Category Archives: Slices of Life

Sweet 16 National Parks

So many national parks burst with beauty that it's almost impossible to have a favorite...and yet, that is the exact task we've set for our photographers. Because we love competition for the sake of competition and bragging rights, and inspired by the NCAA basketball tournament currently going on, we have compiled a list of 16 (of the 60 eligible) National Parks, seeded them, put them head to head and let our photographers decide. Which one will emerge as Champion? In the play-in round, the majesty and awe-inspiring epic landscapes of Banff and Yoho barely eked by Pacific Rim park. Hailing from Canada’s west coast, Pacific Rim National Park is Chris Kimmel's favorite national park.   "The rare coupling of old growth temperate rainforest and rugged Pacific coastline make it a magical destination for surfing, kayaking, hiking, beach-combing, and storm watching." However, as Marko Radovanovic put it, "there is no place like these two parks, where you can feel like you're living in a postcard. At times I wonder, is this real?" SWEET SIXTEEN, LEFT SIDE:
#1 Seed Yosemite beats #8 Seed Saguaro Saguaro National Park was unique for me coming originally from the east coast. I was on assignment for NatGeo, and I had never been around that many prickly things before. Unlike the soft grassy-roll-around-in  landscape I came from, this landscape seemed to attack at every turn. But at night it is magic! - Joanna B. Pinneo There won't be any #1 upsets in our bracket...Yosemite, the 3rd most popular park by yearly visitors, and enjoying plenty of movie stardom thanks to a film about Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson's epic and historic climb of Dawn Wall, moves on to the next round, where they'll be facing.... #4 Seed Joshua Tree defeats #5 Seed Death Valley Death Valley is my favorite park because i got married there (or will in 1 week). - Colin Meagher Joshua Tree National Park has it all for me with world class rock climbing, camping among huge boulders and desert hiking in an incredibly interesting arid ecosystem. I love the solitude you can find without much effort by wandering the maze of trails in the evocatively named 'Wonderland of Rocks'.  - Andrew Peacock Sentimental favorite Death Valley can't compete with the varied yet alien landscapes of Joshua Tree. Plus, U2. #3 Seed Glacier, unhappy with it's low seeding, easily defeats #6 Seed North Cascades North Cascades National Park - Because its the most beautiful park no one knows about… Wait on second thought I really like another park more.  Death Valley, or Yellowstone.  Yea, Yellowstone everyone should go there.   - Alasdair Turner Unfortunately, no one visits North Cascades, ever, to see it's beauty, so Glacier National Park, which straddles the continental divide and is the home to glaciers and grizzly bears. #2 Seed Yellowstone faces a surprising upset against #7 Seed Grand Teton I would say that having spend several months exploring Gran Teton National Park for a National Geographic assignment makes that place special. You will have a hard time beating the views of the mountains as they rise from the valley floor, the backcountry rock climbing, or the herd of elk in the chill of the autumn mist  as they migrate south and of course, the Snake River and it's native cut throat trout. - Jose Azel Despite being the first national park, established on March 1st, 1872, being the home to incredible sights AND grizzly bears, and the fictional home of Yogi Bear, the huge crowds of tourists drive our photographers out to the quieter but still spectacular Grand Tetons. SWEET SIXTEEN, RIGHT SIDE:
#1 Seed Denali easily defeats #8 Seed Everglades, despite great pun work Denali, because the scale is just so vastly different from anything in the lower 48. It's BIG. On my first trip there, we were told we had to hike 3 or 4 miles from the road AND be out of sight of it. We figured that couldn't be that difficult, but wow, was it ever! We hiked all day and eventually found a little hill to pitch our tent behind and due to the heavy fog that descended, we couldn't see the road. But in the morning, we discovered that on the other side of the hill was a (thankfully unoccupied) bear den. - Dan Shugar Everglades…BECAUSE IT'S MARSH MADNESS, BABY!!!#sorrynotsorry - Mike Basher #4 Seed Arches loses in the battle of 'A's to #5 Seed Acadia Acadia is my favorite National Park because it has some of the darkest skies on the east coast, and the fall colors are spectacular! - Adam Woodworth The Utah desert in general is a pretty exciting place to go, especially when you are trying to get a bit of warmer weather either early in the spring of late in the fall. However the way the rock arches have formed at Arches National are intriguing and absolutely stunning to take in and definitely make it one of my favorites - Ben Girardi #3 Seed Grand Canyon upset by #6 Seed Canyonlands, in the battle of....Canyons My favorite national park is the Grand Canyon, because of its sheer enormousness and beauty.  I love the fact that it holds some of the most complicated and unaccessible terrain in the lower 48, yet at the same time the canyon's beauty is highly accessible to the general public through the developed sections of both the rims.   Oh AND I love it because it’s where I first truly, madly fell in love with the great outdoors when my parents took me to visit the South Rim at age 12 - it absolutely took my breath away back then, and still does today. - Sunny Stroeer I think Canyonlands needs an honorable mention. Its a quieter park, but because its broken into a few different districts there is a ton to explore, especially if you like 4x4 wheeling. Don't take the part for granted though, its raw, untouched and unforgiving. It will eat you up and spit you out if you aren't careful and heed ranger advice, but that's what makes Canyonlands special. It's vast and doesn't have the Disneyland effect a lot of other parks have in the summer. Also, its an International Dark Sky Park. From the park's website, "The International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) has granted Gold-Tier International Dark Sky Park status to Canyonlands National Park, an honor reserved for the darkest of dark skies and most stunning starscapes." Yeah, its pretty amazing. - Matt Andrew Again, the sentimental favorite, and 2nd most visited National Park, loses to the park from Utah. Better luck next year, Grand Canyon! #2 Seed Hawai'i Volcanoes says "Aloha, and aloha" to #7 Seed Banff / Yoho Despite being the location Instagrammers flock to in droves, Banff and Yoho are both eliminated, simply because this was supposed to be a US National Parks contest. Canada, stop interfering in foreign countries contests! With the bar not being set too high, all Hawai'i needed to advance was this vote from Sean Davey: "You can see live lava flowing, and, well, it's the only one of these that I've ever been to!" Come back next week to see the results of the Elite Eight, Final Four and find out which National Park is crowned Champion! While you're waiting, be sure to check out some of our favorite national parks images here!

