National Geographic Landscape Photos 2018

A hiker greets the morning in Yosemite Valley, California. Your Shot photographer Eric Harris says, “The adrenaline from standing on the edge of a 1,000-foot cliff helps me wake up.”

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In Nazaré, Portugal, an adventurous man crosses a slackline as waves crash around him. The beaches of Nazaré are known for their extremely high waves, influenced by a deep undersea canyon just off the coast.

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A worker cleans windows at the 124th floor of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai—the tallest building in the world. Taken in February, the photograph illustrates the low-level winter clouds that gather at sunrise.

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The Chinese municipality of Chongqing is home to some 30 million people in southwest China. With more than 100 days of fog a year, Chongqing is nicknamed Fog City—and appropriately, its sister city in the United States is Seattle.

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“This iconic maple seems to be on every photographer’s bucket list to photograph, including mine,” says Your Shot photographer Holly Fischer. The famous tree stands in the Portland Japanese Garden in Oregon. “It is just a simply stunning example of Mother Nature’s perfect brilliance,” Fischer says.

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The sun rises behind Abraham Lake in the Canadian Rockies. Fluctuating water levels make ice conditions on the lake unpredictable—even in winter.

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Sunlight shines into the water as a diver swims in a cenote in Mexico. “It’s an amazing and unique experience in the life of a underwater photographer,” says Your Shot photographer Fabrice Guerin. “The mysticism, beauty, and exuberance of these underwater landscapes make me feel like I discovered another world.”

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Years and years of erosion have formed this meandering sandstone canyon in Utah’s Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Below, vegetation thrives on the banks of the river that has cut through the stone for so long.

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Leaves turn into an autumnal rainbow along the Kancamagus Highway in New Hampshire. “This is my favorite place on the whole scenic route,” says Your Shot photographer Manish Mamtani. “I always fly my drone here to capture the curve of the road and moving cars.”

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In far northern Xinjiang, China, herders guide camels, sheep, and cattle to new pastures, where they’ll graze during the summer months. Summer in the area is warm, but very dry.

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Early morning fog sweeps over northwestern New Mexico, where Shiprock stands 1,583 feet tall. The formation holds special significance to the Navajo people, who govern the land surrounding it.

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Green space nestles between enormous apartment complexes in Hong Kong. Hong Kong is one of the most crowded places on earth, with more than 7 million people living in 427 square miles.

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The sun sets over Grand Falls on the Little Colorado River in Arizona. “This view shows the effect of summer rains over the desert,” explains Your Shot photographer Bernhard Michaelis, “resulting in muddy flows which give the falls another name: Chocolate Falls.”

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These limestone towers off the coast of Victoria, Australia, are known as the Twelve Apostles. It’s a bit of a misnomer, though—there are only eight, after a ninth collapsed in 2005.

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Out of the Kīlauea Volcano on the island of Hawai’i, a fountain of lava streams into the ocean. When the hot lava hits the cool waters, an explosive reaction sends rocks and debris flying.

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Is That Snow?

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White Sands National Monument is a United States national monument located in the state of New Mexico on the north side of Route 70 about 16 miles (26 km) southwest of Alamogordo in western Otero County and northeastern Doña Ana County. The monument is situated at an elevation of 4,235 feet (1,291 m) in the mountain-ringed Tularosa Basin and comprises the southern part of a 275 sq mi (710 km2) field of white sand dunes composed of gypsum crystals. The gypsum dune field is the largest of its kind on Earth.

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The idea of creating a national park to protect the white sands formation dates to 1898 when a group from El Paso proposed the creation of Mescalero National Park. The plan called for a game hunting preserve, however, which conflicted with the idea of preservation held by the Department of the Interior, and the plan failed. In 1921–22, Albert Bacon Fall, United States Secretary of the Interior and owner of a large ranch in Three Rivers northeast of the dune field, promoted the idea of an “all-year national park” that, unlike more northerly parks, would be open even in the winter. This idea ran into a number of difficulties and did not succeed. Tom Charles, an Alamogordo insurance agent and civic booster, was influenced by Fall’s ideas. By emphasizing the economic benefits, Charles was able to mobilize enough support to have the national monument created.

