looks strikingly artistic from above

PHOTOGRAPH BY JASSEN T

Oil Wastewater Fracking for natural gas and drilling for oil displace enormous volumes of wastewater, in Kern County, California. The county is also home to the Kern Water Bank, a 32-square-mile underground water reserve currently in the hands of private corporations.

Todorov started intentionally documenting both the good and the bad: he saw fascinating renewable energy installations, but also oil spills, Superfund sites, and massive pools of toxic waste.

“Everybody’s trying their best, I think—solar power plants and wind turbines are being built all over,” Todorov points out. “They’re beautiful to look at from above; some of them are very futuristic. Knowing that they’re for clean and renewable energy just makes you happier—there is hope!”

Via

Read More...

Travel

The World’s Largest Salt Flat – Bolivia’s Salar de Uyuni

Bolivia’s Salar de Uyuni can make for an incredible experience or a logistical nightmare. Plan your trip with these tips.

reflection salar de uyuni bolivia the world’s largest salt flat - bolivia's salar de uyuni

PHOTOGRAPH BY HEIKO MEYER, LAIF/REDUX

A thin layer of water transforms Bolivia’s Salar de Uyuni into a striking reflective canvas.

By Elizabeth Unger

Bolivia’s Salar de Uyuni is considered one of the most extreme and remarkable vistas in all of South America, if not Earth. Stretching more than 4,050 square miles of the Altiplano, it is the world’s largest salt flat, left behind by prehistoric lakes evaporated long ago. Here, a thick crust of salt extends to the horizon, covered by quilted, polygonal patterns of salt rising from the ground.

At certain times of the year, nearby lakes overflow and a thin layer of water transforms the flats into a stunning reflection of the sky. This beautiful and otherworldly terrain serves as a lucrative extraction site for salt and lithium—the element responsible for powering laptops, smart phones, and electric cars. In addition to local workers who harvest these minerals, the landscape is home to the world’s first salt hotel and populated by road-tripping tourists. The harsh beauty and desolateness of Salar de Uyuni can make for an incredible experience or a logistical nightmare. Here’s a guide to help:

HOW TO GET THERE

Located at the crux of Bolivia, Chile, and Argentina, the logistics and length of your trip to Salar de Uyuni will depend where you’re coming from. Tours originate from three main places:

Uyuni, Bolivia: The most popular jumping-off point for salt flats tours, Uyuni is a small, dusty town packed with tourism agencies in Plaza Arce, its main square. Travelers can book tours in advance online, through tour offices in La Paz, or they can simply arrive in Uyuni and peruse the options in town. Since Uyuni is so close to the salt flats, tourists can easily book day trips. Flights from La Paz to Uyuni can be booked through Amaszonas and BoA (one hour, about $130 round-trip). Overnight buses from La Paz are available with Trans Omar and Todo Turismo (10-12 hours, $30 to $40 each way).

San Pedro de Atacama, Chile: Agencies drive travelers to the border before handing the tour over to a Bolivian operator. Due to the distance, this is a three-day tour.

Tupiza, Bolivia: This is the best starting point for travelers coming from Argentina. Tour operators recommend four-day tours from Tupiza, visiting Salar de Uyuni on the final day.

night salar de uyuni bolivia the world’s largest salt flat - bolivia's salar de uyuni

The star-studded night sky casts the salt flats shades of blue. During the dry season the ground hardens and polygonal patterns of salt rise from the ground. PHOTOGRAPH BY ERIC HANSON, GETTY IMAGES

WHEN TO GO

Salar de Uyuni has two distinct seasons. The rainy season (December to April) is when visitors come to witness the Salar’s breathtaking mirror effect. Be wary of excessive rain in December and January, as it can cause tour cancelations. During the dry season (May to November) temperatures are colder, the ground has hardened, and travelers can drive across the stark white landscape to places that aren’t accessible in the rainy season. Tour operators consider June through August their high period, and rates may rise accordingly.

CHOOSING A TOUR

While the salt flats are one of Bolivia’s most popular attractions, it’s only a small part of the gorgeous Altiplano region. Many visitors indulge in a three-day tour (or longer) that includes the deserts, volcanos, geysers, hot springs, and high-altitude lakes to the south. Tours out of San Pedro de Atacama and Tupiza are already scheduled to drive through these sites.