Bird Conservation

Biologist returning young purple martin (Progne subis) into birdhouse after conducting research for BC Purple Martin Recovery Program, Crescent Beach, British Columbia, Canada
Biologist returning young purple martin (Progne subis) into birdhouse after conducting research for BC Purple Martin Recovery Program, Crescent Beach, British Columbia, Canada
The largest swallow species in North America, the western purple martin (Progne subis arboricola), numbered fewer than six pairs in British Columbia in the mid-1980’s.  Because of habitat loss and competition from invasive birds such as the European starling, they were nearly extirpated from the province.
Purple Martin (Progne subis) bird banding and research.
Purple Martin (Progne subis) bird banding and research.
Through a volunteer nest box program, the local population has since grown to around 600 breeding pairs. Each summer, biologists along with volunteers check each nest box. They record the number of nestlings in each nest and apply leg bands to the birds to track their migration and dispersal.  It is part of the BC Purple Martin Stewardship Recovery Program, initiated in 1985. Many of these resilient birds will end up in South America, where they’ll spend their winter, before making their way back to BC the following spring.
Biologist cleaning out purple martin (Progne subis) birdhouse as part of BC Purple Martin Recovery Program, Crescent Beach, British Columbia, Canada
Biologist cleaning out purple martin (Progne subis) birdhouse as part of BC Purple Martin Recovery Program, Crescent Beach, British Columbia, Canada
Photographer Chris Kimmel spent some time with the biologists and volunteers, documenting their research and giving us an intimate look into a species that's on the upswing! You can see the rest of Chris' images here.