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Gypsum rarely occurs as sand because it is water-soluble. Rain usually dissolves gypsum and rivers then carry it to the sea. The Tularosa Basin has no outlet to the sea, so it traps rain that dissolves gypsum from the surrounding San Andres and Sacramento Mountains. The rainwater either sinks into the ground, or forms shallow pools that subsequently dry out and leave gypsum on the surface in a crystalline form called selenite. Groundwater that flows out of the Tularosa Basin flows south into the Hueco Basin. During the last ice age, a lake now called Lake Otero covered much of the basin. When it dried out, a large flat area of selenite crystals remained, which is named the Alkali Flat. Lake Lucero, a dry lake bed which occasionally fills with water, is located in the southwest corner of the park, at one of the lowest points of the basin.

The ground in the Alkali Flat and along Lake Lucero’s shore is covered with selenite crystals that measure up to three feet (1 m). Weathering and erosion eventually break the crystals into sand-size grains that are carried away by the prevailing winds from the southwest, forming the white dunes. The dunes constantly change shape and slowly move downwind. Since gypsum is water-soluble, the sand that composes the dunes may dissolve and cement together after rain, forming a layer of sand that is more solid, which increases the wind resistance of the dunes. The increased resistance does not prevent dunes from quickly covering the plants in their path. Some species of plants, however, can grow fast enough to avoid being buried by the dunes.

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Roughing it at the Teepee Hotel

This resort has teepee and chuck wagon hotel rooms.

Situated along Highway 24, the Capitol Reef Resort is the ideal place to stay for Utah visitors seeking a unique outdoor adventure. When you stay at our Torrey, UT hotel, the one-of-a-kind geological features of Capitol Reef National Park are just outside your door waiting for you to experience them through our hiking and four-wheel drive tours.

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The interior, not really that rough.

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The chuck wagons:

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Great big bed in that chuck wagon.

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Animal Islands

Sable Island is a small island situated 300 km (190 mi) southeast of Halifax, Nova Scotia, and about 175 km (109 mi) southeast of the closest point of mainland Nova Scotia in the Atlantic Ocean. The island is staffed year round by four federal government staff, rising during summer months when research projects and tourism increase. Notable for the Sable Island horse, the island is protected and managed by Parks Canada, which must first grant permission before anyone may visit. Sable Island is part of District 7 of the Halifax Regional Municipality in Nova Scotia. However, the Constitution of Canada specifically names the island as being under the authority of the federal government. The island is also a protected National Park Reserve.

The island is home to over 550 free-roaming horses, protected by law from human interference. This feral horse population is likely descended from horses confiscated from Acadians during the Great Expulsion and left on the island by Thomas Hancock, Boston merchant and uncle of John Hancock. In 1879, 500 horses and cattle were estimated to live on the island, and the island vegetation was described as covered with grass and wild peas. In the past, excess horses were rounded up, shipped off the island, and sold, many used in coal mines on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. In 1960, the Canadian Government, under the Canada Shipping Act, gave the horse population full protection from human interference.

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Tashirojima (田代島) is a small island in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan. It lies in the Pacific Ocean off the Oshika Peninsula, to the west of Ajishima. It is an inhabited island, although the population is quite small (around 100 people, compared to around 1000 people in the 1950s). It has become known as “Cat Island” due to the large stray cat population that thrives as a result of the local belief that feeding cats will bring wealth and good fortune. The cat population is now larger than the human population on the island. There are no pet dogs on the island due to the large cat population.

The island is divided into two villages/ports: Oodomari and Nitoda. Ajishima, a neighbouring island, used to belong to the town of Oshika, while Tashirojima was a part of the city of Ishinomaki. On April 1, 2005, Oshika merged with Ishinomaki,so now both islands are a part of Ishinomaki.

Since 83% of the population is classified as elderly, the island’s villages have been designated as a “terminal village” which means that with 50% or more of the population being over 65 years of age, the survival of the villages is threatened. The majority of the people who live on the island are involved either in fishing or hospitality.