Travelers can choose between a shared tour (cheaper and standardized) or private tour (higher-priced and custom-tailored). Shared tours generally provide Spanish-speaking guides who double as the driver and chef. These follow a rigid itinerary that will not likely accommodate individual requests and can hinder certain times of day, like sunrise or sunset. Private tours, by contrast, can be customized to a client’s liking, giving travelers more control over itinerary and the ability to go off the beaten path to volcanos or caves. Private tours also provide an English-speaking guide, chef, and a more comfortable vehicle.

Check online reviews and travel guides to carefully choose a reputable guide. Avoid companies that offer rock bottom prices—they may not provide an accredited guide or working car, which can endanger tourists. Also ask your agency whether they carry an emergency radio and first-aid kit.

HOW TO TAKE GREAT PHOTOS

One of the highlights of Salar de Uyuni is an endless horizon that allows photographers to play with perspective and depth of field. Stage battle scenes with toy dinosaurs, cook your friends in pots and pans, or crawl out of seemingly giant jars of peanut butter. The key to great photos is to get the camera low to the ground and close to your prop. This gives the perspective that the prop is larger than the human subjects, who stand farther away. Don’t let your subjects venture too far, though—the larger the distance between the prop and the subjects, the harder it will be to keep everything in focus. If your camera permits, make the aperture as narrow as possible.

optical illusion salar de uyuni bolivia the world’s largest salt flat - bolivia's salar de uyuni

Salar de Uyuni’s seemingly endless horizon allows photographers to play with perspective and depth of field. PHOTOGRAPH BY MIKE THEISS, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC CREATIVE

ODDS AND ENDS

At nearly 12,000 feet above sea level, visitors may experience altitude sickness if they haven’t properly acclimatized. Symptoms include nausea, headaches, and insomnia among others. Discuss various options for preventing and treating altitude sickness with your doctor before your trip.

Bolivia requires a tourist visa ($160 for U.S. citizens) as well as a Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate to enter the country.

Discover other great images from various website below:

piles of salt salar de uyuni bolivia the world’s largest salt flat - bolivia's salar de uyuni

Piles Of Salt Salar De Uyuni Bolivia

traveling the world salar de tunupa picture the world’s largest salt flat - bolivia's salar de uyuni

Traveling The World Salar De Tunupa Picture

salar de uyuni sky reflection the world’s largest salt flat - bolivia's salar de uyuni

Salar De Uyuni Sky Reflection

dakar rally crosses spectacular salar de uyuni salt flats the world’s largest salt flat - bolivia's salar de uyuni

Dakar Rally Crosses Spectacular Salar De Uyuni Salt Flats

the dakar bolivia monument in salar de uyuni - bolivia the world’s largest salt flat - bolivia's salar de uyuni

The Dakar Bolivia Monument in Salar De Uyuni – Bolivia

stunning view of bolivia's salar de uyuni the world’s largest salt flat - bolivia's salar de uyuni

Stunning View of Bolivia’s Salar De Uyuni

salar de uyuni reflection at sunset the world’s largest salt flat - bolivia's salar de uyuni

Salar De Uyuni Reflection at Sunset

salar de uyuni night the world’s largest salt flat - bolivia's salar de uyuni

Salar De Uyuni Night

salar de uyuni bolivia reflection - largest natural mirror the world’s largest salt flat - bolivia's salar de uyuni

Salar De Uyuni Bolivia Reflection – Largest Natural Mirror

salar de uyuni sunset salt miners the world’s largest salt flat - bolivia's salar de uyuni

Salar De Uyuni Sunset Salt Miners

salar de uyuni salt flat the world’s largest salt flat - bolivia's salar de uyuni

Salar De Uyuni Salt Flat

salar de uyuni bolivia at night the world’s largest salt flat - bolivia's salar de uyuni

Salar De Uyuni Bolivia at Night

photography salar de uyuni the world’s largest salt flat - bolivia's salar de uyuni

Photography Salar De Uyuni

lightning over salar de uyuni the world’s largest salt flat - bolivia's salar de uyuni

Lightning Over Salar De Uyuni

Via

Read More...

Photography

See Incredible Photos of National Parks from Space

It might be hard to resist planning a trip to these parks once you see them from above.

space view crater lake national park see incredible photos of national parks from space

CRATER LAKE NATIONAL PARK – PHOTOGRAPH BY NASA

By Marie McGrory

There are plenty of things you cannot see from outer space: your home, the Eiffel Tower, the Taj Mahal. Most man-made structures are hard to enjoy from beyond the edges of low Earth orbit (save for, debatably, the Great Wall of China). Nature, on the other hand, takes on a whole new kind of beauty from the edges of our atmosphere.