New Year’s Resolutions

Smiling Athlete Woman Relaxing At Crossfit Gym The beginning of the year is a natural time for self-reflection, for looking back on the fond memories from the year that was and thinking about our desires and hopes for the year to come. It's a blank canvas, a wealth of possibilities, potential infinitum, and most importantly a chance to make lists! It's never fun looking back on the list, realizing you never gave up sugar or called your sister weekly, so this year we asked some of our photographers and Aurora staff what their resolutions for 2018 are. Jen Magnuson A lot of resolutions sound like the person is punishing themselves; I've found it easier to stick to mine when they're things I enjoy. Often, they are things that if I didn’t resolve to make time for, they might get swept up in all of the “shoulds” of every day life. . . I should clean behind the fridge.  I should organize the garage.  I should go grocery shopping.  So, I approach resolutions like a mini bucket list. . .  In 2018, I want to learn to: alpine ski, climb rock and ice, mountain bike, and play the guitar I bought eight years ago. I want to  travel more, to Moab, Telluride, Jackson Hole, Yellowstone, and the Grand Canyon, and work my way through a list of books I want to read along the way! photo courtesy of Brian CardinalNatasha Shapiro Starting in February, my partner and I will be moving into our vintage Toyota camper and will be hitting the road full time (scary and exciting, we can't wait!). Having a vintage vehicle for our home has been stressful -- there's always new quirks that we're learning about and it's slower than most -- but it's been an excellent lesson in learning to be okay with change. Our resolution for this year is to focus on patience and slowing down. Being from NYC, we often find ourselves rushing around in a GO GO GO mentality, when we should really just take a step back, take things one step at a time, and just breathe! (photo courtesy of Brian Cardinal) Nate Adams, Aurora Photos My New Year resolution for 2018 is to practice mindfulness on a daily basis - Mindfulness of my own inner mental and physical sensations, mindful observation of my immediate environment, and empathetic non-judgmental observation of other people’s words and actions. I intend to start slowly - by bringing myself into a mindful state with intention just once a day, for a few minutes. Ideally, this practice will be something that starts to self-perpetuate and become second nature. But I’m starting small and manageable. From what I understand, that’s the key to getting resolutions to stick. Man Standing In The Middle Of The Alaska Highway During Sunset Ben Girardi A couple of my New Years resolutions are: To wake up for more sunrises and get out for more sunsets, to plan better, and to be more efficient with my time, so I can maximize the time spent out shooting and adventuring around the mountains. Karl Schatz, Aurora Photos Eat more rice.

Chris Kimmel It's really important to get outdoors more with my family -- road trips to new locations, camping and paddling trips -- to connect with each other and with nature. To hike with my two-year-old son; I'm planning to get him up to a couple of true mountain summits this summer. And finally, it’s time to drop the “dad bod” and get back in shape. I am aiming to run two times a week (as soon as the ice melts).

Front view of adult man working on laptop while sitting on moving walkway in airport, Oakland, California, USA

Woods Wheatcroft To put myself out there in the marketplace even more and push my vulnerability, in order to create new connections in the industry. Then, I can go old school and show a printed portfolio!

Larry Westler, Aurora Photos This year, my goal is to get outside more to try new activities, to push myself further out of my comfort zone, and to challenge myself.