The island is also known as Manga Island, as Shotaro Ishinomori planned to move to the island. There are manga-themed lodges on the island, resembling cats.

 

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Ōkunoshima (大久野島) is a small island located in the Inland Sea of Japan in the city of Takehara, Hiroshima Prefecture. It is accessible by ferry from Tadanoumi and Ōmishima. There are campsites, walking trails and places of historical interest on the island. It is often called Usagi Shima (うさぎ島, “Rabbit Island”) because of the numerous feral rabbits that roam the island; they are rather tame and will approach humans.

Ōkunoshima played a key role during World War II as a poison gas factory for much of the chemical warfare that was carried out in China.

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Many rabbits live on the island that are descended from rabbits intentionally let loose when the island was developed as a park after World War II. During the war, rabbits were also used in the chemical munitions plant to test the effectiveness of the chemical weapons. Those rabbits were killed when the factory was demolished and are not related to the rabbits currently on the island. Hunting the rabbits is forbidden, and dogs and cats are not allowed on the island.

The ruins of the old forts and the gas factory can be found all over the island; entry is prohibited as it is too dangerous. Since it is part of the Innland Sea National Park system of Japan, there is a resource center and across the way is the museum.

In 2015, the BBC presented a short television series called Pets – Wild at Heart, which featured the behaviours of pets, including the rabbits on the island. The series depicted various tourists coming to feed the rabbits.


 

Ilha da Queimada Grande, also known as Snake Island, is an island off the coast of Brazil in the Atlantic Ocean. It is administered as part of the municipality of Peruíbe in the State of São Paulo. The island is small in size and has many different types of terrain, ranging from bare rock to rainforest, and a temperate climate. It is the only home of the critically endangered, venomous Bothrops insularis (golden lancehead pit viper), which has a diet of birds. The snakes became trapped on the island when rising sea levels covered up the land that connected it to the mainland. It has 90,000 snakes on it This left the snakes to adapt to their environment, increasing rapidly in population and rendering the island dangerous to public visitation. Queimada Grande is closed to the public in order to protect this snake population; access is only available to the Brazilian Navy and selected researchers vetted by the Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation, the Brazilian federal conservation unit.

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Golden Lancehead pit viper, very very dangerous snake.

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Lauterbrunnen: The Valley of 72 Waterfalls

Tucked away in the Bernese Oberland of the Swiss Alps, about 70km southeast of Bern, lies the valley of Lauterbrunnen, regarded as one of the most beautiful valleys in Europe. The valley is about a kilometer in width, and lies between gigantic rock faces and mountain peaks that rises almost perpendicularly to heights of 300 meters from the floor of the valley. At the bottom, nestled between towering limestone precipices, lies the village of Lauterbrunnen, surrounded on three sides by the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau Mountains. The valley, carved by receding glaciers, extends south and then turns south-westwards from the village to form a U shape.

Lauterbrunnen means “many springs”. The name is derived from the 72 waterfalls that gush down into the valley from the vertical cliff faces, some of which are several hundred meters high. The most famous of these are the Staubbach Falls that plunges almost 300 meters, making it one of the highest in Europe formed of a single unbroken fall.

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Another spectacular natural phenomenon are the Trümmelbach Falls hidden behind a mountain, and consisting of a series of ten glacier-fed waterfalls that carries 20,000 litres of water per second. It drops a total of 200 meters. These thunderous falls have carved corkscrew-shaped gorges inside the limestone mountain. The waterfalls were invisible until 1877, when a tunnel was chiseled into the mountain. Today, you can ride an underground funicular and hike the walkways to see it. In winter, however, the falls are reduced to a trickle.

Lauterbrunnen’s dramatic cliffs and falls have inspired many musicians and writers, such as Johann Goethe’s poem, “Song of the Spirit of the Waterfalls,” which Franz Schubert set to music. J.R.R. Tolkien’s Misty Mountains of “The Hobbit” is also based on Lauterbrunnen.

Lauterbrunnen became a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site in 2001.

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