CONTEST Spotlights

Our top photos of 2021

2021 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 2021 winners.

2021 Winners


Grand Prize Winner | Karla Rivera, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks


“We go camping at least 4 times a year and have visited many national parks, in part to disconnect from technology and the day-to-day activities that often stop us from spending quality time as a family, and in part to learn more about the beautiful places this country offers and to teach our son the beauty of the outdoors and the value of taking care of our resources.”

2nd Place | Norman Lathrop, Great Smoky Mountains National Park


“There's nothing quite like the feeling of standing in a stream in the fall, listening to the running water with a canopy of red, yellows, oranges, and greens above your head. The best way to describe the feeling is "Immersed in Beauty". I have two grandchildren. I want them to have the opportunity to visit these places in the future so they can find the same joy, renewal, and tranquility I have found.”

3rd Place | Christopher Neal, Cape Hatteras National Seashore


“So many people spend most of their lives in cities, with bright lights and easy access to just about anything they want. It’s important to provide wild spaces where they can go and really experience the world and relive a bit of our history.”

Scenic, Seasons & Landscapes | Scott Malagold, Olympic National Park


“I am a big believer in and supporter of public lands. I consider them essential to our mental and physical wellbeing. Giving people opportunities to connect with nature helps them realize the importance of living in harmony with the natural world. By sharing photos of natural beauty, I hope to inspire others to get out to experience it for themselves.”

Outdoors for All | Ron Shearer, Olympic National Park


“When you watch something as spectacular as a sunset at Ruby Beach in Olympic National Park you are forever connected to that place and time and the people who were there. The National Park System for me is a chance to live the dream over and over of being in and see all the great places in our country, and along the way meeting lots of great people in the towns and cities in between.”

Historical & Cultural | Joanna Hiatt Kim, National Mall and Memorial Parks


“My husband and I had our first date and got engaged in Shenandoah National Park, so the parks are very special to us.  We make a point to visit them on vacation with our kids -- they are all so different and amazing and the trips create such special family memories.”

Wildlife | Paulette Donnellon , Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge


“The Burrowing Owl is such an expressive little creature.  I remember the first time I observed one, thanks to the help of a Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge employee. In this particular image, I was by myself photographing a Burrowing Owl when it decided to show off its impressive wingspan and fly up to a nearby perch. These moments are what I live for and how I intentionally lose myself in the beauty that surrounds me. I hope that my photographs inspire others the same way I’ve been inspired.”

Adventure & Recreation | Sue Cullumber, Tonto National Forest


“This photo was taken at sunrise. I really enjoy this time of day as it offers tranquility and a peaceful time for reflection. Every experience offers the opportunity for inspiration, especially in photography. Even if you've taken photos of the same area many times, each day provides new ways to view the location. Parks and public lands are extremely important to me. Through photography, people gain an appreciation of this beauty, feel more connected to the area and therefore want to help protect it.”

Fan Favorite #1 | David Caldwell, Grand Staircase - Escalante National Monument


“The parks and public lands are a treasure, they are something we all share, but allow us all our own unique perspective. They give us a chance to see the most amazing things and to learn; and they give us a chance to take that story to others. Grand Staircase - Escalante National Monument is a gem - a hiker’s paradise with amazing sights around every corner. I was here with my best friend and our little travel buddy Mr. B – who joins us on our travels as a stand in for my niece so he can tell her the story of his adventures.”

Fan Favorite #2 | Marissa Toma, Death Valley National Park


“I hope it inspires other females to be confident enough to take solo adventures. I know I was intimidated at first by planning and taking a solo trip to such a large and desolate place. But I think traveling alone allows you the opportunity to get to know yourself better and to be free to meet other people along the way.”

2022 Monthly Winners

Come back later to check the monthly winners.