Gratitude for the Outdoors

father and son duck hunting, Suisun Marsh, Suisun City, California, USA Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. In contrast to some other national holidays, Thanksgiving offers us the opportunity to focus on our selves and our place in the world as something more than just passive consumers. Amid the frenzy of food preparation, cooking, and table setting, I choose instead to take the opportunity to consider the place that the food has in my life, and my place in the food chain. Whether you eat animals or not, Thanksgiving, with its focus on sharing a central meal, offers an opportunity to reflect on the roles of hunting, agriculture, and human interdependence. Our modern food supply chain bears more resemblance to the idealized "simpler times" than you'd think - even in the 17th century, there was specialization of roles. I reflect during this meal on the ways we rely on our local farmers, our own gardens, and for some of us, the hunters, fishermen, and foragers in our families. I like to give thanks for the people who care both for and about food year round, and who make sure we have access to healthy meals. It’s also worth reflecting that there are many people in our own communities that don’t always have the same access. The fresh foods and garden veggies are not the only opportunity to increase and share healthy habits with our loved ones. Thanksgiving gets its name from the giving of thanks for our bounties, and recent studies have confirmed that just the act of giving thanks has myriad health benefits for our selves and our communities, increasing pro-social interaction, physical health, and sleep, while reducing the aggression that is in so many ways encouraged and fostered the very next day - the capitalistic feeding frenzy known as Black Friday. The outdoors provides us with so much, it's hard to pick just a few things to feel grateful for. The opportunity to connect with history by growing and stewarding lesser-known heirloom varieties of crops; places to explore, both large and small; an escape from constant electronic stimulations and distractions; (hopefully) safe interactions with, and observations of wildlife; and inspiration. Our photographers, and the outdoors, are the pillars of Aurora — without open, wild spaces, the quiet refuge of the woods, the mystery of the sea, or even a space for recreation in their backyard, they'd be unable to work or play. Here are some of the things our photographers are grateful to the outdoors for. - Nate Adams and Larry Westler, Aurora Photos Galen Carter riding in the foothills of the Wasatch Front outside of Salt Lake City, Utah

Wray Sinclair "I’m thankful for the ability to enjoy the public lands that surround us. From paddling out to surf at 7am in the Pacific Ocean, to skiing endless powder in the backcountry of the Wasatch Mountains, to hiking around the Blue Ridge Mountains. I’m grateful for these places that have had immense impact on my life and business."

Chris Bennett "My job takes me around the globe to some of the world's most beautiful and interesting places. I climb mountains and ride bikes and go for runs for a living! I'm always meeting new people and being challenged by friends I know in the industry. While hours in airports and security lines can be annoying, all I have to do is sit back and think about how I'm not in a cubicle 40 hours a week. For this I am thankful!" (EDITORS NOTE: Chris is ALSO thankful for the staff at Aurora Photos who do have to spend some of their time in an office, albeit not a cubicle)

A Reflection In A Female Skier's Goggles As She Takes A Selfie Around Cerro Catedral

Ben Girardi “I am thankful for the mountains that surround my home, and for the cold storms that bring in moisture off the Pacific and dump meters of snow. I love to explore the mountains in all conditions, but am extremely thankful to be able to explore them in the winter season, snowboarding powder with my camera, capturing everyone's excitement. Snowboarding keeps you young at heart and it shows, when you see full-grown men with a child-like grin shining through snow-filled beards."

Jen Magnuson "When I was 26 years old, my body started attacking itself, and I was told by doctors that I needed to accept that, learn to manage it, and find a new normal.  I decided to fight back instead, for five excruciating years.  Every year, the anniversaries of the onset of the symptoms, the final treatments, the loss of my law enforcement career pass, and I am grateful.  I’m grateful for health restored completely, and grateful for an experience that made me focus on making life more of what I love and less of what I though it “should” be.  I’m grateful to be able to see and document places that I can only access under human power, when that human power was almost lost to me 14 years ago.  I guess I found a new normal. . . a life of adventure and beauty and gratitude. . . because even the roughest experiences can hold within them the greatest lessons and outcomes."

Female surfer walking in water and carrying surfboard against large white cloud, Hawaii, USA

Sean Davey "I’m thankful for the sea which has inspired and amazed me since I was a toddler. It is the sea that has allowed me to have such a long career as a photographer.   From living in Australia to living in Hawaii and traveling around to so many other places in the world, the ocean has always been the one constant that I could always rely on.  I add to my photographic archive from the sea on a usually every other day basis.  It’s my daily exercise routine as well as my spiritual place.  I am one with the sea."

