Best of America

11 Breathtakingly Beautiful Photos That Represent the Best of Your America

Check out these exceptional photos submitted by readers in our water-themed photo contest.

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Christmas Meadows Trail, Utah

Courtesy Robin PhillipsWe asked readers for their best images of the waterways and shorelines that link us into one. Our favorite won a place on the cover of our July/August Issue (and $500!). The winner, Robin Phillips, submitted a breathtaking photo of Christmas Meadows Trail. But we received—yes—a flood of great entries. Here are the three runners-up and seven more we loved.

“There had just been a spring storm so I knew Ostler Peak would be covered in snow that day. My grandfather and father took me here to fly-fish off Christmas Meadows trail when I was a boy. I had to wait until I turned 12—it was a rite-of-passage thing. Since then, I’ve taken my sons here, and this summer, I will take my grandson. Time is a river, with eddies and currents that draw our family together and bind us fast.”

Robin Phillips 

Assateague Island, Maryland

Courtesy Nathan Gonzales“As a full-time nurse, I value tranquil moments when I can decompress. This beach has given me many. I pitch a tent, camp overnight, and wake up early to watch the sunrise.”

Nathan Gonzales, 42

Abiqua Falls, Oregon

Courtesy Thomas Rousseau“My family and I took a day-trip to these secluded falls. We stumbled upon a fire someone else had left behind, which is why my sister is only pretending to roast a marshmallow.”

Thomas Rousseau

Clarion River, Pennsylvania

Courtesy Joe Lowrey“I took this photo from an abandoned railroad trestle I used to visit a lot during college. My friends and I would bring our guitars and make a day of it. Now I usually go with my brother.”

Joe Lowrey, 25

Oquaga Lake, New York

jul-aug-photo-contest-courtesy-tracy-mainesCourtesy Tracy Maines“My husband and I have spent our summers here every year since we were married. Before that, he’d been going with his family since he was three. The lake has a way of getting into people’s blood.”

Tracy Maines, 57

Utah Lake, Utah

jul-aug-photo-contest-courtesy-Christian-peayCourtesy Christian Peay“Because a steel mill sat on its shores for more than half a century, Utah Lake has a reputation for being a dirty eyesore. I’ve always disagreed, and I love taking photos here to show people how beautiful it is.”

Christian Peay, 50

South Padre Island, Texas

Courtesy Ale Burrows“As my wife and I were leaving a waterfront restaurant, we must’ve startled this flock of pelicans. They flew off the pier and into the water. Luckily, I had my camera ready.”

Alex Burrows, 47

Cape Elizabeth, Maine

Courtesy Patrick Trepp“This historic lighthouse was first lit in 1791 and is named the Portland Head Light. I knew I wanted to photograph it at sunrise. The crashing waves were a welcome addition.”

Patrick Trepp, 59

Cape Disappointment State Park, Washington

Courtesy Dina Basarab“I was 12 the first time I visited this peaceful cove. My dad took my siblings and me on a hike and let us think we had found it on our own. It’s a magical spot.”

Dina Basarab, 24

Blue Mountain Beach, Florida

Courtesy Margaret Dotson“I’m the editor of my high school yearbook, and I love taking photos. I snapped this one of my two best friends on vacation. I had to lie down in the wet sand to get it.”

Margaret Dotson, 16

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