In 2016 the National Park Service saw over 330 million visitors across its 84 million acres. On the ground level, those numbers are huge. From space, the numbers seem a bit more manageable. While considering your next trip, explore some of these iconic sights the way our national bird might: from above.

OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK

space view olympic national park see incredible photos of national parks from space

OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK – PHOTOGRAPH BY JEFF WILLIAMS, NASA

NASA astronaut Jeff Williams made this composite image of Olympic National Park, highlighting some of the park’s well-known glaciers and rugged peaks.

YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK

yellowstone national park see incredible photos of national parks from space

YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK – PHOTOGRAPH BY DIGITALGLOBE/GETTY IMAGES

The iconic Grand Prismatic Spring and Excelsior Geyser Crater of Yellowstone stand out in this satellite image, but the lesser known Opal Pool and Turquoise Pool are worth exploring as well. The parking lot and highway to the right give you a true sense of scale in relation to these massive natural wonders.

GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK

space view grand canyon national park see incredible photos of national parks from space

GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK – PHOTOGRAPH BY MAPS4MEDIA/GETTY IMAGES

The jagged edges of the Grand Canyon rim are intersected by an extensive stretch of snow, giving this satellite image a wonderfully intricate, abstract look.

KENAI FJORDS NATIONAL PARK

space view kenai fjords national park see incredible photos of national parks from space

KENAI FJORDS NATIONAL PARK – PHOTOGRAPH BY NASA

It can be challenging to find your bearings amidst the depth, colors, and textures of this aerial look at Bear Glacier in Kenai Fjords. Jagged pieces of ice break off into melted blue waters in this satellite image.

KATMAI NATIONAL PARK

space view katmai national park see incredible photos of national parks from space

KATMAI NATIONAL PARK – PHOTOGRAPH BY JEFF WILLIAMS, NASA

Rich blues and bright whites dance through the light and shadows around Katmai National Park. Clouds roll in from the right, but from the sky they appear to blend with the white mountains.

BISCAYNE NATIONAL PARK

space view biscayne national park see incredible photos of national parks from space

BISCAYNE NATIONAL PARK – PHOTOGRAPH BY JESSE ALLEN, NASA EARTH OBSERVATORY

This view of Biscayne National Park provides a glimpse into the dramatic and diverse shades of blue as the depth changes around Biscayne Bay. The pristine greens of the national park islands of Sands Key, Elliott Key, Totten Key, and Old Rhodes Key stand in stark contrast to the coast and the islands around it.

GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK

space view grand teton national park see incredible photos of national parks from space

GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK – PHOTOGRAPH BY JESSE ALLEN, NASA EARTH OBSERVATORY

Though you cannot see a state line crossing from space, this view shows the vastness of Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, as well as neighboring cities of Driggs, Darby, and others in Idaho.

ACADIA NATIONAL PARK

space view acadia national park see incredible photos of national parks from space

ACADIA NATIONAL PARK – PHOTOGRAPH BY JESSE ALLEN, NASA EARTH OBSERVATORY

This park blends in seamlessly with its surroundings on Mount Desert Island and the inlets and islands surrounding match the lush green terrain.

DEATH VALLEY NATIONAL PARK

space view death valley national park see incredible photos of national parks from space

DEATH VALLEY NATIONAL PARK – PHOTOGRAPH BY JEFF WILLIAMS, NASA

Just north of Funeral Peak, the Badwater area of Death Valley National Park exposes its intricate layering of springs and accumulated salts that make up the “bad water” in the pool of the basin. The Badwater basin is also the lowest point in North America and an elevation of 282 feet.

HAWAI’I VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK

space view hawai'i volcanoes national park see incredible photos of national parks from space

HAWAI’I VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK – PHOTOGRAPH BY JESSE ALLEN, NASA EARTH OBSERVATORY

Kilauea, one of five volcanoes that created the island of Hawai’i, is protected by Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park in the southeast of the Big Island. Kilauea is still one of the most active volcanoes on Earth.

GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK

space view great smoky mountains national park see incredible photos of national parks from space

GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK – PHOTOGRAPH BY JESSE ALLEN AND JOSHUA STEVENS, NASA EARTH OBSERVATORY

On the border of Tennessee and North Carolina, you’ll find the peaks and rivers of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. While the terrain looks serrated and harsh from above, the rushing mountain streams are a beautiful sight from the ground or the sky.

Via

Read More...

Photography

21 Stunning Photos That Need No Photoshop

Every creative shot stands out from the millions of ordinary photos thanks to one simple fact: it was taken at exactly the right moment. It can be an especially striking lightning flash, a tiny fish caught in an open beak or an unusual shadow, but these photos are all captivating in some way.