Logan Mock-Bunting "I am thankful for the seasons in Hawaii. Folks who don't know any better assume that because the weather is nice all year, we don't have seasons. Incorrect. My two favorite seasons here are Mango Season and Big Wave Season. I often crave sweets after coming out of salt water, and it is really hard to top wrapping up a fun surf or free-dive session by picking and cutting into a fresh, sweet mango. The feeling of being in massive, powerful surf (or even being on shore witnessing it) is one of the most humbling, awesome (and at times unsettling) experiences I know. And the fact that these cycles only come around for a short time each year make them even more precious."

Helicopter above the Great Blue Hole

Evgeny Vasenev "I am currently on a one year trip around the globe, and it’s hard to express how amazing and diverse our world is, when limited to words. So far, I have explored mountains, oceans, forests, and savannas, and all of them have inspired me and made my heart beat faster. I am grateful for the ability to see this beauty, to feel the wind on my skin, and to smell the fresh air. Thanks, the world! You are fantastic!"

Chris Kimmel "I am thankful for the extreme diversity of natural ecosystems that create a stunning mosaic-like landscape in the tiny corner of SW British Columbia that I call home.  I am well-travelled, yet every time I step off the plane at Vancouver International Airport I am thankful to be back; back to a culturally rich, melting pot of humanity, that has more outdoor adventure opportunities than your brain can handle.  Where else can you indulge in world-class skiing, mountain biking, fishing, scuba diving, climbing, camping, canoeing and kayaking in one day...if you could fit it all in? The landscapes that surround me inspire exploration, creation, adventure, and a passion for conservation. They instill in us a greater responsibility to care for the place we all call home."

Side view waist up shot of senior farmer inspecting blueberry bush in autumn, Stratham, New Hampshire, USA

John Benford "I am thankful for my local farmers, especially at Thanksgiving time. I appreciate those who toil to bring us sustenance, who turn the soil, pick the produce and milk the cows, so that we can nourish our bodies. The farmers I know – who don’t just work the land but work WITH the land, whose livelihoods depend on the cycle of the seasons, whose lives are intertwined with those of their plants and animals – have a different connection with the earth, with life and death, and with the sacred than the rest of us. There is a part of me that thinks we all should be farmers, at least for some part of our lives, and that might help us transform our relationship with the earth from one of dominion to one of stewardship."

Joe Klementovich "I'm thankful for the personal connections that grow through working as a photographer. It might be slogging into the backcountry with a crew, hanging out by the campfire with an art director or shivering in the cold while sharing a belay with an athlete; these are the moments that grow into long-lasting friendships. Exploring and appreciating the outdoors brings us all together. So I send out a huge thank you to all the amazing people that I get to work, play and hang around with. Have an extra slice of pie on me!"

A child looks out the window at a yellow larch tree in Prince Edward Island, Canada.

Robert van Waarden 'Today, looking out the window, my 1 year old son says to me, "I can see the larch." The rest of the trees have lost their leaves and the yellowing larches stand out like a child's sore, but beautiful, thumb. He reminds me of the importance of little things and the small details of changing seasons. Of details that I embrace and capture through my lens that remind us this planet, our only home, is worth fighting for.' 

