CONTEST Spotlights

Our top photos of 2023

2023 proved to be another incredible year for the Share the Experience Photo Contest. The quality of the photos was superb making it ever more difficult for our judges to pick a winner.

The winning photos were selected based on their exemplary photographic qualities and their amazing representations of the spectacular recreational opportunities offered through our federal lands and waters. We are proud to present the 2023 winners.

2023 Winners

Grand Prize Winner | Michael Zheng, Everglades National Park

A few years ago, I paid a visit alone to Everglades National Park after a business conference in Miami, FL. Hearing all the good stories of bird watching and the iconic Roseate Spoonbill, I brought my Canon R5 and 500mm lens to hike the famous Gumbo Limbo Trail, and was there just in time to greet the sun and say good morning to a group of beautiful spoonbills. While looking through my lens, one of them just landed right in front of me with its wings fully spanned. It was a thrilling moment and I just kept pushing my shutter until the camera buffer was full. Their pastel feathers looked so lovely in the early light.

Second Place | Jack Denger, Badlands National Park

We were searching for Bison, and as we drove down Sage Creek Road, we saw the herd moving across the road. The herd broke into several smaller groups, moving in different directions. We walked out on a small hill and noticed a large group gathering below us. As they started to move up the opposite hillside, I started photographing. All of a sudden, they took off running, in a cloud of dust. When it was over, all we could say, was “WOW, that was incredible!”

Third Place | Isaac Rosenberg, Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens

I happened to be alone at the far end of the park’s lily ponds when I spotted a Great Blue Heron stalking for food in and around the pools. I followed the heron (from a safe distance) as it went about its business—striking at crayfish in the mud. I anticipated this particular strike and fired off a high-speed burst. As luck would have it (for me, anyway), I captured this crayfish just before it was gobbled up. Nature is cool, even if it can be unforgiving.

Scenery & Seasons | Jim Grindley, Coconino National Forest

Aspen trees, Foliage season in Coconino National Forest

Outdoors for All | Denis Jivaikin, Olympic National Park

Second Beach surfers returning from the ocean, basked in sunset light from behind The Crying Lady.

History & Heritage | Brian Wotring, Marine Corps War Memorial

The Marine Corps War Memorial is a wonderful reminder of our country's fighting spirit. The memorial is beautiful and adorned with the National Mall as a backdrop. Once a year, however, it is further adorned by Fourth of July celebrations. If you can brave the heat and long wait, it is truly a sight to behold.

Wildlife | Jean Zuo, Cosumnes River Preserve

Sandhill Cranes start migrating to Central California at the beginning of each autumn to spend their winter. Each morning around sunrise, they awake at the first ray of light and flex their wings like elegant dancers before taking off to nearby farmlands for foraging. This shot was taken in November, 2022.

Everyday Adventures | Gary Hamer, Boundary Water Canoe Area Wilderness

As my grandson and I were preparing to leave on a canoe trip to the Boundary Waters, I saw this person photographing loons in the fog at sunrise. The adult loons were busy feeding the young and were totally oblivious to the photographer in the kayak! I wish it had been me out there :-)

Night Skies | John Vermette, Vermilion Cliffs National Monument

The Milky Way over White Pocket