Because of this, you don’t have to be the best photographer in the world to get the best pictures. Sometimes you just need to be at the right place at the right time, and don’t hesitate to press the magic button.

We prepared for you a fresh collection of dramatic, unusual photos that didn’t take any editing — only skill, patience and a dash of inspiration.

harbor seal swims through an underwater kelp forest 21 stunning photos that need no photoshop

Spotted at Cortes Bank near San Diego, California, a harbor seal (Phoco vitulina) swims through an underwater kelp forest.

Captured by Kyle McBurnie, the photo is the overall winner of the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science’s Underwater Photography Contest, which recognizes amateur photography.

Sunset at Pensacola Beach, Florida 21 stunning photos that need no photoshop

Sunset at Pensacola Beach, Florida

Impressions of Lijiang - Yunan China 21 stunning photos that need no photoshop

Yunan China – Impressions of Lijiang

“Impressions of Lijiang,” with the Jade Dragon Mountain at 3.200m looming behind the outdoor theater. It is truly a spectacle of local culture, with five hundred of the Naxi ethnic group people performing songs and dances – It is the highest altitude production ever staged, directed by Zhang Yimou

King Penguin chicks in South Georgia 21 stunning photos that need no photoshop

King Penguin chicks in South Georgia

King Penguin Chicks is a photograph by Amanda Stadther which was uploaded on August 14th, 2013

Rancho Cucamonga, CA - The Etiwanda Fire 21 stunning photos that need no photoshop

Rancho Cucamonga, California.

Rancho Cucamonga, CA: The Etiwanda Fire raced through the foothills of Rancho Cucamonga Wednesday April 30, 2014 near Los Angeles CA. The fire had consumed hundreds of acres by mid afternoon and hundreds of homes were evacuated. Fire size estimate as of evening is 1,000 acres

Sugar Loaf Mountain - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 21 stunning photos that need no photoshop

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

A view of the Sugar Loaf mountain, as the sun rises in Rio de Janeiro May 5, 2014. Rio de Janeiro is one of the host cities for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. REUTERS/Sergio Moraes

The spirit of spring, Washington 21 stunning photos that need no photoshop

The spirit of spring, Washington

Spring in Palouse, Washington. It was a windy evening with wind gust of at least 30mph. It was quite difficult to even get this shot steady since I stood on elevated ground, while I had to race with the fading sun, clouds that were rolling in (it was raining soon after), and the growing shadows from the clouds. The tolls of the brutal condition were the broken remote cord and tripod plate (yep, the wind ruined them).

The morning light comes to Cemoro Lawang, Indonesia 21 stunning photos that need no photoshop

The morning light comes to Cemoro Lawang, Indonesia.

Morning light is coming to Cemoro Lawang, the village nearby Mt.Bromo

Explosion illusion - throw down the mountain 21 stunning photos that need no photoshop

Explosion illusion – throw down the mountain

Impressions of Lijiang - Yunan China 21 stunning photos that need no photoshop 21 stunning photos that need no photoshop

Albino Crab Spider on a cactus in Nuevo León, Mexico

Millions of Pink Flamingos at Lake Nakuru, Kenya 21 stunning photos that need no photoshop

Millions of Pink Flamingos at Lake Nakuru, Kenya.

Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado 21 stunning photos that need no photoshop

Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado.

Surfing with dolphins in Kalbarri, Australia 21 stunning photos that need no photoshop

Surfing with dolphins in Kalbarri, Australia.

morning meadow meander in billings, montana 21 stunning photos that need no photoshop

Morning meadow meander in Billings, Montana

ants team work 21 stunning photos that need no photoshop

Team work

Team of ants opening plastic bottle and inserting cocktail pipe, isolated – Photo by antrey

Varanasi, India 21 stunning photos that need no photoshop

Varanasi, India

138 Parachutists 21 stunning photos that need no photoshop

138 Parachutist

lightning over the arabian peninsula taken from iss 21 stunning photos that need no photoshop

Lightning over the Arabian Peninsula taken from ISS.

Sunrise in Bushy Park in London, United Kingdom 21 stunning photos that need no photoshop

Sunrise in Bushy Park in London, United Kingdom.

Dawn, with the sun breaking through the mist is the best time to see Bushy park

a nursery where swans are bred 21 stunning photos that need no photoshop

A nursery where swans are bred.

active volcano crater tolbachik in kamchatka, russia 21 stunning photos that need no photoshop

Tourists coming back from the active volcano crater Tolbachik in Kamchatka, Russia.

Via

Read More...