Fall Faves

Autumn is one of our favorite times of year, for many reasons (NOT the proliferation of pumpkin-spice-everything): Apple picking, hot cider, root vegetable harvests, crisp air, explosions of color, World Series / NBA opening night, holidays that bring us together, pumpkin carving, and let's not forget, mocking pumpkin spice products. Our photographers shared their own list of favorite places and activities in autumn, and what makes their spot the best spot in the fall months. The Eastern Sierras near Mammoth and June Lakes is a outdoor playground that offers incredible fishing, hiking, paddle boarding and scenic wonders.
Upper Owens River near Mammoth Lakes, CA
The water flows quietly, meandering around wide, sweeping turns where Browns and Rainbows are sometimes coaxed from small pockets of deeper water. Fishing the Upper Owens River near Mammoth Lakes, California, is like spending time with your best friend. It’s a place of solitude and comfort where no one needs to talk to understand the magic of being together. Set amid beautiful views of the Eastern Sierra range where faint glimmers of the idle lifts on Mammoth Mountain can be seen for miles, it’s where I’ve returned time again to create memories with my wife and son. As the summer crowds thin-out and the winter crowds still a few months away, fall is the best time to visit “The Owens,” as my family affectionally refers to the river. Tall grass, long shadows and silence, minus perhaps the moo of an errant cow grazing nearby, is what draws us to The Owens each fall. My son (pictured) learned to fish here as a youngster and loves every chance to return. He says it’s for the fishing but, of course, I always said the same thing. The truth is, no one in my family cares if we feel the tug of a trout as we wander along the river in a cool breeze. It’s about the warm feeling you get when you return to that special place every year.  - Todd Bigelow A backpacker lies flat on the ground in Illal Meadows.
Illal Meadows, BC

The hike in to Illal Meadows, in southwest British Columbia is well worth the reward for effort. There are numerous tarns and mountain views in all directions with plenty of great options for lakeside camping. I try my best to make it up to the meadows at least once a year, ideally in autumn.  I love wandering through the colorful alpine meadows, feeling the crisp cold air, watching the golden sunsets and eating the plethora of late season blueberries that can be found here! The three peaks of varying difficulty accessible from the meadows (Illal Peak, Jim Kelly Peak (pictured) and Coquihalla Mountain), combined with the stunning landscape and scenery, make this area a great weekend destination for hiking, climbing, and camping. - Chris Kimmel

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Humphrey's Ledge, North Conway, NH

North Conway is an absolute zoo between mid September and mid October. Europeans, Asians, mid-westerners and anyone else within a days drive descend on out neck of the woods. They also loose all common sense and driving etiquette. I've seen a bus load of people standing in the middle of the highway taking selfies with the fall foliage on the side of the road. So this time of year requires locals to run for the hills, cliffs or remote spots to stay safe. Even a five minute walk off of the road cuts the crowds dramatically. One of my favorite local retreats is Humphrey's Ledge a short drive from town, it's got some bouldering under a canopy of maples that turn bright orange this time of year. A bit further up the hill is the cliff proper and it's a bit scruffy but it faces south and stays warm on those chilly fall days. After one pitch up our little valley stretches out, blanketed in a crazy mix of colors only New England can produce.  - Joe Klementovich

A Cape Cod cranberry grower and his crew "rack up" cranberries with booms after flooding a bog in Brewster, MA.

Cranberry bogs, Cape Cod, MA

Every fall, the cranberry bogs in my small town on Cape Cod are transformed from dull fields into exquisite bogs of floating red berries. To harvest the berries, cranberry growers like Ray Thacher, whose crew is working in this photo, flood the bogs with water and the berries float to the top. They can then be "racked" together and then vacuumed up into a waiting truck. Ray's family has been growing cranberries for over 60 years on Cape Cod and I love the visual transformation their work brings about. Visitors as well as local residents often stop beside bogs this time of year and watch the cranberry growers at work. And while most of us associate cranberries with Thanksgiving, there are so many things other delicious things to make with cranberries besides a sauce for turkey like cranberry scones, cranberry pancakes, cranberry butter, cranberry granola, cranberry smoothies, cranberry-glazed ham and even cranberry margaritas! - Julia Cumes   

The sun glows on the top of the peaks of Little Cottonwood Canyon as it sets above the Utah mountains on a clear fall day.

Mount Superior, Little Cottonwood Canyon, UT

Mount Superior in Little Cottonwood Canyon, Utah, is a hike I had always wanted to do but never seemed to find the time. On my last day living in Utah a friend and I finally made it out to do the South Ridge of Mount Superior. This is more of a scramble then a hike. Lots of exposure and expansive views are encountered along the way as you gain over 2600 feet to the peak at 11,040 feet. The route we took on the way down (The Cardiff Pass Trail) was much more mellow. The elevation gain was still intense over a short distance, but much less exposure and risk of falling, but still an amazing viewpoint of the Wasatch Mountains, especially as the setting sun casts its yellow glow on the nearby peaks. Fall is the perfect time to do this hike. The summer heat is gone, with the cool crisp nip of fall in the air. The Aspen trees in the canyon have started to change. Vibrant yellows shine all over the mountainsides and even little bit of snow has started to cover the north faces up high. A quick jaunt up from Salt Lake, hiking Mount Superior is a perfect afternoon activity if you find yourself in town for a weekend, or for an entire season. If you are searching for a solid work out and amazing views of Little Cottonwood Canyon, a hike up iconic Mount Superior is a great way to get both. - Ben Girardi

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Door County, WI

One of my favorite roads in our entire state of Wisconsin is at the very tip of Door County, a favorite vacation spot for many folks (quite possibly due to the numerous apple and cherry orchards). Often simply referred to as "the winding road in Door County," this unique must-see landmark should be attributed to Jens Jensen, the famed Danish-born landscape architect that influenced this amazing spot. Jensen founded The Clearing, a Door County school for landscape architects. I always wanted to go in the fall and got lucky when a trio of corvette’s came through. The curvy road looks like it goes on forever but it actually stops where you can board a ferry to Washington Island. To get this shot I compressed the curves using a long lens and had to stand in the middle of the road. My wife had my back! - Jeffrey Phelps

Lake George New York in Fall from the Pinnacle
Lake George, NY

Much may have changed since Thomas Jefferson described it as “… the most beautiful water I ever saw”, but Lake George in New York’s Adirondack Mountains remains among the most beautiful lakes in the U.S., even more so when fall foliage blankets the shores with the jewell tones of autumn.  While there is no shortage of beautiful hiking around Lake George, one of my favorites for a quick outing is the roughly 1 mile trail to the Pinnacle on the Lake’s western shore. Short enough for an after work hike and family friendly, the trail offers a big payoff with a breathtaking panorama of the Lake. It is also the perfect spot to watch the sun rise with a thermos of coffee for a great start to the day. - Zaneta Hough, The Open Road Images

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Anywhere on my Bike

Autumn, with its vivid colors, sights and smells, is my favorite time of year to ride my bike.  Every time I pedal out of the driveway I instantly revert to my mischievous 8 year-old self - skidding through every leaf pile, speeding through the tunnels of luminosity with a racing heart and a broad grin on my face. - Bob Allen

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Crystal Mill, Elk Mountains, CO

One day its hot and your paddling down the river, the next your trudging your way up a mountain through snow. Somewhere between those days is Autumn and we're gifted with perfect cool weather for hiking and the most amazing display of color among the aspen trees. Grab a friend and venture deep into the Elk Mountains of Colorado to the Crystal Mill. - Brandon Huttenlocher

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Boston Hill Farm, Andover, MA

The only thing that has changed at Boston Hill Farm in Andover, Massachusetts, is us. We have been going to pick up our pumpkins there every fall for the past eight years. The hay rides are just as bumpy, the cider donuts just as yummy, the foliage just as vibrant. But now my boys pull each other in the radio flyer wagons, carry their own pumpkins and…..sigh…..no longer let me pick out their clothes. I plan to take them back again this year- and despite some preteen eye-rolling- I know they will still have fun searching the fall fields for the perfect jack-o-lantern. Even if they aren’t wearing absolutely adorable overalls. - Laurie Swope

Eastern Sierra Fall Color
Eastern Sierra, CA

Here in the Eastern Sierra, October ushers in crisp temps and the explosion of Fall colors. Trout are hungry and although every drainage in the region is active with fisherman, the fishing pressure of summer is significantly reduced. Mountains are alive with preparations for winter as wildlife is on the move. Migratory birds are passing through overhead, mule deer return from their summer hangouts and the local black bear population is preparing for hibernation. Cooler temps are perfect for hiking and the backcountry is almost deserted. Day hikes and longer backpack trips are solitary adventures in this quiet season. Fall is the BEST season on the Eastside. - Rick Saez

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King Range National Conservation Area, CA

I was thrilled to be able to share this autumn, a special time of year for me, with friends on Lost Coast Trail in Northern California. Located in the rugged and remote King Range National Conservation Area, with no major roads nearby, the area is secluded and mostly untouched by man. Along the hike, the golden grasses of costal prairies sway in the ocean breeze and glow during the vibrant Pacific sunsets. Often you will see and hear sea lions basking in the afternoon sun. The intertidal zones of this trail are also unique. For several miles, the trail is only accessible during low tide. Autumn has less visitors on the 24 miles of desolate shoreline and provides a fantastic solitary getaway, setting this trail apart from the rest. - Michael Okimoto

Bill Swift, owner of Swift Canoe & Kayak, paddles canoe in early morning on Oxtongue Lake near Algonquin Park, Muskoka, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Henry Georgi/Aurora)
Oxtongue Lake, ON

Autumn is a great time for two of my favorite activities - mountain biking and canoeing! Canoeing in autumn is truly magical for many reasons; no mosquitoes for one! Also because of the cooler temperatures you almost always have some degree of mist in the early mornings. It lends an ethereal, timeless sense to an early morning paddle on a calm, flat lake. When you’re in this “zone" paddling becomes effortless. In this photo my friend Bill is paddling on Oxtongue Lake, just outside Algonquin Park in Ontario, Canada, a prime canoeing destination. This image is one of my all-time favorites; in fact, a friend recently created an abstract painting from this photo that we now have hanging on our wall. - Henry Georgi

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Greenland

Autumn in Greenland is one of the most magical places in the world.  The Arctic tundra starts turning brilliant shades of yellow, orange, and red in late August into mid-September, and provides stark contrast to the rocky, rugged, and sometimes icy surrounding landscapes.   This particular location along the shoreline of Disko Island off the coast of Greenland across Disko Bay from Ilulissat is one of the most magical places I've come across in my travels.  It took some hiking from the tiny community of Qeqertarsuaq to find, but once we crossed over the crest of a hill about 3 or 4 miles out, this scene unfolded before our eyes and took our breaths away.   Autumn colours, waterfalls, crazy basalt columns...and icebergs.  It truly had it all.  We called it, and still call it (I've been back, twice):  Arctic Eden. - Dave Brosha

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Hamilton Falls, Jamaica, VT

This photo is actually a reflection turned upside down. It's of Hamilton Falls, a 150 foot waterfall in Jamaica, VT. I try to make an annual trip up to Vermont every Columbus Day weekend because foliage is usually at it's peak in the area. There are endless hidden streams, trails, and scenic barns down winding dirt roads in Vermont. If you look hard enough you can find new gems just off the road or deep down a trail. What makes this area even more special are the lack of crowds. Vermont draws "leaf peepers" from around the world, but you won't get frustrated by tons of tourists. There's always a sense of serenity. - Matt Andrew

A man fly fishing on the North Fork of the Payette River in Idaho on a Fall morning.
Payette River, ID
This spot on the North Fork of the Payette is chock-full of people all summer long.  Once autumn is here, they just disappear, and by midweek everywhere in town becomes my own private Idaho! I especially love this stretch of the river because of all the twists and turns, the massive trees and the hidden but easy access. - Melissa Shelby View Of Sports Authority Field At Mile High Stadium In Denver, Colorado
Mile High Stadium, CO
For my family, Fall will always be about October baseball, my husband's birthday and Denver Broncos football.  Attending a game on a crisp autumn Sunday, the stadium buzzes with energy and the fans joyously cheer with a contagious and inspired enthusiasm.  The friendly confines of Mile High have been a place of comfort for four decades for my family, so each Sunday standing in a warm shimmering sun with a cool Rocky breeze surrounding the wave of Orange feels like home. Fall and subsequently football brings family and friends together. - Leslie Parrott